Should I discipline my girlfriend’s children?

by Rod Smith

My girlfriend’s children are rude and get whatever they want from her. They are thankless and demanding. This is a woman I love and I am trying hard to help her with being a single mom. I was raised with strong discipline and my dad was never afraid to give us a good hiding. I think I should step in and give her children their limits. She says I better not touch them. This makes no sense. She can’t handle them and won’t let me do it. This is going to be what causes us to break up. Please help.

Chime in, please...

Chime in, please...

I’d suggest you do not, under any circumstances, resort to any form of physical punishment with the children. You are correct: this issue will probably result in the breakup of your relationship. Interfering in pre-existing relationships will almost always get a person in trouble. I’d suggest that you try to accept that your girlfriend will inevitably side with her children (over siding with you) even if the children are “demanding and thankless.” While we’d all prefer to live in a world where children were less-demanding and filled with appropriate gratitude, these are not values that you, the outsider, will be able to impart.

22 Comments to “Should I discipline my girlfriend’s children?”

  1. This is a very tough situation to be in. If the Mom does not want to make a change, then you my friend our out of luck. The children will remain as they are and you will remain frustrated because they do not live up to your expectaions. If you have had open and honest conversations with the mother and she does not see the issue or have a desire to make changes, then you have two choices, accept things as they are or walk away from the relationship. Rod is correct, in this situation there is nothing you can do to affect change in behavior and by all means you can not afford to touch the children in any way, shape or form.

  2. i think its in your best interest if you refrain from using any physical disciplinary actions. Simply because it can resort in a nasty breakup and ultimately the authorities can get involved and you want to prevent that as much as possible. You dont want to add any additional problems to the situation. If her children lack discipline its best if you not get involved, being that you have already expressed to her how you feel in reference to this matter. I understand you share a genuine concern for her and her childrens behavior is distractive. But if it becomes too intolerable its best that you move on because this problem could create more uncompromising situations.

  3. I understand where you are coming from. I am in the same situation with my girlfriend. She has two girls and they both run over her and she does nothing about it. The part that upsets me the most with her is that she will tell them that if they do something she is going to spank them. Well they do it anyway and no action is taking. They no that nothing will happen to them and get away with things time after time. I was raised totally different and got what was coming to me when I did something I was told not to do. Another thing that pisses me off is the constant whinig of them. They also use this to get what they want. I love my girlfriend as much as you do your and this is an issue that keeps us from growing. Her family and friends all think I am wrong with me beliefs and that she is right. Well society sees it my way when they are being brats in a store. It gets to the point where i just want to knock their heads off and hers.

  4. Dear James:

    Get help for your anger before you find yourself in trouble. These children are not going away. The sooner you try to build a positive rapport with them the better. Trying to love, please, discipline, guide, and earn a living, for two little girls, is probably tough enough for your girlfriend. Adding an angry lover into mix must make it unbearable.

  5. i wouldent get to physical, being a father myself i know i would have a hard time with another man being at all violent with my kids. so do be carefull with that cause you dont wanna come between an angry father an his kids…but for you question i would only verbally disiplin them, how old are they, do they staop when asked?…..its a tough position to be in but if she loves you then she’ll see its bothering you an try to help

  6. Hey,

    Everyone has their own destiny, cannot be changed and cannot be controlled.

    If you already did your best, but noone appreciated it, that’s though and though for you.

    Do not blame youself if you did your best, you did, but just not the right moment, not to the right person.

    If there’s fate, try your best; if no fate, leave asap without hesitation.

    Good luck,


    • What an incredible piece of garbage advice from the “V”.

      “Everyone has their own destiny, cannot be changed and cannot be controlled.”

      And we’re all helpless to some kind of pre-determined fate? Are you out of your skull, or does this mamby-pamby version of life simply suit your particular, personal situation well?

      And it all continues downhill from there.

      Don’t listen to this person. Practically every other reply is better than this hogwash.

