Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Girlfriend Wants Me to Choose Between My Kids and Her”

I was with my ex-girlfriend, “Cheryl,” for four and a half years. I didn’t have biological kids, but Cheryl had a son and daughter. When I met her, her son was six months old and her daughter was 1-1/2. We all lived together in my house for a little over four years. I changed her son’s diapers, slept at the hospital with him, and did everything a dad does. Cheryl’s kids chose to call me “dad” after about two years. They consider my dad and step-mom their grandparents, and my parents consider them their grandkids. Their biological father was in the picture, but only here and there, when it was convenient for him.

Cheryl and I split up about four years ago. I continued to get the kids almost every weekend. They tell everyone that I’m their dad. For three years, I never introduced them to a woman. I started dating my current girlfriend, “Maxine,” about a year ago. She knew the situation she was getting into with the kids, who were 8 and 9 when I introduced her to them. Throughout the three years following my breakup with Cheryl, I wasn’t the strongest disciplinarian I should have been with the kids when they were with me. Now Maxine, who moved in with me after a couple months, says we need to set and enforce stricter rules. She has kids that she has already raised and she did a great job.

It didn’t take very long for my daughter to start on Maxine. She has a love letter that I wrote my girlfriend that was hanging on the fridge, she’s made comments to me that Maxine needs to go, and she has been very disrespectful to her. I have addressed these issues, even to a point of taking the kids home not long after getting them. My daughter told me that she didn’t want to be at my house with us, so I took them both home to their mother’s. I again reached out to my daughter about my getting her and her brother, and she said she didn’t want to come. Now four weeks later I have reached out and have taken them to lunch. While at lunch, my daughter asked about Maxine in a genuine way, and when I asked them if they would want to come over the following week, they both said yes.

I told Maxine how they had acted and how I believe this may be the beginning of their changing and accepting her, but she was not happy about their coming over. We don’t argue or fight about anything except about my kids. She has made her argument that they are not even my kids. The last five days we have argued a lot. She basically wants me to choose her or them. Everything she has asked me to do with the kids, I have done. Examples: I set up a schedule for every other weekend I get them, I’ve stuck to my guns on discipline, I’ve given them chores to do, and I don’t get them if they express they don’t want to be here.

I set up an appointment for next Friday to see a psychologist about all of this. I had already planned to get the kids mid-week and then return them home on Friday before our appointment, but Maxine demanded I don’t get them until the following weekend so we can go to the appointment first. I told her that I’m not calling the kids, who haven’t been over in five weeks, to tell them I can’t come get them. Now she’s finding another place to stay while I have the kids. I did try and compromise with her and told her that I would bring them back to their mom’s after one night instead of two, but that isn’t good enough for her.

Maxine says she can’t seem to grasp my raising an ex-girlfriend’s kids that are not my blood. She believes I should not be a father figure but a mentor from a distance. Can you please tell me what your thoughts are? — Their Dad


My thoughts are that Maxine is a psychotic, controlling bitch who is out to destroy your relationship with your children and you should dump her immediately, kick her out of your house, apologize to your children for your lapse in judgment in bringing Maxine into their lives, and then be more cautious in the future about how quickly you escalate your romantic relationships. It sounds like you moved in with Cheryl, your ex, after just a few months of dating, and then you started living with Maxine after only a couple months of dating. That’s too fast, especially when there are children in the picture. You didn’t know Maxine well enough. Now you are starting to see her true colors. She’s the kind of woman who would make a man choose between her or his children. She’s the kind of woman who would argue that a man, who has raised his kids for over eight years, since they were babies, isn’t a real father simply because he doesn’t share their DNA. You are their dad. They know that, you know that, your ex knows that, your parents know that, everyone knows that except, apparently, the woman you’re sharing a home and a life with. Can you not see the glaring conflict?

This is not a situation that will ever improve. Maxine has zero interest in sharing you with your kids. She will continue doing everything she can to come between you, exploiting your feelings and attraction for her in an effort to “win.” Her prize is a life with you free of the burden of your kids. That’s all they are to her – a burden. She doesn’t want a relationship with them and she doesn’t want you to have a relationship with them.

Please, please, come to the light. It’s not too late. You can save everything you have with your kids if you dump Maxine now and repair the still-minimal damage she’s wrought. It’s not too late! But the longer you wait and the longer you subject your kids to the malignant cancer that is your girlfriend, the more the chance of saving your relationship with your children slips away. The time to act is now.
 
