“Will My Boyfriend Be a Good Stepdad to My Daughter?”

I am 28 and my live-in boyfriend of almost a year is 27. We love each other very much and have been talking about marriage. I have a daughter who is 5. Her father is not much of a dad to her at all, but she adores my boyfriend and he is good to her.

There are some things that bother me about their relationship, though. Like, sometimes he seems irritated with her. He says she talks a lot, which she does. She is a normal 5-year-old girl. At night he doesn’t say prayers with us or help tuck her in. She asked him to tuck her into bed one night and he refused. I ask him to do stuff for her sometimes while I’m busy and he won’t. Is he just being lazy or does he not know how to really be a parent? Am I expecting too much of him? (He has a 5-year-old son whom we get, but has never really spent a whole lot of time with him because of his mother).

I’m wondering if he’s going to make a good step-dad one day, and I just don’t see it. I feel like he should love my daughter as his own. But maybe I’m wrong. When I approach him with my feelings, he gets mad. He told me once she’s not his kid, which hurt my feelings. He’s not a bad person nor is he mean to her — I would never be with someone like that. I’m just wondering whether he’s a good choice for my daughter and me in the long run. I don’t want to marry someone who makes me feel like I have to constantly stick up for my child. Please help me! — Cautious Mom

When you ask your boyfriend to do stuff for your daughter, he refuses. When she asks him to tuck her into bed, he says no. He gets irritated with her for being a normal little 5-year-old girl. When you express your feelings about how he treats your daughter, he gets mad or says, “She’s not MY kid.” And even if she were his kid, there’s no indication he’d treat her any better. He has a child of his own — one who’s the same age as your little girl — and you say he hardly spends any time with him. And yet! And yet, you’re wondering if he’d make a good stepdad to your daughter?

This guy’s an asshole and not only does he make an absolutely lousy choice as a potential stepfather, he sounds like a rotten choice in a boyfriend, too. Kick him to the curb and MOA. Any man who is lucky enough to be allowed into your daughter’s life — and I HIGHLY recommend you start vetting potential mates a little better before you introduce them to her, let alone let them move in with you — and doesn’t treat her like gold isn’t worthy of your time. The fact that you actually LIVE with this man (and after less than a year together!) is alarming. Your kid deserves better than this.


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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.


  1. Seriously, he isn’t her dad and I think he is treating her more like “His roommate’s kid” rather than as his stepdaughter. I think it is odd how some people who write in won’t introduce children to SOs for years and other people move in family and all in under a year.

  2. LW….i think the fact that he doesn’t have much to do with his son (and I doubt it is the mother’s fault) screams loud and clear that this guy will never be a good dad to your daughter….the choice is yours but if it was me I would consider me and my daughter a package deal and no man would ever be allowed into our lives unless he loved us both….please put your daughter first….men may come and go but your kids need you for a lifetime

    1. Yeah I’m guessing he is feeding her a line of bullshit, about he sons mother, just so he doesn’t have to hangout with him.

      1. thats exactly what i was thinking….my deadbeat meter went off the chart reading this letter

  3. Well now I just want to tell someone to wake up and smell the waffle fries.

    Seriously though, the best indicator of future behavior is current behavior. Even if you could excuse this guy’s behavior towards your daughter (I couldn’t) or write it off as him not being ready to be a dad to her yet, the fact that he not only rarely sees his own kid but blames that on the mother is a huge, honking, flapping red flag. Legally, keeping a kid away from a biological parent that actually wants to see them is next to impossible. I think 99% of the time, deadbeat parents will just blame their deadbeatness on the other spouse but really they are still a deadbeat. Also, even if it’s true that she doesn’t want him around, what does that tell you?

    Dump this guy and wait longer next time before moving someone in with your daughter.

    1. “the best indicator of future behavior is current behavior”

      BRB. going to get that tattooed somewhere visible.

  4. BriarRose says:

    For about 2 years my ex-husband lived about 7 minutes away from our daughter yet rarely saw her, despite me pleading with him to be more involved in her life. Pretty sure he told his girlfriend I was keeping him from his daughter. That’s the oldest line in the book, and one you need to be extremely skeptical of.

    Don’t let this guy be your daughter’s stepfather. Do you really want your sweet girl to grow up with a man whose biggest selling point is that he’s not overtly mean?

    1. BriarRose says:

      Although to a 5 year old, him refusing to tuck her in probably seemed pretty mean and hurtful. I’m sure it really upset you too! Don’t let this be the male example your daughter grows up with.

  5. Turtledove says:

    No, just no.

    I mean look, I would expect a little bit of awkwardness from someone who isn’t used to small children. But that would be awkwardness, not unwillingness and it would fade as they get to know each other. This dude just straight up does not want to be a father. If he did, a den of lions couldn’t keep him away from his son. Dude bro does not want to be a father, so you’re setting your daughter up for a lifetime of heartache if you try to get him to be one. MOA and find someone worthy of your kid. (And please, please, please take your time and get to know them very well before you introduce them to your little girl. She doesn’t need any more heartache than she’s already got)

  6. MIchelle.Lea says:

    Yes, whoever you’re going to marry should be treating that child like their own. If they don’t, move on and find someone who will.