  7. Okay, that last comment was just weird. I wasn’t aware that fate was something so simple to read or look up. To say we have no control kind of lets you know exactly where that person is coming from. I take it they were brainwashed by the church. But anyways. I’m dealing with the exact same problem now. OMG!!! These kids drive me up the wall. Same situation as the guy with a girlfriend with two daughters living with us. They complain, complain, complain, are irresponsible, complain, complain… They don’t seem to learn anything. We go through the same thing week in and week out. I love my girlfriend but I’m starting to question if I love her that much to put myself through this. Truth is that it’ll probably get worse than better. I would never spank her children and don’t condone that myself. Even though we would all like to his someone at some time in our lives but it doesn’t make it okay and we can’t go through life like that either. She’s grounded them (which doesn’t mean much) but I’ve suggested not letting them play on their sports teams and things of that nature. I’m ultimately trying to get her to install a sense of responsibility with the children but she keeps going back to the same “They’re only kids.” Well, I was a kid once too and research and plain logic show that the earlier you start the better you’ll be when you get older. I love my girlfriend but long term I have to take both my future and my health into account and would rather not waste it on kids who don’t learn.

  8. I have just broken up with my girlfriend who has a darling, funny 4 year old boy. I have an 11 year girl who is the very definition of easy to parent. But she wasn’t always that way. My ex-wife and I while disagreeing on many things – were complete believer’s in the love and logic method of parenting – consistency, love, boundary definitions, etc… OUr daughter was/is a very strong spirited girl and we endured some marathon crying sessions bcause we wouldn’t caver to demands. And the payoff? She’s a confident kid with a good sense of sharing and right and wrong.

    However, my ex girlfriend’s style of parenting is almost textbook in what not to do: he is presented with a choice not to his liking, he throws a fit, shave caves in to the demand. It’s the same for misbehavior: multiple warnings followed by…. a cupcake or a lecture to the child’s back as he runs off.

    I’ve tried to show her the skills I learned (which weren’t learned over night) but she insists it’s because the kid is tired, or amped on sugar, or she doesn’t want to spoil the moment. The end came when I saw first hand that caving to the child’s commands was affecting my daughter’s happiness and sense of security – leav ing her to feel like that child who is always in second place when it comes to all four of us being together.

    It’s very sad. I cared very much for her – but couldn’t see building a future where my stomach was in knots about not only what she didn’t do – but when the next tantrum might occur.

    And it really is for the better to go our separate ways.

    • lol!!!! that is exactly what is happening in my situation! its the sugar, hunger or being tired that causes the outbursts. never that “mom” argues with the kid and that any threat of punishment never ever happens. my daughter is now refusing to be around us because she is wondering how and why she has to behave and the gf’s 2 kids are allowed to be monsters. unfortunately, it is about to end our relationship. i have sat in public too many times embarrassed to death by their behavior. it is sad but i am being asked to help her in controlling the kids but when i do i she defends their actions and then yells at me! i tell her, “if only you would treat your kids the way you treat me, your problem would be solved!”

  9. Larry, I am in a situation a lot like yours. My GF has a 5 year old boy and a 7 year old girl. She is 41, I’m 57. Now, I love kids, however; her son is starting to tell people he hates them and he struck me in the face…on purpose. I made him sit in time out for 10 minutes, then talked with him and said a prayer with him. I am beginning to wonder if I can deal with raising her children for a minimum of 14 more years. I do love my GF and her children, but they are very distructive to the house, car, oh heck…just about everything. They throw their trash down in the floor. I am constantly telling them to go back and pick up this and that and I do make them deposit the trash in the trash can. I am beginning to tire down. We are suppose to get married in November 2008, but I now am getting hesitation… What should I do? Leave or try to help the kids…after a year, they are doing better, but they are still very bad about not listening and making a mess and talking back to their mother and at times, the small boy has struck out at his mother. YES, I do give him a good talking to and take away some of his priviledges, however; it doesn’t help.

    I’m loss~

  10. Hi all. I’ve (luckily) come upon this post while going through a similar problem with my GF. She has a 4-year-old daughter who can be the sweetest thing at times, but often acts out because she wants our undivided attention. And of course, like many of you I have been trying to instill (my idea of) good values and manners in her, which I don’t think is sinking in. It grates on me when she asks her mom for all kinds of things and gets it no questions asked. I see her daughter walking all over he when she gets older, and I’m trying to prevent that. She is not spoilt, but fast becoming so, and when I say no to something or try to discipline her, I am labeled the bad guy.

    The facts: I’m an angry person. I believe in corporal punishment, but not abuse. I don’t believe in hitting another person’s child, but I won’t keep quiet when that child misbehaves. I am bitter that between work, her daughter and the fact that both of us have other things going for us, we have no quality time for just us.
    Her daughter has had some medical problems of late (enlarged adenoids), which actually explains very well why she has been misbehaving.

