Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Boyfriend’s Daughter Is Visiting and I Don’t Want to Take Care of Her”

I’ve been with my boyfriend, “Frank,” for four years now. We’re both divorced from previous marriages and have kids with our exs. In addition, Frank has a step-daughter, “Grace,” with his ex. He helped raise Grace from infancy until she was about 8 years old. And then Frank divorced Grace’s mother due to her cheating on him.

Well, it’s been four years and I haven’t spent much time with Grace. She spent a summer with us early on and she and I were driving to the store together alone when a conversation about boys and crushes and kissing came up. I asked Grace if her mom had had the sex talk with her yet. She was 12 years old at the time, so I thought it would be ok to ask because I had the same conversation with my girls at that age. She told her mom what I asked, and her mom went ballistic, accusing me of being inappropriate and being a bad person. So after that event, her mom did not permit Grace to come to our place for any visits for the entire year of 2016. I should mention that Frank’s kids live a couple states away from us.

Since then, I’ve found myself pushing back from getting to know this little girl; I honestly don’t want to be around her. When Frank talks about her, I cringe and I’m instantly annoyed! But he insists that in time my feelings toward her will change. This year Frank and his ex have finally become more civil and now she wants Grace to come visit us when her little brother — Frank’s biological son — visits.

My question is: What are some things I can do to get through these situations? I’ve asked my boyfriend to not have her visit, but he said it’s not my decision. I’ve told him how I feel, but he doesn’t care. We live together, so if she visits, I’m stuck dealing with it. He also plans to have me take care of her for spring break while he is at work. I don’t want too. Please help! — Not Interested in Caring for This Girl

You want to know what you can do in “these situations”? You can grow the hell up! And you can quit taking out your jealousy on this girl. What you said to her — broaching the subject of sex — WAS inappropriate! It was very inappropriate. It doesn’t make you a “bad person,” but it certainly raises some red flags, and if it were my daughter you said that to, I sure as hell would have deep concerns about sending her to sleep in your home two states away from me, let alone spend an entire summer with you. And that you think you were the one wronged here and you don’t seem to take any responsibility for Frank not being able to see his daughter for over a year (and vice-versa) really speaks volumes. Frankly (no pun intended), I’m very surprised Grace’s mother is allowing her to come visit in your home, and that both she and Frank are ok with your being alone with Grace during much of the duration of her stay. (And that also raises some red flags about Frank, to be honest. His kids, whom he hardly gets to see are coming to visit and he’s not even bothering taking off work? But I digress.)

In one sentence you seem to say that broaching the subject of sex with a then-12-year-old was a totally normal thing to do because you did the same with your daughters (which: fine, great. It IS appropriate to discuss sex with your pubescent daughters, but that’s not the same as discussing it with someone else’s daughter!). In another sentence, you call Grace — now a young teenager — a “little girl.” Well, which is it? Do you see her as someone who is mature enough to discuss sex with a woman she barely knows, or someone who needs the kind of protection and guidance a young child needs?

The truth is, at 12 or 13 or 14, a girl is somewhere in between, isn’t she? It’s a tricky age where bodies are changing rapidly (or not… which can create a whole other set of concerns and insecurities), hormones are raging, and relationships with parents can be rocky. It’s an age when the adults need to be especially thoughtful in the words they choose and the messages they send. It can be hard to know how to meet girls’ needs when you’re a full-time parent of the same sex, but if you’re a parent of the opposite sex who lives a couple states away or an adult who’s simply romantically involved with their parent, it can be even more challenging to know how to treat these girls who aren’t little kids anymore but definitely are not yet women. You, as a woman yourself who was once that age, and who has or is raising two daughters of your own, should know this! You should understand that, when all else fails, offering love, compassion, and friendship is generally a safe course.

Maybe, in broaching the subject of sex, you thought you WERE offering these things. Maybe — apparently — you didn’t see the conflict of interest. But it was there. Grace saw it and so did her mother. I’m betting Frank did, too — if not immediately, then certainly when Grace’s mother didn’t allow her to visit him for over a year. I think you owe him an apology if you haven’t yet given it, and the promise that you’ll try better next time (the next time being very soon, it sounds like). And if you feel in your heart that you’re just not up for it — you simply cannot offer Grace love and compassion and friendship, or you don’t know how to offer it without crossing boundaries (or you aren’t clear what the boundaries are), you need to have a frank (again, no pun intended) discussion with your boyfriend about that. Maybe the answer is you aren’t the right girlfriend for him because you can’t accept the kids in his life, aren’t really interested in knowing them, and can’t support him, as his live-in partner, in being a good dad. Again, that doesn’t make you a “bad person.” It simply makes you not the right person for him. It’s a shame it will have taken four years to figure that out, but better now than spending another visit with the kids saying and doing the wrong things and blaming them for it.

***************

Follow along on Facebook, and Instagram.

If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

97 comments… add one
  • avatar

    Janelle April 6, 2017, 9:30 am

    You asked him for her not to visit. You are a very selfish woman. Your made up discomfort over your innaprioriate behavior seems to be priority to you over Frank having a relationship with his child. Wow. Let that sentence sink in because you don’t seem to get that is what you are doing. Or don’t care.

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  • juliecatharine

    Juliecatharine April 6, 2017, 9:38 am

    Dude. Wow. You cross a line, Frank and Grace are punished for it, and you’re the victim? Not in a million lady. Please listen to Wendy and if you can’t muster compassion for these kids move out and on asap.

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  • avatar

    Ron April 6, 2017, 9:40 am

    LW:
    Your attitude when you tried to have the sex talk with someone who wasn’t your child can be summed up as “I’m the new mommy now!!” You say this happened early in your relationship to her step-father, so this seems just another case of using his kid as just so much ‘chattel’ to demonstrate the prominence and permanence of your place in your relationship with her stepfather, at a time when it was unlikely your position was anywhere near that secure or permanent.

