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home : columns : dear harriette January 21, 2019

1/4/2019 7:32:00 AM
Girlfriend is too strict with reader's kids

DEAR HARRIETTE: I'm a working professional with twin 10-year-old boys. My girlfriend moved in two months ago. I have my boys only a couple of days each week, and I like to make the most of our time together and choose my battles carefully. My girlfriend is making them miserable with strict rules, and she tolerates no annoying -- but normal -- behaviors. She doesn't have children of her own.

When I go to talk with either of my kids about why they are "in trouble" in private, my girlfriend follows me and interrupts when one begins talking to me and says there is to be no dialogue -- they just have to follow the (her) rules. Period.

I have lots of thoughts about things now that I see this dynamic developing, but I'm telling myself just to stay the course. I want to eventually get married as we had planned on before she moved in. Do you think it's possible to have a happy marriage with her if she's making my kids miserable? -- Love Her or Leave Her?, Detroit

DEAR LOVE HER OR LEAVE HER?: You must put your children first. That does not automatically mean that your girlfriend gets kicked to the curb. It does mean that you set the rules in your house for your boys. Period. You need to sit down with her and set things straight. Yes, you love her and hope to build a life with her. No, she cannot come in and set rules that you two have not agreed upon and that run contrary to your beliefs. Tell her you are willing to talk with her and consider variations on parenting, but what she has started must stop. If she refuses to comply and continues to terrorize your boys, you should ask her to move out.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have plans to go to law school in the next two years. I have already taken the entrance exam, and I will receive recommendations from three of my college professors. My problem is, my parents refuse to co-sign for my law school loan. I'm not asking for money; I'm just asking for someone to co-sign the loan for me. I plan to pay off the debt myself. I don't want to ask an extended family member for help, because even if they agree, I would feel horrible if it prevented them from helping their own children.

I don't think my parents have a good enough excuse to not co-sign for me, and it surprises me that it doesn't embarrass them that I may have to ask another family member for help. What should I do? -- Need a Loan for Law School, Philadelphia

DEAR NEED A LOAN FOR LAW SCHOOL: Go directly to the law school you have in mind, and talk to the financial aid department about options. Typically, students get loans on their own. It should be possible for you to secure your own student loan independent of any other adults, provided you have decent credit.

Make sure you fill out the applications for financial aid as an independent person. This should help you to be considered for a loan completely on your own.

Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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