I’m in a relationship with a man I love and want to spend my life with, but I can’t stand his 6-year-old daughter. She’s obnoxious, has a smart mouth, and is being taught some wicked racism by her mother and her mother’s family. I’ve never tolerated bigotry, and I don’t intend to start. This kid is also being brought up to believe she’s the center of the universe. I become a second-class citizen when she’s around (she can do no wrong, and I’m "picking on her"). I’ve tried explaining that going along with how she’s being raised goes against my values, and is very troubling to me. Her father just gets angry, accusing me of being jealous (partially true) and "not trying." He says since he only sees her every so often, he will not spend their time together correcting her bad behavior. More and more, I despise and resent this child for screwing up what could have been a wonderful relationship. Is this doomed?
– The Devil Wears Disney
Is this doomed? No, I can just see you 10 years from now helping her cut the eye holes in the sheet and glue the sparkles on the swastika for her Sweet Sixteen.
Where you go wrong is in hating on the kid for screwing up your relationship. Sure, she’s a princess, and worse yet, a little Eva Braun-in-training. Still, it’s unlikely she popped out of the womb in a tiara, or rolled over in her crib and said, "Ma-ma, Da-da," and then, out of nowhere, raised a tiny fist and shouted, "White Power!"
Strip away the racism, and what you’re going through is a variation on suffering some loud brat in some fine dining environment, and flashing on the idea that they should allow golden retrievers in restaurants and tie naughty children to parking meters outside. Of course, it’s not the source of the disturbance but the parents who are to blame. And yes, that’s parents, plural. In this case, it isn’t just the mother’s doing that this kid is being home-schooled in entitlement and hate. Daddy Do-Nothing wants to be liked so badly that he’s willing to let his daughter grow up a hate-spewing bigot. Can you really love and respect a guy who’s less a father than a sperm donor with a popularity complex?
Every relationship has its unresolvable issues: Mr. Introvert loves a party girl, and one’s for Ron Paul, the other’s for RuPaul. If they want to be together badly enough, she goes to parties, he stays home with his robot vacuum cleaner, and they both shake their heads a lot on Election Day. But, these are relationship speed bumps while you’ve got the Hoover Dam coming between the two of you. What are you going to do, learn to giggle girlishly when your boyfriend says "Pass the milk" in response to a 6-year-old channeling a drunk Mel "the Jews made me do it!" Gibson?
Don’t count on teaching the kid the words to "Kumbaya" anytime soon. But, instead of despising and resenting her, maybe you should be thanking her for showing you what her daddy’s made of. Stick around a little longer, and your anger and resentment might find its way to the proper target. And no, I don’t mean the family member in need of some Dr. Seuss – Sneetches with stars learning not to snob on those with "none upon thars" – to compete with her collection of Heinrich Himmler coloring books.
To be or nut to be
I hit it off with a woman at a party, and we had an amazing date. Shortly afterward, she started saying stuff like "I think you like me more than I like you." I admit, I fell hard. I was willing to dial back, but she called, texted, and e-mailed daily. Eventually, she dumped me, but called yesterday to say, "I guess I still have a crush on you." Is this a head game? Am I an idiot to try again?
– Mixed Messages
A woman puts out a "do not disturb" sign, the welcome mat, and the Rottweiler. You could call that "mixed messages" – or one very clear message: "I’m trouble. Flee!" Then again, it is possible you triggered the trouble when you "fell hard" (translation: "I barely know you, but I love you anyway.") Not only does this tend to give a girl the skeevies, it makes you prone to ignore unpleasant details, like that she’s madder than a bag of ferrets. If you must go back for more, tell her you were puzzled by her behavior and ask for an explanation. Even if she gives you a reasonable one, don’t believe a word of it. Wait for her to show you she isn’t a wack-job; ideally, by saner means than calling you 400 times a day to let you know you’re smothering her.
(c)2007, Amy Alkon, all rights reserved. Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave., #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or e-mail AdviceAmy@aol.com (www.advicegoddess.com)