From the archives (this was originally posted on April 19, 2011):

For the past couple months, I have been flirting with a co-worker who was very shy at first, but who took an interest in my hobbies, complimented me every day, gave me pet names, and generally seemed very interested. After a month and a half, he finally asked me for my number and I kind of “helped him along” by asking when he could hang out. I was so excited about our date, but he canceled last minute for a legitimate reason and asked if we could reschedule. Even though he stopped by my office to flirt and chat the next week, he never rescheduled but asked what I was doing that weekend and seemed upset and walked away when I said that I was spending time with a male friend. When I told him my friend was gay, he perked up and kept the conversation going, and I told him to call me if he wanted to hang out and he said he would.

Well, he never called or texted to say that he wouldn’t be available, but first thing Monday morning he asked if I was feeling better (I had been sick the week before), told me I looked nice, and apologized for not calling because he (being the nice guy) ended up helping a friend move. I gave him the cold shoulder. I am so confused about the inconsistency between his flirtatious interest and his non-committal attitude toward getting to know me more that I deleted his number, defriended him on Facebook, and haven’t been speaking to him. He looks very sad when I see him, but I feel like I may have read him wrong this whole time and am afraid that he’s only been nice because he doesn’t know how to say no to me. Did I give up too soon or should I just MOA? — Office Crush(ed)

 
My response here. The comments are kind of a funny walk down memory lane, too. Old-timers: Remember the purple thumbs?! And the mini debates in the comments about silly stuff all the time? Ah, such simple times.

***************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(AT)dearwendy.com.

43 comments… add one
  • avatar

    LisforLeslie August 6, 2020, 10:28 am

    LW#1 – WWS – you made it clear these are your kids, she’s not on board. You love these kids. You love YOUR kids. Tell the GF to GTFO.

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    FYI August 6, 2020, 11:31 am

    Obviously these are your kids, so she needs to accept that fully or go.

    However, it’d be so easy for you to say — “what a psycho that Maxine turned out to be, and what a great dad I am for standing by my kids.” If you do, you’re missing a real opportunity to look at yourself. It looks like you moved Cheryl and her kids into your home almost immediately, and you say Maxine moved in after a couple of months. WHAT is your hurry?! There are KIDS involved in these decisions. Did you not understand that your impulsivity may cause instability for them? It did. Twice. You should have a look at that, and not just blame Maxine.

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    Fyodor August 6, 2020, 11:41 am

    The responses to the 2011 writer are interesting in part because I think that the advice today would probably include more caution against dating in the office in the first place and raise concerns about some of the guy’s behavior (pet names for a coworker, etc).

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      Dear Wendy August 6, 2020, 1:28 pm

      Yeah, sometime I read old columns and think I’d answer similar letters a little differently today. Times have changed and I’ve evolved.

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    • avatar

      Fyodor August 6, 2020, 1:41 pm

      I didn’t mean it as a criticism-just a commentary on shifting times and attitudes (for the better).

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  • avatar

    Moneypenny August 6, 2020, 12:01 pm

    Wow, Maxine is awful. This LW sounds like a great father to these kids, and she needs to go.
    Also that was so funny to see all of the old commenters, and the purple thumb controversy! (I remember that…) I got to know so many of those commenters on here, and ultimately a couple in real life. One commenter from that post still a friend of mine!

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      FYI August 6, 2020, 1:43 pm

      My take — not to be a hard ass — is that he’s not a “great father to those kids” if he moves in with women after only a couple of months. When you’re a parent, it’s a whole different ball game. I’m not saying he’s a terrible person, at all, but that’s their HOME. It has to be a stable place.

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      • avatar

        Moneypenny August 6, 2020, 5:46 pm

        That’s a good point. I kind of overlooked that! It’s true- he should wait much much longer before introducing someone to the kids, let alone move them in. A couple of months is way too fast.

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    ron August 6, 2020, 12:26 pm

    The other responders are right that you have to choose. There is no compromise here. The other posters and I agree on what choice you should make, but this is your decision. Maxine or your kids? You can’t have both and it hurts everyone to try to kick this issue down the road by trying lame compromises , which please nobody.

    And, yes, even without kids, you move way too fast into romances. Maxine is a dud, don’t know why you and Cheryl failed. If you took things slower, you likely up your odds of a longer-lasting relationship.

    You consider yourself to be your kids’ true father figure, yet you don’t act like it. You’ve not treated them at all well or fairly with Maxine. Your daughter tried to tell you how bad it is. She is right and you have been willfully blind. So… all in with either Maxine or the kids, you can’t split the difference.

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  • avatar

    Bittergaymark August 6, 2020, 1:03 pm

    Fuck Maxine. Better yet – don’t. Instead simply dump the fucking deranged psychopathic piece of garbage.

    Oh, and be sure to show her our responses to her utterly reprehensible actions.

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  • avatar

    Sea Witch August 6, 2020, 1:06 pm

    LW1: has Maxine never heard of this thing called “adoption”? It’s a process where people openly choose to raise children they have no biological links with. You may not have formerly adopted those kids, but to all intents and purposes, they’re yours. Keep them, lose Maxine.

