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home : columns : dear harriette March 1, 2021

1/5/2021 7:57:00 AM
Boyfriend brings up daughter months into relationship

DEAR HARRIETTE: I've been dating this guy for four months. He finally told me he wants to get exclusive, which means introducing me to the most important person in his life: his daughter. This is the first I am hearing of a daughter. He never mentioned her when I met him. It's a complete surprise, and I don't know what to do now. She is still young, and having me in her life is huge because I know the type of influence people can have on kids at that age. I just don't know if I'm ready for that.

I don't date much, and he is the first guy I've seen this consistently. I feel like this information can be the end of us -- but I don't want that. A kid is a huge factor, and I respect that. How can I make this work and bring myself to be ready for dating a guy with a child? -- Potential Stepmother

DEAR POTENTIAL STEPMOTHER: Just because your boyfriend is ready for you to meet his daughter doesn't mean you are. And that's fine. It's time for you two to get serious. I'm sure he has been thinking long and hard about whether it is safe to introduce anyone to his young child. From that perspective, you can put on the brakes. Explain that this is your first time learning of her. Ask him why he chose not to tell you. Learn more about the situation, including his relationship with the child's mother, her living arrangements, etc. Get a sense of his intentions. Let him know your concerns, especially since it is early in your relationship -- and too early to make a family commitment.

If you like him enough to be exclusive, say that. Tell him that you want to take it slow and be sure that you are ready for the big step of caring for a child before you meet her. Take your time.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My daughter is a perfectionist. She goes above and beyond when completing both simple and difficult tasks. It has become an issue for our family's routines. She spends extra time doing things that should take no time. If she doesn't like something, she will completely start over. The worst part of it all is that if the family tries to stop her from doing something, she will totally lose it and have a meltdown. She has done this at school with teachers, in public at the store and at games and practices, to the point where her coach has benched her for multiple games because she can't compose herself.

Now that we have been home all year, I've had a closer look at her tendencies, and I think she might have obsessive-compulsive disorder. I've been trying to seek out help for her, but I don't know where to turn. A doctor? A therapist? Any idea how I can get her some help? -- Perfectionist

DEAR PERFECTIONIST: Start with your daughter's pediatrician. Schedule a physical for her, and speak to the doctor separately about your concerns. Ask for guidance for testing your daughter for OCD or any other psychological disorder. Get a referral to a psychologist or psychiatrist. There are tests that can reveal what's happening with your daughter and methods to support her should she need it.

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





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