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My Boyfriend's Children Won't Accept Me....

Question:

I have been involved with my boyfriend for nearly 5 years now and his children, particularly his 2 daughters (aged 18 and 25) dictate whether me and my daughter can be around. If they don’t want us there we can’t be there. After nearly 4 years of being great friends his 22 year old son decided to end his relationship with me and my 10 year old daughter. He refused to come over when we were there because he felt it wasn’t a safe relationship between me and his father (because of his sisters’s reaction to us) and didn’t want my daughter affected (although she was more hurt that this young man who had been her friend for years just abandoned her).

My boyfriend lost his 4 year old son 22 years ago and doesn’t seem to have gotten over this loss. When his daughters got angry at him and decided not to come over because we were at his house too much he was scared of losing them and asked me to give them space to be there without my stuff around. I needed to hide my jewelry, clothes and toothbrushes. For years the youngest couldn’t get through the day without needing her dad to take her shopping, to Starbucks or to do a hundred other things. Things he refused do with us just in case she called and needed him for something.

In all these years he has only taken my daughter and I out twice for something special (if his daughters found out he took us somewhere special they would be angry at him). Until the youngest daughter left for Israel for the year, 2 weeks ago, he couldn’t put the phone down because she might call and need him and would drop us at a moment’s notice (she does have a mother by the way who lives 5 minutes away-if not less.)

I thought that things might change when she left, but it hasn’t. Instead of her calling all the time, they now chat realtime constantly. I woke up at 5:30 AM the other morning because he was lying in bed next to me messaging her in Israel. He spent the next 2 hours messaging his daughter in Israel until I had to leave for work.

All my 10 year old daughter and I want is a loving relationship but I’ve run out of hope. My boyfriend tells me that he needs to make sure his children are taken care of, but he spends his whole day (he is a comedian and actor and only works a few hours a month) with his 22 year old son who doesn’t work and never went to college and who just draws and plays music all day. The son spends his days with his dad and nights at his Mom’s.

My boyfriend is texting or calling his children anywhere from 10-20 times a day… each. There just doesn’t seem to be any time for us. He tells me I’m jealous, but it’s only because I see him do so much for his children and almost nothing with me and my daughter. He gives me money, but no meaningful time.

My parent’s weren’t loving people so, I am not sure if this a parent taking care of his children, or a man who is unhealthily obsessed with them. I know he loves me and my daughter, but I am filled with rage, resentment and hatred now….towards his children and him for what he is doing. I’ve run out of hope that this man, that I loved so much, will ever be able to commit to me and my daughter….

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Answer:

To say the very least, this is a dysfunctional family. For one thing, the children have too much control. Children, regardless of their age, should not be able to dictate towards their parents who they will see and what they will do. However, your boyfriend has so much fear that his children will abandom him that he submits to what they want. It’s not the way it’s supposed to work. They have too much power over their father and that is due to his fear of loss.

In effect, it is up to him to read the “riot act” to them so that he makes it clear what they can and cannot do. He can do this by reassuring them that, by his being with you and your daughter, they will not lose him. Actually, a family meeting might be called for where the limits are set but where everyone can air their grievances, if that can be done in a civilized way. There are family therapists who can lead such a session and help the family communicate with each other without alienating anyone. Also, he needs to know that the only reason you feel jealous is due to the fact that his oldest children prohibit you from being with him.

Of course, his children are important to him and he will continue to communicate with his daughter in Israel. That is only to be expected. Also, as a father, he will go out of his way for his children. It’s just that he needs to consider you and your daughter.

You do sound very enraged which is why couples counseling, if not family sessions, would be a good idea for all of you.

What your boyfriend must do is establish boundaries with his children so that they clearly know what they can and cannot do and say with regard to how he lives his life.

In the end, you may need to leave the relationship. It sounds intolerable and enormously stressful. Without any changes in the family you only continue to feel bad. If he finally knows that you are leaving the relationship he may wake up to how serious the situation is…or he will not be able to wake up. If that is the case then you know there is nothing else for you to do but leave.

Best of Luck

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