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    • avatar

      EscapeHatches August 6, 2020, 11:05 pm

      You use “intents and purposes” correctly. You win today. 😀

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      • avatar

        golfer.gal August 7, 2020, 9:32 am

        You mean instead of “intensive purposes”? That is a huge pet peeve of mine! Along with the word “alls”. As in “alls we have to do is finish this last piece”.

        But, yeah, LW I agree with the others. Your decisions didn’t exactly set anyone up for success here, Maxine included, but at the end of the day you need a partner who accepts these kids as a package deal and never, ever floats the option of simply ditching them. She’s asking you to choose – easy peasy, choose your kids! Counseling is a great step for everyone, keep going. Maybe pick up a few books on coparenting for divorced dads, and dating as a single parent to help you navigate as you go forward. The keys are to insist on an environment where everyone is respected in your home, institute consequences for bad behavior, choose partners who accept your children, and move sloooowly with them (do not even introduce them to your kids for at least 6 months).

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    Maxine August 6, 2020, 8:41 pm

    August 4, 2020

    I came into this relationship with Chuck fully understanding his position with Jessica & Landry. The day I met them I embraced them as children to an ex-girlfriend and Chuck being their father figure. I believe to met them within a month of Chuck and I dating. Prior to meeting Jessica and Landry, Chuck “asked” permission of a 9-year-old. I thought it was a sweet gesture in the beginning, but little did I know at that time a 9-year child ran Chuck’ household and him.
    Keep in mind, I did everything, shopping, mani-pedi, skating, played games…there was even a time I hugged the kids and said “welcome home” I text Jessica, when I found out she was not well that I hope she feels better. So many other instances where I involved myself in their life. Heck, I even had lunch with them at school on my day off, by myself.

    I come into their life fully accepting the situation and here we sit. YAY, me!

    As time went on, I began observing the parent-child relationship between Jessica/Landry and Chuck – unfortunately the lack of parenting was immense. Please understand Chuck has made huge strides in that direction. However, trying to re-teach and recreate an appropriate infrastructure seems to be impossible. I also know it could be possible if everyone was on the same page.
    Unfortunately, in order restore the present/future, we must look at the past.
    This is not to be an attack on Chuck but hopefully offer insight:
    Chuck had rules but did not implement. As a father “and I use that term loosely” we are to raise a child in a direction in which they should go. This includes, guidance, structure, obedience, discipline. Unfortunately, I did not witness none of the above. Our home to Jessica and Landry was a free-for-all. In fact, about 6 months ago, I peeled gummy hands off the ceiling…I am talking multiple. When I cleaned Jessica and Landry room – food, drinks, wrappers…. absolute filth. They could eat/drink in the Living room. They can eat whatever they want, when they want. NO RULES!! No structure. Leave toys EVERYWHERE…needless to say, they were not made to clean up after themselves. Now, here’s the kicker. According to their mother, Jessica and Landry do clean up after themselves at their residence. I see that as a complete lack of respect to Chuck and not honoring him as their “dad” but more of a babysitter. I witnessed Chuck rewarding bad behavior. He is aware and can elaborate should he want.

    After a good while, I established standard household rules: make your bed, clean up your mess, clean your bathroom……they hated me. But it soon became their new normal.

    THE JOURNEY:
    We will start our journey around Valentine’s day 2020. Chuck and I agreed to spend V-Day together but according to him, we had to make up a lie that I was going out of town for work. He did not want to tell Jessica and Landry the truth fear of them becoming upset. Chuck and I had already had a plan in motion to have lunch with Jessica and Landry, bring flowers and chocolates. However, prior to valentine’s day, which I think was the following weekend, Jessica and Landry were over. Chuck told them prior to arrival, about my “work” trip. Jessica, the 9-year-old became angry. That evening she began texting Chuck from her room about how she will go buy her own stuff and tons more as it went on 2 + hours. Chuck even got their mother involved because of Jessica’s behavior. Later that evening, Jessica begins telling (demanding) Chuck, that I need to leave. I better not be there next time they come over…etc. Chuck can elaborate more.
    Little did I know, at a very early age, unhealthy boundaries were set, not by Chuck but between the child, mother and family. Somewhere along the way, Jessica would tell Chuck SHE is his only girlfriend. I believe this was done by Jessica’s family in order to 1) establish herself as “queen” 2) Jessica and Landry’s mother making sure, even though split, has control of Chuck through the girl child.
    Understand there is a culture difference between Chuck and their mother. They have very unhealthy boundaries. The kids’ mom, lives with her parents, the kids’ grandparents. We had lunch with Ally, their mother 2 months ago to form an allegiance (which is obsolete) to collaborate and find solutions. Ally, tells us Jessica and Landry are upset they can no longer sleep in the same bed with Chuck because now I am there. She also confessed how their family is and she herself allows her adult nephew to sleep in her bed and she herself will still sleep with her parents. I want to to make it known, Chuck, in the beginning of my and his relationship, that he would sleep fully clothed (swim trunks and t-shirt) because in case Jessica and Landry tried coming in bed with us. I absolutely hated it.