    (however on being irritated with a 5 year old.. that’s normal. The rest? not acceptable.)

    1. Stephanie says:

      In this case he IS treating the child as he treats his own:with disdain and indifference.

      1. MIchelle.Lea says:

        yes, but you got the gist of what I was saying.

  7. So, this is what a good boyfriend is supposed to look like when a child is involved:

    My uncle dated, fell in love with and married a widow who had a nine year old daughter. This was AGES ago, as my cousin is now early 40s. When he was wooing her, one night a week he took them both on a child-friendly date one night and just my aunt another. He made sure all was comfortable with the situation. Treated them both well. And they all have a pretty great relationship. My uncle even walked her down the aisle at her wedding.

    LW, the fact that you live together and he isn’t even trying speaks volumes. I would MOA and do a better job at vetting potential husbands/fathers.

    1. Your uncle sounds so sweet!

      1. He is. He’s my dad’s brother. There’s another one too. All their wives lucked out because all three brothers are great with and love kids. And all ended up with girls only. I guess I lucked out too.

  8. I don’t think that a boyfriend should be expected to behave like your child’s parent, especially after only a year. BUT– I wouldn’t expect a boyfriend of only a year to be living with the child either.

    LW, your problem is that you really shouldn’t have moved in with your boyfriend so quickly. You should have had discussions with him about what role he wanted to have in your child’s life BEFORE you moved in with him. The blame isn’t all on you though. He shouldn’t have agreed to move in with you without discussing what your expectations were, regarding your daughter. Does anyone think things through before they make decisions anymore?

    1. starpattern says:

      “Does anyone think things through before they make decisions anymore?”

      Clearly not =/

    2. tbrucemom says:

      I totally agree with you. He’s a live-in boyfriend, not a fiance. She may have expectations from him that he doesn’t realize. But the fact is he’s living there and I wouldn’t live with a BF of less than a year when I had a small child or if I did I would have had a long talk about our future and his role in her life.

    3. In this case, it’s not even a case of “not acting like a parent.” (He clearly doesn’t even act like a parent to his own child, though, so it’s all a moot point.) If a child specifically asked me to tuck them in, I can’t imagine telling them no.

  9. “I don’t want to marry someone who makes me feel like I have to constantly stick up for my child.”

    Well, don’t.

    1. Best. Answer. Ever.

      1. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:


  10. starpattern says:

    So at first I was thinking, good grief cut the guy a break, he’s 27 and inexperienced at parenting, it’s been less than a year, etc. – because if I were dating someone with a child and less than a year in they were trying to cram me straight into a mother role I imagine I would probably freak out a little too… but then the detail about his having his own kid that he hardly ever sees… Womp womp. MOA, LW and like Wendy said – for God’s sake don’t move in the next fella quite so quickly.

  11. Avatar photo lemongrass says:

    Cautious would have been not moving in with your boyfriend before figuring out whether he would treat you and your daughter well. Please don’t do that to her again.

  12. landygirl says:

    Another woman so desperate for a relationship that she sells her own daughter up the river. I wish all single parents would think about their kids before they think about themselves.

    1. BriarRose says:

      Just as a general comment about single parents though–why are married parents allowed to focus on their personal life without being condemned by society? Why are married parents able to go on dates with their spouses, or trips, etc, and be so roundly praised for taking time to themselves, making the effort to work on their marriage, while single parents are supposed to always put their kids first?

      Of course I realize in this case why this sentiment is so loudly expressed, but sometimes it’s so discouraging to always hear I should be putting my daughter first and never worry about my personal happiness. I’m human. I want to have hobbies and friends and maybe even a companion. Is that really so criminal?

      1. landygirl says:

        You can have a personal life when you’re single, just don’t include your child in it unless you’ve taken time to thoroughly get to know the person you are dating and have discussed incorporating the child into the relationship.

        When you are desperate for a relationship then you pick losers like the LW did, who by they way, seems to pick losers considering her child’s father isn’t really part of her daughter’s life. When you have a child, your job is to give them every opportunity to grow and flourish and dragging them into every new relationship doesn’t accomplish that.

        I’m not saying that you do this, I’m just saying that single parents need to separate their personal lives from their parenting lives until it is appropriate to incorporate the two.

      2. Avatar photo BriarRose says:

        I agree on all accounts, but I do chafe a bit at always hearing other people (just in general) tell me what I’m “supposed” to do. I’m working on not taking it personally when people talk about single parents. It’s a work in progress 😉

      3. landygirl says:

        You need to observe why it is that you react to those opinions.

        p.s., cute doggie.

      4. Avatar photo BriarRose says:

        I guess it’s much like being an 80’s baby (ha!)…you want to prove everyone wrong. Really being subjected to any prejudice or generalization is no fun, I’m sure we can all agree on that.

        And thanks! My pup is a good egg.

      5. landygirl says:

        I was technically a fully grown adult in the 80s!! I turned 18 in 1982.

      6. Avatar photo BriarRose says:

        And I suppose I’m not technically an 80’s baby since I was born right at the end of ’79. I just remember all the huffy comments back when there was a post about the 80’s.

