Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Boyfriend Refuses to do ‘Boy Stuff’ With My Son”

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I am a 25-year-old female, and I have a 7-year-old son from a previous relationship. I have a 29-year-old boyfriend of almost three years and we have an 18-month-old son together. In addition, he has a 9-year-old daughter from a previous marriage whom he gets every other weekend. My boyfriend lives with us at my father’s apartment where I was living when I got pregnant — he moved in toward the end of my pregnancy to help with the new baby. The entire time he has lived with me (almost two years) he has never made a connection with my son, and they see each other 20+ days every month. He never has taken him to do “boy” things or to spend quality time with him.

His daughter comes over every other weekend, and he is a fairly present dad with her. He plays video games with her, lies with her to watch movies, etc. — normal stuff I assume a parent would do if he didn’t see his child often.

A few things stuck out to me as different “treatment,” if you will. For example, when I was pregnant, I said I wanted a girl so I could experience girly things with her, to which my boyfriend’s reaction was, “We already have ‘Maddy’ (his daughter, who has a highly-overbearing mother as is). You can do girly stuff with her.” Then a few months later, when we found out we were having a boy, he was ecstatic and said, “Man, I’m going to be able to do so much with a boy!” In my head, I was thinking, “Well, we already have a boy (my 7-year-old) and you can do boy things with him.” Seemed like a double standard.

Another example: if the daughter starts to “wrestle”/play with him, he’ll play with her, but then, when my son tries to join in, my boyfriend says, “Alright, y’all calm down,” and the playing stops. My boyfriend will play a kid video game with the daughter — one that my son also loves to play — but never invites my son to play with him, even when his daughter isn’t with us. He doesn’t help my son with his homework, and he doesn’t offer to listen to him do his nightly readings. But he will help his daughter with weekend homework.

One night it really made me sad when we were all watching a movie in the living room and the daughter got on the couch to snuggle with my boyfriend, and then so did our 18-month-old, while my 7-year-old son kind of just looked at them and lay back down on his own couch. I don’t think he felt strange, but I did. It’s weird having a kid with someone and seeing them (obviously) show affection and love toward their own children and not to my son. I know my son’s young, but I fear one day he will ask me why my boyfriend doesn’t do things with him as he does with his own kids.

I’ve taken his daughter with me to get pedicures, taken her (and my son) with me on all errands, I’ve bought her things, I’ve made plans to go see a Broadway play with her in mind. She is not neglected — she obviously has two parent/parent figures who love her and are present with her here, and two loving parent/parent figures at her home with her mother. When she comes over, she tells me how her mother’s boyfriend picks her up every day and helps her with her homework, how they all have dinner together, how they all go to football/basketball games, etc. She even came over one time with with a scrapbook of her “childhood” which included pictures of the mother and my boyfriend and the daughter only. She is shown she’s loved.

Basically, not only does my boyfriend not engage in fun activities with my son, but he also doesn’t help me out with daily things with him. He only speaks to him to say, “How was your day?” And that’s it. Sometimes my son, my 18-month-old, and I will have dinner at the table while my boyfriend is in our room playing video games.

My son’s biological father is not a good father. He doesn’t have a job, he is thousands of dollars behind in child support, he doesn’t call him on the week days, and he doesn’t discipline him.

My son is a tough little guy, I will not lie. He is rather bratty at times, and at times he doesn’t listen to my instructions or he back-talks me. I do discipline him; however, I know his behavior is my fault. Being a young single parent at 18, I did not discipline him early on like he needed. His father wasn’t in his life either until he was three. I also believe him to have ADD. He is an active boy in a little apartment, and I think it annoys my boyfriend, as my boyfriend has only ever known his calm daughter, whom he only has every other weekend.

The tipping point was today when my son was outside and was throwing the football with another man while my boyfriend was inside. I casually said to my boyfriend, “Get out there and go play with that boy — he’s playing with someone else’s dad!” To which my bf replied, “Well, that’s what he does- he goes up to people and randomly asks them to play with him.” I said, “Maybe he does that because he doesn’t feel like he can ask you?” And my boyfriend got mad that I said that. Not offended – he made it very clear he was not at all offended or upset by what I had implied — just mad that I had the audacity to say it.

