I am thirty-six years old, and I decided to have a relationship with a single mother of three daughters. The big problem is that she is very permissive with the girls, and they don’t know how to do household chores. I have to do the washing, the cooking, and other things. Also, my girlfriend has a mother, along with a brother, who meddle in everything and come to the house all the time. They often take our foodstuffs and the girls’ money by asking the girls to loan it to them. It is veritable torture.

Dear Friend,

I can see that you have four different problems. First, you mention that your girlfriend is very permissive with her daughters, which means that you are not in agreement regarding the way that she disciplines them. Second, you believe that an unfair burden of household chores falls on your shoulders. Third, your girlfriend’s family is interfering with your daily life, and you resent it. And lastly, you don’t love your girlfriend enough to marry her, which is why you are living with her without being married.

With all the problems that you describe, I cannot understand why you would choose to live with this woman. You are unhappy with her children as well as with her extended family, and you have to do all the housework.

You don’t say whether you have a job. I wonder if you have to do all the cooking and washing because you actually don’t have a job. Maybe your financial situation is the reason why you are willing to stay in such a tortuous environment. Or maybe you do have a job, but you resent having to financially support a home in which you are so miserable.

I would like for you to read Case 99 to find out my personal experience of having a stepfather, and how I believe most other children relate to stepparents. However, since you are not married to the girls’ mother, you are not their stepfather, but rather only the man who lives with their mother. You have no authority or right to discipline them or to expect them to behave in certain ways. Even if you contribute to their financial support, you should not expect to have any influence or authority.

You obviously don’t have any influence over your girlfriend’s extended family either. Since you are not married, there is no reason for you to expect to have any right or authority.

You don’t have any good choices with regard to your first three problems. The only real choice is for your fourth problem. You can decide whether to leave this woman or to marry her and adopt her children as your own. We do not recommend that you marry her without adopting her children, and you should not do that unless you can love them as your own. Only as a legal husband and father will you have any possibility of resolving your first three problems.

God designed marriage to provide the best environment in which to influence and lovingly discipline children. That is why your choice to skip marriage and try to fit into a ready-made family has not been successful. If you want to have a better future, you need to ask God to help you make wise choices.

We wish you the best,