I love your column and check for them every day, literally as soon as I sit at my desk.
I think your advice is unbiased, raw and practical and I am in desperate need of a dose of that today!
I’m a 24 year old college graduate, in a mid-management role at a corporate firm. I’m just trying to enjoy life; save money, travel, build life experiences and move forward career-wise and grow all together. I’ve been dating a guy for three years now. The first year was great; however the second was very rocky where we foolishly decided to move in together prematurely. It got bad. During this time we dealt with him being out of work for almost that entire year because he was injured, constant bickering, baby momma drama, volatility, him being unfaithful (it was one time), and just really being at a dark place for the both of us. After -ish got real we decided we needed to re-evaluate things so I moved back home.
Since then we have worked hard to regain trust on both sides, reconnect spiritually, work through our issues and rebuild. I can truly say we are in a much better place. Here is my issue: He is a dad to a five-year old daughter whom he has every other Friday-Monday; me, I don’t have any children. He is a great attentive and loving father. She’s a wonderful, happy, vibrant child and I do love her dearly. It was been a LONG winding role with his daughter’s mother before she realized that she needed to move on with her life and stop trying to use their child as a pawn and attempting to sabotage our relationship. There were many times where I did not agree with the way he handled her, appeased her, etc. But things have improved.
He recently moved into my condo. My apartment is my pride and joy. I saved, got my credit in order, researched, found the property and was able to close with my own down payment! I even applied Fung Shui so the spirit and vibes in my apt could be in line with positive energy. However, I wouldn’t say the apartment is kid friendly. Lately, we have been clashing a lot about disagreements when his daughter comes around. I have major issues with discipline, although she is a good child she does not listen to him and there are no repercussions for her misbehavior.
For instance she threw a tantrum in the street while we were coming from a friend of mine child’s birthday party. She fell out, IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STREET, stopped traffic, screamed, yelled, kicked her feet up and down and refused to get up. He picked her up and when we got back on the sidewalk he gave in to what she had originally wanted and then rewarded her by buying her ice-cream and taking her to Chucky Cheese after. I don’t condone corporal punishment, but ummmm….
Second instance, I told her three times no ball playing in the house and she didn’t listen. I advised her father to tell her again and she didn’t listen and broke a Crystal Tiffany’s vase that I had on a high shelf out of her reach. The vase was expensive, yet replaceable. I was relieved she wasn’t hurt. However, nothing was done. Nothing was said. She wasn’t chastised. He never made her apologize to me. Nothing was replaced. He took her to the park afterward to play with the ball.
Third, my living room is very large so I ordered a fold away Dora the Explorer bed for her for when she comes over. However, she often times doesn’t go to sleep until 2-3 in the morning (I volunteer on weekends so I’m up at 7:00am). I’ve never heard of a child being up that late. When I was that age I think we were in bed at 8:00pm! Anyway, she somehow always winds up getting up in the middle of the night and coming to sleep with us (I guess that’s what she does with her mom). I’m not okay with that. I’m not comfortable with that. I think it’s inappropriate and I’ve told him this, but he still allows her in the bed and several times she has peed the bed on my $800 mattress!
Fourth, his baby mother always is begging. He pays child support voluntarily, however, it’s court ordered. He pays on time every month. Yet, she still always needs something. I must admit he has gotten a backbone over the years, but when she spends her whole check, then wants to spend his. He always feels guilty and winds up giving in then coming up short with our bills over here. He has been anywhere from $20-$150 short on his contribution at times and claims, “my kid needed this or that,” and just expects for me to, “understand his situation” (his words), and pick up the slack. It’s causing a hardship aside from the fact that money is tight and we can’t do the basic things couple our age do. It’s becoming a burden on me now!
I really do love him. And I really do love his daughter. I’m just not so sure if I’m ready to play step-mom. It seems we can’t reach common ground. When I speak to him about my concerns he says hurtful things to me like, “you don’t have any kids so you don’t understand,” or “this is why you shouldn’t have any kids because this is what kids do.” He calls me, “selfish,” and that I’m “complaining.” He claims I’m not respecting that him and his child are a package deal even though I’ve done EVERYTHING to support, even encourage a relationship, (i.e. planning/financing trips, taking her to the nail salon with me to bond, cooking her favorite meals and snacks, playing dress up with her, braiding her hair etc.). These are things I enjoy doing and appreciate that I can with her. I may not be the most maternal woman, but I am learning.
I just feel like maybe I shouldn’t have to assume this role just yet. I cry when we argue and he tells me to, “just go find a guy who’s childless” because that’s not the issue, and I feel like parents get so defensive when you say anything about their kids. He makes me feel guilty about my concerns like I can’t have any problems and I just need to support everything about this situation even when it affects me. I just want a little compromise because I feel overwhelmed by the situation. I’d appreciate your thoughts. – Not Ready To Be Stepmom
Dear Ms. Not Ready To Be Stepmom,
Honey, you are too young for all this! And, honestly, you made two poignant statements – One, “I’m just not so sure if I’m ready to play step-mom.” And, two, “I just feel like maybe I shouldn’t have to assume this role just yet.”
