Respect issue with bf's teen daughter

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-02-2013
Respect issue with bf's teen daughter
Wed, 10-02-2013 - 12:35pm

Hi, I need your feedback.  I've been dating a great guy for 10 months.  He has 2 kids...10yo boy (Jake) and 15yo girl (Maria).  Last night, we hopped into the car to go to dinner to celebrate Jake's birthday.  My bf was complaining during the ride about the traffic and how he dreaded the trip. I offered to drive and he said no.  The kids (Jake and Maria) were sitting in the back seat as usual, and they started to argue a bit (as they commonly do). My bf told them to stop and then he pulled off on the nearest exit and turned back to head home.  I was angry with him when we arrived back at home and told him that he was just looking for the first excuse to head back home, as it seemed to me that he didn't want to go anyway.  I felt it was important to celebrate Jake's birthday, since he had been looking forward to going to his favorite restaurant and the fact that his Mom (my bf's ex-wife) didn't do a thing for his birthday. I felt it was very important to celebrate Jake's birthday in the manner that we all discussed and planned. I know that the arguing among the kids wasn't good, but other times when we've been in the car and they argue, he will threaten to turn around but never does. But this time my bf's fuse was short and he turned right around. I felt he was being selfish because he himself didn't want to go.  So anyway, when we got home, my bf and I ended up shouting at each other in the driveway.  He felt he would've received my support and I felt he shouldn't have turned around.  I think I was correct in my assessment that the issue was really my bf not wanting to go because he went off to find Jake in the house, who went off crying as soon as we got home.  Pretty soon Jake and Maria came outside to get back into the car, but my bf didn't say anything to me besides "Are you going?"  His tone with me conveyed anger.  I told him that I'm not going to go if he's in a terrible mood. Then Jake started crying because I said that I didn't want to go (he wanted me to go with them).

So after a few minutes, I decided to go to the dinner for Jake's sake. I walked to the vehicle and Maria had already sat in the front seat next to my bf. I just stood there waiting for her to move to the back, but she just glared back at me. I looked at my bf and he didn't say anything either. So I had no choice but to walk around the vehicle to get into the seat directly behind my bf.  I felt this was pretty disrespectful, with the child in the front and me in the back. I decided to let it go at dinner and salvage Jake's celebration.

During dinner, Maria asked me "Can I sit in the front next to Dad when we go home?"  I calmly said "No....why, what's the difference btwn front and back?"  And then she said "Exactly, what's the difference, so can I sit in the front?"  I ignored it and she asked me again why she can't sit in the front.  I replied "Because I'm the adult."  My bf said nothing during this exchange and the issue went dead.  When dinner ended and we were walking out to the car, Maria yelled out "I should yell out shotgun, but I'm too tired!" Then she ran ahead of me and started getting into the front seat of the car.  I looked at my bf and said "Are you going to allow this?"  He then quietly told Maria to get in the back.  She had never pulled this type of behavior previously, so I feel that since her Dad didn't make her move to the backseat on the way to the restaurant, that she was testing the limits by pulling the same stunt over again.  It's especially disappointing since I've gone out of my way to do nice things for her (I've rushed from work to take her to a boy band signing at our local mall, I made a big deal out of her birthday, I've taken her to school and guitar lessons, hung out with her, etc.). 

Collectively, both episodes have me questioning how to handle Maria in the future. I feel she has really taken some disrespectful steps.  My bf and I haven't talked about any of this.  There's tension between us (my bf and I). I'm angry with him and he seems to be angry with me.

Can I get your opinions?  I'm not a big power person, but I do believe in respect. I'd like to handle this in a composed and classy manner.

Thank you.

Community Leader
Registered: 07-16-2001
I have to be quick, so I'll be blunt. First, as a teacher, I'm always excited to hear a parent follow through on a promise (in this case, threat). If your bf said he would turn around, he should have. In fact, he shouldn't have caved and gone afterward. Kids test boundaries and they throw fits when they don't get their way. It's our jobs as adults to deal with the fits and establish the boundaries. Second, the reason why the girl sat in front is because your bf eventually caved. She knew she had him. It was disrespectful of her, but his caving didn't help. On top of that, at 10, she's not old enough to safely sit in the front anyway. Essentially, it doesn't sound like he's established boundaries with his kids. At their ages, that's not likely to change. You have to decide if you can deal with that.
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-16-2008

Since you have only been with the guy for 10 months, it is best to stay away from parenting issues.  Those are his kids, and he gets to set the rules, no matter how immature or unfair you think they are, because at this point, you are "nobody" when it comes to those kids.  (Of course, if what he does is actually endangering the kids, anyone should step in).

Picking a battle (and screaming in front of the kids) only undermined your "authority" with the kids (if you have any to start with - it  doesn't look like he has delagated any to you).  As to the 15-year old daughter not respecting you, it is simple: because her father does not.  She is only taking the cue from him.

Ultimately you need to ask yourself if you want to be with a guy who doesn't respect you.

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Community Leader
Registered: 01-25-2010

I agree with Demon on this.  You were out of line with the birtday deal that is his kids.  You are his GF he deserves your loyality.  It is not the gf place to take the boy's  part.  You support goes to BF and only BF.   The issue that he did not want to go was secondary to your loyality to him.  He needed support and a solid front.     Then the kids can't divide and conquer.