      7. lets_be_honest says:

        I know most of you guys think otherwise, but when I become defensive of single parents, I actually don’t think it has anything to do with me somehow subliminally agreeing with the negative comment and applying it to my life and thereby becoming super defensive. (I think that is what Landy was alluding to when she said you need to observe why it is you react to those opinions).

        I’m sure everyone says that though, haha.

      8. Presumably your list of priorities in life is longer than just one item? So putting a child “first” doesn’t mean that you ignore your own needs. And I don’t think most people are trying to say you can’t go on dates or trips.

        I don’t really see it as oppositional to married couples, so much as the way dating changes when you’ve got a child. When you’re single and without kids, you can date whoever and only affect yourself, which obviously is not true as a parent. And if someone is married, they either were married before the child came along, or they hopefully have determined that this person is a suitable parental figure and addition to the household.

      9. Avatar photo BriarRose says:

        Again, all very valid. Was just commenting on what seems to be a societal push to have single parents focus on their children at the expense of their personal lives. We often hear stories of the single mom who didn’t date until her kids were out of the house and what a fantastic and selfless woman she was, etc, etc. Those types of single parents are often touted as the example of what every single parent “should” be like, and it’s frustrating. As you and others have said, I think it’s perfectly acceptable for me to have a personal life, especially since my daughter has no idea that I do anything other than sit at home when she’s at a sleepover.

        I think people discussing how single parents “should” behave is an interesting discussion. Yes, it rankles me a bit since I’m super mature and don’t like strangers bossing me around, even if they’re telling me to do what I’m already doing. I guess it’s the principle of it all? I don’t think that it means I’m defensive because I’m not ok with how I am living my life. I know I’m doing a good job, especially since no one has ever lived with me and my daughter! 🙂

      10. landygirl says:

        It isn’t so much about focusing on the children at the expense of your personal life as much as those who focus on their personal life at the expense of the children. There is a happy medium out there. Date all you want, just don’t include your children in the mix until the relationship is tested and stable.

      11. Avatar photo BriarRose says:

        There are definitely those out there (hi mom!) who think single parents shouldn’t date, period. I wasn’t saying that was what you had implied in your post, just that it is definitely a sentiment in society, to lift up the moms who sacrifice everything for their kids, and raise an eyebrow at those who take some time to themselves.

        And I don’t know about other single parents, but I’m definitely not doing a ton of dating. No time, and babysitters are freaking expensive. I think the best present I could ever get would be the offer of free babysitting from a trusted friend.

      12. I agree with you. I think people tend to be pretty harsh on single moms. Actually people are harsh on all moms, but especially single moms.

      13. BriarRose says:

        Yeah, parenting in general is one of the quickest ways to get lots of unwanted attention and advice.

      14. “I think people discussing how single parents “should” behave is an interesting discussion. Yes, it rankles me a bit since I’m super mature and don’t like strangers bossing me around, even if they’re telling me to do what I’m already doing.”

        Yeah, I was just thinking about this, and I think the deal is that this kind of “should” stuff is not directed toward people like you. When someone says, “you have to put your children first,” they’re talking to the people who put their children last. And those types of parents you mention, who basically put their lives on hold, are not healthy either, IMO. Not to mention that they probably are more ornery with their children and basically showing their kids that it’s OK to throw your life into one role and neglect your personal needs.

      15. I think of it more as, don’t let your personal life negatively effect your children. You are free as a single mom to do whatever you want, but if you like going to rock concerts till 3am or X rated movies and think you should bring your toddler… that’s not ok, just to use an example that has nothing to do with dating. There are any number of activities and relationships that are suitable for adults, and I think some of the sweeping comments here are coming from a place of once you have a child you have to think about what is appropriate for them and what is not. unfortunately as a solo parent you don’t have as much flexibility with scheduling, etc. – but I would have the same issue with 2 parents who decided to expose their child to something that is completely not child-friendly or appropriate.

        Layer in dating/relationships… maybe trying to hard to fill a void and find that mom or dad for your kid that they are “missing” and people make some really shitty decisions.

      16. ok, here is the weird catch-22 though in what you are saying: there is a societal push to be involved in children’s lives- all children. “children are our future” bla bla bla, that kind of stuff. so me, as a childless adult, DOES have some say in some ways of how your child is raised, through who i elect to certain positions who make decisions about schools, how juvenile crime is prosecuted, ect. but i am not a parent, i have no stake in having kids turn out good or not except for the “betterment of society” piece in that the kids of the world are going to be running it someday.

        so, i am instructed to have a say in kids lives. i am instructed to care, to want the best, ect, ect, ect, because kids are MY future too. so in a way, society is taught to intrude on parenting, because we have to care about children as a whole.

        its a weird catch-22. we have to care, really, because it is true that kids are the future, but at the same time parents are like “dont tell me what to do!”.

      17. lets_be_honest says:

        Very interesting comment katie. I guess what all parents want (or really all people) is for kids to be safe, healthy, happy and smart. We as a society can work toward that and help, but I guess where the line gets drawn is on specifics/details. Like, tell me generally that my kid should be those 4 things, but don’t tell me specifically how to raise my kid unless you feel they are in harm’s way.