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    • avatar

      em April 6, 2017, 11:58 am

      wow, your insights are often so profound

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  • avatar

    Hannanas April 6, 2017, 9:44 am

    LW, what strikes me is that you asked Grace if HER MOM had talked to her about sex. It’s not your business what her mom chooses to discuss with her.

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  • avatar

    dinoceros April 6, 2017, 9:49 am

    It just got worse and worse as I read the letter. First, I honestly find it super bizarre that you asked her about the sex talk. Who goes out of their way to talk about sex with a 12-year-old they are not the parent of? What were you thinking? OF COURSE she was going to be pissed.

    Second, the amount of dislike you have for your boyfriend’s daughter is concerning. Asking your boyfriend to bar his daughter (and no, it’s not appropriate for you to keep making all these distinctions between his biological and step-kids) from visiting is extremely selfish and just totally out of touch.

    You need to break up with him and never date a guy with kids again, because you’re not emotionally mature enough for it.

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    • bagge72

      bagge72 April 6, 2017, 9:52 am

      The whole step kid thing is bothering me to, because the LW thinks because she isn’t biologically Franks, that he should just toss her aside and only deal with the kids that came from his fruitful loins.

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  • bagge72

    bagge72 April 6, 2017, 9:49 am

    The amount of resentment you are holding against Grace, because you think she ratted you out is absolutely insane. You are legit holding a grudge against a young girl, and trying to keep her from visiting her father because you think she some how betrayed your trust. It’s fucking nuts the level you are trying to go to keep this girl out of yours and Franks life. It’s not normal. Any normal person would relish in the opportunity to make things right, and show that what they did was a mistake, and it wont happen again, but you are acting like you are from the streets and snitches get stitches so this girl better watch her back when she’s around you.
    News Flash ask the parent before you go handing out sexual advice to a 12 year old that doesn’t belong to you. Unless your a Sex ED teacher then go ahead, but keep the condoms and bananas at school.

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    • bittergaymark

      Bittergaymark April 6, 2017, 10:24 am

      News Flash is always supposed to be in ALL CAPS!! 😉

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      • avatar

        Janelle April 6, 2017, 10:37 am

        I truly didn’t know that, not that I can think of a time I’ve written it.

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      • bagge72

        bagge72 April 6, 2017, 10:39 am

        NEWS FLASH I hope I remember next time hahaha.

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      • avatar

        SpaceySteph April 6, 2017, 3:44 pm

        Bagge isn’t up on the Bittergaymark Style Manual.

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    • Cleopatra Jones

      Cleopatra Jones April 6, 2017, 12:56 pm

      Haha, you’re lucky BGM didn’t give you stitches for stealing his trademark ‘bitch-I’m-about-to-tell-you-something’ mantra.

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  • avatar

    Gwen Soul April 6, 2017, 9:53 am

    I am going against the grain a bit here. I think the only thing wrong in asking about the sex talk was that it was early in the relationship, she should have let her boyfriend know instead. But if it has been later in where she was expected to have a relationship with the daughter than I think it would have been perfectly reasonable.

    That said, she can’t ask her boyfriend to not have his kids visit just because she is uncomfortable, and if they are going to stay together then these kids will be in her life and she needs to figure out how and what type of relationship she wants.

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom April 6, 2017, 10:03 am

      She has already decided she doesn’t want a relationship. She’s trying to figure out how to get out of having a relationship. She doesn’t seem to understand that when you mess up you apologize and try to do better in the future. It was never her place to have the sex talk with this girl, especially at that age.

      If the girl was older and came to her to ask a question then I think she could answer the question. It was never her place to bring up the topic. If the girl had asked at the age of twelve the appropriate answer would be to ask her mom or dad.

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      • avatar

        Gwen Soul April 6, 2017, 11:08 am

        As I said, I think if she had been further in the relationship with her Boyfriend included a relationship with his kids, 12 is a really understandable time to have that talk. Honestly the start of the sex discussion should start earlier in my opinion (talking about consent, touching, feelings, etc.) The only wrong thing about it was that it was still early on where a relationship with the daughter wasn’t expected.

        If she feels she doesn’t want a relationship with his kids than that is fine, but it should also mean the end of her relationship with her boyfriend.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom April 6, 2017, 11:42 am

        I have a 16-year-old daughter. I get everything about having the talk. It still was inappropriate for the dad’s girlfriend to bring up the topic. You can’t assume that her mom didn’t talk to her about these things. They apparently have a good enough relationship that the daughter went to her mom because the LW made her feel uncomfortable. The mom was the appropriate person for this talk. Dad’s new girlfriend was absolutely not appropriate. If the daughter reached the point where she felt that she couldn’t talk to her own parents and felt that she could talk to the LW and the daughter approached the LW with the question then I think it would be appropriate to answer. Even then at the age of twelve only if the child absolutely felt they couldn’t talk to either parent. This was the LW inserting herself where she didn’t belong and she made the child uncomfortable. She probably creeped out the kid. The kid had probably heard enough about avoiding people who make you uncomfortable in a sexual way that she went directly to her mom because the LW was crossing her, the daughter’s, boundaries. This shows that the LW and her mom were having the necessary talks. If the child had felt she couldn’t talk to her mom about these kinds of issues the LW wouldn’t have heard anything about it.

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy April 6, 2017, 12:20 pm

      But it WAS early in the relationship, the LW didn’t ask her boyfriend/ the father first, and she didn’t have much rapport built with the daughter before she broached the topic of sex ed, all of which is precisely what made it so inappropriate.

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    • avatar

      dinoceros April 6, 2017, 12:35 pm

      Ehh, I still don’t really think it’s appropriate. Even in a long-term relationship, there’s still a line between parenting things you do and parenting things that go to the actual parent. I think the sex talk falls under the second category. Parenting and making parenting decisions are two different things.

      Bringing it up either looks like she’s trying to judge the mom’s parenting choices or is trying to bring it up herself, which is not appropriate because mom and dad get to decide when to have the talk and what it includes. If she hasn’t gotten the talk at this point, by bringing it up, the daughter is going to immediately ask someone what is and force them to have the talk.

