By Hara Estroff Marano, published on January 1, 2005 - last reviewed on November 5, 2006
I am a mother of three wonderful children ages 8, 10 and 12. My live-in boyfriend of five years (on and off) consistently picks at the children—for toothpaste in the sink, shoes lined up at the door, bathroom fan on during showers, meat cut into pieces. It's as if we all walk on pins and needles upon his arrival. I routinely explain that they are children and not in his army, but he ridicules and at times humiliates my children nonetheless. He treats his own two daughters like princesses. I have become beyond bitter over this. What should I do?
Here are some better questions: Do you really want a partner who can't open his heart to your children? What kind of a human being feels free to dump his poison into your household? Do you relish having to choose between a beau and your babies? Do you think the situation is going to improve as your kids head toward adolescence? And why are you allowing Toxicman to poison your own heart with bitterness? Your first obligation is to provide a healthy environment for your family. Humiliation is arguably the most harmful condition known to man; all it does is breed revenge. Maybe Toxicman puts down your kids in the hope that he can merit all your attention. Whatever his motivation, that's way too high a price to pay for anyone. If you respect yourself enough, you won't stay stuck in the emotional bog of bitterness; you'll use that intensely negative feeling to move into action. It's time to clean house.