Dear Annie: My boyfriend and I have been dating for 18 months and would like to move in together and eventually marry. It would be a second marriage for both of us. He has been divorced for four years and has three children who are just into their teens. I have no children, but have been actively involved in the lives of my many nieces and nephews, and the children of my friends.
His kids are the problem. I’m ready to give up the best relationship of my life because of them. They curse me, blatantly disrespect me, and are generally unpleasant to be around. They are physically and verbally violent toward each other, their peers and other family members. They lie and are disrespectful of adults and authority. They gossip and spread rumors.
I’ve told my boyfriend about their bad behavior, but they are well-mannered and courteous in his presence, so he claims not to see it. I’ve attempted a heart-to-heart with them, only to be mocked, have my words twisted and lies told about me. I am currently taking anti-anxiety medication over this situation.
How can I convince my boyfriend how his children really act? Should I bother? I was raised in a loving, respectful home and feel totally out of my element. – Heartbroken in California
Dear Heartbroken: Becoming a stepparent can be difficult, and it doesn’t help that your boyfriend closes his eyes to the problem. If his children are violent toward each other and other family members, he is undoubtedly aware of it but unwilling to deal with it.
Teenagers can be notoriously rebellious, even under the best of circumstances. And their mother could be influencing them negatively, as well. You need to be extremely kind and patient, but the cursing, lying and disrespect must end. And that will happen only if your boyfriend insists on it. Please ask him about family counseling before the relationship disintegrates. Also, look into the National Stepfamily Resource Center (stepfamilies.info).
Dear Annie: It’s taken a while, but I want to respond to “Forever Trapped,” who feels she was born the wrong gender but worries about surgical solutions.
My son (he was born female, but is living his life as a male) was also confused. When younger, he exhibited so much male behavior that I thought he was a lesbian, but that wasn’t it. He realized he was transgendered and transitioned from female to male many years ago. He had surgery, and you now cannot tell he was ever female.
My son is happily married, living as a gay man in the Boston area. There is nothing wrong with “Forever Trapped.” Her gender identity didn’t match her body. I hope she can find a therapist who works with the transgendered community. Surgery is expensive and not covered by insurance. Please don’t give up. Be the person you were meant to be. – Proud Parent of a Transgendered Son
Dear Parent: We wish all parents would be as accepting and supportive as you. Thank you for writing.
Dear Readers: Sunday, Dec. 13, is The Compassionate Friends’ Worldwide Candle Lighting in memory of all the children who have died. Please light a candle in the evening at 7 p.m., local time, and remember them with love. For more information, log on to compassionatefriends.org.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to email@example.com, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. You can also find Annie on Facebook at Facebook.com/AskAnnies.
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