“Dear Ms. Mix & Bitch,
I met this amazing woman recently. She’s gorgeous and smart and I’m already in love with her after only dating a couple of months. The problem is her kid. He’s only seven years old, but he’s a royal pain in the ass. He acts like he’s the man of the house, telling her what to do, giving me dirty looks every time I come over. I gently brought it up to my girlfriend, and she thinks he’s not serious when he bosses her around ( she thinks it’s funny), and tells me to understand that he’s going to feel threatened by any man in her life. I tried being nice to the kid, I’ve tried to ignore him. I don’t know what else to do. I really want to be with her, but the issues with her son are mounting for me. You have kids. What do you suggest?
Exile in Guyville”
Dear Guy (like the Liz Phair reference, BTW),
Jeez, falling in love as we get older with more baggage handling is tough, ain’t it? This is a good question…on one hand, you’ve fallen in love and she loves you back. That’s hard enough to find in this mess of a world. But then you’ve gotten stuck with Damien-incarnate…which is spoiling your party. So here’s what I think – and then YOU can decide what you want to do.
First off, the fact that your lover girl is so casual and dismissive about her son’s behavior (and frankly, yours and his feelings) is not a good sign. You didn’t tell me how long she’s been divorced and dating other men before you, but it sounds from the tone of her response that this is not her first rodeo. I am also suspect about anyone who brings around a boyfriend or girlfriend to their kids after just a couple of months of dating. Do you sleep over there, in her bed? I bet the answer is yes. And that’s a no-no.
Now, imagine you’re seven years old. You’ve seen your mom through all her emotional ups and downs with men – not to mention a possible revolving door of “uncles” coming in and out the door. Even if she hasn’t had a lot of other men in her life since splitting with the kid’s father, there seems to be a sensitivity chip missing here. It’s not enough to break up over, but it’s a red flag.
As far as what to do about her son, if I were you, I’d shoot straight. I would tell him that you know he doesn’t like you – or any guy around your mom – and that you’re not expecting to replace his dad, but you hope that some day, you two can be friends. Then, take him out – just the two of you – to wherever he wants to go. Expect him to test you. If he’s being rude or hurtful, call him on it. But remember one thing….
YOU ARE THE GROWN-UP. SO ALWAYS ACT LIKE THAT.
If you are consistent in your efforts with him, and you look for the good instead of focusing on the bad (remember, he’s your girlfriend’s spawn – some of her must have cracked through the genetic code), then you two will find your way in time.
Then, I’d sit your woman down and tell her that you need her to set some more boundaries, because while you are in this for the long haul, this shit has to be ironed out now. If she continues to blow you off, then I’d say you’re at Defcom 1 and you need to bail. Because then, she’s not honoring your feelings – and frankly, she’s not looking out for her son either. And if a mom can’t shelter her own child, then how well do you think she’s going to care for you when you need her?
Sincerely, best of luck to you all.
10. “A Martyr for My Love for You,” [The White Stripes] Icky Thump.
9. “Even a Child,” [Crowded House] Time on Earth.
8. “Goddamm Lonely Love,” [Drive-By Truckers] The Dirty South.
7. “Godgrudge,” [Polly Paulusma] Fingers and Thumbs.
6. “Mama Who Bore Me,” [Lea Michele] Spring Awakening.
5. “Mannish Boy,” [Jimi Hendrix] Blues.
4. “My Lady’s House,” [Iron & Wine] Woman King -EP.
3. “Newborn,” [Elbow] Asleep in the Back.
2. “Spitting Games,” [Snow Patrol] Final Straw.
1. “The Other Boys, [Lori McKenna] The Kitchen Tapes.