Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Dear Carolyn: I’m in a 9-month-old relationship with a woman who has a 5-year-old son. I have two slightly older kids of my own.
I love her dearly, and I love her son, however, I don’t love the way she treats him. In my observations, she has no ability to say “no” and actually stick to it. When I say “no” to him, he respects it. When she says “no,” he quickly resorts to the crying tactic, and this almost always works. He’s a smart kid, so he usually goes into crying mode at the first desire to have something because it works so well.
She has talked about moving in together, but I know my sanity would quickly erode. The five of us all get along marvelously; I just have this one problem. Do you have any suggestions for how I can cope with this? I don’t think I plan a future with them unless it changes.
You think wisely — no future, at least not in the same household, unless you can reconcile your two approaches to child-rearing.
First, I need to dispense with something that has nagged at me about this question.
Nine (9) months, and she’s talking about moving in together? And she has a 5-year-old to guide, nurture and protect?
I don’t care how wonderful you are, that’s too soon. She doesn’t know you well enough to be sure she isn’t setting her boy up for (more?) domestic chaos.
Pair that with her spinelessness in the face of her child’s tears, and it starts to look like something bigger than “just … this one problem.”
I The most useful thing you can do here is keep living in your separate households and get to know each other better, and more patiently.