        You may believe its wrong for a parent to ever give their kid a french fry, and I may think they are fine. Now, you wouldn’t (or shouldn’t?) have a say in a thing as small as fries, but you could speak up about healthy foods for kids in general and that would be a more welcomed thing to do as opposed to say, yelling at me at McDonalds for letting my baby munch on a fry.

      18. yep.

        its just very odd to me, as someone without a child, that i have to care and even modify my own behavior “for the kids”. but at the same time its rude and unacceptable for me to, like you say, yell at someone for giving their kid a french fry.

        also, i do agree with MMcG that married parents are scrutinized too, i think its just regarding different things, so maybe thats why single parents “feel” more scrutinized? like, dating is a very personal thing and it can bring a lot of personal happiness, so maybe single parents take a criticism about dating more personally then, say, a married couple who participates in some other activity that would get criticized.

      19. lets_be_honest says:

        Could also be one spoils it for the bunch. One shitty single parent who dates like this LW makes people worry about ANY single parent who dates.

      20. lets_be_honest says:

        This also just reminded me of a forum thread on here (I think about obese people? or food stamps?). Everyone agreed people should mind their own business about what people buy on food stamps and not say things like ‘I should have a say, because I’m paying taxes!’ or ‘I should have a say, because my insurance is skyrocketing because of those people!’
        I guess the obvious difference is that those people are adults and free to make decisions, however, I do think the discussion was actually about buying a birthday cake for a kid with good stamps.

      21. I was going to say something about this, too. Married parents are encouraged to put their relationship first, while single parents are chided for having any relationships.

        I also agree with other comments about this particular LW, though. Sounds like she moved in someone she should’ve ended things with.

    2. Avatar photo bittergaymark says:

      Chapter Five: of WOMEN: THE DESPERATE SEX will outline the seemingly routine decision to put their own children dead last so long as they are getting, even moderately, banged.

      1. Had to laugh out loud at “moderately banged.” Sounds like an ad for a “gently used” appliance: “moderately banged, but still plenty of good mileage.” I’m getting moderately banged nowadays, but I used to get real, REAL banged.

      2. Also, BGM, if you are really writing this book, please go into hiding immediately. Just because the extremists never got Rushdie doesn’t mean you’re safe from the DW Hit Squad.

      3. It all depends whether we get a shout out on the jacket or not… 🙂

      4. Avatar photo meadowphoenix says:

        But where will you detail the seemingly routine decision of men to have children whilst pretending they don’t exist, two of which seem evident in this note? Would that be your second book, MEN: THE USELESS SEX?

      5. Avatar photo bittergaymark says:

        No. That would be STRAIGHT Men: The Useless Sex. 😉

  13. Great decision making process you have going on. You expect your boyfriend of less than a year to be more of a father to your kid than he is to his own. It’s pretty crappy for your daughter that she is so attatched to this guy already.

  14. I can cetainly understand his reluctance to be a dad to someone else’s kid. (Especially since he doesn’t seem to be much of a dad to his own.) That is a big responsibility to take on. Having said that, dating someone with a kid is a package deal. He should not have moved in and you should not have invited him until you saw how he interacted with your daughter. This guy is not the right guy for you or your daughter. I’ll repeat something I’ve said here before: most of my friends who date and have kids do not even introduce their potential SO to their kid until they’ve been dating for six months. That’s introduce. Not move in – introduce. They tell me this works really well for them and their kids.

    1. Yeah the fact that he knows his own inclinations to not be a stepfather, and moved in anyway makes me really doubt his intentions are good.

  15. painted_lady says:

    Just food for thought:

    What do you think your daughter’s father says to dates/girlfriends about why he doesn’t spend much time with his daughter? Probably that it’s your fault. Maybe your boyfriend is telling the truth about that, but legally it’s incredibly difficult to keep a person’s child away from them. Either the parent doesn’t want contact, or they’ve proven themselves to be an unfit parent.

  16. Avatar photo the_optimist says:

    Now I just WANT waffle fries. Damn it Wendy!

    But seriously, yes yes yes to all. LW, your boyfriend isn’t suddenly going to “become” anything if you haven’t seen his behavior change and improve in the year you’ve already lived together. Do the right thing for your daughter and lose this guy.

    1. I was just about to write the same thing… yummy waffle fries… now I have to go get fast food for lunch 😉

  17. “…my live-in boyfriend of almost a year”— I balked at that before I even got to the “I have a 5-year-old daughter” part. Jeeesus, why would you move SO FAST when you have a small child? I’m not saying to join a convent, but seriously, if having a partner who’ll be willing to parent your kid is important to you, then try to figure out if he’ll be good in that role before ~moving him in~ next time.

    But anyway, to answer the question: No, this man is not a choice choice for you & your daughter.

  18. LW, listen to your instincts here. Right now, they are telling you that your boyfriend sucks as a parent, as a potential step-parent and as a potential spouse. You know this to be true. Your daughter deserves better than having this man as her step-father. Please kick him out and move on from this relationship. In the future, please take much more time before allowing a boyfriend to move in with your family. You do not want to end up like the LW with the creeper husband.

  19. No, he will not make a good step-father, he isn’t even at all interested in trying. He seems not to like kids. You are doing your daughter a lot of harm, allowing her to develop feelings for this guy, who won’t reciprocate. This is not good for her emotional development. MOA and be a better Mom. This really is a terrible situation for your daughter.

