I am a single parent of an 11-year-old boy with Downs. His father is not very involved and has been pretty much a huge disappointment in my son’s life for years. He does not pay child support and has never really had a job. I am seriously intent on making the move with my new boyfriend to New Jersey in about 10 months. We plan on getting married before we move and will be buying a home there prior to moving.
My dilemma is this: I see my boyfriend being a wonderful father to his children and worry that he will not be able to fill that same role for my son. I have tried to talk about it, and I get reassurance; however, I just don’t see it happening as quickly as I would like it to. I know it is natural to want to move mountains for your own child but for one that is not your blood?? I am just not sure. We have discussed seeking pre-marital counseling and have that lined up. Could you offer any advice or activities to help subside these fears of mine? — Mama Bear
I wonder if part of your anxiety stems from the fact that you’ve only known this man a handful of months, and what you do know about him — that he has two daughters with two different mothers — indicates that he doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to commitment and stability. Not only that, but it sounds like his life is on the east coast and, with you all the way on the other side of the country, have you even met his family? In the few months that you’ve known him, have you had a chance to see him interact with his kids very much, if at all? How much interaction has he had with your son? Have all your kids had the opportunity to get to know each other? Have you researched job opportunities for yourself, as well as schools and their special ed programs, in the area where you plan to move with your boyfriend?
If, in the handful of months that you’ve known your boyfriend, there hasn’t been sufficient time for these things to happen, I’m sure that the anxiety you’re feeling about your boyfriend’s role in your son’s life is probably a manifestation of the anxiety you feel about your future with this man in general. Honestly, if you want to see what kind of father this man might be to your son, my advice is to SLOW DOWN. This isn’t about just you and your boyfriend. There are three children involved here, one of whom has special needs. If it seems like I have stressed the short amount of time you’ve known each other a lot already, it’s because it’s particularly significant when each of you come to the relationship with your own set of challenges (three kids, two baby mamas, a delinquent baby daddy, a kid with Down’s Syndrome, and a potential move thousands of miles away; it’s a lot).
Yes, go to pre-marital counseling. More importantly, go to counseling on your own and discuss how the lack of involvement — not to mention the lack of child support — from your son’s father is affecting your desire to speed up the process of your boyfriend becoming your son’s new dad. You met just a few months ago. It’s natural that your boyfriend wouldn’t be a father figure to your son just yet. A lot of single parents don’t even introduce their children to significant others this quickly. That’s not a judgment on you for moving a little faster, but it is a reality check. You’re moving fast already. To try to speed things up even more seems impetuous. If your boyfriend is set to move in ten months, consider moving with him only as an engaged couple into a rental home before making such big commitments like marriage and home ownership together. Give this relationship a chance to brew at a pace that gives room for the dynamics of a family of five to settle into place, and for your boyfriend to SHOW you how he’ll be your son’s father, rather than just telling you.
*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org and be sure to follow me on Twitter and ‘like’ me on Facebook.
Desiree July 19, 2012, 9:10 am
WWS. Parenting a special needs kid is a major commitment, and it sounds like the LW hasn’t even had a chance to see her boyfriend as a parent to his own kids yet. Too much too soon! LW, take the time to determine (with observation and evidence) if you and your boyfriend can properly meld your lives in a way that’s good for the kids involved BEFORE you decide to marry. I suspect your anxiety stems from the fact that you haven’t done this yet.
Budj July 19, 2012, 9:15 am
Yes, too much too soon – I agree. Foster this relationship a little longer – see him hands on with your son and go visit him in his environment before you make any huge moving decisions.
As far as the “non-blood” concern. I can’t speak for everyone, but if I really cared about a woman and I was ready for children and the children were hers I wouldn’t treat them any differently than I would my own. Obviously age has a lot to do with the type of bond formed between a “step-parent” and an s/o’s progeny, but I think the whole point of getting married is to combine the family? So to treat your son differently would kind of not be in the spirit of the idea of marriage.
Budj July 19, 2012, 9:29 am
after reading Muffy’s statement I want to open up the “if the children were hers” statement to include more than just blood offspring – adopted kids would be in the same boat – whoever she is “legal guardian” of, etc.
call-me-hobo July 19, 2012, 11:14 am
My mother was adopted after her parents were killed, and her adoptive parents always treated her with the same love and care that they did their bio-children. It’s definitely possible!
Muffy July 19, 2012, 9:22 am
As far as the non-blood thing goes I think it’s possible to love someone just as much even if they aren’t blood. Look at adopted kids. My father adopted four of us after our biological father just left, and him and my mom had another kid and now I have a sister (technically a half sister) and I love her just as much as my other siblings (she’s still quite young-10). In fact, I don’t even think of her as my half sister -I actually had to go back and re-write that sentence. And I don’t think about my dad as not my “real dad”. And we are his kids through and through – we have never received different treatment. So it does happen – depending on what kind of person he is.
Only you know the answer to what kind of father your boyfriend will be. And if you want him to adopt your son you should let him know that sooner rather than later.
rangerchic July 19, 2012, 10:18 am
I agree – My husband adopted my daughter after we were married. She was 3 when he adopted her. We went on to have another child together and he treats them the same. Even my in-laws treat them the same. But it still took time for him to get to know her – and more than a few months.
I think the LW does need to fly out and meet his children. Spend a few days with his family and see the interactions. See if she is comfortable there. There is no need to rush! Plus if he moved to the West coast for a job – is he going to have one back on the East coast? Are their job opportunities for her as well? There is a lot to consider.
ktfran July 19, 2012, 10:36 am
It’s not quite the same, but I adore my two nieces. I would do anything for them. And I love them as if they were my own. I honestly feel both their happiness and sadness. Like when my the six year old talks about the mean girls in school – yes it happens early – all I want to do is protect her.
I guess what I’m agreeing with is that you can feel unconditional love for a child that isn’t yours.
GatorGirl July 19, 2012, 10:42 am
I think it really really depends on the situation (as far as treating spouses kids differently). I was 8 when my mom and step-dad married and I’ve never thought of him as a parent. He has always been my mom’s husband to me. We have a positive relationship but I don’t have that same connection I do with my mom. I think the LW’s sons case could be similar.
lets_be_honest July 19, 2012, 10:50 am
Is your bio-dad in your life? (if you don’t mind me askign)
GatorGirl July 19, 2012, 11:00 am
Nope. Haven’t seen or spoke to the guy in almost 20 years. And I have no desire to. One of my earliest memories is visiting him in jail (due to the fact he had killed someone) when I was about 5. He sucks.
lets_be_honest July 19, 2012, 11:05 am
I asked because I guess I assumed that kids who have only one bio-parent may tend to be closer to their stepparents.
GatorGirl July 19, 2012, 11:07 am
Yeah, I don’t know if I’m an exception to the rule or the norm but I don’t think the LW can expect this dude to come in in 7 months and replace an absentee father. I don’t think I”m missing anything by not having a “father-daughter” relationship in my life and it’s very possible the LW’s son isn’t missing anything either.
jlyfsh July 19, 2012, 11:13 am
I feel the same way, I’m not missing out by not having a father-daughter relationship either. Although I think this is because I have an awesome Uncle and Grandfather who filled those roles.
lets_be_honest July 19, 2012, 11:13 am
Yea, I think its WAY MORE the mom needing a partner than the child wanting one.
I would’ve thought you were the exception, for two reasons: you were pretty young when your stepdad came into your life (I would’ve thought the younger the kid, the closer the stepparent relationship) and the fact that you didn’t really have a bio-dad. Its pretty surprising to me actually. Totally agree on the not missing out thing. If you have one great parent, you are set, in my very biased opinion.
CatsMeow July 19, 2012, 10:59 am
I’m the same way with my stepparents. They’re just my parents’ new spouses. Of course, i was 13 when my parents got divorced, so I was older when the steps came into my life.
But when people call my stepdad my dad, I get pissed. And when my stepsister “accidentally” called my dad “dad” I wanted to smack her.
Miss V July 20, 2012, 12:41 am
My step monster completely blew me off when my awesome Dad died in an accident- once she made sure she got my sibs and I to sign off on her house (which was never an issue with us to begin with). Apparently she wanted more insurance money, & seemed excited that it was doubled (car crash, not heart attack “it’s better this way,” she comforted me as I cried while reading the autopsy report, thinking he may have suffered. “It’s double the insurance money!” I showed class by not slapping her silly (well actually it was more shock, & I was a naive 21 year old who had to learn how evil people can be).
My mom died when I was 7 and this douche was in my life longer than my awesome Mom. For some reason she lied and said I was 1 of her beneficiaries too (I sooo did not ask & would’ve assumed I wasn’t, did not care about all that) and yet, when she died, I wasn’t. So in some cases, some people are conditional w their love. Their true colors often don’t come out, either, until you live with them for a while.
