Q. I’m 24 years old with a 1-year-old baby boy — and expecting another baby in January. I live with my 24-year-old boyfriend who works as a truck driver locally — meaning he drives no farther than four to five hours from home. I moved two hours from where I’m from to be with him.
As time has gone by, I’ve experienced some problems with his parents and it has affected our relationship deeply since they interfere a lot. He comes from a really close-knit family and he says he would never move away from them. I really want to be closer to my family, as I feel like I’ll need more help once the baby arrives — and since he’s out working most of the time, I could really use it.
I’ve tried offering some compromises, such as moving 35 minutes closer to my family — and my family is willing to move an hour closer to me. That way we’d be closer without being so far from his family too. He shot the idea down, saying I just want to tear him away from his family and that he will never agree. I don’t know what to do. I will need help with the babies and even need to be in an environment where I feel supported and surrounded by people who understand me, and I can’t trust his parents to provide that for me. We’ve just had too many issues — including them wanting my baby to call them Mommy and Daddy! I just feel it’s time for me to be closer to my family after three years of us living so close to his.
A. ”...including them wanting my baby to call them Mommy and Daddy!”
It’s time for some boundaries and for him to learn what it means to compromise. First, take a trip, if you can, to see your family for a bit. Or ask your family to visit you for a long weekend — whatever they can pull off right now. It sounds like you’re missing them a lot, and seeing them for consecutive days will remind you you’re not alone in this.
Then set some rules. These are your kids, so you’re Mommy. Tell your boyfriend’s parents that you’re uncomfortable with the children calling them names reserved for parents (be just as clear about any other rule you need them to follow). Ask them to respect your wishes as a mother. It doesn’t have to be a fight — just a statement. “This is how we do things here. If you need clarification, let me know.” Maybe you’ve already been putting your foot down. If so, don’t feel bad about it.
That applies to your relationship too. You moved away, which means you compromised. What compromises, if any, has your boyfriend made during the past two years? Tell him this is what you need — for child care and your emotional health. If he doesn’t like this idea — the 35-minute move — ask him to offer another alternative. Let him do some brainstorming.
The only other option I can think of is for you to stay with family for extended periods of time, especially while he’s away. He could visit you there.
If he can’t get on board with a plan, you might want to stay with your family anyway — to think about whether you can share a home and life with someone who can’t meet his partner in the middle.
“...including them wanting my baby to call them Mommy and Daddy!” That’s very, very strange.
^Some folks are so afraid of the normal aging process that when they have grandchildren they hide behind it by making up all sorts of ridiculous names instead of Grandma and Grandpa.
Extended visit to your family is a great idea.
I wouldn’t call his family close-knit. They sound way too dysfunctional. I would first call a lawyer and then I’d move home. Your boyfriend is not going to change and is not going to meet you halfway. He’s already trying to make you feel guilty. Put your children and yourself first.
Easy for me to say, but I think you’re better off moving closer to your family, without him. He sounds like he is worse than not helpful.
Send your own relationship and dating questions to email@example.com. Catch new episodes of Meredith Goldstein’s “Love Letters” podcast at loveletters.show or wherever you listen to podcasts. Column and comments are edited and reprinted from boston.com/loveletters.