What do I do? Watch the days pass by where they have no connection? Watch my younger son grow up with a hands-on dad and my 7-year-old wonder why was he never is that way with him?

He’s already asked me why the daughter and my younger son have the same last name and he doesn’t. Please advise. — Desperate for a Real Dad for My Son

Reading through your letter, I am struck by all the examples you’ve given of the way your boyfriend interacts with his bio kids and ignores your son, as well as the examples you give of how you make an effort to bond with his daughter. You also share examples of the daughter’s relationship with her mother and her mother’s boyfriend — about the activities they do as a family (“how they all have dinner together, how they all go to football/basketball games, etc”). But only once in ten+ paragraphs do you give an example of something you’ve all done as a family, and that was watching a movie together in your living room. And in 10+ paragraphs you don’t give one single example of something you do with your son. Of course, that doesn’t mean you DON’T do things with him; I’m sure you do. But you seem hung up on this idea that dads do “boy things” with the sons and moms do “girl things” with daughters. You’re so hung up on this idea that, when you felt sad watching your son play ball with a random neighbor guy, rather than go out and play with him yourself, you yelled at your boyfriend to go play with him. Here’s an idea: model the behavior you want your boyfriend to display.

And when I say model the behavior you want him to display, I don’t just mean the interactions you wish he’d have with your son. I mean, start treating your family of five as a true unit and not simply a collection of disparate relationships. Instead of feeling jealous or sad or whatever that your boyfriend’s daughter has family dinners and family outings with her mom and mom’s boyfriend, start taking your own family on outings like that. You say you take your son out on errands, but that’s not the same as getting your whole family together and going out and doing something fun — spending true quality time together. You want desperately to feel like a family and, yet, it doesn’t seem like you’re doing that much as a family. You’re putting the onus of responsibility on your boyfriend to bond with your son when what really needs to happen is you all need to bond together.

To that end, maybe it’s time to move out of your dad’s small apartment and get a home for you and your boyfriend and your three kids. Maybe it’s time to discuss long-term plans. Is marriage in the cards eventually? These kids need some stability, and the stability comes from more than just your boyfriend helping your son with his homework or playing ball with him outside. Stability comes from feeling secure as a family unit. Stability comes from feeling at home.

I’d also suggest you and your boyfriend attend some couples/family counseling together. You need help — more help than I am qualified or able to give you in a single advice column — for working together as a team, as co-parents, and as two people who need to set goals and discuss steps toward reaching them. What do you both want? When do you want it? Are you on the same page? These are really major questions you need to answer sooner rather than later, and then start formulating some solid plans to reach your shared goals (and if you don’t have shared goals, then that’s a red flag).

You wrote asking advice regarding your boyfriend’s relationship with your son, but your issue is so much bigger than that. At the root, this is really about YOUR relationship with your boyfriend. Make sure that’s super-solid. A branch of a family tree doesn’t grow strong if the roots and trunk supporting it are weak.

***************

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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at [email protected].

46 comments… add one
  • avatar

    AmyP October 8, 2014, 8:26 am

    Eh, she’s got an 18-month-old. I can see why she can’t at the drop of a hat go out and play basketball on the driveway.

    I think part of what’s going on is that in a functional bio family, when you have two kids, it’s normal for the parents two split the kids at least part of the time in order to make life easier. Mom takes the baby, dad takes the big kid, or vice versa. And then you trade off because no particular kid should only be one parent’s.

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    • avatar

      RedroverRedrover October 8, 2014, 9:42 am

      Yeah, I agree that’s normal, but usually mom will have the baby because she’s breastfeeding. So if the bf isn’t taking the older son, no one’s got him. 🙁

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    • something random

      something random October 8, 2014, 10:36 am

      I think that is true in most cases and could probably be true here is they work on it. But if the boyfriend got the lw pregnant a few weeks into there relationship and moved in six months after that, I can understand how this current state came to be.

      After all it started off as a single mom with one over-active child who might have had a lack of structure and discipline for most of his life. I could understand the boyfriend feeling it would be inappropriate for him to step right in to the role of of a dad. Especially if he didn’t particularly care for the parenting style the mother used. I don’t think I would want to discipline someone else’s child. Especially if I had just moved in with pregnant someone after knowing her such a short time and we were about to have to deal with the stress of a newborn. It would be a really precarious situation for the boyfriend and I can understand how he would be “hands off” for a good long while. But it sounds like it’s time for him to step up now.

