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Annie’s Mailbox: Boyfriend’s family doesn’t approve

Dear Annie: In January, my boyfriend and I moved in together after four months of dating. We both have young daughters, and we love all of them. His ex took off two years ago and has no interaction with the children. Their grandmother and great-grandmother, however, have played an active role in the girls’ lives. Due to my boyfriend’s work schedule, the girls stay overnight with his mother several nights a week.

Here’s the problem: His family does not approve of me. They haven’t said so to my face, but I know they have hated me since Day One, mainly because of my tattoos and lip ring. I have a great job, pay all of my bills and am very responsible. I removed the lip ring in order to gain their acceptance, but it made no difference. They badmouth my daughter and me to his girls. It’s become so difficult that his girls don’t want to be near me. His 3-year-old told my daughter she is “dumber than a box of rocks.” We found out that Grandma taught her that.

My boyfriend and I only want what’s best for our children and have been discussing breaking up, which neither of us wants. I have tried to talk to his family, but they refuse to answer my calls. I don’t know what to do. I want to keep our family together and our children happy. – N.Y.

Dear N.Y.: This is primarily up to your boyfriend. He needs to make it clear that such behavior will not be tolerated. Would he be willing to put the children in day care so that his mother and grandmother have less influence? Would the threat of doing so stop them from denigrating you in front of the children? Frankly, we think moving in after four months was a bit premature, and it wouldn’t hurt to take things more slowly. But whether or not you are living together, unless your boyfriend puts his foot down with his mother and grandmother, the situation will not improve.