    Next:
    At random, Chuck writes me a love letter. A love letter I want to read daily, so I hang on the refrigerator. I come after work and notice the note was gone. Of course, I questioned Chuck. He then calls Jessica to ask if she did or seen the letter. She blatantly lied to him repeatedly. Chuck then confessed I was sad. Jessica then tells him it was under her bed. Chuck and Jessica had gotten into a political debate. That’s another issue. Jessica and Landry are exposed to some malice thinking and Chuck rebuttals. Politics is a heavy suitcase for a child to carry. I asked Jessica, the following weekend why she did it. She never apologized. She simply said she did not want to talk about it even though I told her I was not made.

    Next:
    One night, we were having conversation with Jessica and Landry about their biological father. Jessica and Landry repeatedly said David is dead to them. Their mother says that to them and in front of Jessica and Landry. Again, another very unhealthy boundary. THEY ARE 8 & 9 but have been told that for a good while. It truly broke my heart. Chuck does defend their biological dad to a sense in saying, “do not speak about him like that” The next day I took Jessica and Landry to meet their mother to give them back. I began explaining to the kids about how they should honor David, but this does not mean you have to have relationship with him but find forgiveness in their heart. I explained to a biblical standpoint of how God wants us to honor father and mother. I did say, Chuck is not not their biological father, but he is your dad 100% but God looks at it differently. But Chuck loves them…etc. Soon after, I don’t think it was 5 min after they left, I sent Jessica a text telling her “we can have this convo later I love her and care about her heart.”Later that night Chuck gets a call from Jessica telling him. He can further elaborate. You will see later how things I say/do get twisted. But at this point Jessica and Landry know Chuck is not their real dad. They know their real dad.

    NEXT:
    Few weeks later, Chuck takes Jessica and Landry to Main Event, I worked. After getting home and not even 30 seconds goes by, Jessica is adamant for Chuck to tell me about a girl he ran into from High School. Jessica tells Chuck “you and her (the friend) look good together” and then proceeds to tell Landry, Chuck (dad) said he was single. Chuck was shocked after the dots were connected of Jessica’s malicious behavior. Seeds are been planted.

    NEXT:
    Moving forward, Landry asked Chuck if we would move after we remodel. Jessica, while sitting at the dinner table looks straight at Chuck and says “Chuck (dad) do you think you still be with Lisa” looks at me dead in the face and says “no offense, Maxine” At that point I had enough. The next day, I ask Chuck’ permission to speak with Jessica in his presence. She has already fabricated lies about me. I called Jessica into the living room. She had her dog in front of her; I asked her to put the dog down. Please know, I spoke to Jessica in the same manner as I would my own – with firmness. I called her out but not in a mean way, just basically exposing her to her manipulating behavior. Told her she has no say over me, Chuck, or this house. The only thing she has control over is, when she comes over to be a happy family. I also shared with her an “asshole analogy” I used just a few weeks back with my own son. (here is the letter). I immediately followed up with a text to Jessica and Chuck telling her I love her, and we will get through this. At this point, I do not feel comfortable being left alone with Jessica and Landry.
    That day we did yard work, we all had a great time. Jessica and I were outside sitting alone, I grabbed her hand and said, slate is clean, lets start over. Not much interaction happened after that. The following day, we played the game of Sorry. Jessica made mention she wanted to be different color, Chuck suggested changing spots with her, but Jessica looked at me, looked at him and said its okay, I will be “color”. Jessica knew by changing spots it would put Chuck and I together. That was NOT going to happen.
    He takes them home.
    The next morning Chuck wakes to a text “__________________________” from Melissa, his ex-girlfriend, their mother. Jessica went home to tell her family I screamed at her behind closed doors and that I called her an asshole. Well, Chuck was in the room the whole time and she lied.

    This is when we meet with Melissa to come up with a resolution to Jessica’s behavior.

