Our daughter is divorced with two children.
So sad to hear it.
She has been dating a man who has three children.
Even more sad to hear that. Her kids don’t need that. Neither do his kids. And he doesn’t need to obligate himself financially to your daughter and grandchildren.
Recently, they decided to move in together.
Shacking up is a horrible idea. What a terrible example for the children. It also increases the likelihood of abuse.
All the children are first grade or younger.
That mostly makes it worse. The only upside is that since they are being thrown together pre-puberty, it is less likely they will be having sex with each other.
So what's the letter writer's concern? The chaos? The bad example? The negative correlations? No! It's...
What would be the proper way to handle birthdays?
If my daughter and her boyfriend were married, or even engaged, I wouldn't have a problem sending gifts to his children. But since my husband and I hardly know this man (we live in another state and have met him only once or twice), we're not sure how to handle this.
Do not acknowledge his birthday at all. But his kids have no control over this. I'd say you should send them all gifts, but the chances are, this mess isn't going to last very long, and then the kids may still expect gifts. The kids are a little young to appreciate it, but you could make savings deposits for your grandchildren, and send the cards to your daughter with the instruction that she present them to your grandchildren when the other kids aren't present.
What's the proper thing?
The proper thing was for your daughter to not shack up in the first place.
Dear Abby responded:
Your daughter and grandchildren have formed a household with her boyfriend and his kids. If you're compassionate people, you will treat all of the children equally for as long as the relationship lasts.
So, if her daughter were to get a roommate, wouldn't that mean they "formed a household" and they should send gifts to the roommate's kids? It isn't like they all get together every week.
If they decide to marry, which is a possibility, you will wind up being grandparents to all of them.
If. Blended families rarely work anything like the Brady Bunch. And they aren't even family, because it is a shack-up situation.
What a mess. Don't do this to your parents. If you're not going to wait for the kids to be grown, then at least get married and thereby make the other people family.