  20. “Be a better mother.” <—— THIS.

  21. I read the “live in boyfriend of almost a year” as they have only been living together for almost a year, not just dating for a year. Maybe I am just giving her the benefit of the doubt? Anyway, LW. This guy is not someone I would want around my kid. Think of the examples you want to set for your daughter and her future relationships.

    1. I was confused about that too, actually.

  22. So my mom actually DID try to keep us from my dad and she went to great and CRAZY lengths to keep him out of our lives (including filing false police reports! fun!), but my dad fought tooth and nail to see us and he eventually won custody of my brothers and me. Granted, my dad did a lot of shitty things too, but as far as not being able to see his kids? He was not about to let that go down.

    Your boyfriend is full of shit. That’s his child and he’s making excuses. So yeah. Dump him. A man who makes excuses about something as important as being there for his kid will make excuses everywhere else in life.

    1. Yeah. I have a friend whose ex tried to keep him away from his kid. (Including police reports and restraining orders, yay.) He went to court and fought to see her, and he won. That is what a dedicated dad does.

    2. painted_lady says:

      Yeah, dedicated parents do everything they can to stay in their kids’ lives. If they’re not or they’re not fighting their ass off to make it happen, then the problem lies with that parent, not with their ex.

    3. Yeah my friend has a baby momma that tries very very hard to do this, and he is in court all the time fighting to have vacations, and other things that have to do with seeing his son more. He has to be very prepared everytime he goes, because he found out very early on, that the courts will believe everything she says, unless he has documentation.

  23. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

    Man, I feel sorry for the BF’s son. I feel less sorry for the LW’s daughter because I’m hopeful LW will make a change and get that BF out of her life.

    1. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

      p.s. Mmmmm, waffle fries! I’ll take a waffle fry any day over one of those really thick steak fries, over shoe-string fries, over sweet potato fries, over diced potatoes, over hashbrowns, over tator tots. Wait, no TATOR TOTS ARE #1.

      1. Tator tots are awesome!

      2. Do you like regular tator tots, or sweet potato tator tots better?

      3. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        Regular tator tots, then sweet potato tots. What about you? I can’t believe it’s been almost THREE YEARS of DW and we’re just not hamemring out these details.

      4. I enjoy the regular tots more, and that would be my preference for all potato products as well. I like the sweet potato, but it is like the candy of the potato world, and can only have so much, but the regular potato, I can eat a billion of.

      5. landygirl says:

        I see you dog is wearing the cone of shame. So cute!

      6. She finaly has it off now! She was so goofy looking before hahaha.

      7. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        I loved your explanation for the sweet potato – makes sense and that sums it up perfectly. Based on our potato preferences, I think we’d be a perfect couple. Ha.

      8. Hopefully we wouldn’t fight over who gets the last fry! I would let you have it 80% of the time.

      9. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        This is good news, because I would only care 80% of the time I picked a fight for the last fry, so we may still work as a couple.

        Except now I am thinking that the key to being a perfect couple is having OPPOSITE potato preferences. No fighting for the last fry.

      10. yea, i think opposite tastes are better. like, i used to be all weirded out that jake doesnt like chocolate- but then i realized that means he will never steal my chocolate. THAT is a match made in heaven for real.

      11. Mr. Othy was so excited when he learned that our drink preferences were different (I love a good daiquiri, he’s prefer a good whiskey). It means I never steal his.

      12. Yeah that probably sounds like it would work better overall. It’s like when I get one of those large soft pretzels, and my wife doesn’t want anything, but then all of the sudden she wants a piece of my delicious pretzel, and instead of taking a piece off of the outer circle she takes the delicious soft crisscross part, and I have tear it out of her hands, spray her with water, and say “bad wife, bad wife” so she doesn’t do it again.

      13. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        hahaha, that is something i would definitely do. so i side with Bagge72 Wife!

      14. I can totally see how it would be the candy of the potato world. My favorite way to have them? Smothered in butter/cinnamon/marshmallows. Mmm.

        And waffle fries are far superior to steak fries.

      15. Waffle fries or Smiley Faces.

      16. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        yikes, meant *just now hammering out these details

      17. Hmm, I think I actually prefer hashbrowns, tater tots, and diced potatoes over any type of French fry. Has anyone been to Westside Lilo’s in Seligman, AZ on the way to the Grand Canyon? I had “Those Potatoes” there, and they were my favorite ever. (That’s what they’re called – “Those Potatoes”).

      18. I like skinny french fries with some of the skin still on, with spices & a good deal of crispiness. (And then I shake salt all over them, even if they’re already salted. Also, no ketchup.)

      19. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        I am with you on the cripsiness! I like them border-line burnt. But then I drown them in ketchup…

      20. Waffle Fries > hash browns (shredded) > Tater tots > shoe string fries > regular fries > hash browns (sliced) hash browns (cubed) > steak fries

        The crispier the better. I like to mix my ketchup with Sriracha and then eat them all.

      21. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        Everything in life is better with Sriracha!

