Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Boyfriend’s Kids are Interfering With Our Relationship”

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I have been in a wonderful relationship for almost two years now. Paul is the best man I have ever met in my life. I am 49 and he is 50. Since we met, we have had a long distant relationship as my work takes me all over the country for extended periods of time. I am very lucky that Paul is understanding about my work. We try to see each other every six weeks or so. This year I seem to be the one doing all the traveling to see him, though. I’m also concerned about how Paul’s kids affect our relationship.

Paul has four kids, one of whom left before we started seeing each other, one who left afterward, and one who just moved in with his mother, leaving just one living with Paul. The one at home is 17 and Paul doesn’t want to leave him alone. I have been very understanding of the kids and that Paul is a wonderful father, but I haven’t seen him for two months now and would like us to have some one-on-one time together. I have told Paul that this year I have been doing all the travelling to see him and that it needs to more equal. He was understanding about how I felt, and we made plans to meet up halfway between us in two weeks to do some camping. But he is only going to give me three days as he is uncomfortable leaving the son for longer than that.

His kids are great kids and I get on well with them, but the son is 17 and not a young child and I see Paul’s behavior in regards to him and his other kids becoming a problem in the future. We have been making plans for when the kids all leave home to move to a town and live together, but that’s not going to be for a year or two yet. My concerns are that they are great kids but they are very lazy in the house. Paul does everything: cooking, cleaning, washing up, house work — you name it he does it. I come from a home where everyone had chores to do as part of the team. I have raised my concerns about this since the kids will come and stay at times. I have been at their home when Paul still picks up after them and does everything. He says that, when we move in together, it will be different as it will be our home. But my argument is that, if they don’t do it now, they won’t do it then. He seems to think they will. I have told him that, if you don’t start making them be team players now, it’s not going to happen later and that I will be the bad witch in their eyes.

I love him very much and I know he loves me very much too. We ring every day and keep in touch. But I am feeling hesitant about our relationship and the future. Can you please give me your advice on this matter? — Team Player

You’re being unreasonable across the board, really. True, your boyfriend’s son who still lives with him isn’t a young child, but he isn’t an adult either. He’s 17 and, depending on maturity level, most likely still requires daily adult supervision. I know I wouldn’t feel comfortable leaving a teenager alone for more than a few days. And talk to me when I actually HAVE a teenager, and it’s quite possible I won’t feel comfortable leaving him alone for more than a few hours. Teenagers, as you might remember from your own adolescence, can get up to a lot of crazy trouble; I don’t blame your boyfriend for wanting to keep a close-ish eye on his own teenager. Not wanting to be away from his son for more than three days is totally reasonable, and, if you want more time with him than that, you SHOULD continue being the one to travel to see him. If you aren’t okay with those arrangements and believe your travel burden should be split 50/50, you probably shouldn’t be in a long-distance relationship with someone who has under-aged kids living at home. You either have to accept that he’s a parent with responsibilities that demand his time and attention away from you, or you MOA. That’s how it goes when you date someone with kids.

In regards to the future and your concern that, when you live together, his kids won’t be “team players” because they haven’t been taught domestic responsibilities thus far: how much of a “team” are you and your boyfriend planning to be with his grown kids who have moved out? Are you expecting his kids to move in with you guys? Because if they’re just visiting here and there, they shouldn’t be expected to do too many domestic chores anyway. Would you expect other house guests to clean or cook or do other housework? If, however, you expect these kids to live with you for extended periods such as two weeks or longer, your concerns are valid and are definitely worth more discussions with Paul. You need to be clear with him about what your expectations are when his kids are with you. And you need to be clear about the boundaries you have in terms of his kids living with you. Will you have space for them? Under what circumstances would you approve of them moving in or staying with you? How often do you expect them to visit and how long do you expect them to stay?

Obviously, when you date someone who has four kids, they are going to be a big part of your partner’s life. But as they grow up and leave the nest, which three of your boyfriend’s four kids have already done, they become less and less present in a day-to-day sense and the responsibility of caring for them decreases exponentially. If you love Paul and he loves you, and he is so close to having an empty nest, I’d just hang in there and accept that, though he has restrictions on the time and attention he can devote to you because of his parenting responsibilities, that won’t always be the case and the end is close in sight. His four kids will always be part of his life, obviously, and there are compromises and sacrifices that, as his partner, you’ll have to make to accommodate them, but, if those sacrifices are minimal in relation to the joy and love your relationship brings you, suck it up. Pick your battles. And let go of your need to have it 100% your way. That won’t fly in any relationship, let alone where kids are involved.