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  • avatar

    AmyP October 8, 2014, 8:28 am

    Wendy said:

    “I’d also suggest you and your boyfriend attend some couples/family counseling together. You need help — more help than I am qualified or able to give you in a single advice column — for working together as a team, as co-parents, and as two people who need to set goals and discuss steps toward reaching them. What do you both want? When do you want it? Are you on the same page? These are really major questions you need to answer sooner rather than later, and then start formulating some solid plans to reach your shared goals (and if you don’t have shared goals, then that’s a red flag).”

    Very true.

    It’s probably also just plain hard for the LW having the juggle her big kid and the toddler.

    Come to think of it, how is boyfriend on chores?

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  • avatar

    ChemE October 8, 2014, 9:05 am

    Being a stepkid myself I will tell you the last name thing is a really big issue. Not only is he feeling left out of the family he’s also branded by name as an outsider. You need to really work on bringing him into the family – he is your son after all.
    If you saw him sitting by himself, why didn’t you snuggle up with him?
    And while I agree with Wendy that you both need work, I’d be more than upset that he doesn’t view your son as one of his own. Yeah, sure there will be some difference but he can’t be in a relationship with you and not him – you’re a package deal and you should make it big deal. I was lucky enough that my stepdad didn’t treat me like I was an outsider but there were still situations where it was evident that he and my mother loved my sister more than me. It is a terrible feeling and I hope you can do more to include him and reserve time just for him without the other kids.
    How do you think he feels when you’re going out of your way to spend time with the daughter and he gets no time with either of you?

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    • avatar

      ktfran October 8, 2014, 9:11 am

      The LW and her son still have the same last name. She’s not married to this guy yet.

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      • avatar

        karenwalker October 8, 2014, 9:39 am

        The son could have his father’s last name, not his mother’s

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      • avatar

        RedroverRedrover October 8, 2014, 9:44 am

        If that’s the case, she should consider changing it to hers. Why should he have his deadbeat dad’s name?

        Or, if she’s going to marry this bf and change her name, she should change the kid’s at the same time. Although if this is how the bf acts, I don’t know if he wants the boy having his last name.

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      • avatar

        ktfran October 8, 2014, 9:55 am

        True, but the entire family unit still doesn’t have the same last name. If that’s the case. It’s:
        Boyfriend, daughter, 18 month old son
        LW
        LW’s son

        All I was getting at is that he’s not entirely left out of the last name thing. Like four vs. one.

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    • avatar

      lonemirage14 October 8, 2014, 1:20 pm

      I don’t think the last name means as much if there’s a family unit that is positive. I have my father’s last name, my mom still has her maiden name, and my stepdad and my brother have the same last name. Its a little complicated but we all have a good relationship, so when someone mentions all the names to me, Its like who cares? We are who we are.

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      • avatar

        ChemE October 9, 2014, 3:49 pm

        For you it was fine, and it was more than you that had a different name. I lived with 3 people who had the same last name. Maybe I’m too sensitive to it but it always felt odd coming home to the house with the sign “welcome to the not-my-last-name home”

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      • avatar

        RedroverRedrover October 9, 2014, 4:26 pm

        That seems kind of mean. 🙁 Sorry you had that experience. My son doesn’t have my last name (I didn’t change mine), and it’s annoying to me when people call us “the HusbandsNames”. But, I’m an adult, I can handle it. To do that to a kid is pretty unfair.

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      • avatar

        Breezy AM October 14, 2014, 11:36 am

        Oh my gosh that’s awful! I made a point of using the last name my first two children share when I referred to our household. We were NOT just the AMs, we were the AM-PMs because I didn’t want my PM kids to feel left out!

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  • niki

    niki October 8, 2014, 9:08 am

    LW, have you actually TALKED to your boyfriend about how he interacts with your son? The role you hope he’ll play in your son’s life? It’s not easy to “parent” someone else’s child and he might not want to overstep. Or he may have no interest in being there for your son. Either way, you need to talk to him. And definitely follow Wendy’s suggestion to look into family counseling.