      22. I’m always disappointed when the brunch places by me don’t have Sriracha. They have Tabasco and Cholula, but no Sriracha. I’ve been tempted to start bringing my own.

  24. Ok, when you have a young kid, please please talk about marriage (or your personal equivalent if you are not that way inclined – your ‘forever relationship status’) BEFORE you move the guy in. I dont care if its financial reasons or whatever, its really bad planning, and parents are supposed to be good at planning. Why are you only just now talking like this? What precipitated him moving in? Why would you think he wanted to be a stepfather when he has and ignores the opportunity to be a biological dad?

    1. hold on, whats that statistic about like over half of babies being unplanned? i think that means that parents are on average not good planners. lol

      1. Fair enough. But once the kid is born you have to plan for it, right?? Like where its going to be all the time??

    2. I am fully convinced the overwhelming majority of people move in together because of expenses. Especially when young children needing childcare are involved. I was thinking today if someone works 40 hours a week at minimum wage AND has to pay daycare, how the HELL do they have anything to live on as a single parent?! That just is NOT possible as a single family, no roommates, no assistance.

  25. Grilledcheesecalliope says:

    I don’t like kids at all and I’m not exactly warm and fuzzy, but I would never tell a five year old who asked me to tuck them in, no. That is just dickish. Dump him quickly.

  26. Rangerchic says:

    Here’s the thing…I was a single mom and after I married my husband adopted my daughter since bio dad wasn’t in the picture. She is 18 now and never, ever, not even once, did he ever say that she wasn’t his or refuse to tuck her in or in general be a good dad to her. Now I’m not saying he (or I for that matter) is perfect at it and yes we both got (and still do) get irritated at our kids but that is normal. A good man or women wouldn’t throw that “they are not my child” back in your face. Unacceptable!

  27. So shall we take bets that she is also supporting him somehow and figured that by moving in together because they were in LURRVVE that he was automatically going to fill the void in her life and her daughters without a second’s thought!?! Where is the little girl’s father in all this? Why would you let your selfish douche of a bf treat your 5 year old like shit!?!

    Newsflash… if he isn’t bothering to spend time with his own flesh and blood he isn’t going to give a rats ass about some other guys kid. Oh wait, he ACTUALLY TOLD YOU THAT ALREADY. Listen to him.

    Can’t wait for the revisionist history update on this one…

    1. Hey now, I’m all heartened by the Inconvenient Proposal update and maybe this LW will be equally smart and understanding….. ?

      1. I did just read that… it was like a ray of hopeful sunshine!

        And I made a snarky revisionist history comment on that post as well, so maybe putting it out there can prevent it from happening? (I also think I have power over my sports teams depending on what I wear, say or do… and it does work… sometimes ;))

  28. After I read this I wanted to wait before posting until after I had talked with one of the guys I know who is one of my go-to’s for asking male reactions to questions here. He remarried under similar circumstances (divorced mother with daughter between 5 and 10). He said that he treated his relationship with the daughter a just as important as the one he had with the mother. He used the phrase, “wooed them both.”

    I related to him the facts as presented by LW and he started to get angry. His view was for LW to dump this guy and that she should have done so a long time ago. In his mind, turning down a young prospective daughter’s request to tuck her in is a mortal sin, if not “an outright hanging offense.” (his words)

    1. i mean honestly, isnt any request like that to a kid a mortal sin? what is that facebook meme- “if a kid hands you a pretend cell phone, you answer it, no questions asked, no matter who you are”. something like that…

      1. Avatar photo theattack says:

        That’s so hard though. I could tuck a kid into bed, but there’s no way I would know what to do if a kid handed me a phone. Part of that is just about whether or not you’re naturally fun with kids.

      2. oh, it’s so easy! you just say “Hello, oh, I’m good, thanks for asking. You want to talk to kid again, sure. Here kid is.” I’ve done the pretend phone thing a lot in my day.

      3. Also, I suck at make believe. So, for me to say it’s easy, is a big deal.

      4. Avatar photo theattack says:

        Well if you say you suck at it and it’s easy for you, I guess I just ultra suck at it. Kids try to talk to me, and I never ever know what to say to them or what to do when they try to engage with me. Doesn’t mean I couldn’t love a kid or treat it well though. Some of it is natural, and some of it is a learning curve. Of course LW’s boyfriend isn’t even trying to learn, but I don’t think that a natural knowledge of what to do with kids determines if you would be a good stepparent.

      5. I agree with you there. I totally get some people are awkward with kids and that gives no indication of how they will parent. I’m awkward with animals, but if a dog needs walked, I’ll certainly take it for a walk. Unless it’s huge and won’t stop jumping on me. Then I might pass.

      6. Hanging out with kids is different to completing an activity with a kid though. I find it easier to hang out with a kid if they say ‘can we do this? or ‘can you do that (tuck me into bed, say)?’. If i was just left in the room with some kid and they were looking at me, I too would be very awkward until it brought me a book, or asked me how old I was or something. Kids love to know how old you are.

  29. I’m just wondering, y’all. This is not really in response to LW, but just something I’m thinking about after reading the letter and the comments.

    What role *are* stepparents or girlfriends/boyfriends of parents supposed to play? I was a bit older when my parents divorced, but when my stepdad came into the picture, my thoughts were, “You are my mom’s husband. You are not my dad. I already have a dad.” Same for my dad’s wife.