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

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

60 comments… add one
  • avatar

    Laura Hope July 29, 2014, 9:55 am

    My father married the Wicked Witch when we were in our late teens/early 20’s. We were in college but still came home for breaks and summers. We had PT jobs but still weren’t financially independent. She resented our presence and every dime he gave us. She wanted him all to herself. She was insensitive to his bond with his children. The marriage didn’t last a year.
    Although you say you get on well with the kids and understand his bond with them, the tone of your letter suggests that you are really just tolerating them and look forward to the time that they are virtually out of your lives. I think you underestimate how many more years the 17 year old will be with you and that the children are way more important in his life than you realize. Don’t be that Wicked Witch . It won’t end well for you.

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  • Raccoon eyes

    Raccoon eyes July 29, 2014, 9:58 am

    Dear LW: Realistically, YOU aren’t being a team player in your relationship. Everything is not nor ever will be 50/50 all the time… or even most of the time.
    Also, I agree that it is annoying when teens and young adults are not expected to do basic household chores, but you came into the game too late here to really have any effect on their doing so. It will be a shock to them once they start living on their own/with roommates, and I personally think parents do their kids a disservice when they don’t impart basic knowledge like how to do your own damn laundry, but that really isn’t something you can help with without being the bad guy at this point.

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    • Portia

      Portia July 29, 2014, 10:11 am

      I agree that laundry (and other chores) is something parents should definitely teach their kids a while before they go off into the real world. I learned a lot during my first year in college… Not for lack of trying, I asked my mom to teach me how to do laundry way before I left and it kept getting put off until it was almost too late!

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    • JK

      JK July 29, 2014, 1:06 pm

      Yes! LIttle kids LOVE to help,that i the ideal time to start teaching them basic chores.
      My kids are 3 and 6, the 3 year old puts away her toys and clothes, puts her dirty clothes in the laundry basket, and helps set the table. And the 6 year old does all that, sweeps, sometimes even washes the dishes (of her own accord).

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  • avatar

    Laura Hope July 29, 2014, 10:05 am

    P.S. My father’s 3rd wife embraced us like we were her own children. He died years ago but we still treat her like she’s our own mother.

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  • Portia

    Portia July 29, 2014, 10:05 am

    As much as I am for general equality in relationships, 50-50 travel responsibilities doesn’t work when one party has a legitimate reason not to be able to travel that much. And having kids (or a kid) living at home is a very legitimate reason to not be able to leave. It sounds like the reason they are long-distance is the LW’s job and it sounds like not everyone’s been as supportive as he is about that fact, but it is requiring a bit more accommodation on the LW’s behalf in this relationship. If the LW can’t take these relationship compromises (and future ones about the kids being in her life), she should get probably out. But the guy seems like a pretty nice and understanding guy and if he’s worth it, the LW’s gotta be way more understanding of his situation.

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    • Lady_Red

      Red_Lady July 29, 2014, 11:46 am

      Hell, even in friendships, I tend to drive down to see my friends that have kids more than they come up to me. Some of my friends get uneasy being too far away from their babies, and want to be close in case they need to hurry home. I don’t know that I quite agree with that idea (though I’m not a mom yet, so who knows) but I’d rather that they feel comfortable, and it’s more important to me that we get to hang out, rather than tracking who drives more. And for those that aren’t as…. clingy?, I’m pretty sure that it’s a bit easier for me, without kids, to hop in a car and drive 30-60 minutes than it is for them, with infants and toddlers. So it makes sense to me to do more of the traveling.

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      • Portia

        Portia July 29, 2014, 11:55 am

        Oh totally! Bassanio’s sister has two small kids and in the past year alone we’ve gone to their place or met them in their area dozens of times and she’s been over exactly once (because someone organized trick or treating at our building). When we see them is pretty much all organized around their schedule and I have no problem with that. We can be the more flexible ones, so we are. Same goes with the one couple we know with a kid – they’re pretty much the only ones we’ll travel out to the ‘burbs to see.

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  • avatar

    joanna July 29, 2014, 10:08 am

    When you date someone with kids, you don’t get to decide his relationships with them.