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    • avatar

      lets_be_honest October 8, 2014, 9:55 am

      Yes, THIS! Please, please talk to your boyfriend about this. If talking doesn’t work, go to therapy with him. Its not about boy/girl stuff, or what you do for his daughter, but do use how you are with his daughter as an example. You do things with her and want her to feel included and not left out, but loved. Ask your boyfriend to do the same. I promise you your son is aware of the dynamic going on.
      My heart was breaking picturing your son feeling so left out.

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    • Raccoon eyes

      Raccoon eyes October 8, 2014, 11:53 am

      I was thinking this too. Some quick math of together almost 3 years = together about 36 months. 18 month old + 9 months of pregnancy = 27 months. So at most you were together for 9 months before you got pregnant with your shared child. BF moved in toward end of pregnancy, sooo living together with LW’s dad for 25 months we’ll say. The conversation about his role in your 7year old son’s life should have happened BEFORE he moved in- some TWO YEARS AGO. TIme for discussion is long past, so do it NOW. NOW. NOW.

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  • Raccoon eyes

    Raccoon eyes October 8, 2014, 9:10 am

    LW, your boyfriend is a d*ck. Unbelievably so. He is treating his own flesh-and-blood children different than your son, while living with you and your dad in what you term a small apartment. His exclamation about the two of you having a boy is heinous, if he is hanging out and “playing house” long term, and presumably you two as a couple are planning on something long term. I am disgusted for your son, and that you have let this favoritism go on so long. Ugh

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    • avatar

      M October 8, 2014, 10:56 am

      I don’t think the comment was heinous at all; in fact, I think that’s a really common way of expressing excitement about a new baby. He is trying to relate to the baby and build a relationship, which is great, and really has nothing to do with the other boy. Plus, didn’t LW make the exact same comment first, in the context of having a girl?

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    • Raccoon eyes

      Raccoon eyes October 8, 2014, 11:47 am

      M, I hear you. But without some additional comment clarifying that he isnt disparaging the LW’s kid as a “son,” I stand by my statement.
      *
      I know some other ppl have said that Grandpa might be doing the “dad” stuff, or BF doesnt know how much he is “allowed” to be stepdad, etc, but I still think dude is a d*ck. The example about he and “his” two kids snuggling on the couch and your son wistfully looking over and hunkering down alone on another couch broke my heart. I imagine this is one of many such instances. But who knows. All we have is what the LW tells us.

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  • Portia

    Portia October 8, 2014, 9:35 am

    I agree that she does need to let go of this “boy” and “girl ” activity business. Especially because a good number of the father-daughter activities could be labeled as “boy stuff.” How about ask the boyfriend what kinds of things he was excited about to do with his baby son instead of secretly admonishing him for basically what she said about girls? Also, it sounds like the activities she does with the girl are typical girl activities – is this what she wants to do or what the LW wants to do with a girl? I ask mainly because in my own experience, the female relatives I had that only had boys wanted to do all these girly things with them and I went along with it (shopping, manicures, makeovers, etc.), but really was not a fan.
    .
    And for the rest, WWS. It sounds like there is some overlap on the activities the two kids like (sports, video games), so take advantage of that and include yourself, too. I understand that the boyfriend probably wants some alone time with the daughter because he doesn’t get to see her much, but definitely work on the full family activities, like Wendy said.

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  • something random

    something random October 8, 2014, 9:52 am

    WWS. She is exactly right that when a family feels whole and cohesive, individual relationships between parents and children naturally improve. Also having the counseling and developing a joint vision of your family and where you are headed is a great idea. After all, he is your boyfriend and he may not feel comfortable taking on the entire role of permanent stepdad, yet, even if you have assumed that role with his daughter.

    If my math is right. You two were only with each other two months or so when you got pregnant. If your boyfriend moved in about six or seven months after that and didn’t know your son that well, I could understand how he would feel cautious about being overly-involved with your boy.