LW please consider WWS about not rushing into legal entanglements so quickly, give a practice run (rent, long engagement) for at least a year, until the honeymoon period runs out. Test his mettle, see how he handles things under pressure, & most importantly, how well he handles your son day in & day out, make DAMN sure he is UNCONDITIONAL in his love, on good days and bad! God forbid anything were to happen to you, that’s who is there for your son.
Trust me when I tell you I completely relate to your wanting a father figure for your son. My dad wanted a mother figure to continue on the great job my Mom was doing, and I wanted even more for my Dad to not be sad and lonely and to remarry…we used to sadly joke about being “careful what you wish for” once it was said and done and her true cold, colors came out.
Take your time so you’ll do it right. Good luck!
6napkinburger July 19, 2012, 1:22 pm
Disclaimer: I’ve had almost no experience with this sort of thing.
I would think that GENERALLY there would be a difference between adopted children and step-children, in terms of the parental bond. I don’t think that the people who have written about the distance between them and their step-parents were formally adopted (which I think is a good thing). But by choosing to adopt a child, rather than just love and care for him/her as a good step-parent, one is taking on a different, more “bloodlike” role.
None of that is to say that step-parents don’t love their stepchildren or that if they don’t adopt, that means they don’t love them like their own. For one, if there is the “real” parent actively involved in the child’s life, adoption isn’t an option for that family. (E.g. mom remarries step-dad, but dad is around and loving, pays child support, splits driving obligations, etc. Step-dad may be the best parent in the world and considers the kids his own, but he can’t adopt them because they already legally have a dad in the picture.)
I just mean that the choice to adopt is not the same as the decision to marry a person with a child and it likely means something to the step-parent and the child, above and beyond what step-parenting typically conveys. It is the decision to make someone your “real” child.
lets_be_honest July 19, 2012, 1:32 pm
I think (or at least hope) that anyone marrying someone with kids realizes that they are marrying a family, not just a woman who happens to have kids. With that in mind, I disagree with your idea that one is a more significant choice than the other (adopting v stepparenting). Of course, there will always be exceptions to everything.
Skyblossom July 19, 2012, 3:19 pm
Adopting is more significant because the adoptive parent becomes a legal parent with rights and obligations while the stepparent doesn’t have the same legal status.
EscapeHatches July 20, 2012, 7:56 pm
As a stepparent, stepparents have –no– legal status. Per the courts, I cannot even ‘babysit’ my own stepson without having to provide his mother first right of refusal.
6napkinburger July 19, 2012, 3:36 pm
Really? No difference? I would understand if a single mother wouldn’t marry someone unless that person was also going to adopt her child. But there are significant differences
First of all, in most stepchildren cases, there is another parent who exists. In fact, it seems most stepparents need to remember and most children need to be assured that daddy’s new wife is not trying to replacing your mommy. So if she came in thinking that she was now in the role of the child’s mother, that’d be detrimental to the family, not beneficial.
You can realize that you are marrying into a family without wanting to adopt the child. You can marry someone and not want them to adopt your child due to all that means for power of attorney, inheritances, childrearing after death of parent, etc. You may not be willing to consider your new partner a true equal in all parenting decisions at first — you’ve been raising the child for x years and it takes a while to not only value and trust their advice but to value and trust their advice without override power. Ypu may not want to HAVE full responsibility for the child without oversight because you have no idea what you’re doing and don’t feel comfortable making those decisions.
Considering the child truly “MINE/OURS” instead of “HERS/HIS'” would seem to me to be a huge step. But that doesn’t mean that considering a child “hers/his” doesn’t mean that you are disclaiming the child. It just means that you haven’t established enough of a relationship to take full ownership of every aspect of the child’s life, which the “real” parent has. Sure, some people wait until the relationship gets to that point before they get married. But that isn’t necessary to be a good parent — it’s allowed to happen during the marriage, while being a step-parent. I know of many families where the single parent married someone and several years later, that person adopted the child. True parental relationships are not formed instantly and I think the decision to formally go from one step to another is a big one.
No one should be so niave or oblivious to the needs of a child that they don’t realize they are marrying a family. But it IS fair to marry a family and join as a STEPparent rather than a full parent from the get-go. It isn’t an insult to stepparents to say that the role is/can be different than “full” parents.
katie July 19, 2012, 9:33 am
WWS. seriously. read it, read it again, go take a coffee break, and then read it and take some notes.
jlyfsh July 19, 2012, 9:33 am
LW I definitely urge to really listen to Wendy’s advice. Even though it might not feel like you’re moving quickly, you are, especially since there are children involved. The step parent-child relationship has to be developed and fostered just like your romantic relationship. It takes times. Does your bf love your son like one of his own after 7 months? I’m going to say no. And I don’t think there is anything wrong with that, it takes time.
I would also pay special attention to the ways you help them develop a relationship. Because your son is special needs I’m going to guess getting to know him is a little different. You’ve been his parent for 11 years, you know him in ways no one else can. Help the two of them get to know one another.
And like Wendy said again push the brakes a little. Take a step back and let your bf know that you love him and want a future with him but want to make sure you have a solid foundation as a family before making the steps of marriage and buying a house across the country.
lets_be_honest July 19, 2012, 9:39 am
And this is why I love DW. Great advice Wendy.
tbrucemom July 19, 2012, 9:45 am
I agree with Wendy but I have to make a comment that’s going to sound cynical. Even though I do believe that you can love a stepchild and treat them equally, the fact of the matter is that there is a difference. The difference is if the couple breaks up, they’ll probably never see each other again as there are no legally binding ties. Of course it depends a lot on the age of the children and if they’re old enough to continue the relationship without the parents involvement. Being a single mom and having been in a relationship for 3 years, it’s my biggest fear that my daughter, who’s 17 and has gotten very close to my BF, will be broken hearted if we ever broke up. I think it would be even worse for a younger child who wouldn’t be able to understand completely. I’m not saying that single moms shouldn’t be happy, remarry, etc., but PLEASE be careful about forming a union with a man that you’ve known so briefly.
lets_be_honest July 19, 2012, 9:52 am
There doesn’t have to be legally binding ties if the two adults behave as such and the stepparent truly wants to continue being close to their stepchild. If they are as close as you suggest they can be, I really believe that’s more than possible.
I know (granted, I’m an adult now) but I would remain close with my stepparents had their relationships with my parents not lasted. But as an example for the younger kids, I have dated my SO for many years, we went through a rough patch once but he still saw my daughter on a weekly basis, similar to divorced parents.
FireStar July 19, 2012, 10:03 am
The more I hear about him – the more I like your boyfriend. Your daughter is lucky her mom has great taste in men.
lets_be_honest July 19, 2012, 10:19 am
quixoticbeatnik July 19, 2012, 10:13 am
This is true. My best friend is still close to her step-mom, who her dad was married to for most of her life. They had a nasty breakup, but they still talk, and she’ll see her if she goes to visit New York City for family reasons. In many ways, when we were growing up, she was actually closer to her step-mom than her actual mom.
Christy July 19, 2012, 10:11 am
This is so true! I got close with my mom’s first BF after her separation from my dad. When they broke up (after about two years, when I was maybe 13) I took it hard. She dated a few other guys and then she married husband #2. It took me a while, but I grew to like him. Then when they divorced, I took it hard too–I didn’t even tell my friends about it, because they’d only been married for about a year. After husband #2, I stopped trying to like the men she dated. (It also helped that I went off to college so I didn’t have to see them.) Husband #3 came and went with me going from tolerating his presence to near-loathing.
I’ve really started to see my mom’s men as hers, with very little impact on my life. She’ll likely break up with whomever she’s dating, so I don’t bother getting attached anymore. OTOH, my dad seriously dated 3 women post-divorce from my mother. The first one, I was ambivalent about. The second, I was fond of, but she never spent the night while we were at my dad’s (she was a school psychologist and didn’t think it was a good idea–she was right in our case) so I didn’t really get too close to her. I liked her. She was really good with kids (this was in my middle school years). Then the third one, his current wife, I didn’t like at first, but I’ve grown increasingly fond of her. I still call her Ms. Firstname, but that’s mostly habit. They’ve been together for 10.5 years now and got married a little over two years ago. That’s a relationship I’ve grown to trust.
lets_be_honest July 19, 2012, 10:26 am
Learning new things about Christy!
Christy July 19, 2012, 1:01 pm
Hahaha, I know! Telling all the tales on the internet.
GatorGirl July 19, 2012, 10:47 am
I think you have a great point. My fiance’s mom married her second husband very soon after divorcing their father. His mom and husband #2 were married for about 5 years and my fiance and his sister never saw the man again after they divorced (which was when they were in high school). I think it is risky to marry someone so fast when you have a child. A special needs child could make this all even more complicated.
bethany July 19, 2012, 10:00 am
Seriously, do that. Exactly.
lets_be_honest July 19, 2012, 10:29 am
I feel a little uncomfortable knowing you’re a real person and not a cat with a pirate hat.
call-me-hobo July 19, 2012, 11:11 am
I feel a little uncomfortable not seeing your porcupine and balloon love picture. It makes it hard for me to search for your responses.
lets_be_honest July 19, 2012, 11:15 am
Oh I didn’t even notice! But I must say I am very flattered you searched for me!
lets_be_honest July 19, 2012, 11:16 am
How do I fix this guys??
bethany July 19, 2012, 11:35 am
I think you go to that gravatar website… THat’s how I changed mine.