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    • Raccoon eyes

      Raccoon eyes July 29, 2014, 11:20 am

      Nice, Joanna. Perfectly sums up pretty much everything the LW is asking about.

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    • JK

      JK July 29, 2014, 1:09 pm

      EXACTLY!!! These letters piss me off. And there are sooo many like it! You don´t want to date a guy with kids? Then don´t flippng do it.

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  • avatar

    peachy July 29, 2014, 10:16 am

    It sounds like Paul is a good man and a good dad and three days away to see you is probably about two more days than he’s comfortable with – and he’d be right to feel that way when he is emotionally, legally, and morally responsible for the kid currently living at home. You’re looking to join a family, not just a partner, and you won’t have Paul all to yourself for some time ahead – and never exclusively. If you are away a lot and his responsibilities keep him at home a lot, then maybe you should be spending more time with him at home (if you both agree this is a good thing to do), and see if the family life suits you both, really? If you do spend more time there, maybe you can engage the kids in “doing something special for Dad” and model helpfulness and teamwork around the house in a positive way. It’s delicate ground you’ve got to tread on to be inclusive with the kids while finding some space for you and Paul as a couple (with his help of course) – are you up for it?

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  • bittergaymark

    bittergaymark July 29, 2014, 10:25 am

    Here is a radical concept, LW… If you want to date somebody unencumbered and unburdened by kids… Try dating somebody WITHOUT kids…

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  • avatar

    SasLinna July 29, 2014, 10:25 am

    In my opinion, some of the responses here are a little harsh. LW, I think you just have to decide what your own dealbreakers are. It’s certainly understandable if you’re not happy with the amount of time Paul can spend with you and with doing all the travelling. It’s Paul’s call to decide that he won’t leave the 17-year-old alone for more than three days, but you can decide that you need more one-on-one time together and MOA. I personally think there must be some way for Paul to make more time for you (maybe the 17-year-old could stay with a relative or friend) and it’s his choice not to do so.
    As for the chores, I honestly believe it’s too late for you to have any influence on that. I would be really hesitant about moving in with Paul as long as he still lives with some of his kids, personally I would postpone that until they’ve moved out (which may be a long time). If you do move in, you’ll have to accept that he doesn’t involve the kids in the housekeeping. It’s stupid IMO, but it’s his prerogative to do this. It doesn’t mean YOU have to clean up after them. But seriously, don’t move in with him if you can already see this conflict coming.
    All in all I just think that maybe he can’t give you enough. It’s not wrong for you to want more – quasi-adult children are not an excuse for everything – but you can’t change his priorities and if you can’t compromise, then MOA.

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    • avatar

      SasLinna July 29, 2014, 10:32 am

      I re-read the letter and notice they only want to move in together when the kids have left the home. OK, that’s good. But then I don’t understand why LW is so worried about the chore issue. If the kids don’t live with them and just visit, then surely this can’t be such a big deal? At least it doesn’t seem like LW will be affected much by it.

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  • avatar

    Essie July 29, 2014, 10:27 am

    His kids will always come first. Always. And that’s exactly as it should be.

    If that doesn’t sound like a situation you want to be in, MOA.

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  • avatar

    TECH July 29, 2014, 10:34 am

    This letter is just more proof that most people are not cut out for relationships with people with kids. A 17 year old should not be left overnight by himself, in my opinion. He is still a minor and something bad could happen, and Paul would be responsible.
    Stuff like this just makes me angry.

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    • avatar

      SasLinna July 29, 2014, 10:39 am

      IDK. As a 17-year-old I traveled on my own with a friend and I was a camp leader watching over younger children (there was usually just one person present who was over 18 at those camps). It shouldn’t be the rule for a 17-year-old to be left alone overnight, but it’ts OK if it happens from time to time. At 18, people go to college. At a certain point you have to let them develop and leave them some freedom. Overprotection until you turn 18 and then total freedom isn’ta great strategy. I’m not the US though, and I think attitudes are more relaxed in Europe.

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      • honeybeenicki

        honeybeenicki July 29, 2014, 10:45 am

        I’m about the least over-protective person there is and I wouldn’t leave my 16-almost-17 year old alone for more than a few days because she doesn’t have the maturity to handle it. Of course, there’s a huge over-protective issue on their mom’s end and that probably doesn’t help but there’s not much we can do about that.