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  • avatar

    Northern Star April 6, 2017, 9:54 am

    Grace doesn’t deserve to be treated poorly in her father’s home — and that’s exactly how I assume you’ll treat her, based on your letter. Are you a small toddler throwing a tantrum because a girl “told on you” to her mom? Or are you just a selfish jerk who doesn’t care how her actions affect anyone?

    If you don’t want to be around your boyfriend’s child, then you shouldn’t be. Either move out for the summer or move out forever. If I were Frank, I would have dumped you already.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom April 6, 2017, 9:59 am

    You were inappropriate and then blamed the child. You sound emotionally immature. Too immature to be a stepmom. Too immature to love a child who isn’t yours. Too immature to even be pleasant to the child that isn’t yours.

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  • avatar

    cyndi April 6, 2017, 10:16 am

    What the hell is wrong with you?

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    • avatar

      anonymousse April 6, 2017, 11:14 am

      Thank you for so eloquently putting my thoughts into words.

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  • avatar

    Katie April 6, 2017, 10:19 am

    Sex educator here. The girl was in 7th grade – if she hadn’t gotten the sex talk already, from school or parents, I’d be worried. LW maybe could have phrased it differently, like “What have you learned about crushes/kissing/boys/etc.,” but it honestly sounds like she was trying to gauge Grace’s exposure to this information before giving her own advice. It also sounds like Grace’s parents think sex is a shameful thing to talk about, hence the huge overreaction to a trusted adult having a supportive conversation with a pre-teen.

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    • avatar

      Ale April 6, 2017, 11:46 am

      “It also sounds like Grace’s parents think sex is a shameful thing to talk about, hence the huge overreaction to a trusted adult having a supportive conversation with a pre-teen”

      Even if that was the case, it was none of LW’s bussiness to get into that.

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    • avatar

      Sarah April 6, 2017, 12:15 pm

      I agree that a trusted adult should have been discussing these things with her, but Daddy’s New Girlfriend (as it was early on) does not a “trusted adult” make.

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy April 6, 2017, 12:22 pm

      What?? Where are you getting that Grace’s parents think sex is a shameful thing to talk about? And where you you getting that the LW was a trusted adult have a supportive conversation with a pre-teen? None of that is implicit in this letter. All we know is that the LW barely knew this 12-year-old girl who was talking about boys and crushes and kissing, and the LW suddenly jumped into asking her what she knows about sex. Where in the letter does she say the girl was asking for advice?

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      • avatar

        Katie April 7, 2017, 8:04 am

        I get the idea that she’s a trusted adult because Grace stayed with her for a summer.

        I get the idea that they think sex is shameful if they have a reaction that lasts an entire year. What we don’t know: was Grace uncomfortable with the comment, did she report that something inappropriate happened, did she say it casually, did she ask her mom why they hadn’t had the sex talk, did she ask her mom for more information about the sex talk. If Grace had reported to her mom that she felt uncomfortable or that the LW did something inappropriate to her, etc, then I’d understand. Merely asking if she’s had the talk yet with her mom? Sounds like a lot of helicopter parenting + paranoid pedophilia fears.

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    • avatar

      Northern Star April 6, 2017, 12:26 pm

      Katie, if Grace was taught that sex was a shameful thing to talk about, she wouldn’t have told her mother that Daddy’s New Girlfriend asked her about the topic. How do you know that Grace didn’t casually tell her mom about the LW’s comments in the course of explaining her day at her father’s house?

      Grace’s mom may have taught her that adults don’t discuss adult topics (such as sex) with children, because they SHOULDN’T. Which is true. The LW didn’t say Grace HADN’T had the sex talk. So… sounds like they have, or the LW would mention it as the vindication for her question.

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      • avatar

        Katie April 7, 2017, 8:12 am

        This ownership of the sex talk idea is strange to me. If adults don’t discuss topics such as sex with children, who is teaching your kid’s 4th-5th grade puberty talk, and who is teaching your kid’s 7th-10th grade sex ed classes?

        These conversations are most effective when kids are comfortable with the people they’re having these conversations with. From the follow-up of the LW, it sounds like Grade did bring up sex on her own – great opportunity to share some information while she’s receptive of it.

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      • avatar

        Northern Star April 7, 2017, 10:12 am

        You see no difference between a classroom setting and a real-world situation? An educator in said classroom, and a random adult equating kissing to sex?

        Really?

        Do you wander up to other people’s kids outside of the classroom setting and butt in asking them if they’re up on their sex knowledge? Be careful—a parent might have you arrested if you did so.

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    • avatar

      dinoceros April 6, 2017, 12:36 pm

      Or she could have just asked her boyfriend if they had the talk with her yet…

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  • bittergaymark

    Bittergaymark April 6, 2017, 10:23 am

    Break up with Frank.
    .
    IMMEDIATELY.
    .
    He may or may not deserve better.
    .
    But Grace most DEFINITELY does.

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    • avatar

      anonymousse April 6, 2017, 11:15 am

      This is the only thing you should do, LW.

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  • avatar

    ktfran April 6, 2017, 10:46 am

    This letter makes me irrationally angry. Or maybe rationally. I feel bad for Grace. This man is her father. That’s all she knows as her dad. You don’t like her because you think she “told” on you. She didn’t. She didn’t know what to do with you asking her about the sex talk, so she mentioned it to her mom. I told my mom everything and still do. Her mom was of course upset and maybe could have handled her anger better. But for fucks sake, you should have apologized. You should have bent over backwards to make his right. GROW UP! Your behavior makes me sick.

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    • avatar

      dinoceros April 6, 2017, 3:38 pm

      Yeah. The other issue here is that this is a dad who is dating a woman who dislikes his daughter to the point where she doesn’t want her to visit her dad anymore. And not even for any reason, just because she got called out for bad judgment.

