Adam and I have been together for a year. We’re both divorced and have children from our previous marriages. Adam is a wonderful man, and he tries very hard to be a good dad. He has one six-year-old boy, Josh, who is capable of being a sweet kid, but is usually an intolerable brat. I’m embarrassed to say that I can’t stand being around this kid. As I see it, Adam parents with guilt as his guide. Because of his limited visitation, he tries to be a Disneyland dad, doing only fun things and letting Josh run amok. Adam rarely corrects Josh and feels terribly guilty when he upsets his son, and Josh knows it. When I try to intervene, I end up being seen as the bad guy.
I love Adam, but I’m not sure if I can commit to a life like this. I welcome any advice so that we can work this out as a family.
Dear Blended Battles
Blended families have become more common, and along with them come all kinds of problems that don’t always exist in a nuclear family. You have two sets of parents in a blended family, and that can be very confusing for children. Since there’s no manual, people tend to go with their gut on how to raise kids, and clearly Adam feels that Josh needs fun more than discipline at this stage. Blended families have a whole myriad of challenges. Navigating through parenting differences is probably the biggest hurdle. You and Adam need to come up with a game plan. You need to analyze what works and what doesn’t, and survey the results of your parenting actions. Is Adam truly happy with the results he sees in his son?
Guilt isn’t a productive emotion. It causes people to make all sorts of bad decisions. Children need consistency and boundaries. They need to know what’s expected of them as they transition from one home environment to the other. You and Adam need to explore all these expectations together. This isn’t easy for Josh. His stable family environment has been dissolved, and re-establishing a new one will take time.
Setbacks along the way are inevitable, but if you both approach this with the same goal, using tolerance, patience, communication and love, you’ll end up with a successful family unit.