My daughter, 18, and son, 13, have lived in my partner’s home with us for two years (third relationship for both).
We all mostly get along. His children, ages 23 and 21, live with their mother.
My children show respect to my partner and visa versa. Their father’s active in their lives, so there’s no need for a second “Dad.”
He’s says it’s “our” home - not overly warm and fuzzy, but he tries.
About house rules: We’re both in our 50's and own our own catering business, so constantly cleaning, cooking, etc.
When we get home, we want a clean house.
My daughter constantly leaves her shoes at the front door (instead of downstairs), leaves her dishes on the counter, and her camera all over.
She says our rules are dumb, that we sometimes leave things out when we come home after an 18-hour day, so she can do it, too.
I say these are our rules and you follow them regardless of what we do.
Am I doing the right thing by telling her that? Am I doing the wrong thing by sometimes leaving things out?
Which Rules Are Right?
You’ve brought your children through several dramatic changes. Two years is still early for major transitions like sharing a new home with your partner.
Teenagers do best with rules in which they have some input.
Shoes cluttering the front entrance are an annoyance but there are some (not total) solutions. Offer suggestions (e.g. a shoe rack) and ask what she thinks can work.
Discuss the plates: Can she put her cleared dishes in the sink leaving the counter clean, and wash them later? Can you set the example by not leaving things out?
End the standoff of “my rules, or…” Or what? Are you trying to push her out? (That may be the message she’s getting or fears).
Recently, on the one-year anniversary of my mother-in-law’s death, my father-in-law travelled with a lady while all the family paid their respects at the mausoleum.
He’s since moved into a shared home with this woman.
We recently received a text inviting his grown children to their new home, and saying her grown children would be present.
We politely declined. My husband told his father that he’d prefer visiting him and his new girlfriend without her grown children around.
My husband later said he’d visit, if his other siblings joined.
However, his older brother’s distanced from his father, for having missed his grandson’s two birthdays and not visited the new baby.
My late mother-in-law had kept him in touch with everyone.
My father-in-law only moved in with this lady because he won’t cook, clean, or pay bills on his own.
He’d have found someone eventually, but the way he’s handled this situation is appalling.
My husband says he wouldn’t care if his father “just went away.”
I feel badly that he could miss out on a relationship with his father, but he’s not making it easy.
What’s My Role?
Learn from your late mother-in-law: Don’t perform your husband’s responsibilities for him.
It’s his father and he needs to decide what he can and cannot handle in this new situation.
You can still be a compassionate partner. Talking things out together can help him clear his mind.
Has he ever had a meaningful relationship with his father? What does he want his own role model to be regarding father-child relationships?
Listen. Don’t solve.
Reader’s Commentary Regarding “birth control sabotage” affecting men (October 17):
Reader – “While one cannot equate the impact of “stealthing” on women versus “birth control sabotage” on men, for most men, there’d be a great psychological impact.
“Men can wish to meet the right woman, have kids, and live happily ever after.
“But fraudulently and against his will, he’s forever tied to a woman and child (not asked for), his dream shattered, his obligations hijacked.
“This scenario has the assumption that both knew and agreed that the woman was on birth control and it would prevent pregnancy.
“Accidents aside, this is a verbal contract that morally should’ve been upheld.
“He should have every right to expect that she keep her word.
“Don’t negate that real (and different) harm is done to the man in the sabotage case and he, in that case, is a victim worthy of empathy, understanding, and justice.”
Ellie – A thoughtful perspective.
Tip of the day:
When the family situation changes dramatically, make sure “house rules” are workable, and not threats.