    Not even an hour after we finish lunch with their mother, Chuck and I pick them up. As they got into the vehicle, I said hello not once but twice. Chuck had to demand them to say hello. That evening I said, goodnight, only Landry acknowledged me. Said good morning to both……NOTHING!
    Chuck then takes them for mani-pedi, I refused to go. I will not go where I am not wanted and to be honest, I did not want to go. They all get home. I see Chuck texting and not even a minute later Jessica comes out to show me her nails. Yes, I was standoffish and did not engage. Very smugly I said, nice and that was it.
    That day Chuck speaks with them and they elaborate how he has changed since me coming around. And how they don’t like me. ETC…..
    Jessica and Landry go on a bike ride to talk. They come back, sit down and kind of tell me they are sorry for not acknowledging me. They laughed and giggled and whispered in each other’s ear…. they run inside.
    A few minutes go by, they come back out and I ask them “why don’t you like me” Jessica says it’s because I am immature and sensitive.
    We had a birthday trip planned to Six Flag for her birthday. She confessed she did not want to be a family and she had already made her mind up she would ignore everyone and only be with her cousin. Jessica even told us she would have her biological dad plan a party for her. We canceled the trip. Jessica tells Chuck should was forced to come over and she would give a million dollars to not be there. Landry calls his half-sister from his biological dad asking she come pick him up. What a fiasco.

    Fast forward to the next time they are over. They express not wanting to be there. We take them home.
    Melissa exchanges some awful words to Chuck. He can elaborate.

    Fast-forward to July 28 (Tuesday) Jessica sends Chuck a text….I do not know verbatim what is said but in a nutshell, according to Chuck, Jessica is laying on the guilt but Chuck does not play into it. Jessica tells Chuck to not ask her to come over because “you know why” ME! And tells him, he is choosing “some girl” he has only known a year over them. She follows up with, I know she’s not some girl to you.

    Fast-Forward to July 31 (Friday) Chuck has lunch with Jessica and Landry. He said everything was great and that Jessica even asked about me. After the visit he asked Jessica and Landry if they wanted to come over this Wednesday-Friday. According to Chuck, they said it with excitement. Chuck comes home to tell me what transpired, I listened but showed no emotion.

    Fast forward – August 7th……here we sit.
    While it’s absolutely wonderful and noble that Chuck took on parenting roles to kids who are not his, ex-stepkids are ex-stepkids. He has no rights over them at all and, when involved with that spouse, must accept that their role potentially may not be permanent. We can mull over this a million times but no matter how badly you want stepchildren to be your children, at the end of the day if the **** hits the fan, you’ll quickly see you have zero parental rights and it’s a lot different than your own child.
    Here is my BIGGEST point: A man is NOT meant to play the husband/daddy role to ANYONE outside of his wife. PERIOD. It is VERY destructive to the marriage, as many other things outside of this topic are that society attempts to play “politically correct” on.
    My second biggest point is that women (or men) who are absolutely NOT thrilled about this kind of situation are PERFECTLY NORMAL. It is NOT the norm for any grown adult to want to share their spouse with children they have no legal obligations to. This mentality of other spouses saying you must “accept” this dysfunctional scenario to be with them is unhealthy and unfair. This is where the damage starts.
    To elaborate even more: I see a lot of malice and malicious behavior from Jessica and Landry. Much like an addictive behavior, I foresee this not ending well. I foresee Jessica being obsessed with Chuck, and that she will do whatever to “get him back” and I believe a lot of this comes from Jessica and Landrys mother.

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    • avatar

      Maxine August 6, 2020, 8:42 pm

      Please make it known, I am not his wife but he claims to want to marry me.

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  • avatar

    LisforLeslie August 7, 2020, 6:21 am

    Maxine – didn’t read all of it. Two thoughts: 1. If this was /is intolerable, you have the option to leave at any point. If you believe this is going to end disastrous ( and you may be right) – you can’t save these people without someone getting hurt and resenting you for a long long time. Maybe it’s time you walk away

    2: Your quote

    “Here is my BIGGEST point: A man is NOT meant to play the husband/daddy role to ANYONE outside of his wife. PERIOD. It is VERY destructive to the marriage, as many other things outside of this topic are that society attempts to play “politically correct” on.”

    A man should not be playing a daddy role to his wife. A man can play a paternal or avuncular role to anyone within or outside of his nuclear family. Goodness knows I had a step dad that was more a parent than my dad and uncles and friends of the family that stepped up (and continue to step up) through my life. You’re creating this rule because it suits you, at this moment, and you don’t like this situation.

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    • avatar

      Maxine August 7, 2020, 7:35 am

      Thank you! You’re absolutely right!

      But please know I went into this situation with open arms. I accepted the assumed roles. I am mother to three, one to which is a step-child. Her dad and I married 17 years. Did we have challenges as a blended family, yes! But today we are closer than ever. My then husband adopted my daughter when she was 16.

      Due to Chucks role, absolutely no structure was created. No discipline. He himself and even his parents have made statements multiple times he is nothing but a glorified babysitter to his ex-girlfriend. His own dad told him in the beginning this was a bad idea to assume his role.

      Thank you!

