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by Abigail Van Buren

Living With a 4-Year-Old Gives Man Cause to Pause

DEAR ABBY: At 26, I am about to move in with my girlfriend, "Candace." I love her so much, and I'm confident she's the one I want to marry. Candace has her 4-year-old daughter, "Michelle," with her most of the time we are together.

I'm confident that moving in together is the right decision, but living with Michelle makes me nervous. Although Michelle is smart and well-behaved, like most kids, she can be bratty and demand a lot of attention from Candace and me.

Candace has the utmost patience with Michelle, and I trust her ability as a parent. What I'm worried about is my own level of patience. I don't want kids anytime soon, and I get annoyed with Michelle a little too easily. What steps can I take to assure longevity in this relationship? -- YOUNG STEPPARENT

DEAR YOUNG STEPPARENT: Feeling as you do, I am not at all sure you should move in together. I'm surprised that a man who doesn't want kids anytime soon is so eager to enter into a living situation where that very thing is guaranteed. Before changing your living arrangements, consider signing up for parenting classes. They may not only give you insight into what to expect, but also how to handle situations that may arise.

Read more in: Love & Dating | Family & Parenting