My live-in girlfriend of one year, and I, are both divorced with part-time custody of our children. Her daughter, 13, attended a summer "camp" program in the city. I was asked to drive her to and from this camp. There was no consultation with me when she joined the camp.
It was difficult for me to help because of the lack of foresight and the girl is difficult (disrespectful, uncommunicative). Also, there was no real need for me to pick her up, as the camp was accessible with city transit and a little walking. But if I didn't do this, the girl would hate me even more and create havoc for her mother and me.
I can deal with the girl, but her mother gets upset and cries, and acts like this is a "relationship issue." Should I have helped? Or made a deal, like two days a week in exchange for the girl doing the dishes one night a week?
Camp's over now, but your "relationship issue" is not. Your girlfriend understands better than you do, how much an angry teenager can divide a "new" couple. She may've devised the plan for you to drive her daughter, so you'd get to know her better. But she should've discussed it with you, beforehand.
You need to talk openly about ways to help this girl adjust to the home situation, and for her to believe that you care about her (not just "dealing" with her.)
A separate issue is getting her - and the other children - to be part of the household through some chores. With school pressures on all the kids now, it's a good time for you parents to get counseling for blending your two families.
After 16 years, a good friend informed me that my slack parenting was responsible for how my three kids turned out - implying their lives are a mess!
She said my son, 17, would ruin his life because he has piercings and, "who'd hire him?"
She may be correct, but was it her place to point this out to me for my "own good?" Her two kids are in medical school and dull as dry toast, whereas my three are creative musicians. They've travelled the world, two are studying science while the youngest, in high school, is admittedly challenging.
My kids are awesome - what's her problem? I have to speak up and let her know how deeply she's hurt me and how wrong she is, but it sounds pathetic and whiney. Yet I can't let this go. What do I say? And why do people treat their friends this way?
Annoyed in Sydney, Australia
A bitchy mood, a critical nature, jealousy over something else.... all these are poor excuses for why people say stupid things to their friends.
If there are other qualities you value in her, say upfront, "I don't want to hear your criticisms of my children again." Then change the topic. If she comments negatively again, tell her you two must agree to disagree, or else cool the relationship.
The only caveat here is this: If you've asked for her advice about your "challenging" child, recognize that you opened that door. Discuss any future concerns with his teachers or other professionals, not friends with attitude.
Meanwhile, lucky you! How wonderful and gratifying to believe your children are awesome! They're lucky too, to have your confidence in them.
PS. Piercings can be removed if/when your son finds them obstructing job possibilities.
I'm hoping one neighbor will read this.
Our street's full of young working families who enjoy having fun on the weekends. This older neighbor and husband recently moved in, she knows the 'Noise by-Law" 100%. She complains when we turn on our car radio's driving down the street (yeah, a little silly). She repeatedly calls the police, who never do anything as we haven't done anything wrong.
We'd ask her to leave us alone or move to a retirement area. This is an open invitation -- Come join your neighbors and have fun!
Sorry, self-righteousness and cowardice here. You publicly justify your one-sided approach to this street divide, instead of talking to your neighbour personally. She didn't make up noise by-laws; they exist for all. But your group hasn't accepted that you have community responsibilities along with rights.
Talk to her directly. Be reasonable, and take the late-night partying inside.
Tip of the day:
Children need thoughtful, caring help adjusting to "new" family life.