    Now that that you are coming up on two years together, it would be good to get some professional guidance on developing a co-parenting plan for where you are and where you hope to be. Good luck with everything

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  • avatar

    RedroverRedrover October 8, 2014, 10:05 am

    How have two adults lived this long in someone else’s home without having the gumption to find their own place? Honestly. I bet that’s causing part of the problems too, because if the LW’s dad is “separate”, it starts making separation an option. Like she mentions that she’ll eat at the table with the kids while the boyfriend is in the other room playing games. Where is her dad? Is he at the table with them, or does he eat separately? Because if he eats separately, then there’s already a precedent that some people have separate meals.

    Get your own place, and live there as a family. Or, include your dad as a core part of the family, and live as a family. But don’t have different rules for different family members. Eat together or don’t. Don’t have some members eat together and others eat separately. Same with outings, playtime, etc. Involve everyone. That’s the only way you’ll become a family instead of a bunch of people who live together.

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    • something random

      something random October 8, 2014, 10:38 am

      Good point about grandpa possibly living with them. If that’s the case, I wonder if grandpa has traditionally played the role the male in the seven year old’s life. I wonder what, if any impact that has on things?

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  • Kate B.

    Kate B. October 8, 2014, 10:39 am

    This letter makes me so sad. I wish people would give more thought to when they have babies and with whom. It seems like so many people just run around leaving a trail of babies behind them with no thought to the consequences.

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  • Addie Pray

    Addie Pray October 8, 2014, 10:41 am

    What struck me as odd as I read all the paragraphs was how there was only 1 example of the LW and her BF communicating about this issue – and that was in the moment when the son was playing with the neighbor. LW, have you ever sat down and talked to your boyfriend about this? I’d say that’s the first step. I don’t think living in her father’s apartment has anything to do with this. And I’m assuming she herself interacts with her son; I hope she’s not treating this as a “the boys should do stuff together” thing.

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  • avatar

    Wendy (not Wendy) October 8, 2014, 10:58 am

    Bet you anything the boyfriend is uncomfortable with being affectionate with a little boy who isn’t his own flesh-and-blood. Does he have a stepfather of his own, and if so, how is that interaction? (or a stepfather/uncle-like figure, or even his own father). Is it possible he was physically, emotionally, or sexually abused as a boy or was close to someone who was? I know a man whose stepdaughter he loves very much was sexually abused (by another man) and though that was many years ago, he’s still sort of shy/withdrawn with young women because he’s so afraid of being overbearing (his stepdaughter was, understandably, somewhat prickly when she was young).

    This would be a tricky thing to ask about, but maybe the conversation could be steered around to WHY he is withdrawn with his stepson.

    (I was already thinking this before reading what I think are three significant red flags: avoidance of wrestling, avoidance of “cuddling”, and the comment about him being overly open with strangers.)

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  • avatar

    PFG-SCR October 8, 2014, 11:02 am

    It seems very clear that your boyfriend doesn’t view your son in the same way that you view his daughter. He doesn’t consider him “our son”, but “your son”. That might be due to his own insecurity, and your son is a reminder of another man, or he might not think it’s worth investing the time in him because he’s not his biological father. Or, it might be – and I think this is more likely based on your examples – that he has issues with the boy’s behavior problems. Since men are often problem-solvers and prefer to be actively involved in a solution, you might try to talk to your boyfriend about your concerns about your 7 year old’s behavior, and ask for your boyfriend to help you work on this. As part of the solution, you can incorporate focusing on their relationship, but I wouldn’t make the issue you have with their relationship the focus of your problem. Basically, make your boyfriend part of the solution, but don’t finger point him as being the problem, because truly, there are many things going on that are part of the problem, and he’s only going to get defensive if you make it seem like it’s only him.

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    • something random

      something random October 8, 2014, 11:41 am

      This is a good point. Helping with homework, reading goodnight stories, and playing video games can all be positive ways to impact behavior. If the letter writer start’s asking for boyfriend’s input and inviting him to positively influence her son, he may start thinking about the boy more as “their son”. Maybe boyfriend has special talents or the two of them can develop a joint interest that is their own? If letter writer specifically puts the boyfriend in charge of cultivating a positive influence on the boy, It might help her son and boyfriend bond.

      I do think there are much bigger, whole family, issues at play though. And it sounds like the letter writer and her boyfriend could use some coaching on how to communicate with each other about these macro topics.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom October 8, 2014, 11:31 am

    “Get out there and go play with that boy — he’s playing with someone else’s dad!”

