Boyfriend and kids don't get along


Boyfriend and kids don't get along


your avatar   Sophie, 35-year-old woman


I have been with my partner for nearly two years now and all is not well with my children. My 3-year-old doesn't want anything to do with him and doesn't really talk to him. My boyfriend frequently finds fault with my children's behaviour, saying that they don't eat the way they should, that the 3-year-old is too disruptive, the 7-year-old does things that annoy him, etc. He has two children of his own. They are with us half the time and he spends lots of time with them, but not with my children. He even told me that yesterday he had a great time when we weren't home and then when we were home he didn't enjoy it. That was really hurtful and he said he was just saying how he felt. I used to really like this guy, but often feel tense if my 3-year-old is tired and whiny or my 7-year-old makes a mess, forgets something etc.

I am working on my 7-year-old with the things that he does, but am not sure if I should just call it quits and leave with my boys. My partner often complains about them and doesn't see a lot of good. He does tell good stories to them but has not done so lately. He also goes into our room and is alone when my son and I are up by ourselves. Is this normal behaviour for a stepfather? Last night he was on the verge of shouting at my 3-year-old and started to, but I stepped in and asked him not to. I no longer leave my 3-year-old in his care. My 7-year-old enjoys spending time with his sons, but I feel quite tense a lot of the time.

Am I expecting too much from my new partner if I want him to get along with my children? He rarely says anything supportive or encouraging to them which leaves me feeling unsure. How can I help this relationship between my new partner and my children? Should I just call it quits with the new partner? We've been living together for 10 months now with not much improvement in the relationship between the kids and him. I don't want the kids to feel like they have to tiptoe around him at home.


    Bob Rich, Ph.D.

Dear Sophie,

"Love me, love my children." Anything else is a recipe for disaster.

I grew up with a stepfather who disliked me, and the result was major depression from 5 years of age until I did self-therapy to get it under control at 23. We don't want to expose your two children to the same.

There are two kinds of love: giving love and taking love. Giving love is, "I'll do anything, sacrifice anything to make you happy." Taking love is, "I want you to sacrifice everything to make me happy." Ask yourself, which better describes this man's love for you. If it's the second, kick him out.


This question was answered by Dr. Bob Rich. Dr. Rich has 30+ years of experience as a psychotherapist. Dr. Rich is also a writer and a "mudsmith". Bob is now retired from psychological practice, but still works with people as a counselor.For more information visit:


Set goals. They give your life purpose.
"Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness."
Desmond Tutu
Happy people are persistent and persevering, and approach every challenge with their best effort.