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proexpert37, Educator/Life Coach
Category: Parenting
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My boyfriend is a divorced dad with primary custody of his

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My boyfriend is a divorced dad with primary custody of his 17 year old daughter. I do not have, nor have I ever desired to have children. When we began our relationship, I made honest effort to get to know and include his daughter. The only thing I have to offer the girl is friendship; she has a mother. I do not expect myself to immediately fit into their family dynamic like a puzzle piece, but my input regarding ANY circumstance or decision regarding the girl is met with indifference by my boyfriend (who is otherwise an absolutely wonderful and considerate person). He makes constant excuses for her rude, hateful behavior toward him, his ex-wife, and her maternal grandmother. After approximatley 7 months of cohabitation, my frustration has reached a crescendo. Any suggestions on what a reasonable response on my part would be the next time I am told that we really can't expect the girl to keep her room tidy or clean the bathroom that primarily she uses, because we don't set a perfect example ourselves? He believes that teaching through example is the only type of guideline neccessary and that typical punishments (grounding, losing privileges, etc) are ineffectual. I have never witnessed a situation where a teenager abandoned negative behavior such as screaming at family members, simply because they were spoken kindly to in return, instead of corrected. This is the one major dysfunction in our relationship and is beginning to spill over into other aspects.  I feel that this is lazy, "cop out" parenting on his part and it is decreasing my level of respect for him as well as fueling my resentment toward his daughter.  Never before have I card enough for a significant other to really want to work the situation out.  I can't let this ruin the best relationship I have ever had, but it is eating me alive.  Please, I need feedback!!!
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Parenting
Expert:  proexpert37 replied 6 years ago.

Hello my friend. When you have a relationship with another individual, you are entering into relationships with other family members as well. Dealing with a teenager can be very difficult, especially as the girlfriend of her father. It sounds as though you deeply care for your boyfriend. His daughter has come between you and your boyfriend. You are in an awkward position because you are not married to your boyfriend. The daughter probably has spiteful feelings toward you because you are in the position that she probably wishes that her mom was in so that the family could be complete. But that is not the case obviously. You have even stated that you are not going to jump into the family dynamics like a missing puzzle piece which is good. However, for things to get better, then everyone must be open and honest about how they feel. You, your boyfriend, and his daughter must all sit down and have a discussion. Your boyfriend should start the discussion by saying that there is tension in the household and that things need to be resolved. Then your boyfriend can ask your daughter how she feels about you. Let her speak until finished. Then you can explain your feelings but try to not to be too harsh but more respectful. You do not want your boyfriend to feel like you are threatening his daughter. Putting all the feelings out in the open is the best course of action. If everything is kept swept under the rug, nothing will change. Also, do not confront the daughter alone. That would probably make your boyfriend extremely irate.


If you do not see any changes in the way things are, then you have a few options:1. Grin and bear the way things are 2. Seek professional counseling to acquire coping strategies in dealing with the situation 3. Wait and see what the daughter does when college approaches...she may go away to school 4. Move into another place but maintain a relationship with your boyfriend 5. Take a break from the relationship completely.



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