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      • avatar

        SasLinna July 29, 2014, 10:51 am

        Yeah, I think it’s hard to make a general statement since 17-year-olds can differ a lot from each other in their maturity levels. (And he is ready to leave him alone for 3 days after all). But even if he can’t leave his son alone, I still think there would be a way for him to make more time if he made it a priority. There must be times when the son either is away with friends for a few days, or staying with his mother for a few days, or some other such thing. I fail to believe that Paul can never get away for more than 3 days. Btw, my mom had a boyfriend when I was a teen, and she definitely got some vacation time with him, and we absolutely accepted that it was a priority, even then.

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      • LadyinPurpleNotRed

        LadyinPurpleNotRed July 29, 2014, 10:54 am

        Exactly…it depends on the kid. I was left alone for a weekend at 17 and was fine. I had family members around that knew I was alone and if I needed anything, I could call them, but I was a good kid. I watched tv, hung out, had my best friend sleepover. I could handle it, easily–but not all kids can. It’s a case-by-case basis. It shouldn’t be a blanket rule either way.

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      • Cassie

        Cassie July 29, 2014, 3:00 pm

        It was the same for me as a 17-year-old. I’d be left alone overnight sometimes, and on occasion for the weekend. But, I was also responsible. Would my parents have left my brother alone for a weekend at 17? Heeeeeeeeeeell no. He would have gotten into way too much trouble. It all depends on the kid and the maturity level. That said, most people wouldn’t leave their teenagers home alone for more than a weekend.

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      • avatar

        Kate July 29, 2014, 10:51 am

        I think most kids that age are perfectly capable of taking care of themselves for a night or a weekend, but Wendy has a good point about the trouble they get into, and it’s not just your kids you have to consider but any friends they have who may not be a good influence. When I was a teenager my parents went away a lot. I just refused to go on trips with them and they had a beach house and wanted to go on vacation and stuff.
        .
        One weekend I was just going to have a few friends over, but one of my friends told everyone at school that I was having a party. It turned into a scene of total disaster, with a couple hundred kids, liquor that older siblings bought, fights, police showing up, people having sex in the beds, and a huge mess that thank goodness a bunch of girls stuck around and helped clean up in the late night/morning. That wasn’t the norm, but I did used to go cruising around in the car before I had a license, have people over, drink, etc. I think it’s debatable and depends on the kid. Some kids would probably be fine, but this one might not.

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      • avatar

        SasLinna July 29, 2014, 10:55 am

        I see your point, and I don’t want to make a general statement that it’s ALWAYS fine to leave ANY 17-year-old alone for a few days. I just don’t think the opposite is true: That it’s never acceptable and shouldn’t even be on the table, and that anyone suggesting it is cray-cray (personally I would have had no problem with this at 17. I also believe that there’s a middle ground between leaving him alone entirely and always being present, someone else could check in on him, for example. Among other things he has three older siblings he might be able to stay with.

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      • avatar

        Kate July 29, 2014, 11:03 am

        I tend to agree, and I think if he’s NEVER able to find a solution for the kid to stay with someone for a night or two or three, it could be that he’s just not that invested in the relationship and is hiding behind the kid thing as an excuse. Hard to tell from the letter, but he could just be over it.

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      • avatar

        SasLinna July 29, 2014, 11:08 am

        Yeah. Or it could just be long distance being too difficult to handle. I would have a very hard time being in a relationship where I could only see my partner every 6 weeks or so with no end in sight. It sounds like a complicated arrangement to me.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest July 29, 2014, 10:55 am

        Ah, high school.

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      • Moneypenny

        Moneypenny July 29, 2014, 12:57 pm

        I’m with you, but I think it really depends on the kid. I was babysitting for neighbors at 13 and was left alone for the weekend when I was in high school. But I also was generally a good kid, and not everyone is like that! So, I would take it on an individual basis. 🙂

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    • avatar

      Lucy July 29, 2014, 11:51 am

      It depends on the kid. My parents left me alone for days at a time when I was 16. My brother, though, no way.

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  • avatar

    rngaredead July 29, 2014, 10:35 am

    I agree with everything Wendy said except I think it’s a little overprotective saying you wouldn’t leave a 17 year old kid alone for a few hours, or a few days… it depends on the maturity level, and we all know that boys mature slower than girls, but i started college at 17 (i was young for my grade) and i was fine. perhaps this teen is already a troublemaker.

