Dear Miss Emily:

My 9 year-old son, my boyfriend and I live in my boyfriend’s mother’s basement.  My boyfriend thinks my son hates him, although it’s never been a statement. The two never say much to each other.  Who should approach the situation?
Concerned Parent

---------------------Miss Emily’s advice------------------

Dear Concerned:

You should approach the situation.  First off, three in a basement leaves little room for privacy, and your son is, more than likely, feeling resentful.  I would guess he had little choice in this arrangement, and now he’s sharing his mother with a man you picked to be his friend/surrogate father, but it isn’t working out the way you had hoped.  Your boyfriend might feel resentful, as well, but he has no right.  He’s providing (through his mommy) a home, no matter how meager and, maybe, he feels that’s enough to garner your son's respect and admiration.  But again, he would be wrong.  I’m not sure either one of them would be honest with you about their feelings for the other, but I would ask my boyfriend to try and engage your son in something that would interest him and they could share together.  Kids usually respond when someone pays attention to them and genuinely likes them.  If your boyfriend is not up for the task, your son comes first and his comfort level is your responsibility.  I guess what I’m trying to say is that you should find other living arrangements if the situation does not improve.  If you were the child in this case, what would you want your parent to do?