DEAR HARRIETTE: I have been in a relationship for a year now, and at one point was engaged to my girlfriend. The engagement ended, and I moved out. We still see each other, but there is one big issue that tore us apart: my kids.
I have three kids from a previous marriage, and they are truly good kids. I work midnight shifts and have a 50/50 arrangement with my ex on the kids. My 16-year-old has helped me a ton with watching my 11-year-old and 7-year-old. When the kids are in school, it usually works out that they are home by themselves only when they are asleep. However, when they're not in school or on the weekends, they are home with me while I sleep during the day after working all night.
My girlfriend, who was going to be my kids' stepmom, told me it is not her responsibility to watch or have the kids when I am asleep or at work. She is adamant about the kids being with their mom and not her. It really feels as though she doesn't want to establish any connection with the kids.
Is it wrong of me to expect her to help with the kids if she is in a stepmom position? -- Cold Feet, Racine, Wis.
DEAR COLD FEET: When you have children and you want to enter into a new relationship and possibly marriage, it is imperative that your partner not only wants to build a relationship with your children but actively works at it. The reality is that anyone who enters into a pre-existing family has to be willing to be a part of the whole family.
I'm glad to know that you are choosing your children first. This woman doesn't sound like a healthy match for you. You and your children are a package deal. If she doesn't like the package, she's not the one for you. Sorry.
DEAR HARRIETTE: Telemarketers can be annoying and have a frustratingly uncanny knack for always calling at the family times that are the most disruptive. The best way to deal with them is not to deal with them at all!
I agree with you that we must always try to be parent-citizen role models of civility and respect in communications, even in fielding telemarketing calls. (After all, they're just doing their jobs.) But I suggest to you and your readers a much better alternative: Go to the National Do Not Call Registry (managed by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission) at www.donotcall.gov (888-382-1222) and register to opt-out your home and mobile telephone numbers. It takes a little time before calls begin to ebb, but it works. Then be sure to update the registry to stay off the telemarketers' lists AND enjoy your family dinners in peace! -- Savvy, Wilmette, Ill.
DEAR SAVVY: Thanks for this tip. I would like to add, on behalf of many readers who wrote in, that hanging up on telemarketers doesn't actually work. When you speak to someone, be sure to tell the person to take you off his or her list. That can help as well.