Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

Boy's Disrespect for Dad Is Hard for Girlfriend To Take

DEAR ABBY: I am in a loving relationship with a kind and caring man, "Byron." He has a preteen son, "Eli," from a previous relationship. Eli stays with us several days a week, and I watch him while Byron goes to work. Byron and I would like to spend the rest of our lives together, but I'm uncertain if I can truly be a stepmother to his son.

Eli often yells at and hits his dad. He calls his dad stupid, among other things. He asks for expensive items during every visit, often refuses to bathe and won't eat anything other than fast food or pizza. If Byron has to say no to Eli because he doesn't have the money for something, Eli throws a temper tantrum worse than a 2-year-old.

I know the kid is capable of better behavior because he doesn't behave this way with his mother or grandmother. Byron doesn't discipline his son at all, which allows his rude and disrespectful behavior to continue. I worry about the boy's future. How will he hold a job if he acts this way toward a boss?

I like Eli very much. When he's in a good mood, he's the kindest child I can think of. But when his mood turns, it's like the dark side takes over. I love Byron. I would like to marry him. But I don't know if I can handle watching Eli be so disrespectful to his father. Sometimes it makes me feel like ending things. Please advise me on what to do. -- HESITANT "STEPMOM"

DEAR "STEPMOM": I hope you realize that Eli behaves the way he does because his father allows it. Byron may do this because he feels guilty about the divorce and is afraid his son will "hate" him if he asserts himself. Your gentleman friend really needs to take some parenting classes because his failure to act isn't good for Eli. Please suggest it.