Direct Answers – Off The Leash, Incomprehensible

Off The Leash

I am divorced with three kids under 13. I've been with my girlfriend 18 months. We do not live together though we have semi-discussed marriage. She has a son, her only child, 17.

My girlfriend's son treats her with little courtesy and respect. He doesn't do assigned chores and is often gone from home. Yet he expects his mother to cook and clean for him after she comes home from work, even when she has worked a 14-hour shift.

Her son also fails to do his homework, asks for gas money and wants her to pay for his hobbies. Lately he started working out in a gym and now he wants her to buy expensive nutritional supplements for him.

By contrast, my own kids do chores around the house, earn money for what they want and help with the laundry. Her son, nothing.

Recently I had enough. In a heated argument I let her son know how I feel. I also told him the supplements were unneeded as he is not a professional athlete.

Ultimately how my girlfriend spends her money is none of my business, but her son's parasitic approach to his mother is intolerable. To make matters worse, my girlfriend's mother weighed in and said we should no longer be together because of the way I treated her grandson.

Did I overstep my bounds?

~ Charles

Charles, small dog syndrome refers to how little dogs behave when they are given treats, coddling and praise without earning it. Without discipline, they grow out of control. They think they head the household.

The development of small dog syndrome is usually the fault of the owner, and changing the owner's behavior the only way to alter the syndrome. But once established this pattern is difficult to modify.

The same thing happens with kids. Your girlfriend works long hours. It was easier to let her son have his way than to correct his behavior. Her parenting skills spoiled him. In addition, as an only child with an overly protective grandmother, it may be too late for you to help.

In the back of your mind there could be yet another niggling idea. It is no advantage for her son to get stronger if he will use that strength the wrong way.

You have a right to say what you said, but if you bring this woman into your life, you bring in her "small dog" as well. You have three children to protect. It is no advantage to expose them to this boy.

~ Wayne & Tamara

Incomprehensible

About 20 years ago a cousin told me a man she knew liked me and always asked about me. I didn't know him. I was married at the time and forgot about it.

Fast forward a few years. I'm divorced, back in my hometown and learn who he is. Whenever I see him around town, at church events or at funerals, he is full of smiles, friendly and always speaks to me. Since he is pleasant, I give him my phone number.

He never calls. For awhile he even distanced himself from me. A few years later I moved out of town. A mutual friend told me he asks about me and says to tell me hi.

I don't understand the tactics of this man. Why doesn't he leave me alone if he wants to be left alone?

~ Elke

Elke, perhaps he's curious, perhaps he likes small talk, perhaps he is painfully shy and liking you from afar is his mode.

Perhaps it's something else. But what matters is, presented with the opportunity, he did nothing.

The question isn't what his behavior means. The question is what your behavior means.

Are you thinking about him because you want a man in your life? This man may appear to be a mystery, but the mystery is who is that man you are looking for.

~ Wayne & Tamara

Column for the week of December 22, 2014

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