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    ron August 7, 2020, 6:36 am

    You are trying to assume a role which it isn’t proper to assume. You are father figure’s gf. That’s it. That gives you very little input into these kids’ lives and behavior, yet you are determined to run the show. It is not your place AT ALL to be telling another woman’s children how God wants them to think about and relate to their bio-father. That is just totally, totally out of place. Just about everything you describe varies from your behavior being somewhat out of line to totally out of line.

    These children have a mother. They have a bio-father. They have their mother’s ex bf, who serves as a father figure. They don’t need the gf of the mother’s ex-bf trying to run their lives, even part time. What you are seeing is acting out in response to your gross over-stepping of boundaries.

    You really should move out of your bf’s house. You moved in way to fast and you have severely disrupted his relationship with these children. You are extremely judgmental about how your bf and the childrens’ actual mother are raising them. Not up to you at all, regardless of how long a response you post.

    Btw, it is not at all unusual for even a bio-dad, who is divorced, non-custodial, with visitation rights to give the kids freer rein in order to maintain good relations with them. It is even tougher for your bf, who is not bio-dad, never formally adopted them, and does not have visitation rights, other than by the mother’s permission. You put his visitation in jeopardy.

    I don’t think many mothers would tolerate their children spending time with an ex, whose live-in gf thought it her place to instruct HER children on how God wants them to relate to their bio-Dad. That is HER decision. Your bf has no voice in that, meaning you most certainly have no voice. Why in the world did you think it was okay to do that? You say the mother’s culture is different. It’s also not your place to challenge that or try to correct how these children swim in their family’s culture. Your behavior is supremely selfish and arrogant, bordering on insane. Your follow-up makes you sound even worse than your original post.

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      ron August 7, 2020, 7:01 am

      Sorry, makes you look worse than your bf’s original post.

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      Maxine August 7, 2020, 7:12 am

      I also want to thank you! Yes, you are right in saying I have NO place in someone’s life trying to raise kids or even have an input. I get to be welcome mat. Basically sit back, allow the disrespect at my home (I pay bills) nor be a positive influence in their life with creating structure and boundaries yet loving and guiding them at the same time.
      Thank you for opening my eyes!
      Forever thankful!

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        ron August 7, 2020, 7:49 am

        You can be as sarcastic as you wish, but that gives you no right to push your religious views and ideas on proper child rearing on another woman’s children. Paying some of the bills does not purchase that right. Your position to these children: disliked stranger forced upon them by their father figure, who is their mother’s ex.

        Your bf is wise to be wary of your intrusion with children. His ex can end your and his involvement in their lives with a snap of her fingers. Perhaps you are trying to force the issue. You are literally fighting a pre-teen over who is queen of your bf’s house. You either accept these kids, and his relationship with them, as it is, as they jointly want it to be, or you leave. Those are your choices. You can input around the edges, but you want to control how they are raised. Not at all the role of the short-term gf of a father-figure ex.

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        Maxine August 7, 2020, 8:00 am

        I cannot reply to your post below.

        Please know I was not being sarcastic. I am being honest as I have toyed back-n-forth with my decision. You truly did open my eyes.
        I am thankful for your insight, an insight I did not see till now.

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        Betty August 7, 2020, 2:43 pm

        Maxine, I know that I am late to this, but I hope you read this comment. The kids have a mom already, and you need to work hard to earn a place in their hearts. It is an uphill battle. You can still be a positive influence in their lives, but please slow down on being a disciplinarian. Please try to keep it lighter–mani-pedis, bike rides, etc. In order to trust you they need to like you. Right now it sounds like they are wary of you and you seem to be proving them right to be wary. Every time the children are disrespectful, turn the other cheek. I know it must seem like a lot of work for very little reward. If it is too much for you, then it is better to know now.

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    Maxine August 7, 2020, 6:48 am

    Thank you for your insight.

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    Fyodor August 7, 2020, 7:29 am

    I think that my favorite all time DW column was when a wife wrote in with a complaint and then her husband wrote in to berate Wendy for not soliciting his side of the story. This isn’t as good because the actual situation is much uglier, but always a solid experience when third parties write in to litigate their side of things.

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      Maxine August 7, 2020, 7:53 am

      Yes, every side needs to be heard whether good or bad, received well or not to be received well.

      It is what it is.

      I am choosing to walk away for the sake of my psyche.

      Come September we will have been together a year. I moved in Mid-February fully embracing the situation. It is not until malicious behavior and ill intent towards me did I begin seeing things from a different perspective.
      Knowing the instability of this situation at hand, it is best I leave.

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        Fyodor August 7, 2020, 10:01 am

        I don’t think that you understand-I was being facetious. Emailing an advice site to litigate your case with a bunch of strangers is weird and offputting behavior. It shows a compulsive need to “win” fights that I think is a big part of why your relationship has failed and your partner wrote into us.

