The father  upbringing  the son isolated on white backgroundAsk Rene: HELP!
My Girlfriend’s Son Is BIG TROUBLE!


Hi Rene:

My girlfriend and I have a blended family with her children, a seven-year-old boy, a 12-year-old girl and 16-year-old boy and my ten-year-old boy. What an undertaking the last four years have been! Several times a year there is a situation with the 16-year-old and it seems my voice falls on deaf ears. He’s been suspended from 9th grade six times and no real punishment has been given. These times frustrate me deeply and start  huge battles between us, which lasts for months.

Example: just this past weekend, he wanted to be home alone for the long weekend. I said not in this house and told him to find a friend to stay with. When we came home two and a half days later, we found out that he had broken into the house and had a party! I, who was home first, told him to step out of the house until his mother and I discuss what to do. He intercepted his mother before I could reach her and fed her a light B.S story, after which she sat on the couch and wouldn’t say anything to me.

I decided to search his room and found a large switch blade and numerous stories in the form of raps (like the music) with references to cutting/ slitting people who bug him. By the way, this is not the first time we’ve had problems with him while he was at home alone. And each time, no punishment has been given.

I’ve been told, “Oh well..  boys will be boys.” “You are not his father.” “My kids come first” and so on. I can’t handle the lack of discipline yet if I say something I’m told I’m being jerk. But I’ll be damned if I am going to lose half of my home over this. 

Sign me: 

Had enough.. now what?


Dear Had Enough:

It’s common knowledge that one of the biggest arguments couples have is over raising children; blending families present those same challenges and many times, more. Sadly I don’t think the primary problem is your girlfriend’s son. Don’t get me wrong, his behavior is reprehensible, but the way it’s (not) being handled is symptomatic of a deeper problem in your relationship.

Can it be fixed? Honestly I’m not sure but here’s what I would do if I were you.



RIGHT.NOW!discipline road sign illustration design over a white background

And by guidance I mean boundaries. And by boundaries I mean punishment because at this rate, the boy is working toward a palatial estate at the nearest penitentiary. For real. Suspended six times in the 9th grade? Breaking into the house (YOUR house) while you’re away, specifically after you told him he could not be there? What part of ANY of that is okay in your girlfriend’s mind? You may not be his father but there is no mention of him here. Where is he? Does he care? Does he have any involvement in his son’s life? If not, he needs to. Like yesterday.

Read more: Ask Rene: Do I Have To Cut Ties With My Ex-Boyfriend’s Family? 

THE SAME PAGEChose the word AGREE, crossed out the word DIFFER

What this kid is doing is playing both sides against the middle. That card needs to be removed from the deck and the quickest way to do that is for your girlfriend and you to talk about how you’re going to handle disciplinary issues (turning a blind eye to breaking and entering is NOT the way to do it). You may even need to bring in a 3rd party to help you navigate those tricky issues. But I recommend talking about those things before you need to because it’s hard to have even-handed clarity in the heat of battle.

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This. This right here:

I’ve been told, “Oh well..  boys will be boys.” “You are not his father.” “My kids come first” and so on.

I do think this boy is headed down a very bad path but honestly, so is your relationship, if it’s not already there. When you have a significant other in your life, you have to take care of the primary relationship so that the rest of the family can thrive. That’s not happening here; in fact your girlfriend has already told you that when the chips are down, she’s siding with her kids, something she’s shown you on more than one occasion. Knowing that’s a battle you can’t win, why are you still there?

Read more: Ask Rene: Why Is My Sister-In-Law So EVIL? 


My husband is fond of saying that Einstein’s definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. This is exactly where you find yourself. You’re also at the intersection of “rock” and “hard place” with some serious decisions to make. If you don’t make some hard decisions they will be made for you. But if you do nothing, this is what your life is going to look like for the foreseeable future.

Or God forbid, worse.

Good luck!

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