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy July 29, 2014, 11:45 am

      Maybe you misread or i didn’t express myself clearly. I said I wouldn’t feel comfortable leaving a 17 y.o alone for more than a few DAYS, and then I said maybe when I actually have a 17 y.o. I won’t even feel comfortable leaving him alone for MORE than a few hours. I can’t imagine not feeling comfortable enough leaving a healthy and stable 17 y.o home for at least a few hours.

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      • Dear Wendy

        Dear Wendy July 29, 2014, 11:47 am

        That said, I was 17 (just a few weeks shy of 18 though) when I moved to a different country from my parents to a town where i knew no one, hours away from my nearest relative, to start college. But I feel like living in a dorm where there is SOME sort of supervision is different than being left alone for days and days at home where maybe no adult is checking in.

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  • honeybeenicki

    honeybeenicki July 29, 2014, 10:43 am

    My husband has an almost 17 year old… and I certainly wouldn’t leave her alone for even a few days. It could be a maturity level thing and it could be that he knows he is the 17-year-old’s father and responsible for him and knows that it’s not a good idea to leave for an extended period of time.
    .
    You sound like you pretty much just tolerate his kids. They will be a part of his life forever. Most kids don’t move out at 18, many kids come home after college or as adults for varying reasons. That’s what they did. You need to either embrace your role in their lives or move on. I couldn’t imagine being jealous or resentful of time/energy/etc being spent on my husband’s kids. I love them as if they were my own. I don’t think about when they’re gone and he and I can be just the two of us… I think about – we’ll have to keep a room in case one of them needs a place to stay and what we’ll do when there are grandkids and a lot of other things. It will never be just you and him, he will always have 4 kids.

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    • avatar

      TECH July 29, 2014, 11:00 am

      Your comment is perfect and really crystallizes what irks me about this letter. It sounds like at best, the LW just tolerates his kids. As you said, you either embrace the role of the kids in your life, or you move on. She she clearly hasn’t embraced these kids.
      Also, as you said, when kids hit their late teens and early twenties, they aren’t gone forever. Many kids move in and out of the household until their mid twenties until they settle in a career. You will always have shared holidays and special events. If you live in the same geographic area, you will likely speed a good deal of weekend time together, even when the kids are grown. This is an issue even into adulthood. Even at the age of 28, I feel uncomfortable around my step mother. Like she tolerates me my presence. It’s an awful feeling.

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      • honeybeenicki

        honeybeenicki July 29, 2014, 11:04 am

        I rejoiced when my dad and stepmom divorced. She had a serious jealousy issue, especially since I was his first born and he spoiled me rotten.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest July 29, 2014, 11:29 am

        My stepmom complained that she was on the bottom of the totem pole after my dad stuck up for me when she said I loaded the dishwasher the wrong way and had me reload it the “right way.” Why do stepparents often seem to WANT to fill the wicked stepmother stereotype? Ugh.

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      • avatar

        ktfran July 29, 2014, 11:38 am

        Hahaha. My mom actually prefers that we not load the dishwasher because she likes it done a certain way. I have no idea how she does it, but she doesn’t even want to bother to teach us.

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      • avatar

        MissDre July 29, 2014, 11:43 am

        I had a wicked stepmother too. It was horrifying when all of a sudden, I was no longer allowed to things that used to be ok. And it was even more horrifying when my dad never stuck up for us. Now, my stepmother was also an abusive psychopath, but as a 7 year old it was pretty confusing to suddenly be scolded and punished for something that was ok the day before, while my dad just stood there silently. Ugh.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest July 29, 2014, 11:47 am

        Damn, that sounds awful. My darling stepmom didn’t come into the picture til I was a teenager at least. I can’t even imagine if she were around when I was 7. Ugh. She recently, and dramatically, ended our relationship and it took everything I had not to tell her I was thrilled. Haha.

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      • avatar

        MissDre July 29, 2014, 11:59 am

        The very first time my dad ever brought her over to the house with her kids to meet my brother and I, she flew into a rage about something or other and viciously beat the shit out of her son. Like, pulling his hair and kicking him. Another time, very early in their relationship she was screaming at my dad. My brother spoke up to protect my dad and she picked up a video cassette and threw it directly at my brother’s head. She also told my brother and I that our mother was mentally retarded. And yet, my dad chose to marry this woman.

