Sunday 25 March 2018

My girlfriend wants to move in but I can't face it while she spoils her daughter so much

Dear Mary

Illustration: Tom Halliday
Illustration: Tom Halliday

I've been seeing my girlfriend now for over a year, and I actually know her for a very long time, because we dated years ago .
We then went on to marry
 other people and are both now divorced. She married much later than I did and had just one daughter who is still quite young. My children are young adults and living their own lives.

The problem is that as far as I am concerned, she totally spoils her daughter and never says no to her. I get on quite well with the young girl but am often itching to reprimand her and stop my girlfriend from always giving in to her.

My girlfriend has suggested that we move in together, and I would really like that as I truly love her - if I am honest I think that I always did - but I can't undertake to
 live with her as long as she spoils the little one so much. She is a good deal younger than I am which is another complication - maybe I'm just not good at being
 around young children anymore having gone through all of that with my own children.

Mary replies: What a great story of reconnecting with your early love and you must be very happy that you found each other again. Moving in together would entail seeing each other a lot more than you probably do right now, and although you would no doubt both like that I don't feel that as things stand it is the right thing for you to do.

The problem of course is her daughter. I realise that you and she get on together, but it must be quite an adjustment for her to see you with her mum and replacing her dad. She probably sees her father frequently, so she is not without a male influence in her life, and if you were to start disciplining her when her mother doesn't she would quickly learn to dislike you. Instead, you should discuss things with your girlfriend and explain that while you would really love to move in together it is not possible when her daughter is so undisciplined, because you would feel that you would want to correct her.

Obviously you will need to be very diplomatic when telling her this, otherwise she will
resent you for saying it. Suggest that you review the situation in, say, six months' time, 
and in the meantime see if she can change her very lax attitude to her daughter and learn to start guiding her rather than allow her to always get her own way. Children actually need rules and guidelines as to how to interact with other people, otherwise nobody likes them and this should also be pointed out to your girlfriend.

You can, of course, continue to keep things as they are right now. However your girlfriend will continue to press for moving in together, and unless you can tell her why this is unacceptable to you she will continue to push for it. But tread carefully when you are criticising her daughter - they have been through a lot together and will have formed a very close bond.

Sunday Independent

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