    If you are dating someone with a kid, YES, they are a package deal. The kids should be treated well, and obviously not ignored. The boyfriend in the letter sounds like an ass and not at all what the LW wants for herself and her daughter, so she should MOA. But are boyfriends/girlfriends of people with kids, or even stepparents for that matter, really supposed to fill the role of parents? And if so, when? Or under what circumstances? Does the degree to which the other parent is in the picture make a difference?

    1. Rangerchic says:

      I think it is something the adults should discuss before getting too serious. And it depends on the ages of the kids, IMO. And it depends on how much the other parent (not living with the kid) is involved. Responsible adults with kids take all of your questions into consideration before being serious…Unfortunately I don’t think a lot of adults really even think about it until something happens that forces them to think/talk about it.

    2. My mom and stepfather met when I was very young – just before I turned 3. Their relationship did go relatively fast in the sense that they were married about 2 and a half years later, but my stepfather is really above and beyond awesome for a step-parent and he set out to win me over just as much as he did to win over my mom.

      He did have a parenting role when I was younger, but it was a definite balance between him, my mom, and my dad. Him and my dad, who I remain very close to, set out to have a positive relationship to maintain stability for me and they genuinely like each other.

      Things are different when the child is older than say 9 or 10 – at that point I think the step-parent needs to be seen as more of a positive adult influence relationship but its still just as important to build the relationship with the child, no matter the age, as it is with the mother or father.

      I think in situations where the parent with main custody is more or less a single parent – so the mother or father that doesn’t live with the child only takes a minimal amount of interest with their child, or none at all – the step-parent can take on a much greater role in the parenting aspect.

      Ultimately, I think a lot of parents out there who are going into new relationships take things way too quickly and are not able to understand the concept that they can no longer be selfish, their child must factor into every decision, especially one as big as having a serious relationship and living with someone who is not the child’s other biological parent.

    3. I think that role varies greatly depending on factors like the kid’s age, if the other parent is around or not, how long the kid has known the step parent, what the kid is comfortable with and what all the adults involved in the situation think is appropriate.

    4. That depends on the relationship. Overall, no matter what the decision is, a 5 year old asking to be tucked in is kind of a must. Someone else mentioned the meme about no matter who you are, when a kid hands you a pretend cell phone you answer it. It’s like that.

      In our relationship, we hammered out these details before I met the kids. We determined that I (and their stepdad) would be parental figures but all *major* decisions would go to the parents (driving, dating, etc) but in our day-to-day life, we both make decisions and enforce rules and do the “tuck-ins” (they’re a bit old for that now, but the teen equivalent of it. I couldn’t imagine the kids at 5 asking me to tuck them in and me saying no. That is just horrible. I love my kids as if they were my own and I think every child with stepparents deserves that. I had a really shitty stepmom and stepdad (he and mom never married but were together for most of my childhood)and it breaks my hear to hear about a potential stepdad not even tucking his potential stepdaughter in. Yes, kids can be irritating. And if you say they aren’t… well then you’ve never been near one. But that shouldn’t affect the way you interact with one to this extent.

      1. Yeah, I mean, I’ve tucked in my friend’s kid when she asked. Only a sociopath would say no.

    5. I admit my thought when reading “she’s not my kid” was “well, he’s right.” I say that as someone who has a husband that is a stepfather to two of our kids, someone who deeply respects and loves her children’s stepmother (I tell people I could not have wished them a better stepmom if I picked ExH’s wife myself) and someone who was adopted by her father’s second wife. An adoption I have cried my eyes out trying to reverse but cannot thanks to my mom being dead (which was how this travesty happened to begin with) and in order for me to get re-adopted (say by my grandmother, to at least preserve the family line?) my father would have to agree to sign away his paternity of me, and for all his flaws I can’t do that to him. His current wife, my stepmom who I adore, could adopt me but… honestly it’s the same problem; she’s not my mother. And the reason I love her is because she is aware of this fact and has never tried to be my mother. Instead, she was a dear friend, a confidant, and advisor in times of trouble and decision making. She’s a fantastic grandmother, despite that all six of her grandchildren are not hers by blood. She took the role of stepmom and defined it not as “mom2” or some substitute, but a whole role/relationship in itself.

      I personally think a good way to fuck up a stepparenting situation is to expect them to “parent” beyond what any other adult your child should respect would do. It’s just a breeding ground for resentment for everyone involved. Plus you can’t force a relationship. They need to warm up and develop their own relationship to one another.

      We’re 10 years in now and while my husband and exH’s wife are more comfortable in their step-roles, they still leave the lion share of parenting to US. They tell us when a situation bothers them and let us figure it out rather than just jumping in themselves like we would as parents. I mean obviously in an emergency situation they would, but say like, when my husband got very irked with how my son would order food in restaurants and then barely touch it. He asked me to step in a bit more and work that out, so I did. Or when exH’s wife got annoyed with how my daughter was never cleaning her room, like, ever. She’s a super orderly person, and my daughter, well… not so much. It really upset her. So I went over one day and exH told me this and I went upstairs, saw her room there and basically said “wtf? you don’t do this at my house. So you can’t here either. We’re not leaving till you clean it.” And then later I expressed the importance of being neat and orderly, respecting her dad and stepmom, without ever saying it was sending stepmom into total depression to see daughter’s room like that.

