Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“We’re Discussing Marriage, But My Boyfriend Doesn’t Want My Daughter in Our Relationship”

My boyfriend and I have been dating for eight months. We love each other very much, our connection is very strong, and we are very happy together. We have talked about a future together, getting married and having kids. The problem is: He does not seem interested in getting to know my 2-year-old daughter from my previous relationship. He met her once before and everything went well, but then one day I brought her over to his house so they could get used to each other and my daughter was a little shy the entire time, which is understandable. He then copped an attitude, but he wouldn’t tell me why he was acting strange. I thought my daughter made him feel uncomfortable, so I left his house. Due to this incident, we had a huge argument. He said it had nothing to do with my daughter, but he still wouldn’t tell me why he was giving me attitude all of a sudden. He did tell me that it’s best if I don’t bring my daughter into the relationship for now. I don’t understand why he can’t try to get along with her and get to know her. I tried to explain to him that if he wants to be with me, he has to accept my daughter because she is part of me. He said he understands and assured me that his attitude had nothing to do with her.

So my question is: Should I try to bring her into the relationship again? I need them to be comfortable around each other because they are the most important people in my life at the moment. It is very important to me. I don’t want to break up with him because I love him, but I won’t keep my daughter at a distance because he can’t be man enough to be around her for too long. — Looking For Man Enough

Well, I have to commend you for not rushing a relationship between your daughter and boyfriend. I get a lot of letters from single moms who move in with their new boyfriends after only a few months, but it’s much more appropriate that you’ve waited eight months before trying to incorporate your boyfriend into your life with your daughter. And you’re right to say that he has to accept her (and vice versa) in order for you to move forward. What gives me pause about your scenario is that you’re already discussing marriage with this man. Shouldn’t a healthy, harmonious relationship with your daughter kind of be a prerequisite for even discussing such a serious step? (It should).

So, you’ve now seen a red flag: Your boyfriend couldn’t even be friendly to your daughter while she was in his home. He shows no interest in getting to know her, and, in fact, has said he’s uncomfortable with her being part of your relationship. You ask if you should try to bring her into the relationship and my answer is: no, not right now — not after he’s explicitly said he’s uncomfortable with that. You could — and should — ask him when he envisions her being part of his life, IF he envisions that at all. After eight months of dating, a person who’s involved with a single parent may not be part of the kid’s life yet, but he should definitely know, or at least have some idea, about whether he wants to be eventually. And, certainly, if he’s talking about marriage with this single parent he’s dating, he really should be showing some interest, at the very least, in getting know his girlfriend’s child. That he’s actually showing discomfort with this is telling, and you need to pay attention to this red flag and find out why he’s uncomfortable. If you can’t get a satisfactory answer — if your communication is so poor — in general, but specifically around the topic of your daughter — then he isn’t the guy for you. You and your daughter are a packaged-deal. And while a potential partner shouldn’t have to immediately say whether he accepts the whole package, after eight months he really needs to be able to say he has interest in exploring whether the whole package fits his life and vice versa.

My husband and I are moving into our own place after renting a room from relatives for the past two years. My husband wants to stay put in the same city because of not wanting to change jobs and move away from his friends and farther from his family. I have been trying to talk him into moving closer to my mom’s side of the family about an hour and a half away. Our 2-year-old would be able to grow up with all his little cousins and family. Unfortunately, where we are now, we cannot afford a home on our own so he would move in one of his friends to split rent, which I would rather not do. However, if we moved closer to my mom’s side, it’s cheaper to live so we could afford it without a roommate. What do I do? — Ready To Move

 
You need to make the deal too enticing to pass up. Rather than hypotheticals (“We could afford our own place!”), you need to find actual homes you could afford without taking in a roommate. You need to find potential jobs your husband could apply for that would pay enough to cover your bills. And you need to describe, in as much detail, what you imagine your life would be like in this town, in ways that seem better than your life currently is. Would living in the same town as your family provide some childcare that you maybe don’t have now, and would that child care allow you to work part-time, or perhaps enjoy some date nights that you aren’t able to afford currently? Would you be willing to take care of our child on your own for a weekend every so often so your husband could still go visit his friends, and maybe even have guy getaways with them? Basically: you need to show your husband how much better not only your and your son’s life would be, but his life as well. Give him details, paint the picture of your future, and make it a deal he can’t refuse.