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  • avatar

    SpaceySteph April 6, 2017, 11:14 am

    I do think it’s pretty shitty for Frank to expect the LW to take care of his daughter for a week of spring break. LW is not the girl’s mother, or step-mother, or really anything to her. It’s obvious (and not unreasonable) that the LW is not friend or confidante to Grace, so she’s basically just a free babysitter. I say she should tell Frank that she’s not able to watch his kids all day every day and he should do some combination of taking time off work and hiring an actual babysitter for the time they are there.
    That said, if LW wants to stay with Frank then she can’t have *no* relationship with Grace. But she can ease back into it with like a couple dinners and a trip to the park (all while Frank is around), vs spending all day every day with her.

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    • avatar

      Northern Star April 6, 2017, 11:23 am

      People who are “nothing” to a 12-year-old girl shouldn’t be trying to have a talk about sex with her. If the LW is a stay-at-home girlfriend who watches the other kids, then I don’t see why it’s so bad of Frank to believe she could handle adding Grace to the mix as well. The LW doesn’t have a problem watching the bio son, apparently—just Grace.

      But Frank is a bad father for letting this woman destroy his relationship with his daughter. He should have thrown the selfish fool out on her butt once he realized the damage she did. I just can’t understand the callousness of her thought process, and the utter lack of caring that a father and daughter were kept apart for a year. She just wants the girl gone.

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      • avatar

        SpaceySteph April 6, 2017, 11:46 am

        I am not trying to defend the LW’s past actions or current mindset.
        Given that the last time she was alone with the girl ended with the girl being banned from seeing the only father she’s ever known for an entire freaking year, all of the adults in this story are pretty ridiculous for thinking this is a good solution.
        I have to wonder if the mother even knows that she’s sending her kids (is the brother Frank’s with a third woman or Frank’s with this woman, not really sure?) to spend an entire week with this woman who was so inappropriate the last time or if she thinks the father is going to be with them most of the time.

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      • avatar

        RedRoverRedRover April 6, 2017, 12:59 pm

        I agree that all the adults in this situation are a mess. LW, for obvious reasons that have been covered by everyone. Frank, for risking losing access to his daughter again by leaving her with LW, for saying it’s “not your decision” who to have in their shared home, and for expecting LW to babysit a kid she has no relationship with for a week. I mean, LW shouldn’t be saying the kid isn’t allowed, but Frank shouldn’t be saying “tough shit” either. It’s both their home, they need to be having a discussion and coming to an agreement, not butting heads like this. And the mom, for keeping Grace away from her father for a year. Again, they’re adults and they should have been having a discussion and coming to a solution. Not punishing the daughter for something the LW did.

        I don’t really see how this situation turns out positively for anyone involved. Just break up with him, LW. If you can’t deal with someone’s kids, you can’t have a relationship with them, period. And yes, Grace is his kid.

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      • avatar

        Janelle April 6, 2017, 1:20 pm

        I do think anyone should have a say as to who is in their home but when someone has children that goes out the window.

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      • avatar

        RedRoverRedRover April 6, 2017, 1:47 pm

        I think you get to say no even if it’s a child, and then the other person should dump you. Honestly it’s insane that Frank would even WANT the kid staying alone with someone who doesn’t want her there. Frank should dump her over this and be free to have Grace over whenever he wants.

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    • avatar

      Ale April 6, 2017, 12:15 pm

      Yeah, Frank is a clueless idiot. Or doesn’t really care about Grace at all. Another person would be cautious of reuniting Grace and LW since it cost him a year without her.

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy April 6, 2017, 12:24 pm

      Yes to this.

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    • avatar

      dinoceros April 6, 2017, 3:43 pm

      I get why leaving his daughter with the LW is bad (because she’ll probably treat her poorly) and because it’s a lot to ask of someone, but I think “easing” her into it is a little bit of coddling. I don’t know how you can ease into this when you already live with the father, though. What is she supposed to do outside of the “couple dinners and trip to the park” when the child is staying at the house she lives in?

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      • avatar

        Janelle April 6, 2017, 3:48 pm

        And the comment about his demanding job and not being able to take time off. You haven’t seen your kid in a year and abandoned her by moving to another state. WORK IT OUT!!!

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      • avatar

        SpaceySteph April 6, 2017, 4:46 pm

        Idk, she could leave the house occasionally? Go out to dinner with friends? Have a weekend at the spa?

        Easing into it is as much (or more) for the daughter’s benefit as for the LW’s. The daughter now hasn’t seen this woman in over a year and knows that the reason is her mother’s freakout over the “sex talk.” She’s coming to see her dad, do you think she actually *wants* to spend all day every day with her evil not-even-stepmother? I doubt it.

        LW should definitely bow out of all-day childcare, and should also arrange to give the kids some parent-child time without her. Even if she had a good relationship with the kids it would be a good thing to give them some alone time with their dad.

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  • avatar

    LisforLeslie April 6, 2017, 11:19 am

    You don’t need to play parent. Sure, you had the talk with your kids, but you don’t have to have the talk with Grace. She’s not your kid. That’s your husband and his ex-wife’s responsibility. Not yours.

    What you are responsible for:
    Making sure the stepdaughter and son are welcome in your home.
    Treating them with respect and compassion
    Understanding they are KIDS – not adults with adult feelings and emotional control
    Understanding they are kids in someone else’s home
    Being patient
    Being a god damned adult who can put on a smile and welcome your husband’s kids without sulking or throwing a tantrum.

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    • avatar

      Ron April 6, 2017, 12:13 pm

      But LW is not Frank’s wife. She’s his girl friend. When she decided she should have this talk with her bf’s step-daughter, she was a fairly new gf. So, step-father’s very recent current gf? What right does that giver her to initiate the talk. The girl didn’t ask for it, since LW says the conversation began with her asking the girl if her mother had the sex talk with her. WTF? Unlike the views of some other posters, I saw no evidence in the letter that this girl’s mother was ashamed of sex or unwilling to have this discussion with her daughter. The mother’s reaction seemed to be “if you are going to expose my daughter to your gf’s who have no sense of boundaries and simply assume they are now a surrogate mother to my daughter, then she can’t visit you either, until you show more responsibility.” Frank was married to the girls mother and the mother encouraged him to act like her father and to continue doing so after they divorced. The girl’s mother never signed on to Frank being able to pass on ‘mother’ responsibilities to his gfs.