FireStar July 19, 2012, 1:31 pm
Yeah – you need to fix it – it’s starting to freak me out…it’s like we don’t know you anymore…
lets_be_honest July 19, 2012, 1:33 pm
lets_be_honest July 19, 2012, 1:34 pm
weird, i had to log in to the forum
FireStar July 19, 2012, 1:51 pm
all good. that little porcupine is practically the mascot for a lot of the LWs…
bethany July 19, 2012, 11:34 am
Hahaha!! Should I change it back?? He is a very cute cat 🙂
*HmC* July 19, 2012, 10:03 am
Wendy’s advice is really great, I think she hit the nail on the head as far as why the LW might have reservations- she should have reservations! It’s only been a few months since she even met the guy! It makes sense that she can’t 100% see him as the father of her child yet. Relationships like that have to grow organically, no amount of reassurance is going to guarantee the stability of a relationship. Stability grows through time and actions that prove someone’s feelings, not lip service anyway.
But I’d have one caveat to Wendy’s advice. Personally, I am against co-habitation prior to marriage, not for religious reasons, but for practical ones. Especially if you are bringing kids into the situation. It’s a choice I make for myself, not a judgment of others (or I’d be judging pretty much everyone!) and I know it works for many, but honestly, I do think people tend to rush into it for the wrong reasons which leads to a lot of unhappy relationships/marriages. So while I do admire that this LW and her boyfriend are willing to commit to marriage first, I’d urge them to simply try living in the same city for a while, not in the same house, and not engaged. Wendy recommends that you co-habitate as an engaged couple, and I’d say even that is too fast, and also I recognize that you may want to be married before living together and I think that’s ok. Though, this may all be falling on deaf ears, because this LW seems to want a new father for her kid yesterday!
Cool your jets LW. If he is the right guy, he will be even more right a year from now (or more!). If he isn’t, well, you don’t want to be stuck with Mr. Wrong do you?
BeckyGrace July 19, 2012, 10:23 am
Interesting point of view on the living together before married. I’ve had the exact opposite feelings and experiences. I am so thankful that I’ve lived with people before marriage because a LOT of truth came out once we moved in. I realize it can be very different with kids involved however, my opinion, you don’t know someone for real until you live with them and their guard comes down and you can truly see how they are. My friend didn’t… and he had been hiding a lot from her that she discovered AFTER they were married and living together. But overall I agree the LW needs to just slow down. If he is as good of a guy as she thinks he is he will respect her more for it.
lets_be_honest July 19, 2012, 10:33 am
I’m curious what your reasons are for being against it. I agree that some people rush it, but I think if done properly, it can work out for the best.
*HmC* July 19, 2012, 10:46 am
Ah, well I have a lot of thoughts on the matter that I feel more comfortable expressing through a conversation, but I’ll lay out the basics. First, I think I’d have to be very naive to deny that it does work out well for many people. A lot of people grow up now with certain values where it is totally ok, and if done in a certain way, it can certainly work out well. But in my experience, a lot of people do it as more of a hormonal rush to be around someone because it feels good, than part of a deliberate, intelligent plan to do what is the most healthy thing for their relationship and life. And I understand that drive, I’ve been in love before! But I don’t think the best, healthiest lives are the result of people constantly getting everything they want every moment that they want it. I believe (and I understand that some people don’t) the research that shows that, even accounting for religious/moral reasons, people that co-habitate are more likely to divorce. That is, even accounting for the fact that many people that wouldn’t co-habitate don’t see divorce as an option (ie. right wing Christians), even accounting for that, there are theories that people that co-habitate are less likely to break up when they should, and are more likely to get married when they shouldn’t, just because it’s easier than breaking up a household. It’s called the sliding effect, as in, people slide into living together because it’s easy, then slide into marriage because it’s the easiest option, then suddenly find themselves in an unhappy marriage.
This is a good piece explaining, basically, my view:
I like this piece because it accepts that co-habitation is a reality now and there are ways to mitigate the negative effects if you are aware of them.
For me, I don’t personally believe you have to live with someone to actually know them (as BeckyGrace said above, which is an opinion a lot of people have). I enjoy having my own space, and to me, a marriage is a commitment to build a life with someone. If I’m not ready for that, then I’m not ready to live with someone.
GatorGirl July 19, 2012, 10:55 am
I’m curious as to why you’re against living together when you’re engaged. In my opinion, when my fiance and I became engaged we were committing to build a life together (going off your quote above). Generally speaking I do agree that people live together too soon and too often, but in my opinion if you’ve got a deposit down on your wedding reception by all means live together.
But people also rush into marraige so…
And children complicate the situation by like a million times.
*HmC* July 19, 2012, 10:58 am
Well, I’d say I’m less against it once you’re seriously engaged since most of what I talked about above would apply to being engaged (although, the way some people get engaged nowadays, where they basically just call themselves engaged but aren’t planning a wedding, I’d be more weary). For me personally, if I’m going to wait for that commitment, I’d prefer to just wait until after the wedding. But if we were planning a wedding and some kind of lease issue came up or something, I’d be somewhat open to it. Context always matters!
GatorGirl July 19, 2012, 11:04 am
I was just wondering. My fiance and I had planned on waiting to live together until after we were married or just before depending on leases- but I had to unexpectly move out of my apartment in the middle of the night so we live together now. I’m glad that we do- I really enjoy living with him and sharing my life with him. And we’d already be married but we had to have a longer engagement then anticipated due to family scheduling conflicts (3 wedding in 12 months on his side alone).
Painted lady July 19, 2012, 12:36 pm
*HmC*, I think you mean you get wary when people get engaged and don’t plan a wedding. I hate being that asshole, but so be it.
Although if it’s making you really weary – as in tired – that people get engaged and want people to fawn all over them and throw parties and start speaking in tongues and weeping with joy that they’re engaged, and then they milk it for a year before even beginning planning so then everyone can start freaking the hell out again…well, that makes me really tired, too. (Also, if you’re reading this and you had a really long engagement pre-planning for very good reasons, I’m not talking about you!!!)
Either way, I totally respect that view of cohabitation. My boyfriend and I actually talked about that quite a bit before we moved in together, and we did already know we eventually plan on getting married. Bottom line for me was, I couldn’t see myself agreeing to marry anyone I didn’t know I could live with. I’m really weird about my own space and needing lots of alone time and quiet and freedom, so the thought of marrying someone, or even agreeing to marry someone, without knowing if living with them wouldn’t make me crazy, absolutely terrified me. So conventional wisdom aside, even though my boyfriend had some reservations similar to yours, we weren’t agreeing to anything permanent before I knew I wouldn’t want to kill him after living with him for a month.
*HmC* July 19, 2012, 1:10 pm
Christy July 19, 2012, 1:11 pm
How has it gone, moving in together? Also does your housing accommodate those needs of yours? Like are you in a 1-BR apartment together?
painted_lady July 19, 2012, 1:19 pm
It’s actually gone really well – and we even did the thing you’re not supposed to do and went straight from long distance to living together. He and I have pretty opposite work schedules, so I have a lot of time to myself. And also, he’s really respectful of my need for a lot of breathing room. We haven’t had any major fights or anything. Then again, we were best friends for 12 years before we dated, so there weren’t a lot of surprises on either end.
lets_be_honest July 19, 2012, 10:56 am
I don’t think the best, healthiest lives are the result of people constantly getting everything they want every moment that they want it.
SO TRUE. I agree with a lot of what your saying actually. And I like that you basically say you are committing to building your life together, challenges of moving in together after marriage and all. Its very nice. I was raised being told that living together before marriage was a big no-no. I’m actually the first of all my siblings to openly admit to it (rather than just doing it and wondering when Mom will find out). She supports my decision, which came after a very long time together. Her only argument is the whole Free Milk Cow thing and that its just wrong in her eyes. I can’t totally dimiss her free cow/milk thing either, since I’ve seen it happen many times where the girl wants to marry and the guy sees no reason to. Anyway, thanks for sharing.
theattack July 19, 2012, 4:57 pm
Honestly, the Free Cow argument is the only thing I don’t really get about HmC’s point. I very much respect that viewpoint, especially since it’s constructed based on what’s best for the relationship and not just what’s fun at the time. But I don’t see how couples living together “slide” into marriage, since it seems to me that most couples living together postpone marriage since they already have those cows.