    The way you said that it was given as an order and in an adult relationship an order is a sure way to make sure you don’t get what you want. Nobody likes to be ordered to do something. If your boyfriend had gone out and played with your son your boyfriend would also be someone else’s dad so the argument falls flat anyway.

    Instead of trying to do girly things with his daughter I think you would be better off planning group activities that include everyone because when you go off and do things with just his daughter and yourself you’re basically doing the same thing that your boyfriend is doing, you are leaving your own son out and I’m sure he notices when you do and it probably hurts more than when your boyfriend leaves him out.

    When you saw your son alone on the couch why didn’t you go and cuddle him? Why is it your boyfriend or no one? Why would you let your son feel alone like that? I want to hug your son.

    The reality is that your son and your boyfriend haven’t bonded and I’m not sure that it is something you can force. It is the kind of thing you need to make sure works before you live together and before you have a second baby together because you’ve chosen to put our son in a situation that doesn’t work for him and probably won’t work for him. Can your dad spend some one-on-one time with your son? The special man in his life doesn’t have to be your boyfriend.

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    • avatar

      lets_be_honest October 8, 2014, 11:38 am

      Don’t you also think that its not good if mom’s boyfriend has basically no role in the kid’s life though? I just don’t get how that is acceptable. (not that you are saying it, just happened to read your comment before deciding to comment) Why would you date someone who rejects your child? Sure, boyfriend doesn’t have to be DAD, but he should be much more than he is.
      .
      Frankly, I’d expect anyone to invite the one kid not cuddling on the couch to join in on the cuddling.

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      • something random

        something random October 8, 2014, 11:48 am

        I agree with you that some things need to change. But I would feel completely wigged out if any male and probably most females invited my kids to snuggle. It’s such an intimate thing to do. I think the mom should have gone over and snuggled her son if he was feeling excluded. She then could have moved them onto the other couch with the rest of the family.

        Of course my husband and I are both very sensitive about what could be inappropriate behavior, so maybe most people don’t think like this.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest October 8, 2014, 11:53 am

        No, I hear what you’re saying and agree. I was just thinking that if there are people cuddling on YOUR couch, especially that you are sorta related to, its likely you’d be ok with your kid cuddling with them too.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom October 8, 2014, 12:02 pm

        And why didn’t she cuddle him herself? Why did she leave him alone? Why does it have to be her boyfriend or no one? She’s his mother, why didn’t she cuddle up with him.

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      • avatar

        ktfran October 8, 2014, 12:51 pm

        Great. I cuddle with my nieces. And with my cousin’s kids. And with my close friends kids. Now you have me all paranoid.

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      • something random

        something random October 8, 2014, 1:17 pm

        lol. I would be okay with my sister/sils (if they were by themselves). And I’ve definitely rocked my share of kids to sleep (I began babysitting for money when I was 12).

        Just pay attention to the parents cues. Are they all tight-smiled, eagle-eyed, and swooping in a few minutes later? Do they seem comfortable and happy? Probably you’re fine. My husband and I are anxious, scaredy-cat people. Thank goodness we found each other.

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      • avatar

        ktfran October 8, 2014, 1:23 pm

        Actually, I was only kidding. I tend to gravitate towards people who are more open, and easy going. Almost every family member/friend I have, barring a couple (literally, like two people), are more than happy to let someone else take the rein for a little while.

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      • something random

        something random October 8, 2014, 1:43 pm

        It’s great that you’re willing to do that. I do think its normal if you have a close relationship with the parents. And I think the boyfriend after 2.5 years should be comfortable showing that kid some affection. My reply to LBH was less about this situation and just about letting just “anyone” cuddle my kids. But I understood and agreed with her basic point. I guess I should stop being so literal about everything.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom October 8, 2014, 11:52 am