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    Bittergaymark August 7, 2020, 7:47 am

    The more you try to justify your behavior, Maxine… the worse you look. It’s better to be thought a bitch than to speak up and remove all doubt.

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      Maxine August 7, 2020, 7:56 am

      I understand.
      Thank you for the reply.

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    Part-time Lurker August 7, 2020, 7:52 am

    “Chuck”, Maxine needs to go. Maxine……this is not the relationship for you. MOA.

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    FYI August 7, 2020, 9:45 am

    Here is what is happening, Maxine (and Chuck, ’cause I know he’s reading too)…

    The same determination you’re showing here — to answer every post, to justify yourself in a reallllllly minute and detailed way — is what you are exhibiting at home. You’re a person who argues and defends. It doesn’t matter that you say “I appreciate it,” this need to have a comeback every time is never going to work for you, especially with a NINE YEAR OLD.

    You can point out their faults (and you have, everyone including the grandparents is at fault, according to you) — but you have quite a lot to look at in yourself. I have no idea whatever possessed you to move in with someone after only five months of dating. The result is exactly what you have now — your role (newcomer, especially to them) is not consistent with the role of disciplinarian. You are NEW to them (and to Chuck, frankly). You have zero standing to “guide” them.

    Even if you did, telling a NINE YEAR OLD that “God looks at it differently” is flat-out insane — and mean. God doesn’t see him as their father because there is no biological link?? WTF are you talking about?!? You aren’t suited to “guiding” them, Maxine.

    You didn’t see the mess in the house in the brief period when you were dating?You didn’t ask any questions about what you were getting into? Why aren’t you exiting this painful situation? His kids are clearly taking a major toll on you, so why are you sticking around? I suspect the answer to all those questions is the same — you want a husband. I don’t know, really, but why else would someone move so fast?

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      Maxine August 7, 2020, 9:49 am

      I am packing as we speak.

      Thanks for the insight.

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      Maxine August 7, 2020, 9:59 am

      And please know my level to detail was only meant for the therapist but I shared here for to litigate my perspective. Not for anyone to side with me.

      Unfortunately my level of detail is my profession. I am an accountant.

      Chuck is a police officer.

      He asked me to move in. I agreed.
      Also know everything was good with the kids until rules (standard housekeeping) were implemented which Chuck agreed to also.

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        ktfran August 7, 2020, 11:03 am

        And when things didn’t go YOUR way with YOUR rules, you told Chuck to abandon children that think of him as their father because they aren’t blood. Gross.

        I’m glad you’re packing your bags. The kids deserve better.

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        golfer.gal August 8, 2020, 3:05 am

        Except it wasn’t just “standard housekeeping” that was implemented. You are trying to have absolute control over these children’s lives. Instructing them on religion and what God wants/ thinks of them. Omg, no, so incredibly inappropriate. Telling them how they should feel about their bio dad (no no no no no)- using carefully chosen language like “real dad” to highlight to these kids that the man they love isn’t in fact a “real” parent which is just…wow… incredibly cruel. As the wife of a man with an adopted dad, you DO NOT get to use words like “real dad”, you DO NOT badger a child via text and in person to act or feel a certain way about their parentage, you do NOT dictate who is “real” or “fake”. ESPECIALLY having known the kids for only a few freaking months. Forcing a 9 year old child to put her dog, a comfort to her, down and telling her an “asshole” story, whatever the fuck that is, and then getting upset when she tells her family she was called an asshole and yelled at in what was clearly a very scary and adversarial situation where the word asshole was used multiple times. Getting nasty and pouting with little children. It’s so obvious you forced a competition between yourself and a 9 year old girl. And the kicker “A man is NOT meant to play the husband/daddy role to ANYONE outside of his wife. PERIOD.” THEN WHY IN THE WORLD DID YOU MOVE IN WITH A MAN WHO HAS NON BIOLOGICAL CHILDREN??? It’s painfully obvious you don’t want them, by your own admission you’d get angry and rude, and then get upset when they (shockingly) didn’t respond to your slightest overture once you decided the “slate was clean”. These kids were constantly made by you to feel like they couldn’t do or say anything right and the line was clearly drawn for them that this wasn’t their “real” home. You were not a positive or healthy presence in their lives. Seriously, I don’t know that you realize how controlling, cruel, inappropriate, and petty you sound as you “litigate” the pain you caused these kids. Please, do NOT date a man with young children still in the home ever again. Don’t wreak this sort of pain and havoc on another young child. Please, please keep the therapy appointments to unpack your behavior.

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    anonymousse August 7, 2020, 10:58 am

    Wow.

    Chuck, Maxine needs to go. She hasn’t even been there a year and she’s starting epic battles with CHILDREN.