MissDre July 19, 2012, 10:57 am
I feel the same way as you, as you know. However, I am perfectly open to living together before marriage as long as both parties have discussed and agreed that marriage IS their end goal. It’s the whole “let’s see where this goes” thing that I think has a lesser chance of working out.
*HmC* July 19, 2012, 10:59 am
Right! And if you read the article I posted, it talks specifically about why using co-habitation as some sort of try out is exactly what is detrimental… ironic because that is the element that so many people think is what is helping them avoid divorce.
lets_be_honest July 19, 2012, 11:03 am
But even if the couple breaks up, isn’t that exactly what the point was…to “try out” and make sure they would work well living together?
I guess you could talk in circles about this kind of thing. I do think everyone agrees that moving in together is not something anyone should rush.
*HmC* July 19, 2012, 11:19 am
I’m not saying that the “try out” idea leads to break ups. I think it leads to couples either prolonging a bad relationship, or in some cases, it creates an unhealthy dynamic in what would have been a good relationship if the couple had moved slower.
From the article I posted above:
“I am not for or against living together, but I am for young adults knowing that, far from safeguarding against divorce and unhappiness, moving in with someone can increase your chances of making a mistake — or of spending too much time on a mistake.”
lets_be_honest July 19, 2012, 11:25 am
Hmm, very good points!
lets_be_honest July 19, 2012, 11:02 am
Is that why you are against it? Because you think it lessens the chances of the couple actually getting married? Just curious.
bethany July 19, 2012, 11:39 am
I completely agree with this part of what you said: “people that co-habitate are less likely to break up when they should, and are more likely to get married when they shouldn’t”
I lived with my husband for 3 years before we got married, so obviously I support SOME people living together before the are married. We dated for 2 years before we moved in, and we started discussing moving in together about 9 months before actually doing so. I agree that many people rush it.
kate B. July 19, 2012, 12:13 pm
It’s interesting that this came up. The whole living together thing has been on my mind lately, not because I’m considering it, but because I’m wondering if I will ever able to live with another person. I like my space too, and I need a lot of alone time. The best arrangement I had was with a boyfriend who lived close to me. (10 minutes away.) We took turns spending time at each other’s places, so we had our together time, and our not-together time. We lived close, so it was easy for us. He moved out of the country and had to live with me for three days and it almost drove me nuts. My place is small, barely big enough for me let alone two people. So, I really wonder if it’s possible for me. I made a decision a while ago that I would feel most comfortable getting a new place with someone, rather than one of us moving into the other’s place. I also own my place, so giving it up would be hard. I think I would only give it up to go in on another place with someone else and that would only happen if we were married. I have no advice for the LW, but this is where my thoughts are going.
bethany July 19, 2012, 12:23 pm
I also never thought I could live with somoene… My ideal living arrangement in a marraige used to be owning a duplex where he lived on one side and I lived on the other. I felt this way for 10+ years.
My husband and I lived 4 blocks away from eachother for about a year, and that was great. We could hang out for an hour and then each go home if we wanted to… But after taking a week long vacation together (where there was nothing to do but hang out with eachother 24/7), I realized that I liked having him around all the time… You might not ever get to that point, and that’s ok. Living together isn’t for everyone!
Kate B. July 19, 2012, 12:46 pm
But I would really like to have my husband around all the time! That’s part of what a marriage means to me. Good to know there’s hope for me. Maybe if the house was big enough that I could still have my own space. This is what some friends of mine did, but it is not always financially feasible. I like your point about knowing you liked having him around all the time. Maybe this is the criteria I need to use.
Katie July 19, 2012, 3:11 pm
Honestly, I think for you, co-habitation is probably a must. The only thing is that it needs to be a step towards marriage.. That is how I view it, it’s another milestone on the road to a marriage. As in, the milestone of exclusivity. The milestone of some amount of time together, a vacation together, the popping of the question, ect… To me, living together is just one of them.
I can see the romantic-ness of not doing it, but for me, and I think especially for people like you who really value you space and time alone, it’s a total recipe for disaster if you start living with someone after the vows.
Also, a friend who just had a baby recently told me that she was absolutely not marrying the guy right now, because she just had her first baby and that’s enough of a total life changing event for her right now. She said that having a baby and getting married too close together would be too much change too soon, and I think she was really on to something there, which is another reason why I see waiting as a recipe for disaster- a huge, emotional choice like a marriage, and maybe even all the stress that comes from planning a wedding, then you pile on living with someone for the first time… That would be way, way too much for me.
Kate B. July 19, 2012, 7:05 pm
I do agree. I have felt for a while that if it happened to me, we would have to live together first, since there are so many variables.
Moneypenny July 19, 2012, 4:16 pm
I have to jump in because you reminded me of a great Katherine Hepburn quote! :
“I often wonder whether men and women really suit each other. Perhaps they should live next door and just visit now and then.”
Lili July 19, 2012, 4:28 pm
Haha YES! The older i’m getting, the less I’m liking men. But its not proportionate to my developing an attraction to women either. Sigh.
Moneypenny July 19, 2012, 10:45 pm
MsMisery July 20, 2012, 12:31 pm
Reminds me of the house that Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera had when they were married. Well, two houses connected by a little bridge. I always thought that was so cool (not that it helped their relationship!)
rilooyah July 19, 2012, 10:05 am
Reading this letter, I was like, “HUH?!?” So Im glad Wendy cleared it up in her fabulous response. I guess the only thing I have to contribute is- yes BRAKES. NOW. The one and only way you will “know” that he can be the wonderful step-parent to your son that you wish is for it to HAPPEN. And if he is a wonderful parent to his own children, I dont really get what is the problem.
I mean, reading your letter made me think he WASNT good to your son, and that is why you are worried. If that IS in fact the case, then you already have your answer, right?
Michelle.Lea July 19, 2012, 10:10 am
I agree with Wendy, slow it down. You owe it to your son to make sure this person is right for the both of you. Sit down with this guy and lay out expectations during the counseling. What you both want to see for the family. I’m assuming you’re talking about him being able to love your son, but you also will have a responsibility to his daughters as well. Can you give them as much love as you’re expecting for your son?
It is completely possible for a step-parent to love a stepchild like their own. But it’s not easy. Blended families can be wonderful, but they are work. Keep in mind that in addition to your family unit of 3, you will be working around schedules for the other 2 girls. And their moms – which is honestly the hardest part.
It can be very stressful. You both need to be on the same page, and realize that the kids are the most important thing. All pettiness needs to be left behind.
Shell July 19, 2012, 10:11 am
LW, have you ever received resources or support from the National Association for Down syndrome (NADS)? I anticipate that they may have some good resources for introducing new relationships, blending families, etc.?
SweetPeaG July 19, 2012, 10:12 am
LW, I can understand why you feel the need to move things along so fast. It is tempting. You love this guy. He makes you happy. He has told you he wants to be a part of your son’s life. He sounds wonderful! (Well, other than the two kids from two different woman… but I will give him a pass since he seems to be a great father to these children. Things happen. Who am I to judge?)
But, that doesn’t make Wendy any less correct. SLOW DOWN, as she said. If this is real, then there is no rush. Do everything you intend on doing with this guy… but just take more time to do it.
Fabelle July 19, 2012, 10:18 am
I’m glad Wendy can pick an issue (“slow down!”) to focus on & develop, because I wouldn’t even know where to start with this letter. Great advice!
LW, it seems like you want everything perfectly in place RIGHTNOW, but that can’t happen. And really, you don’t want it to– if your boyfriend was already “ready” to be your son’s dad, then something would likely be off. A bond like that takes time to create.
Bossy Italian Wife July 19, 2012, 10:33 am
I would definitely proceed with caution. While I don’t want to totally judge this guy on the fact that he has had two children with two different women and doesn’t even live on the same coast as them… I sort of do. DON’T become woman number three for god’s sake!
He might be amazing, loving, and willing to take on you and your special needs child, but in the end, you need to take it slow because the heartbreak on the horizon could be double and uprooting your life seems an incredible risk. You say that he has two children, but has he ever been married before?
My only observation (in the global sense) is that people with children (including my own mother) seem to want to get married more quickly than people without children. I can appreciate that you want stability and to set a good example, but sometimes you need to treat it like any other relationship. In other words: if there were no children in the picture would you be moving across the country and marrying him?
As for the stepparent issue, my mother remarried a man she later divorced who is still to this day my “dad.” While we did not have a perfect relationship all the time, he accepts me as his own and is more than I could have hoped, especially considering the alternative would be having no dad at all.
Hope that helps!
kate B. July 19, 2012, 12:22 pm
Yeah, the kids by two different women threw me off, too. Great point about taking the kids out of the picture when considering whether to marry the guy. Is it for her or for them?
demoiselle July 19, 2012, 12:42 pm
If he isn’t there for his first two kids, why assume he will be there for HER son–who has some extra challenges? I would be skeptical.
