Dear Dr. Buckingham,
I have been dating this single young lady for over 14 months now and I am considering marrying her. However, I have one problem with her. She does not treat her children well, especially her 12-year-old son. She is mean as hell to him and appears to have a short temper. I have two sons, one 9 years old and one 13 years old. I am concerned that she is going to treat my sons like she treats her son. I have never said anything to her and I am not sure if I should. Should I Forgot About Marrying My Girlfriend Due to Her Poor Parenting?
Dear Concerned Father,
I do not think that you should forget about marrying the young lady just because of her parenting skills without talking it over with her. If you care about her, I believe that you should at least have a conversation before throwing in the towel. Seek to understand why she behaves the way that she does toward her son. Talking it over with her might give you more insight into her emotional and behavioral status. She might be dealing with some built-up frustration as a single mother and has not learned how to cope with it effectively. I do not think that her poor parenting skills are a true reflection of how she might treat your children. However, I cannot honestly comment about how she will behave toward your children without having more details about situations and circumstances.
Differences in parenting can cause a lot of problems in a relationship and especially in marriage. Given this, I highly recommend that you speak with her and address your concerns prior to saying I do. During your conversation make sure that you do not come across as if you are judging or attacking her. If she is open to having a conversation ask questions such as, “What do you find stressful about parenting?; Do you feel that both parents should share responsibility for parenting?; Are you open to feedback about your parenting style?” Are you open to seeking professional counseling to enhance our parenting skills? Would you be open to me disciplining the children in a matter in which I feel comfortable?
The abovementioned questions are designed to assess her mindset and willingness to grow as a parent with you within the relationship. Trying to figure out if you can co-exist and effectively parent with someone is not an easy task. If you find that her responses are disturbing or inappropriate or if she becomes extremely defensive, I highly recommend that you seek professional counseling or move on if you feel that the situation will worsen over time.
I appreciate the fact that you are asking for guidance in this area because parenting is a major responsibility. Many lives can be negatively impacted when love is used to overlook poor parenting. Never compromise your children’s wellbeing to fulfill your need for love.
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I wish you the best on your journey in finding love and an emotionally safe place for your sons to grow and prosper.
If you have questions for Dr. Dwayne Buckingham regarding relationships (married, single, etc), parenting, or personal growth and development, please send an email to [email protected]
Disclaimer: The ideas, opinions, and recommendations contained in this post are not intended as a substitute for seeking professional counseling or guidance. Any concerns or questions that you have about relationships or any other source of potential distress should be discussed with a professional, in person. The author is not liable or responsible for any personal or relational distress, loss or damage allegedly arising from any information or recommendations in this post.