    Maxine, you have no right to interfere with how Chuck and his ex raise their kids. You actually come across very badly with your repeated defensive excuses and rambling storyline. The fact is, you’re trying to separate him from his kids and that’s disgusting and wrong. None of it is your business. You’ve crossed the line, repeatedly. It’s pretty telling that a nine year old told you she doesn’t like you because you’re immature. That says a lot. Smart kid!

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    ron August 7, 2020, 12:14 pm

    Maxine —
    Not to flog a dead horse, but perhaps food for future thought by you. You obviously are very proud that your own children turned out well. In broad strokes, we can all agree on what ‘turned out well’ means. When we get to specifics: our idea of how the family operates, what is most important to our children, their aspirations, life goals, what they are willing to give up to achieve those goals (morally in addition to hard work), we are going to differ greatly. You speak very derisively of the culture of the children’s mother and her family, and yet assume her vision of her children turning out very well either matches your own or that yours is superior, giving you some sort of right to try to substitute your culture and values for the mothers.

    Religion and blood relations are especially tricky mothers. The mother lived her relationship with the bio-father and saw his interactions with her children first hand. You have only 3rd-hand observations from your bf. So a question to answer for yourself, in order to understand how and why you went so off the rails here and avoid it in future: why did you decide to step in and tell another woman’s children what God wanted them to do in relation to their birth father? This isn’t something which in any way impacts how having bf’s kids visit impacts your life or your relationship with bf. It is sheer over-reach, which means this somehow must have touched a very sensitive nerve in your being. Understand what that is and you’ll understand both yourself and this mess a lot better.

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    FYI August 7, 2020, 3:07 pm

    “malicious behavior and ill intent towards me”

    She’s NINE.

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      anonymousse August 7, 2020, 3:15 pm

      I’m starting to think the nine year old is the only one with any common sense in this drama.

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    brise August 7, 2020, 4:26 pm

    Maxine took over this post, didn’t she?
    It is like what happened at home, I suppose. It is best to go your separate ways, indeed. Chuck, you are a good father, but you have to be much more careful when you introduce a girlfriend to your kids. This should much done step by step.
    Maxine: you are in a rivalry with a 9 years old… That is a serious error of judgement. “Rules” and so on: actually, I think that you sound very rigid. In such a situation, one should progress with baby steps. It also very possible that you are much more rigid and negative with children who are not yours, and you are older than with you own kids. As of the love letter on the fridge: what a strange idea. A provocation for a 9 years old to read? Why? In that dynamics, you should be discreet on the countrary.
    I was surprised to see all these “psychotic” jugdements. It seems to me a very strong word, a stretch from the clinical sense. But the way you just invaded your soon-to-be-ex’s post and try to justify everything : weird.
    Just date someone without kids or with adult kids.

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    Hazel August 7, 2020, 4:37 pm

    everyone else has covered all the main points, just wanted to say- do not impose your religion and your ideas of what its chosen deity does and does not think onto the young and impressionable minds of children, especially children who are not your own.

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    Talis August 7, 2020, 5:01 pm

    Maxine – maybe this is moot , as I see from the comments that you are packing to leave. But I do have to wonder why a woman of your experience (previously married, kids of your own, and a stepmom) would be compelled to move in so quickly with a new partner.

    I am also perplexed by your need to hang a love letter on the fridge – a private, romantic letter, in plain sight where his young kids, who were already ramping up the “disrespectful” behavior and didn’t accept you, would continuously see it.

    You mentioned a political debate as well. Honestly what does this even mean? Nine years old is not too young to have some curiosity about politics and to start getting informed on at least the basics. That being said, I am baffled as to anyone would engage in a “political debate” with a literal child.

    I also don’t know who you think you are to speak on God’s will. I can assure you it is not God’s will to make a child feel badly for her perception of her bio dad. You mentioned they are of a different culture; are they of a different religion as well? Because if so that makes this even more unacceptable.

    Your letter makes it out as if these children were deceitful little heathens with the run of the house, when the worst you described was messy rooms and unmade beds. This was apparently so untenable that you had to institute order and discipline, which, surprise, resulted in retaliation. And it never occurred to you to let up – instead you took the line of reasoning that Chuck isn’t their real dad anyway.

    We can argue all day over whether their family dynamics were healthy or normal, but fact is, you came in and tried to disrupt the status quo and now you’re shocked it didn’t go the way you wanted. In one of your comments you glibly state that you should have been a welcome mat – not so, but it sounds like you were openly hostile and caused the behavioral problems yourself.

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    Kate August 9, 2020, 8:41 am

    Oh my god, what even is this??? I skimmed some of it and wow, these poor kids. Both Chuck and Maxine have mental health issues, and Maxine actually sounds dangerous and deeply sick. Neither of them should be allowed to care for children.

    Chuck isn’t off the hook here. Something is seriously wrong with him too.

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