I’ve been in a relationship for over a year now with a man who has teenage daughters. This is a first for both of us — neither of us has had a serious relationship with another parent other than our ex-spouses, nor had we met anyone else’s kids.
We are both learning a lot as we go — and just for the record, by “learning” I mean we’ve stumbled hard.
We’ve screwed up. We’ve been frustrated. We’ve both looked at each other without really knowing what to do so we just laugh. Most of the time anyway.
We were at my house when I smelled something burning from my son’s room. He was up there smoking a joint but burning a tea bag on the side to cover up the smell.
He listened to me lose it on my child and sat downstairs with my older son as they tried to eavesdrop on the conversation.
When I came downstairs visibly upset, he didn’t do anything except hug me and tell me it would be okay, because we all did stuff like that as kids.
He didn’t say a word to my son about it.
He didn’t feel the need to chime in or drop advice on how I should handle it.
As a single mom, there are times I wish I had more help with my kids when they are with me. But, when it comes down to it, I don’t want another parent telling me how to parent.
A few weeks ago, there was drama with his daughter. I was over there, we were having dinner, and she was upset because she wanted her friends to spend the night and he told her no.
The way she was talking to him (after he’d just bought her some new sneakers and jewelry), made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end.
To put it bluntly, she was being nasty to him. Then she wouldn’t eat her dinner and he offered to go get her something else.
This isn’t the first time this has happened, and I’ve struggled with my feelings about it. On that night, it was all I could do to keep chewing, and look out the window because I wanted to yell, “Are you fucking kidding me right now? How dare you talk to your father this way after all he does for you? And how can you stand her talking that way?” Because I am human, and this isn’t how I would have handled it.
But I didn’t.
I have kids of my own, and his kids are not my problem to deal with. They are not my kids to discipline. They are not my business unless they are doing something to harm someone else. After remembering this, my anxiety and anger subsided. I’m getting better at this, but it always comes with a little guilt.
Shouldn’t I do something?
No, I should not, and this is why:
I don’t want someone my kids have only known a year and a half coming into their house and telling them what to do or getting in between how we deal with things.
He is not their stepdad, and he doesn’t live with us. There’s no way in hell they would appreciate that — they have a very hands-on dad who’s involved with their life and he sees them half of the time.
I know my boyfriend and his kids feel the same way.
I am not living with them. I’ve only known them a short time. They have a mother they are close with, and frankly, she can handle this and I’m sure she doesn’t want my help.
If she does, I’m pretty sure she’ll ask.
I’m not saying turning the other way is easy when you see your partner’s kids doing something you disagree with, nor is watching them handle it in a way you would not.
But it’s the right thing to do. It will come between you if you let it, trust me. We’ve had some close calls and spent a few evenings getting sucked into some unnecessary drama when one of us could have just kept quiet and realized this was not our battle to fight.
I love my boyfriend dearly. I plan on being with him for the foreseeable future. When he asks for my advice about his kids — and only when he asks — I give it to him in a gentle tone, without judgment.
His family is not mine to micromanage, and mine is not his.
Every family has their issues, their fights, their drama that makes you think, Man, am I lucky my family is the way it is.
It is not your job to discipline your boyfriend or girlfriend’s kids unless they are asking for help. It’s not okay to drop passive-aggressive comments or shame their parenting.
I’ll be honest, it’s pretty damn freeing just to sit, listen, realize you don’t have to do a thing because it’s not your problem, and tend to your own shit.
Your partner’s kids (again, unless you are all living together) are simply there for you to love.