Sasa July 19, 2012, 10:59 am
It’s clear what you want: For your bf to become a great dad to your child. Think about how your strong desire for this to happen influences your judgment. It might be that you’re too optimistic about it working out with your bf simply because you want it to work so much. Clearly, you also have a voice inside you warning you of making the commitment you intend to make. Don’t discount that. Personally, when I was head over heels in some situation, even though I knew exactly that I was rushing things, I was only able to slow down – which is the correct advice – when I acknowledged my desires and emotions and pinpointed what exactly I was longing for. It’s OK to long for a committed relationship with someone who wants to co-parent your child. Completely OK. But you might have to accept that you can’t get that at the moment and that you’re risking too much by attempting to realize your desire immediately. Let your wish be unfulfilled for a while, and try to accept that it is unfulfilled. Maybe turn to friends and family to get some emotional support for yourself and your child from people other than your bf. If you first ground yourself and give it some time, you’ll almost surely be rewarded with a better outcome.
MMcG July 19, 2012, 11:12 am
I second WWS and third some of the great advice above…
I would only add that as a mother of a child with Downs living on the west coast that you likely have a lot of resources available to you that have hopefully been assisting your child since they were an infant (a dear friend is living in Cali and has a special needs child, that baby was in various physical and occupational therapies from the very beginning and now is really advanced and practically capable of mainstreaming before entering elementary school)… please before you move or do anything speak to your child’s doctors and counselors about the move and what services you need to have in place. New Jersey has a lot of advanced progressive intervention programs, but you would want to make sure before any move that all of the preliminary steps and checks have been taken and the impact on your child’s development should be as seemless as possible.
A boyfriend of less than a year is not worth derailing whatever routine your child has in place, without serious investigation on to its impacts and how you could best mitigate them in advance.
bethany July 19, 2012, 11:42 am
Thank you for bringing this up- It’s something that I certainly didn’t think about when I read the letter, but it’s really, really important!!
Lindsay July 19, 2012, 11:20 am
I feel like this is a question that shouldn’t have to be asked. If there’s been ample time for your boyfriend to bond with your son, then you should be able to determine if that’s happened. If not, then it’s too soon to tell. It sounds like you’re anxious to give your son a dad, which is understandable, but any dad is not better than no dad. You absolutely don’t want to regret this decision, and you don’t want to have to go back on it. Picking up and moving across the country for a man is risky for a single lady, but for a mom, this man had better be the holy grail of men or it’s not worth it.
As for whether, at some point, he or anyone can treat your son as their own: You’ll have to wait and see. It’s something you won’t know until you see it. Some stepparents love the new kids as their own, and some love them the best they can, which you’ll have to decide whether it’s good enough. You talk about this and his potential for fatherhood as though it’s something abstract that you can’t know about until it actually happens, and that is not the case at all. Ideally, he should basically BE your son’s dad before you make it official.
landygirl July 19, 2012, 11:21 am
I’m waiting for BGM’s response to this.
lets_be_honest July 19, 2012, 11:27 am
Don’t encourage him. 😉
bittergaymark July 19, 2012, 3:06 pm
It’s now posted. 😉
Anna July 19, 2012, 11:29 am
I agree with Wendy that you are moving far too fast here in wanting your boyfriend to become your son’s dad. He may be ready for that someday but you’ve only known him for about 6 months tops. Slow down and feel this relationship out more first, for the sake of you and your son. You wouldn’t want to hurriedly throw together a family with this man, learn later that he wasn’t what you thought he was, and then have to leave him when your son is old enough to know and miss him.
I do want to add that it is definitely possible for this kind of thing to happen seamlessly. I didn’t know until I was about 12 or so that my oldest sister is actually my half sister. My mom had her by her abusive ex before she met my dad. When she met my dad, my dad adopted her as his own and she’s always called him dad. I don’t think she’s ever met her biological dad. It was a big family secret that no one wanted us to know for the longest time because it was always drilled into our heads that you never ever have sex before marriage. They had to tell me when I was looking at pictures of my parents from the 70’s right after their wedding and saw that my sister was in many of them as a toddler. I started asking questions and found out the dirty little secret my mom was so ashamed of. But I don’t know why she was so ashamed when she did the right thing by leaving her abusive ex and finding a good guy to marry.
Will.i.am July 19, 2012, 11:36 am
One MAJOR problem I have. You mention nothing about how he treats you. I took the letter as a way to make this man your son’s father, since your son’s biological father, is not very involved. I don’t like those reasons to get married, because there’s a child involved, who’s feelings can easily get hurt.
Only been with the guy 6 or 7 months, I’d think it’s a little soon to pick up and move, since he has ALL THE CONTROL and you don’t really have any. If that’s what you want to do, than so be it, but take A BIT more time before you move to NJ on a whim!
mirage14 July 19, 2012, 11:49 am
This seems to be a wide spread issue that I’ve read about a lot here on Dear Wendy, and my answer is always the same.
Please make sure that your boyfriend is the absolute best person to be your son’s step-parent. If you have any reservations, concerns, fears, its best to address them now and not 3 years down the road when you are married and are stuck in a situation where you feel like your son doesn’t have the father figure he deserves.
It seems like he is dedicated to his children by wanting to move back to the East Coast and I think that is great, but it also seems like you haven’t been with him long enough to really know if it is the right guy for you and for your son, particularly because your son basically doesn’t have his biological father in his life.
Your concerns are a good reason to perhaps pull back a bit and take things more slowly. Your son deserves the best father figure out there, and while you may be happy in this relationship, remember its not just a relationship between you and your boyfriend, its a relationship between you, your son, your boyfriend, and his kids. Just because this guy is great for you on a personal level, he may not in fact be able to handle having a stepchild, and particularly one who has Down Syndrome, and that’s something you need to know before you make a huge cross country move.
As several other people pointed out – your son most likely has a very stable educational environment and support system where you are now. This isn’t the time nor the situation to jump into a marriage and move to the opposite coast without putting in some serious time and thought about how the family dynamic will change and how your boyfriend is going to handle it.
I have a great step-parent situation and I couldn’t have asked for it to go any better, but I know that my situation in many ways is the exception to the rule.
lets_be_honest July 19, 2012, 11:54 am
I’m not really sure why this guy is getting praised as a seemingly great dad. All we know about him is that he moved across the country from his children (of varied moms) and is now potentially taking on a third “baby mama” of sorts.
Anyway, actually having a job does not equal being a great dad or stepdad. Neither does his hoping to move back across the country to his kids whenever he is able.
These are not even the bare minimums of parenting if you ask me.
Will.i.am July 19, 2012, 12:02 pm
Good to see a parent speak out from the eyes of a parent! I didn’t think about it that deeply at all. It does make you think why he has two baby momma’s. I won’t lie, I’m skeptical as hell about any woman that has more than one baby daddy and she isn’t married to the second child’s dad. Accidents do happen, but there’s precautions in place to make the chance of that happening much much less.
mirage14 July 19, 2012, 12:16 pm
I never said he was a great guy, I just think its a good thing that he’s moving back east for kids. I agree that having kids from two separate mothers is a red flag, but there are certain situations where its reasonably explained.
bethany July 19, 2012, 12:25 pm
I think she’s referring to when the LW says he’s “an even more amazing father”, but then doesn’t really give any examples to back it up.
AnotherWendy July 19, 2012, 12:24 pm
TOTALLY AGREE! I would sing more praise to a dad who maintains an active actual presence in the child’s life but doesn’t pay child support very reliably, than I would to a mostly absent father who pays child support on time.
Spending every other week-end with the child and paying child support on time is like bare minimum dad requirements.
Being present in your child’s life matters. And that means attending school conferences so you understand your child’s school-life, picking them up and dropping them off at activites and friend’s houses so you understand their social-life, and spending time in the same house as them on school days/nights, week-ends, school vacation weeks so you understand their inner-life are IMPORTANT.
evanscr05 July 19, 2012, 1:10 pm
My dad is an amazing dad and at one point in my childhood he moved back to the east coast while my brother and I were still living with our mom in the midwest. He still made it to every big event, we were in constant communication every week, he and my mom were both very much on the same page with discipline or our education and talked regularly, and he made regular trips to visit us and to have us visit him, so while not ideal, he was still very much a big part of our lives.
I agree, though, that it’s definitely preferable to have both parents in the same place even when divorced, but sometimes it’s not always practical. Every family situation is different. We don’t really know how often her boyfriend sees his kids, nor the reason he lives so far from them. I definitely see where you are coming from, and don’t entirely disagree, I just think it’s important to point out that we have very little information about his parenting situation and that he could, yes, be a horrible/minimal parent, or, circumstances beyond his control could have put him in this situation and he does the very best he can to be as involved in his kids lives as possible. Regardless, though, this relationship is still too young to make such massive decisions, and without even considering the impact it could have on her son.
lets_be_honest July 19, 2012, 1:19 pm
I agree completely. Its just weird that the LW and some commenters were saying he seems like a great dad with pretty much no evidence of that other than he has a job. For all I know it could be a situation similar to yours where it was a must and he was still super involved.