We adopted our 4-year-old granddaughter who has lived with us since birth due to having drug-addicted parents. Our son, the bio dad, feels he should be allowed to visit any time and for as long as he wants, and it’s causing chaos, stress, and resentment; we are walking on eggshells in our home. We feel guilty because he is physically ill with HIV, Hep C, and COPD. He has never provided anything for our child, yet thinks he should be involved in parenting, which is impossible because he has dementia from drug use and extreme ADHD. Please help us do what’s right. — Loving Grandparents

 
You should definitely check with a family attorney about the legal issues of your question, but as for the ethical issues, your top priority should be your 4-year-old (grand)daughter whom you’ve adopted and agreed to care for as your own child. Does it benefit her to have her dad show up any time and in any physical and emotional state? Probably not. I would establish some clear boundaries and rules for visitation — a day or days of the week — when he is invited to spend time with your granddaughter, provided he’s sober. You reserve the right to turn him away if he’s high or drunk or in any way belligerent or obviously not fit to be in a child’s presence. Set a time limit, and decide if you and/or your spouse want/need to be present for these visitations. Consider drawing up a legally-binding visitation guide and having your son sign it. He may give you shit about it and you may feel guilty, but, ultimately, you’ll be doing everything you can to protect your granddaughter while also providing as much opportunity for her to know her father in a safe and restricted environment. When it doesn’t seem safe, you say no, and you have no reason to feel guilty about protecting your granddaughter.

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

Follow along on Facebook, and Instagram.

If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

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

Follow along on Facebook, and Instagram.

If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

19 comments… add one
  • meadowphoenix

    meadowphoenix March 28, 2017, 9:47 am

    but then one day I brought her over to his house so they could get used to each other
    I get the feeling you didn’t tell him you were bringing her over, or that this is what the visit was for. If that’s the case: surprise!bonding is never a good idea. Your bf should still be able to be gracious with your daughter, and it’s telling that he couldn’t even be nice to her, but bringing your kid around should be a discussion too.

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    • meadowphoenix

      meadowphoenix March 28, 2017, 9:48 am

      *sigh* html fail.

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      Steph March 28, 2017, 10:07 am

      I sort of agree and felt like it was a huge surprise to him. I think if you’re going to have them interact and get to know each other, do it on neutral terms. Not in his house in a place she isn’t used to. Go to a park or anything kid friendly where her true personality will show. It’s hard to interact with kids you don’t know when they are shy and quiet.

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    • avatar

      wobster109 March 29, 2017, 9:27 am

      That was how I read it too. LW, no surprise visits! Some people like to prepare before meeting a kid, such as asking what the kid enjoys, whether the kid has any allergies, and kid-proofing their house. I know if a kid surprise-appeared at my apartment, I’d be very tense the whole time. Instead be up front and say “hey I’d like you to meet my kid so let’s all go for ice cream” or something.

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  • avatar

    artsygirl March 28, 2017, 10:47 am

    LW1 – You need to speak clearly with your BF regarding his intentions towards your daughter. Does he plan to help co-parent your child after you marry? Does he expect to treat her the same as his bio children? Basically if he wants to be with you but resents your daughter’s presence in your lives then you need to walk away.

    LW2 – Agree 100% with Wendy. Also is your husband’s friend aware of the ramifications of sharing a space with a two year old? If he is a single guy with no children, he is likely in for a shock regarding noise, mess, and overall disruption that only a small person can cause.

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  • avatar

    dinoceros March 28, 2017, 11:03 am

    LW1: I think if he’s expressed not wanting to get to know your daughter, you should not force him to. But I think you deserve elaboration as to why he is uncomfortable. Maybe he isn’t as serious about the relationship and doesn’t want to create an attachment? However, I don’t really assume that the visit was a surprise. That would be kind of bizarre.

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  • FireStar

    Firestar March 28, 2017, 11:48 am

    You need to ask why he doesn’t want your daughter as part of your relationship while at the same time wanting to marry you. Those two things are at complete odds. There is a difference between delaying a meeting and avoiding one. Delaying your partner meet your child is sound judgement. Avoiding spending time with a partner’s child is a problem. If he truly loved you – all of you – you as a mother you – then he should want a relationship with your child, not seek to avoid her. For her sake, ask him to clarify exactly what your future relationship will look like because your first duty is to your child and not to subject her to anyone’s resentment or indifference or attitude about her existence. At the first sign of any behaviour damaging to your kid, leave. You can love someone and not be right for them and they not be right for you.

    Grandma and Grandpa – that 4 year old is your daughter now and your first loyalty has to be to her. Your son may feel he should be entitled to see her or voice his opinion or show up or leave or whatever the hell else he feels but his feelings are not your business. Your daughter’s welfare is your business. Put rules in place to protect her and give you peace of mind. The right thing to do for both your son and your grandchild is to have firm boundaries in place and to enforce them.

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  • avatar

    Stillrunning March 28, 2017, 11:49 am

    LW1- you’ve been dating for 8 months, are talking about marriage and kids and he can’t deal with a surprise visit from your little girl?
    He may like talking about future kids, but it’s a big red flag that he has trouble accepting your daughter. And of course you shouldn’t feel like you have to keep her at a distance. You may love this guy, but your first allegiance is to your child.