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      • avatar

        RedRoverRedRover April 6, 2017, 1:00 pm

        I think you misunderstood LforLeslie’s comment? She said the father or the mother should have the talk with the daughter, not the LW.

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      • avatar

        LisforLeslie April 6, 2017, 3:09 pm

        @Ron – think you misread what I said. The LW is not the parent. She shouldn’t be trying to play parent to this girl. It’s not her job. At all. Any parenting should be done by the dad or by the LW after checking in with the dad.

        Her job is to be nice, respectful and considerate.

        I also agree with the others – Frank should take off from work – she shouldn’t be responsible for the kid for the week.

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    • avatar

      Ron April 6, 2017, 3:25 pm

      Yes, I get that. What I said was wrong in your post is that this girl’s step-father is not the husband of the LW. He is only her bf, which make’s LW’s connection to this girl even more remote.

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  • avatar

    Matthew April 6, 2017, 11:34 am

    I usually just lurk and read, but this struck a chord with me. Seeing as your boyfriend gets limited time with his children, wouldn’t you want to foster a nurturing environment for them? You were her age once, can you imagine not having your biological father in your life and the one man who stepped up and raised you for the first eight years of your life was suddenly pulled out of your life due to actions of his girlfriend? I am surprised the daughter even wants to be around you, knowing the influence you are trying to dictate on her father, of whom she already rarely sees. Please get into some sort of counseling to figure out if this is something you can adjust your viewpoint and thinking on or leave the guy and let him be the father those children deserve.

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  • Portia

    Portia April 6, 2017, 11:47 am

    I had my first sex ed class when I was 10, so I’m not totally convinced it was out of the ordinary to ask if her mom’s had the talk with her yet. I know I personally depended on adults who weren’t my parents to be a resource for that type of thing, and it’s not like she launched into the sex talk? I can also see how it’s appropriate to give an apology to the mom for not checking with her first because some people have different ideas about this stuff. Now the LW knows and won’t make that specific mistake again.

    Personally, when stuff comes up where I’m not sure what I should be telling my niece, I throw questions back on her or say that maybe that’s something she should ask her mom. Though a big part of that is that I don’t have a kid and therefore have very little point of reference for what’s the appropriate age for things. Maybe the LW should think through some strategies to use when a topic comes up and she’s not sure what level of information is appropriate.

    I agree with everyone else that the LW shouldn’t be holding this over the girl – cringing at her name and not wanting to be around her at all? That’s pretty childish and I think everyone else covered that point. Though I think a good amount of the nervousness in the last paragraph of the letter is the LW is ending up in a situation like this again. So, if the mother and her boyfriend are entrusting her in the LW’s hands (like it sounds like they are), they need to be specific about what topics are off-limits or about how to handle them and then actually trust the LW. Otherwise, they’re setting her up to fail and that’s sucky…

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    Kelly Walters April 6, 2017, 12:03 pm

    The LW said they were having a conversation about boys, kissing and such and I don’t see much wrong with asking if the kid had the sex talk yet. Sounds like maybe some red flags went up. I think the mother over reacted. However, I agree she sounds silly and immature now. Just let it go for the sake of the child.

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    • courtney89

      Courtney April 6, 2017, 12:24 pm

      I also think perhaps it was an overreaction. But we don’t have the full context, really.
      Her reaction towards the daughter afterwards though, i think we can all agree, is completely shameful. Grow up.

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    Anonymous April 6, 2017, 12:18 pm

    “… a conversation about boys and crushes and kissing came up. I asked Grace if her mom had had the sex talk with her yet.”

    Wait a minute–this sounds to me as if the girl brought up the subject of sex herself, and the LW asked if her mother had talked to her yet in order to guage what the girl knew already or if it’s even an approachable subject in her family. Don’t get me wrong, the LW sounds like an immature, selfish person, but it actually sounds like she was first feeling out the girl’s family attitude before talking to her further about it. It doesn’t seem that the LW brought up boys and kissing, but the girl did. And then it sounds like the LW first tried to feel out the situation at the girl’s home. It actually sounds like she acted appropriately, but it got misinterpreted and blown up.

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy April 6, 2017, 12:23 pm

      How is talking about kissing, bringing up sex? What a jump!

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      Kate April 6, 2017, 12:31 pm

      Yeah, a 12 year old talking about boys and kissing (if indeed she even brought it up) does not need a spontaneous sex talk!!! If she said anything that made the LW think she was growing up fast and maybe needed a talk, she should have just mentioned it later to Frank.

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        Janelle April 6, 2017, 12:38 pm

        Exactly! I’m not saying some kids don’t engage in sexual activity early on but if that was the LW concern she tells Frank later. A blanket, you can always come to me with questions or concerns because I know sometimes it’s difficult to discuss things with family, would be sufficient.

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      dinoceros April 6, 2017, 12:37 pm

      Maybe I’m old, but when I talked about kissing at 12, I definitely wasn’t talking about sex.

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      Katie April 7, 2017, 8:06 am

      Totally agree with you, Anonymous. There’s a spectrum of activities that’s included in an ongoing sex talk – it shouldn’t just be 1 conversation about PIV sex and that’s it.

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  • avatar

    Sarah April 6, 2017, 12:20 pm

    I cannot believe that you had the balls to ask your boyfriend to not let her visit.

    What I’d like to know is how you would feel if your ex’s girlfriend tried to block your kids from visiting.

    You sound like a peach.

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    Cheesecaker2911 April 6, 2017, 12:23 pm

    I was on the LW’s side about the over reaction at the sex question (since it wasn’t totally out of the blue) UNTIL she made this all about her and asked the bf not to spend time with the tweenager. LW, GET OVER YOURSELF. Acknowledge your bad behavior, apologize and mean it, and suck it up.