FireStar July 19, 2012, 1:11 pm
I thought this too. How does she know he is a great dad? She has know him a hot second and he was long distance from his kids during that time. Even if they visit – they get “vacation dad” which is not the same as “in the trenches – go do your homework dad”. Vacation dad does not a proper father make. You need to slow your roll when kids are in the mix – you REALLY need to slow you roll when your child has special needs and you are thinking of uprooting him. This needs to be a much longer term relationship than the LW envisions before she commits to this man and moves her child across country.
stilgar666 July 19, 2012, 12:02 pm
What’s with the crazies always wanting to rush things?
Will.i.am July 19, 2012, 12:05 pm
Easy, a life with someone is better than a life alone. Did you see the story a week or two ago, where a mother dropped her daughter off in Tennessee and left her there, because she could no longer take care of her daughter? The daughter had extreme mental issues and needed more care than the mother could give. She dropped her daughter off in TN, because she heard they have the best hospitals for people with mental health issues.
Raising a child is hard enough as is, but it only gets harder when you add mental health issues in as well.
Desiree July 19, 2012, 2:17 pm
Even though I think the LW definitely needs to slow down, I really do feel for her. Dating as a single mom has unique challenges, and dating as a single mom with a special needs child must be even more difficult. She has probably felt very alone at times and is excited to meet a man who will take her and her son as the package deal they are. I could see why she might be really excited and want to plunge ahead. She needs to remember that her son is the number one man in her life, and her personal decisions need to work around him.
Will.i.am July 19, 2012, 2:38 pm
Agreed Desiree. I’ve met a handful of women who have done it right, but I’ve met a 40 gallon trash can that have done it wrong. The one’s that did it right dated here and there, but ultimately lived for their kids and themselves. Had awesome family to help out and she or he still had some social life, with the aid of parents and bm’s and bd’s. Fact is, you need that help to really continue on a positive path, unless you can be positive within yourself and do without.
Women have talked about their sacrifices made to provide for their child(ren). Many nights where friends went out and they didn’t. That’s hard to do as a single person with no kids!! Sadly, I would think many single parents don’t have the will power, because they don’t see themselves being successful. Maybe they just always see themselves gliding on someone else’s coat tails.
Like Kat Williams said, “To the person that doesn’t graduate high school. (1) Remember you tried your best, and (2) I don’t like onions on my Big Mac! Sometimes things happen in your life that you can no longer financially overcome in the foreseeable future, and that’s tough…..
AnotherWendy July 19, 2012, 12:11 pm
WWS. Too soon, too soon, too soon to be marrying when you have a child this age, and there is a cross-country move involved too. As for wanting him to fill the role of being a wonderful father, he can fill the role of being a step-father or a friend for now, but for him to bond completely with your son, and your son to do the same, will take time and may never be fully what you want it to be.
bittergaymark July 19, 2012, 1:35 pm
This all seems way too rushed. I think the guy in question should focus more on the two daughters he already has (and, frankly, is not totally there for!) before taking on yet another child — this one with special needs… Meanwhile, the LW should work harder at getting financial support from the deadbeat dad in my opinion. Take him to court, whatever. Although he has nothing, so I suppose she’s screwed. But you know what? Sadly, that’s just as much HER fault!! Look, if somebody has “never really had a job” they probably — NEWSFLASH! — aren’t the best person to make a freaking baby with!!
Seriously, how hard is to have kids with more responsible people?
C’mon ladies. Respect yourself. Respect your bodies. Far too few of you do, it seems. Hey, if you wanna fuck a total loser asshole, fine, whatever. Knock yourself out — but don’t knock yourself up. To me, this all seems rather obvious. Yet the rest of the world frequently acts like it’s rocket science. I just… I just… so don’t get it.
BecBoo84 July 19, 2012, 2:20 pm
“Knock yourself out — but don’t knock yourself up.”–>Best line ever!
Will.i.am July 19, 2012, 3:05 pm
Haha BGM. And we are the assholes!
Chicago-dude July 19, 2012, 6:20 pm
🙂 if you follow BGM out with your “asshole-ish” ways, i’ll delete http://www.dearwendy.com from my bookmark.
GatorGirl July 19, 2012, 3:14 pm
Just a thought- maybe she has never tried to have child support arranged for fear visitation with the father would be required. My mother chose not to seek child support for specifically that reason. She wanted me to have a relationship with my birth father because 1- I wanted a relationship and 2- he wanted a relationship. Not because we were court ordered to see each other on Tuesdays. My fiance’s mom did seek child support which came with mandatory visitation- which lead to my fiance whitnessing his fathers physicaly abusive relationships with girlfriends and alcohol/drug dependency.
bittergaymark July 19, 2012, 3:20 pm
Whatever. Pick better fathers, Ladies. Seriously. Two letters in two days with vacuous women choosing deliberately to saddle their kids with hopeless fuckups for fathers makes my own point for me. Enough is enough. Sadly, GatorGirl, the stories of both you and your fiance’s mothers’ fabulous sperm-doner picks only further add to my anger and outrage here. Seriously, my patience is at an end.
GatorGirl July 19, 2012, 3:25 pm
That is the RUDEST thing anyone has ever said to me. Ever. You have no idea how offended I am. My mother and my fiance’s mother both worked their asses off to remedy the mistake that they made by reproducing with the men they did. Neither birth father was a “fuckup” untill after we were born. You have no right to insult my mother and my life.
bittergaymark July 19, 2012, 3:29 pm
My point is — more people should simply AVOID making the mistake to begin with. Society would be better. Children’s lives WOULD be better. It’s cold. It’d harsh. And you know what? It’s also the truth. But go ahead, shoot the messenger. Sorry, but for me to say that all these women should have chosen more wisely, isn’t an insult. It’s a statement of fact. Your fiance’s mother’s pick, for example, ensured that her son witnessed drug abuse and domestic violence! Um, yeah. That wasn’t a great choice.
GatorGirl July 19, 2012, 3:32 pm
Was my mother supposed to magically know my birth father would develop an alcohol dependency after I was born or end up in jail for killing someone while driving drunk years before it happened? He promised her the MOON. I usually enjoy your blunt comments but you’ve taken things too far this time. I had a wonderful childhood and a great life without my “fuckup” dad in the picture.
Also I’d bet my last dollar that you’ve made some pretty big mistakes in your life. Have some freaking compasion. We’re all human and we’re all imperfect. Get off your high horse.
bittergaymark July 19, 2012, 3:35 pm
Glad that worked out well for you then. For too many, it doesn’t. And the two LWs, I was referring to here are nothing like your own story. In both the fathers were clear, obvious losers from the get go.
GatorGirl July 19, 2012, 3:43 pm
You don’t know that the father in letter was a loser in the first place. She just says he’s absent now and isn’t very involved. That in no way says he sucked before she got pregnant. He could have been awesome and freaked out at the challenges of raising a child with a disability and ran.
landygirl July 19, 2012, 9:17 pm
Any father who has no involvement in his child’s life is a loser.
GatorGirl July 19, 2012, 9:37 pm
Right- a father not currently involved in their child’s life is a loser. But when Mark was attacking my mother for having a child with a “fuckup” I was pointing out that he wasn’t a bad guy when she chose to have a child with him. And we don’t know that the LWs sons father wasn’t involved in the birth or early years. You need to read the context before making sweeping statements.
theattack July 19, 2012, 9:44 pm
Come on, Gator Girl. Don’t you know that your mom soooo should have used her crystal ball to figure that out ahead of time? How irresponsible of her.
lets_be_honest July 19, 2012, 3:35 pm
Don’t bother defending your mom to this miserable person who knows neither you or your mom.
bgm, if youre so sick of these letters and out of patience, why don’t you get yourself a life outside of being a miserable prick insulting people’s parents on a website? Makes you look like as big a loser as some of our worst LWs.
lets_be_honest July 19, 2012, 3:38 pm
How would the child’s life be better if the parent chose to not have a kid with that particular guy? Do you not even comprehend how babies are made? If mom didn’t have the kid, the kid’s life would not exist, so how would it be better? You’re not even making sense anymore.
lets_be_honest July 19, 2012, 3:34 pm
You’re an asshole.
ele4phant July 19, 2012, 3:34 pm
Look, yes women should choose better fathers for their children. Great advice for women who have not yet had babies. Load up on the BC ladies!
But how is your attitude helpful – AT ALL – to women who have already made these mistakes? People screw up, sometimes big time, but we can’t turn back time, so what exactly are you trying to accomplish by berating women who can’t undo their mistakes? Be the one who’s more in the right? Guess what, congrats, you are. You are more right than these women. Here’s your pat on the back.