        You’re lucky your stepmommy dearest didn’t come into the picture til you were a teen. At least then you already had some independence.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest July 29, 2014, 12:08 pm

        Holy crap! I thought mine was bad. Did you live with your dad full time? I hope not!

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      • avatar

        MissDre July 29, 2014, 12:24 pm

        No, I spent more time with my mom, but for some reason once my stepmother came into the picture she convinced my dad to hire a lawyer and fight my mom for custody (why, I don’t know, because she obviously hated us… I guess she just wanted control?). When I turned 11 I came out about being molested and I never went back there again. But then I had to deal with her stalking me. Showing up at my school and trying to grab me in the hallways….
        .
        Ugh during all of this my brother was still over at my dad’s house. Stepmother blocked my mom’s phone number so we couldn’t call there to talk to him. Then she says to my brother, “I guess your mother doesn’t love you. She never calls you, does she.”
        .
        My bf has heard all these stories and worse so, these are the reasons he is having a hard time with my family and I don’t really blame him for it.

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      • avatar

        MsMisery July 30, 2014, 1:00 pm

        LBH, Are our dads married to the same person?? What is it with the effing dishwasher?? The only difference is my step-mother is too passive-aggressive to ever SAY anyone has loaded it wrong, she’ll just HEAVY SIGH and rearrange it herself loudly at 11:30 when everyone else is in bed trying to sleep.

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  • kare

    kare July 29, 2014, 10:45 am

    I think the 17 year old thing could go either way – at 17 I had graduated high school and was gearing up to start college in a couple of months. My brother at 17 was still in high school and doing a lot of partying. Ultimately it’s up to the parents to determine what’s right for their kids. It’s just weird to me to think parents wouldn’t leave a 17 year old alone based solely on age. Kids need to learn some independence, otherwise college is going to be a real shock. The people I knew with parents who did every single chore, never left them alone, woke them up in the mornings for school, etc. are the ones that had a hard time adjusting to college and ultimately dropped out. There’s no hard and fast rule and every teenager has a different level of maturity, but some 17 year olds are perfectly fine on their own.

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  • avatar

    Ali July 29, 2014, 10:49 am

    While I agree with everyone that the LW shouldn’t try to come between her BF and his kids, I don’t really think that’s what she’s trying to do. I get the impression that by “leaving the nest” she means the older kids are in college or have moved out but will still return home for summer and holiday vacations. It sounds more like her BF is an enabler and a coddler and she is trying to negotiate her terms for living with him before making the leap–which seems smart to me–so that she doesn’t end up being forced to enable the kids as well just to keep the peace. I understand that. These are not her kids, no matter how much she may love their dad, and she shouldn’t have to be doing their laundry, cleaning their dishes and their own messes and making their beds when they come to stay from June-September and December-January. Any house guest should be prepared to do at least that much for him- or herself–no one is saying they should be forced to clean bathrooms or scrub floors while visiting their dad and new step-mom for Thanksgiving weekend, but there are rules of etiquette that it sounds like these kids have not been taught. Additionally, I think both Wendy and some of the responders are being a little bit excessive about a 17-year-old staying home alone. Unless this boy has already proven himself to be untrustworthy, in which case 3 days is already more than enough time to throw a party/have a gf or bf sleep over/wreck the car, it’s a little ridiculous to say that his father shouldn’t leave him to go on a few trips a year for longer than a weekend. Presumably, he’ll either be away at college or working his own job as a legal adult in less than a year, and since it already sounds like the BF babies him too much, he’s not doing him any favors by treating him like being on his own is far off in the future. Realistically, the BF is probably worried about the state of the house when he gets home if he leaves for more than a few days–that’s a lot of laundry, dirty dishes and overflowing garbage pails that are going to be waiting for him when he gets back, since the kid doesn’t clean up after himself. The LW sounds like a smart lady who is trying to head off problems and, whether or not she is a mom herself, I think it is reasonable to want to teach or have her BF teach these kids to be cleanly and courteous in the future before it becomes a huge problem in which yes, absolutely, I believe she will be blamed and cast as the wicked witch. Why wouldn’t she be? Everyone has clearly been enjoying the status quo–the kids being waited on with little responsibility and the BF fussing and catering to them like a new dad. Personally, I think she’s doing this family a favor by pointing out that this is not a good way to be, and if the BF is really serious about marrying her, she has every right to say so.