    Side Note: It’s not fair for Frank to just leave the LW in charge of his kids, who she barely knew then, and still doesn’t due to the mistakes made last time. He needs to take time off work to see his kids. It’s clear that this woman should not be left alone with the girl, as it’s just going to get uglier, and Grace will most surely be reporting even the smallest mistake to her mother to make this situation worse, ’cause lets be real, tweenagers like drama.

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    LW/Jenny April 6, 2017, 1:19 pm

    I just want to clarify some things…

    1) My boyfriend was aware at the time the sex talk question was asked. To him it wasn’t a big deal. Baby mama was the only one upset about it. And also, the girl was asking MY daughters questions about boys, kissing, and sex questions prior to me talking to her.

    2) His biological son is the only one on the parenting plan so he visits quite often. The girl is a product of the ex and her ex. But besides that, his son is welcome at our place any time.

    3) Boyfriend has a very demanding job which prevented him from taking time off during spring break and it’s not usually like this where he doesn’t have time off to spend time with his kids.

    Those are just a few things I want to clear up. I may seem like a VERY selfish girl, but when I first met his kids, I was all open arms and ready to include them both into my life. Their mother would often use them to get back with my boyfriend and wouldn’t allow them to even come to Washington. She would require him to ONLY visit in California so that she could have her family back together. Ever since the parenting plan finally was put into place which requires his son to visit us in Washington, she would put ideas into the kids head saying we don’t care for them and that they will be replaced by my kids. SO the last encounter I had with the girl, I tried again to welcome with open arms and the ENTIRE time she was with us, she pretended I wasn’t there and wouldn’t acknowledge me. And for me to say that I dont want her around, only makes sense to me. I may sound jealous or bitter, well my friends who have been around the situation agree that she doesn’t need to be here either. I was looking for advice and rather getting helpful advice, I’m being put down for having my feelings.

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      Northern Star April 6, 2017, 1:54 pm

      Well, your friends are jerks. Your hurt feelings over a teenage girl being standoffish don’t trump Grace’s right to be with her dad.

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      Unwanted_Truth April 6, 2017, 2:05 pm

      I am echoing Nothern Star, but in addition, have you ever stopped to think that Grace is 12 and going through, and will continue to go through a lot of emotional changes, along with other changes. Therefore, having her mother in her ear is most likely not only confusing her, but also upsetting her. I would not take this as a personal as you seem to be, there is a really good chance that if you continue to show her respect and love, “welcoming with open arms” that she will eventually come around and start treating you nice. You will strain this relationship between the two of you further if you act like this is all her fault. You know it isn’t her fault. So her acting like you’re not even there at first will sting but just take it in stride and see if this blows over.

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        RedRoverRedRover April 6, 2017, 2:09 pm

        Even if this was all Grace’s fault, which it isn’t, but if it was, she is a CHILD. You, LW, are an adult, supposedly. Grow up and act like one. You can’t hold grudges against children. Especially when they’re possibly being poisoned against you by yet another immature adult in their lives.

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      Gwyneth6 April 6, 2017, 2:51 pm

      I’m not offended or shocked about the sex thing. You should have known that as a mom you’d want to do that with your own daughters, instead of another woman bringing it up first. Or if you’re a newer thinking mom, embracing the ability of culture to change and liking the it takes a village way of parenting perhaps, you should have checked with your partner (ok you did) and I guess he should have checked with her. Really since he ok’d this its all on the mom, and she’s being immature but I can imagine she’s sad and jealous about you , and you probably should have known how she was and not stepped on her toes without the custody agreement. Frank is being mean but it’s his daughter. Sounds like an ultimatum, you have to accept this or frank won’t accept you as his partner? But if you do want to be his partner I can’t believe you are fighting about his daughter. She isn’t going anywhere and you know her mom doesn’t have the best judgements or the daughters best interests at heart (the one year thing) so you have to expect this young lady will say hurtful things and not behave with good manners to you because most of her time she lives with her mom who I’m guessing hates you. You have to realllly try to find some maturity and patience and if you want to be franks partner you’ll need long term patience. She’s not going to warm up to you right away. And if you’re a stay at home mom already , any backlash about caring for this child for a week would be totally inappropriate , in my opinion more innapropriate than the sex talk. What would be appropriate would be to ask frank to take care of dinner and let you go out for a night or two while he watches all the kids (unless his work makes this impossible). That would be good for you and step daughter to have some breathing room.

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        Ron April 6, 2017, 3:36 pm

        No, no, no! It is simply not Frank’s place to give his girl friend permission to give his daughter the sex talk. He is not the custodial parent. He is not the biological father. He played a big role in raising this teenager for much of her life, but unless he actually adopted her, he has extremely limited legal or moral rights regarding her continued up-bringing. The mom isn’t to blame. This was the mom’s call to make. She is the girl’s mother and her legal guardian. It sounds as though she allows the girl visits to Frank, but that Frank only has legal provision for visitation with the son he fathered with his ex. That is one of the justifications that LW gives for it being alright for her to demand that Frank not invite his step-daughter.

        Frank is to be commended for being a father figure and good step-father to this girl, while he was married to her mother. Lot’s of girls have tons of active problems or disinterest from step-fathers, and all the evidence here suggests Frank was a good step parent. However, he would be badly over-stepping were he to give his gf permission to have the sex talk with his step-daughter. Reading the original letter and update, I don’t think Frank ever asked LW to have this talk with his step-daughter. LW REALLY over-reached, then took out her anger at the mother reactions upon the daughter, definitively proving she wasn’t the one to have the sex talk with this girl.