        I think it’s a terrible situation and she should have entered into this relationship much more cautiously. Now she’s in it and it isn’t working for her son and I don’t think that there is any way to force it to work. She can’t force her boyfriend to bond with her son. It has to be damaging to her son and I think she needs to do as much as possible to lessen the impact, like planning group activities so that her son is automatically included, spending time with her son herself, and trying to schedule special alone time with grandpa or maybe sign up for the big brothers program. Maybe she should also have her son evaluated for ADD if that is preventing them from having a better relationship. I think this couple does a terrible job of communicating. I think they rushed into this relationship and I think her older son is suffering from all of it. Her son should have a better relationship with the boyfriend but it isn’t happening and it has to be harmful to the boy. She should also do her best to foster good relationships between her son and the other to children.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest October 8, 2014, 12:01 pm

        Yea, I like all of these suggestions. I don’t mean for her to force him, but like you said, try to foster it. But what happens when nothing changes? I just can’t imagine staying with someone who, whether intentional or not, made my kid feel unloved and left out. You know?

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom October 8, 2014, 12:15 pm

        I’d say she should leave the relationship except there is the younger child who also needs a father.

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  • Crochet.Ninja

    Crochet.Ninja October 8, 2014, 11:48 am

    it sucks that you have a baby with this guy – otherwise i’d say MOA. i know i’m in sort of a minority, but i think when you consciously become a step-parent, you adopt these kids as your own. even if their bio parent is in the picture and acknowledged, you are still a parent.

    but one of the worst things i think, is why haven’t you had this discussion with him yourself? yea, he’s going to get mad. too bad. he signed up for this, as did you. and you’re not handling well either. you need to get all of you into counseling.

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom October 8, 2014, 11:55 am

      I’d also say she needs to leave if it wasn’t for the younger child. This relationship is damaging to her son and she needed to make sure it worked before having a second baby because she is stuck hurting one child or the other.

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    • something random

      something random October 8, 2014, 12:48 pm

      But he isn’t a step-parent, yet. They might just be moving in to step-parent territory now.

      @ Skyblossom, I agree that the letter writer got pregnant way too early on in this relationship. Having a baby and deciding to co-parent with someone you really don’t know well is already high-risk. Add two other children from two different relationships and it’s head into keyboard pounding. But they did it, and now they are where they are.

      But I don’t know if this younger child is being hurt or mistreated. Certainly, he is not feeling solid about the cohesiveness of his family. Certainly he could use more security and love and less emotional distance, at this point. I think they might be able to move in this direction. After all, it would seem that boyfriend is a good dad to his biological kids. He seems involved, protective, and loving. He was willing to move in with this girlfriend to be an active part of his baby’s life. It might be possible for this activity level to extend to the letter writer’s son. I think it will require some work from the grown-ups. I think there is going to be a a lot of discussion and personal growth for this to happen. But this guy has been with letter writer for 2.5 years out of the seven year old’s life. I think working on things is worth a real shot. There might be a lot of wonderful things for all of them to gain.
      The last thing this kid needs is to be destabilized again by another major breakup and lifestyle change. I hope they all stay positive and pursue counseling and maybe some parenting classes designed for young ADHD kids. They should really get that kid a diagnosis, too.

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  • avatar

    lonemirage14 October 8, 2014, 1:25 pm

    I’ve got a different take on this – I don’t actually think the BF is necessarily being the “Bad guy” here. I think they made a mistake early on in their relationship, the LW got pregnant, and in the midst of that, BOTH the LW and the BF do not appear to have taken into consideration that a relationship needed to be built between the BF and the LW’s son. The BF sounds like a pretty solid dad to his daughter, and maybe he feels that the LW herself has drawn the line between her son and the BF. Moving in with someone and combining a family into a working unit doesn’t happen overnight, there is a lot of work involved and I get the feeling that unfortunately, the LW’s son was ignored by both his mother and the BF when she became pregnant.

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  • avatar

    Laura Hope October 8, 2014, 4:17 pm

    Sounds like boyfriend never got the memo that you and your son are a packaged deal.

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  • bittergaymark

    bittergaymark October 8, 2014, 7:51 pm

    Blended families often turn out rather like amateur frappuccinos. Unbelievably shitty and hideously filled with ice. Discuss!
    .
    NEWSFLASH! ALL people would be better off raising the fucked up kids they already have rather than bringing more into the mix with each new temporary soul-mate. Newsflash, multiple babymamas and baby daddies… STOP BREEDING LIKE FUCKING RATS!!! None of your genes are fucking THAT great.

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