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    • avatar

      SasLinna July 29, 2014, 10:59 am

      I agree with what you say, but I just think that telling him how to handle his kids will be futile. I don’t blame her for how she feels at all, but there are not a lot of ways to productively address this situation.

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        tmb July 29, 2014, 8:26 pm

        Any advise would be appreciated thank you

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      tmb July 29, 2014, 7:54 pm

      I enjoyed reading your reply, I would not try to come btween my BF and his kids as they have a beautiful relationship. I do not just tolerate the kids s some coments say. I have a great reltionship with them they are good responsible kids but just not house trained. I do have my own son who is totaly house trained and was from when he was young. He left home and can cook, clean and functon whe living with ohers. I am no wicked witch as some comments think I am a fair and kind loving person.

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        Ali July 30, 2014, 11:44 am

        I did not get the wicked witch impression at all. I think having such a good relationship with those kids (and a good example in your son) will make the transition and your requests easier for them to palate. I do think the final word has to come from your BF–he needs to be the one to lay down the new law, even if you are present in the discussion–but again, I think you are fully within your rights to make this a requirement of your future together.

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    jhoran85 July 29, 2014, 10:49 am

    I think the LW needs to look deeper at the relationship between Paul and his children. It sounds like he either got divorced not long before the LW and him started dating, and/or his children may not have a good relationship with their mother. I find it interesting that all four had been living him and now one lives with his/their mother (do they all have the same mother?) and one still lives with Paul. I would think that situation could be pretty stressful on the 17 year old son, whether or not he admits it. Paul may feel like he needs to be home to make sure his son has a positive relationship with at least one of his parents.

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  • Portia

    Portia July 29, 2014, 11:37 am

    So, true story time: Bassanio’s much-older cousin married a guy a few years ago who had mostly-grown kids from past marriages. They spent a few years doing distance at the beginning of their marriage for work reasons and their relationship seemed fine, but they both agreed the distance needed to end. So, she moved back to the country they had met in and into his house (mistake number 1) and after a while his son came back to live with him/them (I think they didn’t discuss it before he moved in, mistake number 2). The best way to describe this kid was a Jersey Shore wannabe: threw loud parties til all hours of the night, didn’t clean a single thing, and was incredibly rude to Bassanio’s cousin (who is one of the sweetest, most considerate people I know). Eventually she got so fed up with this kid and her talking to either one going nowhere, she said if things didn’t change (she needed sleep and was not going to keep cleaning up after everyone) she was moving out. Which she ended up doing because the guy said that he wasn’t changing a single thing about the arrangement and now they’re basically divorced.
    .
    So, although the worst case scenario is unlikely, this can happen. Talking early and often with this guy about their future home together (and making clear that any slack by his kids is going to be taken up by him) is a good idea. But the LW probably can’t make her boyfriend change his accommodating ways towards his kids nor the relationship that they have. So, if the LW stays with this guy, they need to both be prepared to make guidelines (as well as some compromises) if his kids move in with them. It may not be the self-sufficient model the LW grew up with, but it does need to be an arrangement that works for both of them.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom July 29, 2014, 11:53 am

    There are lots of reasons besides the kid being immature or having a party for the dad to not want to leave him alone. Many of the kids here only have a learners permit to drive until they are 18 because the cost of car insurance is so high that parents wait until the kid is 18 and the rate is cheaper to let the kid get a regular driver’s license. So dad might need to be home to drive his son to activities and/or a job and/or summer school. Since dad has four kids he may be sharing a car with his son and if he takes the car to meet his girlfriend then the kid is still stranded with no way to get to activities or a job unless he can find rides even if he has a license. They may not live near any relatives so have no one to check up on him while dad is away. Maybe the son isn’t wild and wouldn’t hold a party but wouldn’t be forceful enough to tell other kids to leave if they showed up and held a party at his house. I assume the dad knows the situation and knows what will work and what is too much time away.

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      ktfran July 29, 2014, 11:59 am

      There are so many reasons why he might not want to leave his son for too long!
      .
      And I know a lot of us are saying, well, when I was 17, my parents…. BUT, the thing is, things have shifted and children aren’t growing up as fast as when I was a teenager. And I didn’t grow up as fast as my parents did. I know for a fact things my parents let me do when I was 11, such as babysit or ride my bike a couple miles to my friends house – unsupervised, don’t fly with a lot of people today. So, yes, I think kids are being a little too coddled, but honestly, I don’t know how I would be or act if I had children.