    I’ve decided to take what has been said in this post to heart, because you have all made a ton of sense. I love my girlfriend, I cherish her daughter, and I will stand by them and understand that there are bigger problems right now, and focus on the good things in my life. I will explain my standpoint to my GF, not as an ultimatum, but as a starting point to accepting what I cannot change and hopefully she will be supportive of that. And if that doesn’t work, I will cut my losses and my bonds and move on.

  11. I have been with my girlfriend for 7 years. We have a 4 year old daughter who is my world I look after her as my girlfriend works full time. She has 2 lads one in prison because he can’t stop robbing houses. He in there for the 3rd maybe 4th time now. Throw the key away I say. The second lad has been moved out the area as he broke in our house and robbed us on our daughters 2nd birthday. He been moved for his safety as I am going to kill him when I get my hands on him. Yeah he robs us then he gets help we got nothing. She also has a daughter nearlly 16 she talks to her mum like a piece of dirt comes in from school gets her night wear on and stays in her room. Comes down to eat every now and again. Next morning I come down to a sink full of pots. My misses never tells her off. Never tells her to clean up. We argue every day about this. The only reason I stay with her is because I fear if I leave her it will effect our 4 year old. I also fear that if she had any kind of access that her lads might go near my baby. I don’t want them any part of her life and when of age I going to explain what they are like. Scum. I look after my daughter every day.I take and fetch from school. I cook and clean for her every day. On days off my misses can’t even take or fetch our daughter. She never asks how her day been at school and apart from arguing we never really speak. Its a joke I am completely lost and don’t know what to do for the best I really don’t.

  12. Dating a girl for 5 mos now, she has a 9 year old boy and a 14 year old girl. Noticing more lately that the kids are getting on my nerves. Not well behaved and make quite a mess.

  13. Currently, I have a g/f 35 y/o and I am 28. She has 4 kids 18, 17, 14, 13 and a granddaughter just turned 1 in which her 17 is the mother of this child. Everything started out so great, until my job was impacted by a drastic buisness decision which caused me to be layed off from work. Now I have more time to spend with the kids as well as her. Its funny how things comes to light when you come around more right? Well, these kids are very smart when it comes to school work all A B students but the behavior that the kids display is very nerve recking even for myself. Lack of respect for others, and very inconsiderate. Everytime they do something wrong, its brushed off and they are showered with gifts. Lately, Ive just been spending my weekends there but notice that things that I leave by accident when I go home are missing when I get back. Ive expressed several times over and over again how displeased I am with their actions and willing to work with it without making myself feel uncomfortable but honestly the more things that happen and the more that I see, Im ready to call quits.

  14. This would be a tough context for anyone to enter – not because this family is necessarily more difficult than any other, but because there are so many established relationships and permutations that pre-exist you. You won’t “fix” the children or their mother – but you will have to decide how resilient you are in the face of at least 6 people who will all see you, at least at times, as an intruder.

  15. it’s not a matter of ‘choosing the boyfriend over the kid’ or vice versa. if a single mother doesn’t have the empathy or intelligence to train her kids to not anger (I, Rod, removed an offensive word) off a good man she wants to keep, she doesn’t deserve him. it’s not a seller’s market for single moms when it comes to finding love again, and they should remember that. i woman i loved dearly would never tell her 6 yr old daughter to ‘give me some space’, and would get on my back and berate me for not wanting to play with her daughter all the time and for wanting a little occasional adult privacy, even though i was otherwise a very generous and good friend to her daughter. well, i found a woman who is empathetic to my needs, and my ex- now spends christmas alone with her narcissistic daughter and isn’t getting younger. if you want to keep a man, don’t just assume he is going to be enthralled with your kids underfoot and in his face 24/7.

    (This reader doesn’t use caps for some reason…. it is a good response – I’ll approve it despite its lack of sound punctuation).

  16. I initially typed out my long story.. but I’ll spare you. Just consider this : Is love really worth a life-time of unhappiness?