      I notice a lot of young women especially seem to really expect the young men they’re dating to immediately jump in and act like daddy. And sometimes, I’m not sure, but I’m thinking it’s really *Mom* who needs a daddy 🙁 Nothing wrong with having a personal life, or dating, or a serious relationship… but parent your own damn child, please. Make him wash dishes or make dinner or something. And if she really needs him, that will happen organically. Not by mom orchestrating it. Yes I realize in this case the kid asked, but he wasn’t ready yet, and mom’s response should have been to say “but that’s for us to do!” and gone off to read stories to ease any “rejection” issues. And pushing a man into being a dad before he’s ready is NOT the solution… see how this dude treats his own kid? Mmmm hmmm.

      Had my dad’s second wife taken time to let our relationship happen organically, and respected the fact that even tho she was dead, I still had a mother, I suspect life would have been far different for all of us. I truly don’t think it matters if the bio-parent is around or not, that relationship between the kid and stepparent needs to develop naturally, over time, and between them.

      1. I tend to agree with you. I mean, the best answer to my question is obviously “it depends on a million factors.” I don’t have kids but I imagine that if my ex’s new girlfriend tried to step in and immediately be New Mommy, it would rub me the wrong way. My stepdad is absolutely part of our family, he’s just not my “dad.” I think it’s probably really difficult for stepparents to draw boundaries and negotiate appropriate roles in their stepkids’ lives.

  30. lets_be_honest says:

    My boyfriend cried a little the first time my daughter asked him to tuck her in.

    (I’m on vacation so that’s all I’ve got today. Hi everyone!)

    1. happy vacation. and your post made me happy, but with tears. so effing sweet.

  31. It seems to me that the LW moved way too fast with the boyfriend especially now that they are living together.

    As one who grew up with a stepfather – the greatest one ever, in my opinion – I had a great experience overall, though there are always family/adjustment issues that come up, and his priority when him and my mom first started dating was to make sure that we knew I was just as important to him as my mom and I do see him as a second father.

    The line about the prayers signals to me a small issue that could become a huge one, potentially fracturing the relationship altogether, if you are religious and he is not and you cannot come to some sort of agreement on how to involve him into your daughter’s nightly routine and how to potentially raise children in a religion in the future.

    LW, this guy should be putting in 100% effort with both you and your daughter. If he cannot envision himself having any sort of “parental” feelings or developing a meaningful relationship with your daughter, move the heck on. Your daughter should be your first priority and she deserves a stepfather who is great to both you and her.

  32. Denise is Sunrise says:

    Thanks Wendy for not holding back. Couldn’t have said it better. May I just add an “Amen!” to that?

  33. Honestly, at the point at which you choose to move in with a boyfriend, he should be treating your child as though she is his stepchild. If he is not, then you shouldn’t move in with him. Whether a man can be a father to your daughter should be (and seems to be) a dealbreaker for you, so why would you force your daughter to make room in her life for a father figure when you have no indication whatsoever that he’s going to fulfill your requirements to be a long-term partner. You’re setting you and your daughter up for a lot of unnecessary heartache.

    We obviously don’t know if the boyfriend’s lack of involvement in his child’s life is really the mother’s fault (though unless he is deemed to be unfit as a parent, I don’t see why he couldn’t put forth effort to be a father). But I would be very, very hesitant to get involved with a man (if I had a child) who was a shitty father. I’m sure he told you that his ex is crazy or whatever, and maybe she is, but also be aware that a lot of absent parents use excuses like that because they just can’t be bothered to be a parent.

    I know people instruct single parents in a lot of ways, and maybe people find that annoying, but as a parent who is dating, you do have a responsibility to make sure that your dating choices have a positive impact on your daughter’s life, and not a negative one, and right now, your boyfriend is not a good addition.

    1. Avatar photo BriarRose says:

      “But I would be very, very hesitant to get involved with a man (if I had a child) who was a shitty father.”

      For serious! That should be a huge red flag before even getting to the point of being serious. I once went on two dates with a guy who had a daughter, and when I asked when he had last talked to her, he said it had been a few weeks. I had no interest in going on a third date. Heck, even if you don’t have a child of your own, don’t date a guy who is a bad parent.

      1. “Heck, even if you don’t have a child of your own, don’t date a guy who is a bad parent.”

        Yep! Even without kids in the picture for me, for a guy to be a bad father to his own child essentially means he’s a bad person, and I don’t want that.

      2. lets_be_honest says:

        Ugh, right?! I sometimes wonder what Lil’s bio-father says to his girlfriends (wife? idk). Probably like someone said above that I keep her from him. Maybe they don’t even know!

  34. So now that i have gotten over my bliss of the update and am angry again… what adult doesn’t relish the opportunity to tuck the kid into bed – because isn’t that when you would get to enjoy adult time!?! I mean every parent I know would do a backflip if their 5 year old asked to be put to bed 🙂

    This guy gave the Heisman to a 5 year old… Fuck him.

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