Hi Grandma Maggie,

I am 18 and my fiance is 24 he just got joint custody of his 18 month old daughter. He is very excited and so am I, but I am also very scared. I want her to like me but I don’t want her to be scared at first. I don’t know everything a 18 month old eats or how they sleep what they play with and neither does my fiance! What can I do?

Jenna and Mike

Dear Jenna,

How you want the baby to feel is immaterial. She will feel how she feels and that will be that.

First you are NOT her mother, so don’t toy with the idea of having her call you any version of that name. You can love her and she can call you Jenna or any name the two of you decide on when she is older. That will not diminish the love between you.

I suggest you, her father and her mother establish a neutral relationship where the goal is to have everything be as good as it can be for the baby. You and your boyfriend should ask the mother’s advice on foods, bedtimes, etc. After all, it is she who has been in charge of the baby and if she wants the best for that child she will gladly share that information.

I also suggest books on parenting especially Touchpoints: Your Child’s Emotional and Behavioral Development, Birth to 3 — The Essential Reference for the Early Years by T. Berry Brazelton, who has excellent parenting advice for everyone.

If this seems beyond doing then perhaps the three of you could benefit from some family counseling to make sure your husband’s daughter has the best care all three of you can give her.

I wish you the best.
Grandma Maggie