Advicereality check

Reality Check

I’m a 29-year-old single mom. My daughter is four, and her dad is totally out of the picture by his own choice. I was young when I had her, the relationship was bad, and my parents did not approve of the guy. When I got pregnant, there was a lot of “I told you so” kind of attitude, but the nice thing is that they love my daughter so much and they know how hard things are for me, so they mostly quit that. My mom doesn’t work, so she often watches my daughter while I am at work. My mom and I are very close and always have been, but when I was a kid my mom worked, so we didn’t spend a lot of time together. Well, I think my mom is trying to make up for it with my daughter. She takes her everywhere, all the time. She doesn’t spoil her with expensive toys and stuff, which I’m glad of because my friend’s parents do that with her kid and it’s driving her crazy.

Anyway, I am really happy that my mom is so great and helps me so much. I have a boyfriend, and the relationship is hard sometimes, but at least I get to have a life besides being a single, working mom. But the thing is, my mom sometimes takes my daughter on these big trips, or decides to take her overnight, without asking me first. I don’t want to seem crazy or like I am not happy to have her help, but I feel like they don’t ask me if stuff is OK before they do it. I trust them with her, but I still want them to treat me like I am her mom.

A couple of weeks ago, I called them when I was done working to say I was coming to get her, and they were in Tennessee. I didn’t know they were going and I was kind of mad because I was surprised. They had done some fun stuff all day and decided to stay at a hotel. I don’t think it’s right that they would take her that far away without asking me. My mom acted like I was being crazy when I told her I thought she should have asked me first. Another time they went to visit my aunt down south when I was only going to be gone for a couple of hours. Not only did I have other plans for myself and my daughter for that day, but I would have wanted to go see my aunt if they would have asked.

I can’t afford daycare. I need my mom to help me, but I want her to respect me as a parent and ask before they do this stuff. She acts like it isn’t a big deal and she doesn’t understand why I get upset. Am I being crazy, or should she ask me first if she is going to take my kid to another state? I know I’m her kid, but I am still the mom of my own daughter! What can I say to her to make her understand that I am happy for their help but I need her to ask me first next time?

Her Kid, But Not a Kid

Tell your mom that you are happy that she enjoys spending so much time with your daughter, that you really, really appreciate their help, and that you don’t mind their taking her to experience new things or visit old relatives out of town, but that you need her to ask you in advance. She obviously has no idea what you might be planning, and it is only fair for her to check with you first before they do these things; you are the parent. It seems like asserting your authority in this situation is not working, especially since your parents did not respect your choice with regard to your ex and they seem to feel that they know better about how to raise your kid. Maybe you could try instead to make it an issue of planning and your own time with your daughter? Let your parents know that you mostly do not mind them doing whatever they feel like doing, but that you need them to check with you so that you aren’t missing out on things that you have planned with her. And maybe they can plan some of these trips to include you? Either way, try to be patient and remember that your parents mean well and they’re probably just excited to spend time with her that they didn’t get to spend with you at her age.

My girlfriend and I have been together for a couple of years. She has two kids from a previous marriage who are 10 and 12 years old. We all get along very well, and they treat me like a member of the family. I definitely feel like I could marry this woman, but neither of us is ready for that right now. We have been talking about me moving in with them. She owns her house, but she could definitely use the help with mortgage and bills. I spend so much time there anyway that it wouldn’t make much of a difference. I sleep there almost every night. The only problem is that I worry that if we break up it might be confusing for the kids. Should I worry about that or just try to give it a go? I don’t want to hurt them. Their dad is already a big enough mess.

Mr. Mom?

I think it’s up to your girlfriend. If she thinks the kids will be OK, and she isn’t worried about the impact a potential breakup might have, then go for it. If you’re spending that much time there anyway, then I think they are already going to be affected if you leave. You might as well give the domestic partnership a full go. Good luck.