How to deal with and overcome the challenges of the blended life

Below you find a question I received from a mother. Her spouse was trying to instruct her daughter to knock on the bedroom door before entering.

Five years ago I got divorced and am now living alone with my daughter, who’s five and a half years old. My boyfriend of two years (he is 41 years old and I’m 38 years old) moved in with us in December, and now the question concerns my daughter’s access to our bedroom. I feel really bad about saying NO to her, but my boyfriend insists that she MUST knock and we would have to say “Come in” before she can enter. He instructed her to do, yet she has come in to our bedroom without knocking a few times and he got furious. Last night he told me he would severely reprimand her, if she did it again. That announcement made me completely perplexed and now I cannot figure out how to proceed. What is right and what is reasonable?!? She usually NEVER comes into the bedroom, only if she cannot get the TV turned on so she can watch her shows.

What would you do in this situation?

I really hope to hear from you.


My answer:
Thank you so much for your mail and for purchasing my book. I hope it will help you in your new blended family life.

Since you and your boyfriend just moved in together in February, is probably is why your daughter is starting to come into the bedroom, if she has not done so previously.

She might have sensed that you have your “own” space there, which she is not a part of and will unconsciously try to make sure that you still have room for her. You can secure her in this feeling, that there is room for her still by briefly – just 5 to 10 minutes in between – letting her snuggle between you and your boyfriend and then send her into her own bed. It is important that it is between you and your boyfriend – not just you, so she doesn’t feel she has to “compete” with your boyfriend for your attention. This actually has a major emotional value, when you can show her with words and by action that you both chose her. Additionally you should give her some time to get adjusted to the new situation and her new role – that she is no longer alone with you.

I assume that the reason your daughter has to knock on the door is that you and your boyfriend want to have privacy, when it comes to your sex life and that you or your boyfriend are afraid of that she suddenly will be standing in the middle of the bedroom.
Therefore I think knocking on the door is a good solution, but she should not be reprimanded, if she forgets to knock. Just continue to remind her to knock before entering. You should support your boyfriend in doing this, since I do not think it is an unreasonable demand from him. You can do this by asking your daughter to knock, preferably in the presence of your boyfriend, so you show her that it is something you both have decided.

If it is because you are having sex, you can lock the door and just explain to her that it’s the same as when you go to the bathroom, you want privacy, and that’s why the door is locked. You may with an adult mindset experience the locked door as a rejection of her, but it’s not, it is just showing her where your boundaries are and how you want things to be. You could introduce the same rule with her bedroom door and you and your boyfriend would have to knock when she locks the door. This way you show that you respect each other.
Try to not to make the locked or closed door a big issue, both in regards to yourself and your daughter, so that all three of you will function well in your new blended family.

I hope you find my answer helpful and I wish you all the very best blended family life.