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        Gwyneth6 April 7, 2017, 4:22 pm

        Ron, I feel she should have known the mom would get mad. Also I think she probably asked step daughter the question first and then told dad and he said sure that’s fine. it’s a social convention that the custodial parent or often the parent who has the same gender has the sex talk and even then there is a wide range of difference of the child’s age when it happens. I was about four and my brother was in the oven and my parents gave me a picture book which I loved (cringe) and im pretty sure I made them read it to me often. We learned about molestation prevention from kindergarten too (exactly the kind of curriculum people went crazy when Obama was involved, but about 20 years earlier). And obviously in some cultures and other North American sub cultures my experience is not the norm- kid will be older and opposite sex parent won’t be involved perhaps.
        What she did is inconsiderate and may make step daughter hate her but I don’t find it violating, and asking kids if they know about birds and bees is illegal probably no where. I only have young children but I wonder if there is a best way to do the sex talk? I find the ‘rule’ most posters supporting here to be arbitrary. The fact that other adults can’t say anything? Other teens can say a million more damaging things than what new step mom said. Step mom could say more damaging things too, for example critiquing her own appearance often or talking about calories or food choices in her own diet, over time this would probably have a negative effect on the girl but her mom would never know because saying something negative about yourself as a woman is not remarkable in our current culture. Random idea: I wonder if we start being less precious about talking about sex, maybe it could, over time reduce toxic masculinity and increase feminism?

        This whole situation the mom is “to blame” for. She didn’t have to date frank when she had an infant and then cheat on him down the road, and after the break up use her daughter as a bargaining chip (it seems like). Dating someone when you just had a baby should be a huge decision also for the person dating the new parent. Frank also shouldn’t have moved far away from his kids. Those two actions are way more offensive to me than step mom saying something too mom like to a 12 year old. If I was her mom I’d be much more concerned about her hanging out with guys or girls who have watched porn or will show her porn. Mom has the choice to act like an adult and get to know step mom or maybe just be a respectful coparent with frank, have a good repor (can’t spell) with him and ask whatever questions she needs to to make sure step mom isn’t a weirdo. Step mom actually is a weirdo for thinking dad should ditch his kid but that’s separate.

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      Janelle April 6, 2017, 3:02 pm

      Nope, you saying you don’t want his daughter (step or not) around does in fact NOT make sense. You aren’t getting helpful advice because the only helpful advice is for you to stop acting younger than Grace. No wonder she ignores you. Grow up!

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      Kate April 6, 2017, 3:37 pm

      That’s so interesting that in your update you say she was asking questions about sex, but in the original letter it was just boys and kissing. Even if she was, the appropriate thing to do would be to mention it to Frank and let him and his ex-wife handle it. You obviously didn’t know whether they had or not, or you wouldn’t have asked.

      You do sound like a “selfish girl,” not a mature *woman,* which I assume chronologically you are if you have teen daughters.

      And Frank sucks if he can’t come up with a better solution than, both kids come to visit during a week he can’t take off, so you take care of them all day.

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    • Amanda

      Amanda April 6, 2017, 3:56 pm

      She’s his daughter. Not “the girl” or “a product”.

      And get some new friends. Maybe ones who are compassionate to children.

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      ktfran April 6, 2017, 5:09 pm

      You and your friends are assholes.

      Oh, poor you. A young girl, age 12, wasn’t the perfect little angel you had hoped for, despite going out of your way. She was 12. A lot of girls are really hard in their preteen and teenage years. And your boyfriend sounds like the only male role model she has. Have some compassion.

      Her mom doesn’t sound that great either and is modeling bad behavior. Grace is being dealt a shitty hand. One she didn’t ask for. And all you can show is contempt.

      Again, I feel sorry for this girl. I hope one day she has positive influences in her life and rises above you, your boyfriend (the only dad she knows) and her mother.

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        ktfran April 6, 2017, 5:17 pm

        I do agree that Frank is also behaving shitty for asking you to be the sole caregiver while he works.

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        Kate April 6, 2017, 5:28 pm

        Seriously, my heart breaks for all these kids that people had, and then abandoned, and then other people step in to be a parent figure and then *they* go away, and everyone who gets divorced has “new relationship where I can be happy!” as their #1 priority, rather than the kids, and then their new partner resents the kids, and on and on. God. Get over yourselves.

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      anonymousse April 6, 2017, 5:56 pm

      No, you are being put down for TAKING your feelings out on a twelve year old. SHAME ON YOU.

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    Ron April 6, 2017, 2:10 pm

    “Baby mama”, Wtf! How do you get off calling this girl’s mother a baby mama?
    NEWS FLASH! (and I did it all caps for BGM): Your bf had a life before he met you. A big part of that life involved being married to his ex and co-raising her daughter from a prior marriage as his child. If you can’t deal with that, then he really should dump you.

    So your bf is aware of the question you asked his step-daughter? What difference does that possibly make? He isn’t the custodial parent. So, this girl asked your daughter a question — either you didn’t know about that at the time you asked her whether or not her mother already had the sex talk with her, or you had ample time to discuss it with your bf before you spoke to the girl.

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    • bittergaymark

      Bittergaymark April 7, 2017, 2:33 am

      NEWSFLASH!! It’s also just one word!! Heh heh heh. I should have been more specific before… 😉

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  • GertietheDino

    GertietheDino April 6, 2017, 2:44 pm

    Where are her own children in all of this, she states she has kids from a previous marriage, yet they are not mentioned at all.

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      Gwyneth6 April 6, 2017, 3:00 pm

      She has now commented and mentioned them!:)

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  • avatar

    Rose April 6, 2017, 5:32 pm

    Am I missing something? I’m probably misreading this letter, but my initial impression was the conversation was something like

    12 year old: I like this boy and want to kiss and make out with him!

    LW: Oh, wow! Have you talked to your mom about boys and sex and that stuff yet?

    The letter doesn’t say that she tried to initiate a sex talk with the daughter, just that she asked if her mom had had one with her yet, which is still inappropriate but far less sketchy.

    Regardless, LW, if you want this relationship to work, you’re going to have to let go of this grudge and make nice with his children.

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  • avatar

    Kate April 6, 2017, 5:38 pm

    Who initiates a conversation about sex with a 12-year-old who they have no guardianship of?