  17. hi i am 26 and my girlfriend 23 i have e big problem i just find out she was merid and has e child i love her and she loves me but she dident have te strainkth to tell me abaut this and now i am wery depresive my fellings ar brock i am wery bad is the firs time on my life thet a fell soch a pain in my hart i don know wat to do sombadi pleas help me mefor i do somthing stupid i wredhi ned hellp som tims i thin to kill my self ps. i know my english suks if som one liks to hel me plays send me a email

  18. I was in this situation with my ex girlfriend and sooner or later she started to see the errors in her ways of spoiling the brat and never doing anything but taking his crap! She eventually let me start disiplining him. As in time out, corner, not video games, and spanking also. Some times it just takes time. Then on the other hand you have these big wierdos that dont think hitting it the right way. I have a kid of my own and he respects me to the fullest and loves me to death. I have grown up with the same treat ment. If you are into biblical at all or christian. There is a scripture in there that say ” Parents dont spare the rod” check it out. As for everyone else that doesnt think spanking it the right way. Well all i have to say to you is SUCK IT!!

  19. ok, my girlfriend has a 4yrs old boy of a past marriage, i really started this relationship full of hopes and love, but i really dont know when all the wonderfull world started to tranform in a piece of garbage, i think all started when i suggest her to come and live in my house. At the second day they were in my house i wake up that it was a really bad idea to bring them here…
    Dirty plates, food everywhere, clothes everywhere, disorder, chaos, i started to feel really bad , my health is worse and my nervous are broken with her kid.. sometimes i really hate the boy, the way he manipulates my girfriend… he is destroying our relationship, we have talked about it , and she always says ” he’s just a kid”, but the fact it is that he is an hyperactivity kid with atention deficit disorder, and she doesnt want to medicine him, every time we go to the cinemas we have to leave the movie in the middle because the boy cant be sit in the chair for at least 5 minutes, in the restaurants he always is under the table, throwing the food to the floor, running, annoying, other people in the restaurants are always watching us and it make me feel unbarassed, the boy NEVER has a punishment, latelly he is starting to punch his mother an me, he is always receiving gifts, so the boy doesnt value nothing. I really doubt about the future of my relationship with her, i dont want the boy in my life, i think things will be worst, because im strating to get really angry with him, i dislike even when i heard his name and starting to hate how he smells… She rarely bath him, so he smells like shit, and she makes him to watch tv on my bed.. i hate to go to my bed and feel the smell of her child, i can not rest even in my bedroom… when i pass time with them time flows slowly and im really tired of washing their plates, and make the things of the home for three, sometimes i found myself creating excuses to be more time in work and not in my own house…
    I really, really love her, thats the reason why i support all the crap, my family says that i must leave her. Date a single mother sucks.

  20. Wow, this thread is quite the eye-opener. I am in a similar situation. I live with my girlfriend and her two kids.
    First, forget the spanking. I never had to do that with 2 kids I raised in a previous marriage because
    they had simple, firm rules right from birth. And even though my girlfriend’s kids are unruly brats,
    it still doesn’t work. I did try it. All it does is make them mad and resentful. It doesn’t teach them to be good. It teaches them only to “watch out for you.” So, lesson learned for me.

    However, in my current experience, even if you back off on that, and simply stick to firm rules, consequences,
    time-outs, withholding privileges, taking things away, etc, none of that will work if your girlfriend doesn’t do the same

    She oscillates between being very harsh to giving them everything they want, and with me, she oscillates between
    being apologetic that the kids are so horrible, to thinking I’m a monster because I want her to reign them in.
    If I try to punish, withhold, take things away, she feels sorry for them and undoes the punishment. Not always,
    but often, and that’s all it takes. If discipline isn’t consistent, it is useless.

    I think that’s what you’re in for, sir. She will resent you trying to bring in rules or discipline that are not hers,
    even if it isn’t physical. And she may well make things even worse, because she may spoil the kids even more to
    “make up” for any discipline you try to impart on the kids. That’s always dangerous, because to the
    spoiler, they always think their way works best because when they do it, the kid behaves like
    a little angel for a while, maybe a day, because he got what he wanted. It’s only later that the spoiling
    rears its ugly head and many parents just can’t see that.

    The reality is that although you are not the kids’ father, you are in the role of the primary adult male disciplinarian.
    Especially if you live together, she has to be willing to let you do that job even though they are her kids,
    and that’s hard for anyone to accept. After all, they are her children. They are her own precious thing.
    Who are you? The “boyfriend”. It will take a long time before you “rate” even close to an even
    footing in her heart, whether she sees or admits that or not.

    You have to either agree with her on discipline or this can never work.

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