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  • avatar

    findingtheearth March 28, 2017, 12:35 pm

    LW 1: How long will you let your boyfriend push your daughter away? Will you keep making excuses or allow him to make excuses. She is part of your package and he has to be on board with that. And should be on board with it before you make wedding plans.

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  • avatar

    Ron March 28, 2017, 2:18 pm

    It sounds like he was expecting LW to come to his place, but not with daughter. I think LW is just someone he’s interested in for sex and has no long-term intentions. He likely has nothing against the daughter, other than her appearance meaning that LW thought relationship was far more serious than he wanted it to be and that the daughter’s presence meant he wasn’t going to get to bang LW on this particular visit.

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    • avatar

      Stillrunning March 28, 2017, 7:30 pm

      I think you’re right. His evasiveness tells me he didn’t want to admit the truth, that he’s only into her for the fun times which doesn’t include raising her child.

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  • avatar

    LisforLeslie March 28, 2017, 2:30 pm

    My mom dated a guy, a nice Jewish doctor, who adored her, but tolerated me. She broke up with him and married a guy who also adored her but also understood that mom and I were a package deal. He treated me like a daughter from the first time we met as did his parents and other relatives. I was never “other” I was family.

    Your daughter deserves the same.

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  • avatar

    Northern Star March 28, 2017, 3:34 pm

    Looking for man enough: You have not found man enough. Dump him and move on. He’s talking out of both sides of his mouth: you can’t want your girlfriend’s daughter to stay out of your relationship while also saying you have no issues with her. Move on.

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  • avatar

    carolann March 28, 2017, 3:39 pm

    His reaction to your daughter makes me question his maturity level. I see it as a huge red flag, Whether he was expecting to see the child or not, he should have been mature enough to understand that she is only 2. I have a 2 year old, that is how they act around people they aren’t used to. He needs to GTFU.
    And the “I don’t want to break up with him because I love him” thing is sweet, but love isn’t everything and in my opinion you may a bit dazzled by the prospect of marriage. So many woman are in such a hurry to get a man to marry them that they ignore obvious warning signs. This is one of them. A big one.

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  • avatar

    Ron March 29, 2017, 9:05 am

    The continuing anger at your grandfather may be a helpful cathartic part of grieving the loss of your grandmother — it gives you someone to blame for the premature loss of the woman you most loved. This is sort of like the reaction that families of murder victims feel when the murderer is identified, arrested, convicted, and sometimes executed. Reading their statements reveals a surprising amount of closure and satisfaction at these points.

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  • avatar

    Ron March 29, 2017, 9:06 am

    No idea how that comment posted into this thread.

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  • avatar

    Lele April 2, 2017, 11:03 am

    Stop trying to force your child on a man who didn’t create her. I’m sure her biological father is a POS. It stop stop stop trying to get men to love yourubdaughter kust cause they’re having sex with you. Get it? They want to have sex Not play daddy.. what is it with women like this? How bout u stop focusing of penis n go raise your child? Teach her things, not how to hunt for a daddy. Maybe if u had been more secure in your relationship lime get married or actually know the man who impregnated you wouldn’t be a desperate baby mama with a two year old looking for a man to play a role that he has zero obligation to take on… ever think about that? What’s love got to do with it.

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  • avatar

    Sara Stéfany P. Santos June 8, 2017, 6:49 pm

    Dear Looking For Man Enough,
    Yes, you have to try to insert your daughter into the relationship again. Because if you are talking about a future together, your daughter is embedded in it. You should put your daughter first, regardless of whether you love him or not. If your boyfriend really loves you, he will make an effort to get along with your daughter since she is only a 2 year old … Try to do more family programs, such as going to the park or going to the mall , Look for alternative ways to bring your daughter into your relationship without “scaring” your boyfriend, and make him understand that your daughter is part of the package. I think you’re very clear about who to choose if you have to choose between your daughter and your relationship, and I totally agree with you. There is nothing more important in life than your daughter !!!
    Good Luck and Be Happy !!
    Ass: Sara Stéfany

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  • avatar

    Sara Stéfany P. Santos June 21, 2017, 6:06 pm

    Dear Looking For Man Enough,
    Yes, you have to try to insert your daughter into the relationship again. Because if you are talking about a future together, your daughter is embedded in it. You should put your daughter first, regardless of whether you love him or not. If your boyfriend really loves you, he will make an effort to get along with your daughter since she is only a 2 year old … Try to do more family programs, such as going to the park or going to the mall , Look for alternative ways to bring your daughter into your relationship without “scaring” your boyfriend, and make him understand that your daughter is part of the package. I think you’re very clear about who to choose if you have to choose between your daughter and your relationship, and I totally agree with you. There is nothing more important in life than your daughter !!!
    Good Luck and Be Happy !!

    Cheer Sara Stéfany

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