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My Boyfriend Is Trying to Parent My Kids

Toddler and Teenager Expert Advice from Carleton Kendrick, Ed.M., LCSW

Q: I have been dating a man for a year and a half. He has never been married and doesn't have any kids. My girls are 6 and 14. He feels he should be able to interact and have decisions in their lives. He even feels that if I don't agree with the "rule" he believes in and knows is "right," I should still follow his thought and discipline accordingly. We have discussed marriage, but we are not engaged and we do not live together. My question: How much involvement should he have with my kids?

A: You are your children's parent and it is your right and obligation to establish your family's values, rules and discipline without being badgered by your boyfriend to do these things his way. Any positive, supportive and caring interaction with your kids on the part of your boyfriend is a plus, as long as it complements how you are parenting your children. But it appears that this man's philosophy is "it's my way or the highway" when it comes to parenting decisions.

Your kids should not be subjected to this man's orders, discipline or negative comments about them or their behavior. You will not be able to change his ways by marrying him. There will only be more of this behavior in the future, especially if you marry. You are your children's champion and advocate and their well-being is your top priority. I suggest that you strongly reconsider maintaining a relationship with a man who bullies you about discipline issues.

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Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.

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