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      Kate April 6, 2017, 5:41 pm

      That was a reply to Rose. If a 12-year-old I had no relationship with was telling me about a crush on a boy, I’ll be damned if I’d mention sex. It’s not my place. I’d just chat with her about crushes, and maybe make a note to ask her stepdad about a sex talk with her mom.

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    Essie April 6, 2017, 5:44 pm

    Two thoughts:

    1) If you can’t be genuinely kind, warm and welcoming to ALL of Frank’s kids (step- or biological) when they are visiting in your home, you have no business being in a relationship with him. He treats them all as his children, therefore you must do the same. Get over this, or end the relationship.

    2) If you continue to fight him on this, he will eventually break up with you. Your contempt for this child comes through loud and clear, and any father worthy of the name won’t want his kid exposed to that.

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  • Cleopatra_30

    Cleopatra_30 April 6, 2017, 5:56 pm

    Correct me if I am wrong, but the way the LW wrote about the ‘sex talk’ with her BF’s daughter was that she ASKED if HER MOM had talked to her about sex yet. To me the LW wasn’t out right taking it in her hands to talk to her about sex, rather asking if her mom had discussed this topic with her. I assume to then tell the girl at the time to probably talk to her biological mom about boys, sex etc. The LW never said she had the sex talk with her, just asked if her mom had broached the subject yet with her.

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      Kate April 6, 2017, 6:05 pm

      Why, though? The kid didn’t bring up sex in the car with her on the way to the store, so why bring it up? Why talk about sex if the kid didn’t? That would make me uncomfortable as a kid. She should have asked Frank, if she was concerned about it.

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      • Cleopatra_30

        Cleopatra_30 April 6, 2017, 7:59 pm

        Reading the LW’s reply in the comments, apparently sex was “apparently” a part of the discussion. Even when MY mom attempted to talk to me about boys etc the topic of sex and safe sex did come up. Is it not all wound into the same ball? Dating, boys, kissing, touching, consent and of course safe sex.

        NOW after re reading the letter and comments, it probably was a little inappropriate to be butting into the conversation the girls were having. It really isn’t her place when there isn’t enough of a parental connection on her end. Would have been better to bring it up to Frank and advise him the girls are talking, and probably best he or the mom talk to her about sex/boys/dating/kissing etc.

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      Ron April 6, 2017, 7:17 pm

      Still not the province of ex’s gf to query kid about whether her mom has talked to her about sex — presumptuous and crossing a major line. I think what is appropriate is to discuss any concerns she has with Frank and then Frank can just give a heads-up to his ex “just thought you should know that Grace has been asking my gf’s daughter a lot of questions about boys, dating, kissing, sex.” That’s it. LW is not the official auditor of what Grace’s mother has or hasn’t told her. A light touch is called for here, both with Grace (don’t bring it up, if it is unavoidable say ‘talk to your Mom) and with the ex (don’t say, “I think you need to have a sex talk with Grace, don’t act such that a comment gets back from Grace to her mom suggesting that you think mom has been deficient in talking to Grace about sex, which very seriously is how mom perceived it and a not unnatural reaction.)

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  • avatar

    carolann April 6, 2017, 7:51 pm

    I can kind of understand LWs point of view to some extent. She may be super uncomfortable around Grace because she is afraid anything she says or does will be judged and repeated back to Mom. Plus she is uncomfortable because of the way she gave her the cold shoulder the last visit. However, asking him not to have the girl visit is overreacting. IMO she should play it cool. Let the girl ignore her if she wants to and just act normal. Let the past go and move on.
    I don’t think she is responsible for babysitting, but if their is no other option and they can’t afford a sitter or don’t know a good one they trust I would just be gracious about it.
    As far as the talk, if the girl was talking to her daughter’s about such things it wouldn’t be so odd to ask about it BUT I would have asked Frank to be the one to bring it up to the girl. It is easy to say the wrong thing sometimes. I think the situation was blown a bit out of proportion and even though the Mom had a right to be upset to not let the child visit was extreme.

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  • avatar

    redhead April 6, 2017, 8:16 pm

    I’m a step parent to two teenagers and I’m a younger parent (32). I can say as a step parent (I realize you’re a girlfriend), but as a step parent, they expect you to be there for them. And they might not think of you as parent, nor should they have to, but you have a role in their lives, and if you ice them out, they feel like YOU are throwing THEM away. Let that sink in for a minute.

    I’ve had, and continue to have times when they drive me absoutely up a wall. Everyone does. Biological parents have those days too. But on some level, you have to understand as a step parent that a kid claims you as theirs and that’s a big thing. Pretending that a step parent has no tie, and that you have no responsibility to the kid as that parent’s girlfriend is exactly that. You have a responsibility to honor her claim to him, and to support that.

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    Random Person April 7, 2017, 9:21 am

    The way I read it boys and kissing was the topic of conversation. LW asked if she had spoken with her mother about these things before giving her own advice. Really not understanding the outrage here. Wendy even went so far as to imply you might be a pedophile. Huh?
    All that aside, this girl deserves someone who will love her and support her. You don’t seem willing to do that. I’m kind of shocked you asked your boyfriend not to come over. That’s nuts.

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy April 7, 2017, 11:04 am

      WHa??? Where did I ever imply pedophilia? That’s insane!

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        Random Person April 7, 2017, 12:20 pm

        I guess when you said you wouldn’t allow your daughter to sleep in the same home with her. You also said she shouldn’t be alone with the daughter. The implication being she’s unsafe in the presence of the letter writer.

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      • Dear Wendy

        Dear Wendy April 7, 2017, 1:17 pm

        The implication being I don’t trust the judgment of someone I don’t know well who would broach the subject of sex with my 12-year-old daughter before checking in with me first. There’s a big difference between not trusting someone’s judgment and being concerned that that person’s a pedophile, geez!! That’s a really bizarre jump to make.

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  • meadowphoenix

    meadowphoenix April 7, 2017, 1:00 pm

    There are just so many assholes here. No wonder all of you think you’re behaving normally.

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