Those two statements are the core and truth to your letter. You do not want to be a step-mom, and you’re not ready to be in this role. Therefore, I want you to ask yourself this question, “Why are you doing this? Why are you being so accommodating to someone who is not being accommodating to you and what you want?”
It’s obvious that you are going above and beyond for him, but what is he doing for you? Why is not respecting you and your home? Why is he not respecting your requests and what you want? If you don’t set any boundaries for yourself, then he and his daughter will continue to run over you in your house! Not tuhday! That –ish has got to come to a end.
I appreciate that you’ve spoken with him and told him what you want, and how he should be the one to discipline his child. However, he is not listening to you. He just figures that since he lives with you, in your house, and he gets his daughter every other week then you just accommodate and configure them into your life. No ma’am! No, no, no, no, no! But, you’ve been doing this for so long that you are not even being heard in your own home. So, no matter what you say he is not going to hear or do what you want. You’ve allowed this to go on.
On the real, the most powerful thing he said to you was, “just go find a guy who’s childless.” And, that right there is the truth. You need to be with a man who is childless, and therefore you won’t have to worry about baby momma drama, stepping in and trying to encourage a relationship with the child when you don’t really want to, and not having to foot the bills when he is short and unable to carrying his portion because he has to do things for his child. Also, you don’t have to worry about setting boundaries with a child that is not yours, disciplining a child that is not yours, and accommodating a child that is not yours. And, ma’am, that is the real!
And, honestly, she is not your child or responsibility. You do not have to accommodate her, him, or anyone else in your home. They are visitors in your home. Therefore, they have to abide by the rules in your home. If they can’t abide by the rules, then get to stepping! Yes, I understand children have and need time to play, and enjoy themselves, but if your house is not set up for a child because you don’t have a child, then he should have thought of this before he moved in.
Next, he’s right, you do not have any kids, and therefore you don’t have to be a step-mom to one that is not inherited by marriage because you’re not married. You’ve done far and beyond what you should do in a relationship and accommodating him and his child. But, peeing in the bed, throwing tantrums in the middle of the street, not listening to rules and requests, and breaking things in your home are not things you are going to put up with. Again, he needs to be a father/parent and discipline his child and let her know the rules of what she can and cannot do when they are together and are in your home.
And, his statement about, “this is why you should not have any kids because this what kids do.” Uhm, no, that is what his child does. Every child does not behave the way his daughter does. They are well-behaved, well-disciplined, and respectable children at age five who do not do the things his child is doing. So, it’s his and the mother’s parenting skills that are to question. They let her do whatever she wants, and that is a no-no! Train up a child the way they should go. And, honey, they are not training the child in any shape, fashion, or form.
It’s obvious that your man has boundary issues, and he is the one who has no parenting skills. The hell is he talking about, “You don’t have any kids so you don’t understand.” Uhm, parenting is parenting. You don’t let your child run rampant, act out, and run you! That is common sense. A child needs discipline, boundaries, and rules. And, apparently, he is not and has not done any of these. Therefore, he needs to be in a parenting class on how to be a better parent.
The other problem is that your man let’s the mother and the child run all over him. He is incapable of putting his foot down, and laying down the law. He can be an effective parent/father to his child by incorporating and instilling rules, discipline, and boundaries for his daughter. It seems that he doesn’t know how to set them, and to appease her he just lets her do what she wants and gives her treats to keep her from acting out. He is spoiling his child, and as a result she feels she can do whatever she wants, and just throw a tantrum to get what she wants. SMDH!
But, sweetie, I’m curious as to why this is the second time he has moved in with you? Why can’t he get his own place and pay his own way? All this not respecting him and he’s a package deal with his child is a crock of bull-ish! Uhm, no one is respecting him. And, therein lies the problem. He wants respect, yet, he and his daughter are not respecting you and your house. HELLO! I think it’s best he gets his own place. Quick, fast, and in a hurry!
Also, I can’t stand when folks say, “we are a package deal.” Then, this is when you should have told him about your package deal. Your home is your sanctuary, and it is your package deal. When you enter into my home, then you’re entering into my private space, and it has boundaries. Why do you have to be responsible for the bills when he is lacking or is unable to pay his portion? That is not part of your package deal when he moved in. He agreed to pay his portion, therefore, he better get a second job!
Look, you’ve laid out your requests and he has not respected you or your wishes. It’s time to let him know about your boundaries and what you are willing and not willing to put up with moving forward. Be honest and tell him that you’re not ready to be a step-mom, and you’re not ready to assume this role. He may throw it in your face about dating a man who is childless, and make you feel guilty, and blah, blah, blah. But, you know what, you will get your sanity, peace, and what you stated at the top of your letter – The ability to travel, build life experiences, save money, and move in your career. If you are stressed in your own home, you are unable to save money because you are making up for his inability to pay his bills, and you are unable to focus at work and advance into a better position, then the common denominator preventing you from doing this is him. He’s got to go. Remember when you dated before and he moved in with you, he didn’t work for almost a year, he cheated, and that second year was hell. Then, you had to move home, reevaluate some things, and you got back to your center. However, you decided to get back to together, and BOOM! The same ole –ish resurfaces. He is the common denominator. Ma’am, eliminate the problem and the stressors out of your life and your situation will change. – Terrance Dean
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