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DEAR HARRIETTE: I’m in a serious relationship with a man who, like myself, has two children from a previous relationship. His kids are about two years older than mine, but all of them are in elementary school. My boyfriend’s kids are not very well-behaved. They lack manners and respect for elders, and they regularly use swear words. I’m worried that they might be a bad influence on my kids. I don’t like when my kids spend longer than a few hours with them because they usually misbehave afterward. What should I do? — Bad Influence
DEAR BAD INFLUENCE: You and your guy need to have some serious conversations about the future and the blending of your families. You need to set ground rules for what is acceptable in your home and around your children. For example, you have rules about manners, language and interactions with elders. Your partner needs to agree with you that the behavior you expect must be taught to them, and they must learn to comply. It will take time if he agrees. There’s a good chance there may be resistance from their mother. But in order for you to build a long-term relationship with him, the children have to be able to follow the rules of your home. Otherwise, it will not work. You need to make that clear to him.
If he is unwilling to work with you to reinforce your family guidelines, he is not the partner for you. It would do you well to figure that out ASAP before you become too entrenched in his life.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I am working for a startup that is not doing well. All indicators suggest that we could be out of business in a matter of months. I love this company and want to help them survive, but I’m not sure I know what to do. Heck, they don’t know what to do. I don’t want to be a quitter, though. They have asked us to do everything in our power to fortify them during this rocky patch. How can I take care of myself at the same time? I’m exhausted. — At the Edge
DEAR AT THE EDGE: Talk to the owners. Make sure they know how committed you are to them and the business. Ask them if they think they will be able to provide any kind of severance if things don’t work out. Make it clear to them that you want nothing more than to stick with them and you worry about how to take care of yourself. Find out if they would be willing to give you anything if they decide to pull the plug in the next few months.
If they cannot make that guarantee, you need to understand that it is an urgent time for you to look for another job. You can carve out an hour each day to tend to your future: brush off the resume, do your research, make a few calls and actively look for employment. Continue to give your all to the job, but save a little of that “all” for yourself.