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Dear Abby: Parents clash over who should discipline their children

5January 2021

DEAR ABBY: I am a single father of three wonderful kids. When my wife and I separated, we agreed to 50/50 custody and a property settlement. Everything went smoothly. A year later I requested, and was granted, full custody of my children. Their mom has visitation, but that’s it.

Shortly after my separation, I met a woman and we became good friends. I waited about a year before introducing her to my children because I wanted to make sure I knew her first.

Although we are not “officially” in a relationship, she has been more than willing to step in and help with the children. In a few instances she has disciplined them because of bad behaviors. It usually entails talking to them about what they did wrong and some sort of consequence — loss of toys or privileges.

When they went to visit their mother and she heard about it, she wasn’t happy. She called me very upset saying my friend had no right to discipline our kids. I see nothing wrong with it, but I am second-guessing myself. Some advice, please? — CONCERNED DAD IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR CONCERNED DAD: If your lady friend’s “discipline” EVER went further than a talking-to, then their mother is right. Because you have primary custody of the children, YOU should be the parent who levies penalties if they misbehave and a punishment is warranted.

 

DEAR ABBY: I’m a very social person and part of a close-knit friend group, but my boyfriend is on the introverted side. Although he is sweet and thoughtful, he doesn’t have many friends of his own, and he tends to enjoy independent hobbies.

Since learning that my friendships are very important to me, he has made a huge effort with my friends and their boyfriends. In the past, he invited them to movies, reached out and attempted to engage them in multiple ways.

I have watched from a distance, hoping they could forge a connection, but they ignore or avoid him, and he recently shared his worry that they don’t like him. I don’t blame him for thinking that, and I’m starting to feel sad for him and frustrated with my friends. At what point do I talk to them about this? Should I just let the relationships happen organically (if they happen)? Should I interfere at all? — TORN IN TEXAS

DEAR TORN: You didn’t mention how old you are, or how long you and your boyfriend have been involved. I do not think it would be interfering to ask your friends why they seem unwilling to accept him. Their answers might be enlightening.

At some ages, circles have formed and it’s difficult to break in and gain acceptance. If there is something about your boyfriend that makes them uncomfortable, it would be better if you knew what it was. However, ultimately, he should socialize with you and these friends at his comfort level. You may also need to seek out new friends and cultivate relationships together as a couple.

 

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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