Five months ago I started living with my new boyfriend, and we can’t seem to agree on how to rear his daughter and my son who are four and five years old.

Sometimes, when my boyfriend plays with my son, he treats him very roughly… to the point of making him cry. He’s not like that with his daughter, and that bothers me because I think it’s unfair. I believe that my boyfriend is mad at him because my son sometimes fights with his daughter over toys…. I feel that this situation is more than I can handle, and I don’t know what to do. I have even thought that the decision I made to live with him was a mistake.

Dear Friend,

We believe that you are wise to be concerned about this situation. It is already turning you and your son against your boyfriend and his daughter. You have divided loyalties because you want to protect your son while having a good relationship with your boyfriend.

We are very pleased that you are concerned about your son’s welfare. Some mothers overlook what is best for their children because they are determined to have a boyfriend, no matter how it affects their children.

After my parents divorced, my mother decided to let her boyfriend move in with us. Eventually they got married, but that man never cared about my siblings and me, even after we were married. He had a violent temper and was an alcoholic. Having to live in the house with him for eight years was very difficult, and I believe that my mother cared more about being with him than about the wellbeing of her own children.

It is very likely that your boyfriend thinks that he needs to “toughen up” your son. He may think your son is a “mama’s boy,” and that it is good for him to be roughed up by a man. But since you suspect that he is taking out his anger on your son, it has become a very traumatic and unhealthy situation for all of you, so we recommend that you do whatever it takes to terminate this toxic relationship immediately.

As you may know, we believe that parents should wait until their children are finished with high school before they even consider having another serious romantic relationship. Their children came into their lives first, and so those children are their first responsibility. When the parent gets a boyfriend or girlfriend, the emotional wellbeing of the children almost always suffers, so it is best to focus on the needs of the children while they are young.

We also believe that couples who are wise follow God’s plan and wait until they are married to have a sexual relationship. This insures that there is no risk of an unplanned pregnancy before marriage, and it also helps the couple to guard their hearts against the undue emotional pressure that comes along with a sexual relationship.

We wish you well,