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Q •  My fiance's niece is 4 and is very resentful of accepting me into the family. She makes faces at me and won't talk to me. It's embarrassing when we have family dinners or events. What can I do to gain her confidence and build a friendship?

From a reader • I was in a very similar situation to yours. I've been with my fiance for almost three years now (engaged two months) and his 4-year-old niece despised me the first two years we were together. He's everyone's favorite uncle and her godfather. It's hard as the "new" person around family, especially kids. I'm not going to say I'm the best with kids; they honestly make me feel uncomfortable most of the time. So I would always say hi to each one of the kids but no hugging or going for physical affection. I always said hello to the 4-year-old first. Otherwise, I treated her like a cat and didn't make too much of an effort so as not to smother her or scare her away. However, I also did not completely ignore her. You can also bribe her with Kinder Joy Eggs at holidays. It also helped that my guy would remind her how important I am to him, and that she would really like me if given the chance. It finally took a family vacation that I attended for her to see that I'm fun and accept me into the family. His family, her parents and grandparents also encouraged her to be polite. You're not only marrying the person, but also their family, so I'd also express your worry to your future spouse. Every situation and every kid is different, so I hope this helps. Good luck! — S.G. in Wildwood

From Jodie Lynn • Kids this age most definitely have their favorites when it comes to grown-ups and people in general, especially family members.

I agree with the reader above in that it's probably best to give the niece some extra space by not going overboard with attempts of enticing her to like you with a lot of extra interaction and attention.

Another option to consider is to maybe ask her parents about some things that she enjoys. For example, if she really likes books, perhaps get her one with her favorite character for a birthday or holiday gift.

Little but unsuspecting things can make a big difference but only do them on special occasions.

The more time she can actually be around you, the sooner you can gain her confidence and build a better relationship with her.

When she's ready, she'll let you know.

Last but not least, be patient and don't take her resentment personally.

After all, she's just a little girl who loves her uncle very much.


My husband and I have decided to get a divorce. We have two children, ages 6 and 9. I'm really concerned about how this is going to affect them, especially with the holidays so close. Are there things we can do to help them through this process?

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Jodie Lynn is an award-winning parenting columnist, author of five books and mother to three children. She and her family live in Wildwood.