Dear Annie: I’m a 20-year-old woman in love with a 25-year-old divorced man who has a 4-year-old son, “Mikey.”
Lately, Mikey’s mother has been letting us have the child more often because she has to go out of state on business. The problem is, this boy is very stubborn. He’s not a bad child. He just doesn’t like to listen. And for the most part, he always gets his way – from what he eats to when he goes to sleep. When he doesn’t get his way, he throws a fit.
I care deeply for Mikey and don’t agree with this type of upbringing. I wasn’t raised this way, and neither was my boyfriend. I helped raise my younger sister, so I understand discipline. I am not harsh, but I do want Mikey to listen to me. The other day, we took him with us when we shopped for a new TV, and he kept running around the furniture. At one point, I couldn’t find him, and he didn’t come when I called his name. My boyfriend said, “That’s normal. Let him be.”
If I had behaved like this growing up, my mother would have smacked my behind in front of everyone in the store. My boyfriend insists we leave him alone because he’s only with us for a short while. But my boyfriend often is at work when Mikey is here, which means I am the one who deals with this behavior. The least he could do is make it easier for me. Am I wrong to feel this way? – Young but Learning
Dear Young: You aren’t wrong, but you must remember that it is perfectly normal for 4-year-old boys to run around in a store and not listen. That doesn’t make it appropriate or safe. Your boyfriend refuses to discipline Mikey because he doesn’t see him often. This does a disservice to all of you, especially Mikey. How will he feel secure and know his father loves him if Dad doesn’t care enough to watch his behavior and help him mature? Please ask your boyfriend to come with you for parenting classes. You can check online or at your local YMCA.