Now, how is you being right helpful to them? How are you giving them anything productive to go off of?
bittergaymark July 19, 2012, 3:40 pm
It;s not helpful to the LWs, I admit. You know why? In my opinion, they are all hopelessly fucked.
When I say that women should pick better men to have children with, I am actually instead simply trying to get that message out to the rest of the world at large. Why? Because clearly it is a message that few have apparently truly listened to or heard?
But you know what? Fine! I give up. I really do. Everybody can just run about willy nilly screwing up their lives. Ruining their children’s lives… And hopelessly just fucking up society. Go! Have at it! Have a ball!
This is bittergaymark — signing off. See ya around. It’s been fun.
lets_be_honest July 19, 2012, 3:43 pm
Oh no, what will the “world at large” do without your helpful advice, er, wisdom?!
For all the bitching you do about your life, maybe its time to get off DW and focus on fixing your own shit instead of insulting other people under the guise of helpful wisdom.
Nadine July 19, 2012, 10:10 pm
Actually signing off? Excellent!
Your rudeness and misogynistic comments will not be missed. At all.
MsMisery July 20, 2012, 12:42 pm
That’s what I was thinking. Don’t let the door hit you… or let it. Whatevs.
Chicago-Dude July 20, 2012, 12:48 pm
Way to take the high-road here.
Slamy July 20, 2012, 1:14 pm
Actually, I like BGM. I will miss him.
I have dated assholes in the past. Assholes who I knew would make horrible fathers. My plan was always “don’t get pregnant” – and I didn’t. Thus, I am not writing letters to DW about my deadbeat baby’s daddy and needing a father for my child. Ta-da. Easy.
Jiggs July 21, 2012, 1:45 pm
Except sometimes birth control fails? Ta-da! Pregnant.
I’ve never gotten pregnant either but I don’t pretend it’s because I’m intellectually superior to people who do. I know people who’ve had IUDs or had their tubes tied and STILL got pregnant. Sometimes you take every possible precaution and it still happens.
lets_be_honest July 19, 2012, 3:40 pm
Love how the men/fathers get off scott free. Jesus. Time for a DW break. This is going from bad to worse lately.
ele4phant July 19, 2012, 3:43 pm
No you’re right. The fathers should be held accountable, absolutely. I was responding to BGMs comments towards the women exclusively, which I admit was short-sided, but I was so narrowed on his comments. That’s for the reminder.
ele4phant July 19, 2012, 3:48 pm
I probably should’ve said: you are more in the right than these individuals who had children when they shouldn’t have. That would include either men or women (or both).
lets_be_honest July 19, 2012, 3:49 pm
It wasn’t really directed at you, sorry. Its just bizarre how people will rip a woman to shreds over having a baby with a lousy guy, as though women are just raping losers to impregnate themselves deliberately and they all believe in abortion so they really just are dying to having kids with losers.
Lili July 19, 2012, 3:54 pm
THANK YOU! I was getting really angry at how people MEN especially even think they can have an accurate idea of what goes on for a single mother. As a woman, I don’t even feel I can, but I do try to be empathetic and notice her strengths and help her handle the weaknesses. Just blatantly ripping on all women who make mistakes though…the problem goes much deeper folks. Sorry. And the douchebag sperm donor, he’s one of your brethren men. So why not rip on THOSE men in your own life that you know who aren’t upstanding men like yourself instead of a woman struggling, but still taking responsibility for the kid…eye roll.
bittergaymark July 19, 2012, 4:16 pm
My final thought on this issue… (and, frankly, my final thought to be posted on this website for a good long while) is that I don’t exactly see how I am letting the men off scott-free. I’m constantly referring to them in the most unflattering of terms: fucked-up losers, for example, and repeatedly branding them bad choices — I am clearly not taking the men’s side here. Nor do I not think they are merely hapless victims as a few of you strangely seem to suggest.
Admittedly, my harshest comments here have been addressed to the women in these situations, because… GASP! They actually wrote in with the lousy letters in the first place. When asshole sperm-donors start dropping Wendy a line about their own miserable mistakes — do you all REALLY think I would exactly mince words with them? I think not.
Moreover, women REALLY do have the upper hand when preventing pregnancy. It is their body. Get on birth control. Use it properly. MAKE your partner use condoms! Obviously, guys SHOULD always RELIGIOUSLY wear condoms… Honestly, I don’t know why they don’t. It baffles me. It truly baffles me. But then, much baffles me.
PS: And for somebody who is so morally outraged by personal insults. LBH certainly sure knows how to pile them on. I’ve never personally attacked LBH. I’ve certainly never called her names. But that never stops her from calling me an asshole. Or casually labeling me a miserable person. At any rate, she is right about one thing. It IS time to move on. The place simply isn’t a very wise usage of my time. Meanwhile, you will all undoubtedly fare just fine around here without me chiming in with the occasional pithy comment.
Some of you I will truly miss. Some, not so much. Although lets face it, I love a good debate. And that has often been fun. But people around here are increasingly thin skinned. It’s just not fun anymore…
Peace out. Adieu.
lets_be_honest July 19, 2012, 4:26 pm
And he’s back! With even more dramatics then your Final Goodbye 10 minutes ago.
Your chosen name is BITTERgaymark. I’m not exactly coming up with any new names for you when I say your miserable.
Best of luck to ya, really.
Clare July 19, 2012, 5:28 pm
It is one thing to disagree but it is definitely another to resort to insulting people. I obviously see how opinions about single mothers and absent fathers stir up strong emotions, but LBH, with all due respect, it seems like this topic (understandably) sets you off, but it also seems like you immediately take what people say about the topic in general as a personal insult directed at you. Nobody here would say anything but good things about everything you’ve done for your daughter and all the hard work you’ve put in to building a great life for yourself and your daughter. But, this kind of issue is exactly what led to the fight with Zepp (who then left DW altogether) and now Mark (who says he is leaving). There has to be a way to stand up for what you believe in without taking everything anyone says about single moms as a personal insult and immediately jumping on the defensive and then attacking people.
GatorGirl July 19, 2012, 5:33 pm
Unfortunately Clare I believe BGM started with the insults when he made rude remarks about my mother. LBH was just defending me and herself as a single mother.
lets_be_honest July 19, 2012, 5:40 pm
I took what he said as an insult to another DWer, not to me personally. Is it acceptable to direclty insult every LW here, but not other commenters? Was it not insulting to GatorGirl what he said about her mother?
If I’m remembering correctly, Zepp and I went back and forth very briefly and then a few other commenters (I won’t name names) spoke up in my defense and I took myself out of it. To blame me for people leaving is rather silly. But I will point out bgm made it clear why he was leaving and it certainly wasn’t because of what I said. Anyway, again I was defending someone who I’ve had plenty of conversations with on here who was being attacked by someone who regularly attacks LWs and commenters. I think you should direct that lesson to someone else.
Katie July 19, 2012, 5:42 pm
Thank you Claire.
lets_be_honest July 19, 2012, 5:48 pm
Really katie? Its totally OK for him to attack gatorgirl (and pretty much every LW) but if someone sticks up for her, its not? I guess sorry for bumming you out. ?
have a good night.
Clare July 19, 2012, 5:54 pm
But there’s a difference between sticking up for Gator Girl and calling Mark an asshole. I think Gator Girl did a great job of addressing what Mark said in a calm, respectful manner that made her point well.
GatorGirl July 19, 2012, 5:57 pm
Yes, LBH was harsh, but she didn’t start it. Yes names were called, but I was essentially told my mother was an idiot for having me. So other people are at fault here too. I was attacked first by BGM, why isn’t he anyone commenting on his poor manner of conveying what he believes?
I’m walking away from this thread after this comment. LBH thank you for taking some shit for standing up for me.
lets_be_honest July 19, 2012, 6:01 pm
I went on dw, clicked on the recent comments, and saw his. It was a gut response. I was shocked that he would say that to her, when she was only bringing it up for further discussion. I don’t disagree with what you said about addressing an insult with another one. Of course that’s true. People react sometimes though. But to basically say people leave dw because of me, come on. First, I really don’t think I hold that much weight anywhere, especially on an anonymous website. Second, I imagine there are a lot of people who don’t comment out of fear of being attacked by bgm. Its not fun. So yea, I felt really bad for her. I don;t take back any of my other comments though to be honest.
lets_be_honest July 19, 2012, 6:02 pm
Anytime Gator. Have a good night all!
Katie July 19, 2012, 6:15 pm
Lbh, I say this with love, and as a friend (or at least as much of a friend as I can be to you while on the internet) – but you do react in a very mama bear kind of way when people talk about single moms. Like in the way that a bear just attacks without thinking. And so, yes, I agree with Claire that there must be a way to explain your position without all the other ickyness you quite honestly do say, and that you take comments about single mothers very personally when you really don’t have to
chicago-dude July 19, 2012, 6:16 pm
lbh, there are also a lot of people who don’t comment out of fear of the wrath of the ya-ya-sisterhood.
