Tuesday, May 22, 2018
Parenting & Relationships

Girlfriend can't say 'no' to 5-year-old son — and he knows it

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Q: 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.

He rarely will eat what is cooked, and she routinely makes a backup meal for him. I'm of the school that a meal given to you is The Meal, and the next meal is breakfast. Your choice. She does not agree. It's not just meals. I often witness him controlling the day's agenda. Or, will he grow up and not take no for an answer from his girlfriend?

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. When she says "no" and I get onboard with that, then she says "yes," I feel jerked around. I also worry how my kids will react to this situation. 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.

Co-Parenting

A: You think wisely — no future, at least not in the same household, unless you can reconcile your two approaches to child-rearing, which I'll get to in a second.

First, I need to dispense with something that has nagged at me about this question.

Nine 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, when it's possible even my dog knows that being mushy about saying "no" makes for a spoiled and unhappy child, and it starts to look like something bigger than "just . . . this one problem" — unless the one problem is your girlfriend's unwillingness or inability to resist immediate gratification.

If that's true, and, conveniently, even if it's not, 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.

Then, if that period of patience speaks well of both of your characters, enough to make a permanent commitment seem viable, then talk through, again, any remaining differences on parenting. Should you emerge from these conversations with unresolved differences, then it's time to turn pro: Either attend a reputable parenting seminar or class, or enlist the help of a good family therapist — together — thus introducing a neutral authority.

That way, your conversations won't be about each of you trying to bring the other to your side, but instead about establishing a third, responsible "side" where both of your families can meet.

Comments
Cress Williams of ‘Black Lightning’ talks Season 2, being recognized as a superhero before MegaCon Orlando

Cress Williams of ‘Black Lightning’ talks Season 2, being recognized as a superhero before MegaCon Orlando

No matter what Cress Williams does the rest of his acting career, he’ll always be remembered as the first to play Black Lightning.The 47-year-old actor with roles on ER, Grey’s Anatomy and Friday Night Lights is now that face of a DC comics franchise...
Updated: 3 hours ago

Tell Me About It: Divorce is only option with abusive wife

Divorce is only option with abusive wife"target="_blank">Divorce is only option with abusive wifeQ: My wife and I have what looks on paper like a great relationship. My problem is I hate the way my wife treats me.I say something she disagrees with, ...
Published: 05/21/18
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of May 21-27.

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of May 21-27.

Kendrick Lamar: ThePulitzer Prize-winning hip-hop powerhouse leads The Championship Tour on Tuesday at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa, with fellow hit makers including SZA and Schoolboy Q. $35-$125. amphitheatretampa.com. Tampa Ba...
Published: 05/18/18
Updated: 05/20/18

Tell Me About It: The kids are welcome, but not the bedbugs

Q: My brother and his estranged wife have three children. I love all of them. They live out of state and send the kids to us for summers. There have always been hygiene issues, like not washing after wet beds, leaving faint urine smells on the kids.T...
Published: 05/17/18
Plan your weekend May 18-20: Royal wedding watch parties, David Koechner, Fiesta Maxima, half off Dali admission

Plan your weekend May 18-20: Royal wedding watch parties, David Koechner, Fiesta Maxima, half off Dali admission

What's happening this weekend in Tampa Bay.
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/18/18
SeaWorld joins Busch Gardens in offering free beer this summer

SeaWorld joins Busch Gardens in offering free beer this summer

SeaWorld is joining its sister park, Busch Gardens, in offering free cups of beer this summer. Guests 21 and up can receive up to two complimentary 7-ounce beers per visit at Mama’s Pretzel Kitchen Patio in the park starting Friday through Sept. 2. T...
Published: 05/16/18
What’s in theaters: ‘Deadpool 2,’ ‘Book Club,’ a Pope Francis documentary and STEM movies

What’s in theaters: ‘Deadpool 2,’ ‘Book Club,’ a Pope Francis documentary and STEM movies

CinemaSTEM: Best in ShowTampa Theatre is making science, technology, engineering and math the star of its new CinemaSTEM movie series. The historic movie house will pair popular films with experts talking about some of the science that pops up in the...
Published: 05/16/18
Top things to do this weekend: Royal wedding watch parties, comic David Koechner

Top things to do this weekend: Royal wedding watch parties, comic David Koechner

ROYAL WEDDING: Watch partiesPrince Harry marries Meghan Markle on Saturday; guess how excited we are to put on a fancy hat and drink champagne cocktails at 6 a.m.? With royal wedding excitement at a fever pitch, St. Petersburg’s Hawthorne Bottle Shop...
Published: 05/16/18
Top concert picks this week: Little Steven Van Zandt, Turnt Up Tour, Fiesta Maxima

Top concert picks this week: Little Steven Van Zandt, Turnt Up Tour, Fiesta Maxima

E STREET BYPASS: Little Steven and the Disciples of SoulAsk Little Steven Van Zandt to pick his favorite songwriter in rock — excluding his boss Bruce Springsteen, of course — and he has to think a minute. He admires veterans like Billie Joe Armstron...
Published: 05/16/18
5 things to do under $5: Bike to Work Day, Woofstock, Leonard Bernstein celebration

5 things to do under $5: Bike to Work Day, Woofstock, Leonard Bernstein celebration

1Bike to Work Day: If you’re too nervous to face Tampa streets on your own, seven neighborhood meetup locations have been set up in South Tampa, Ybor and Tampa Heights for a Friday morning ride with experienced cyclists. Leaving at about 7:10 a.m., t...
Published: 05/16/18