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        lets_be_honest July 29, 2014, 12:10 pm

        I do think kids are more coddled today, but there’s also scarier shit in the news on a more regular basis I think.
        Anyway, like everyone is saying, it depends on the kid. I could’ve left Lil alone at like 6 and she probably would’ve had the house clean and cooked a healthy meal by the time I returned. Me at 16 though? My mom never should’ve left me alone then.

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        ktfran July 29, 2014, 12:22 pm

        You’re absolutely right in that it totally depends on the kid and what the parent is comfortable with. And really, who am I to judge? Although sometimes I would like to 🙂
        .
        So, last week I was riding the bus and this adorable kid, no more than I say, 12, got on at my stop. He then switched to the same express bus as I did. He had a gym bag with him and was totally aware of his stops and when to got off and on. It was so effing cute. Anyway. I was impressed because you just don’t see that often.

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        Rangerchic July 29, 2014, 12:50 pm

        I don’t think there are really that many more scarier things in the news…I think that the news is on way more now. I mean we have 24hr news these days and it seems like every little thing is reported.
        I do agree kids are more coddled today. I have a 14 and 19 yr old girls (and she is still at home). I did not coddle my kids because I wanted them to be self sufficient. Both my girls were doing their own laundry at 13 plus help clean the house regularly. They also help cook. I feel I can leave them home alone for several days (we did that last October for a 4-day vacation my husband and I took…they were 13 and 18 at the time). But it also does depend on maturity.
        For me personally, I wouldn’t be able to stand kids at age 17 that don’t help out at all, don’t clean up after themselves.

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        lets_be_honest July 29, 2014, 12:54 pm

        Yea I was going to say that maybe the news is just on more now.

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  • othy

    othy July 29, 2014, 12:56 pm

    My parents left us alone for a long weekend once when I was 16 and my brother was 17. They had neighbors check up on us/invite us to dinner (the same neighbors who were watching my 10 year old brother). That didn’t stop my older brother from having a big party that weekend. One of my brother’s friends managed to put a giant hole in the wall in the basement, since they were playing a game called ‘who can jump from the highest step’. The kid broke his ankle. My brother had the sense about him to take him to the ER. He told his friend’s parents that he had tripped down the stairs (luckily, there was no alcohol involved, so this was a plausible story). Then my brother stopped at Home Depot, and came home and patched the wall. The *only* reason my parents found out about the whole thing was because he had to paint the wall a couple of times to hide the patch, and the house still smelled like paint when they got home.

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    Wendy (not Wendy) July 30, 2014, 12:35 pm

    I get tired of all this stuff about how parents are irresponsible if they don’t make their kids do chores and how the kids will be in for a shock or maybe not even know how to function when they’re on their own. In my family we almost never had chores. I had to empty the dishwasher when asked (no more than once a week, I bet) and if there was company coming, we all pitched in for a deep clean (once or twice a year?). I think my brothers had to mow the lawn occasionally. (yes, traditional gender roles yadda yadda.) I never did my own laundry. I come from a large family and though it sounds counterintuitive, my mother found it quicker (even in the long run) to do things herself rather than wait for us to do them, nag us to do them, etc etc. The laundry was partly about cost as it costs more to have everyone doing individual loads. Also, my mother had to do a LOT of chores when she was a kid and teenager and she wanted us to be more free and have more of a “childhood” than she did. Maybe she went to the other extreme, but it’s hard to blame her. Anyone who knew us probably thought we were deeply spoiled because we didn’t have chores.

    Guess what? My parents raised us with good values and work ethics through other methods. When I went away to college, I figured out how laundry worked and I kept my room clean the way I’d been taught a room should be. When I moved into an apartment, I did the same. My siblings are all clean, functioning members of society.

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    Sue Jones July 30, 2014, 5:18 pm

    So basically with a 17 year old you probably have only 1 year or so to wait until the kid is off to college. When you are dating someone with kids you need to think in geological time, not your immediate needs. Sounds like the 4th kid will be fledged the nest soon enough. Meanwhile you cannot just leave a teenager to their own devises. I think you either need to be patient or don’t date someone with kids.

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