Regardless of what opinions some of us spake, we are doomed to name calling and requests for censorship simply because you (and a handful of others) disagree.
BGM’s comments may be harsh, but it only hurts because there is often a heap of truth (and humor) in ’em. With him gone… Yikes i hope that voice of reason isn’t lost (will.i.am, don’t fail me now…) amidst the commiserating (allowed, ONLY!) voices.
I’m probably going to be banned (plz don’t do it, Wendy) for expressing this though but oh well…
lets_be_honest July 19, 2012, 6:23 pm
I hear ya. I can be harsh on here. I love a strong debate as much as anyone. I think even when i’m harsh, im still getting my point across clearly. My question is, why take it up with me only? I’m FAR from as harsh as bgm, and I think I “speak the truth” too, so why is it hilarious for the guy to do it, but time to lecture me if I do?! Must i sweetly package my words with love unlike bgm?
I can’t be the only person seeing the massive hypocrisy (and dare I say sexism) here?
Clare July 19, 2012, 6:30 pm
I didn’t reply to any of Mark’s comments because by the time I got to this thread, he had already announced his departure so I figured he was gone. I only said something about your reaction, LBH, because it seemed to me to relate to a knee-jerk type reaction to comments related to the issue of single moms, which I have noticed before. I don’t think my comments wee hypocritical or sexist and if Mark were still around, I would certainly comment about what he said, because I really think there is no excuse for what he said about Gator Girl’s mom and his statements were truly tasteless.
Chicago-dude July 19, 2012, 6:36 pm
My dear, harsh is fine.
No, you do not need to sweeten it up verbally.
It’s fair to say we ALL have the best interest of the lws in mind and heart, and it’s ok to disagree but i urge you…take 10 deep breaths and try to understand an opposing view before hitting back with all your might.
We all have something vested in the success of every single lw (yes, even the idiotic ones) and some of our words carry that swift kick to the shin, but follow with helping words to help them through their struggles.
PS just got back home from Bozeman (beautiful place but ultra un-diverse. I was one of maybe 3 black people there and they looked at me like wtf…!). So glad to be home. Totally gonna Thai it for dinner.
Katie July 19, 2012, 6:46 pm
I think your forgettIng of the loads of people who do call bgm pit. It happens pretty must everything he says anything.
In my opinion, it’s very sad when you get all nasty because I know that you CAN form your arguements without the nastiness, so it’s out of character.
And also, conflict between people I like really makes me sad. So I’m just sad.
theattack July 19, 2012, 9:42 pm
Honestly, I always make a point to read LBH’s comments, and I have never noticed a trend of knee-jerk reactions. Yes, she gets worked up over single mom issues, but that’s because she has a lot of experience with it, and she knows how to be a good single mom. She has a lot to bring to those conversations, but it doesn’t mean that her reactions are knee-jerk. I don’t think any of us can say that we don’t get worked up over one or two sensitive issues. It just so happens that LBH’s personal issue comes up pretty frequently here.
I agree generally that it’s not okay to call other people names, but come on. Why is everyone calling out LBH over this when BGM is always calling people names and attacking people’s character and intelligence? It seems off to me. I kind of think that BGM has said enough horrible stuff to pretty much everyone that he’s had it coming.
evanscr05 July 20, 2012, 8:46 am
I think it’s almost important to realize that we ALL have knee jerk reactions to different types of letters or comments. We’re a diverse group, with experiences that shape who we are, how we view the world, and the perspective we have of certain situations. It’s normal for someone, like LBH, to kick in a more strongly worded comment when it’s something she feels passionate about and has experience in. It’s an important perspective that adds to the dialogue. I think it’s beneficial to the overall advice for LW’s and even to us commenters. It’s good to get the perspective of someone who’s lived it. Sometimes it helps change our minds, sometimes it just softens our impressions on a situation. All good things that make us all give better advice.
Slamy July 20, 2012, 1:16 pm
and I actually kind of super dislike LBH now.
theattack July 20, 2012, 3:59 pm
@Slamy, Seriously? You’re going to “super dislike” someone for one comment they made over an issue they were passionate about? I haven’t seen you around DW much, but there is much worse going around on the internet. LBH doesn’t make comments like that regularly, and to say that you completely dislike someone for one thing they said…. Wow. All I have to say is good luck with that approach in life.
lets_be_honest July 20, 2012, 5:30 pm
Oh my. Thanks theattack. I agree completely. This is bizarre hypocrisy to say the least.
15 likes about “super disliking” me? Really? I’m too old for this. Have a lovely weekend all. I’ll be heading back to the real world with hummus and non-anonymous people that don’t pick on me.
This might top the silliest things I’ve ever been involved in. Hope this ends up going back to normal DW! Feel free to tag back in mark 🙂
GatorGirl July 19, 2012, 3:59 pm
I wish there was a love button.
Nadine July 19, 2012, 10:17 pm
Just wanted to voice my support of LBH and Gator Girl. I dont like the animosity either, but I can tell who starts it, and in my opinion we can almost all get on here without resorting to such nastiness – unless certain people start it. So lets keep it civil, and then – and only then – can we expect civility back.
Oh and Chicago-dude? You wont make any friends by totally dismissing all of the womens’ voices on here. You guys are the only voices of reason huh?
Chicago-dude July 20, 2012, 8:04 am
And how, specifically am I being dismissive of “…all of the women’s voices?”
I actually take offence to that false accusation.
GatorGirl July 19, 2012, 3:47 pm
I was trying to fit the dad thing in there somewhere but was too mad about the attacking comments. GRRRR.
ele4phant July 19, 2012, 3:52 pm
Sorry, I was trying to support you – not attack! As LBS rightly pointed out, fathers are culpable too (sometimes exclusively responsible), and I should’ve structured my response that way.
I was just trying to point out – what exactly is he trying to accomplish by berating families (usually women) who find themselves with a kid in a difficult situation? Aside from get to feel holier than thou?
Lili July 19, 2012, 4:00 pm
Sadly, I think A LOT Of it IS holier than thou, or an inability to look deep within and try to be a part of the solution, instead of part of the problem.
GatorGirl July 19, 2012, 4:01 pm
Oh wasn’t walking about you attacking! I totally agree with everything you’ve said. Belittling a mother for making a poor choice in sperm donor does nothing to help the child. And don’t get me started on deadbeat dads!
Clare July 19, 2012, 5:24 pm
It doesn’t seem like anyone is letting deadbeat dads get off scot free here. And I don’t even know why this became such a big issue today — it isn’t even what the LW wrote in about! It seems like she is doing well with her and her son and is just thinking about what will happen in the future with her and her bf and her son. Her ex doesn’t even really figure into this.
6napkinburger July 19, 2012, 4:41 pm
I’m confused. If your mom, you and your father all wanted visitation, why wouldn’t your mother also petition for child support? You seem to imply that she was scared it would require visitation, but then you all had visitation anyways.
GatorGirl July 19, 2012, 4:50 pm
My mother had an open door policy with my father essentially. He (and his parents) had full access to me so long as they provided my mother a reasonable amount of notice. After I was 6 the visits became more and more scarce and the last time I ever saw him I was 8. No cards, no phone calls, nothing. He chose not to have a relationship with me. So around the age of 13 I chose that I would no longer hold out hope on having a relationship with him. Had there been some sort of court arrangement I could have wasted years of my life hoping this man would be a true father to me. (and yes they all had the correct phone number and address my mother updated them regularly even after they stopped contacting me)
GatorGirl July 19, 2012, 4:51 pm
I would have continued hoping because of the mandatory visits the court could have required which would foster a false sense that my birth father gave two shits.
Will.i.am July 19, 2012, 4:36 pm
I agree and disagree with BGM. Fact is, I have a lot of respect for LBH. She can be a bit harsh on some issues, but she handled single parenthood the way MORE WOMEN EFFIN SHOULD!! When you have a child, and you may not have help from friends or family, or choose to use that help, than your ability to have a social life goes down the drain. You focus on making a life better for yourself and your child(ren). Once again LBH, I commend you for what you have done to make a family with you, your child, and your BF.
Lili, it kinda of is holier than thou. I’m in the same boat. I’ve had more partners than I can count on both my hands, but I have only been in a pregnancy scare one time. Why? I use condoms and slept with women that used birth control. That’s all BGM is saying, in the MOST HARSH sense. There’s too many women allowing men to sleep with them without a condom and not enough women on the bill or other forms of birth control. Yes, I know with antibiotics and smoking(?) that birth control pill becomes less effective, but I would say there’s more babies being born without contraception being taking RELIGIOUSLY, than babies being born when the man and women take care of themselves sexually.
I can comment on this, because I have been around the block and back again and I’ve been able to avoid having even one baby momma. Is some of it luck, you betcha, but I have dabbled enough that I know what does and what doesn’t create children. So, yeah, BGM had a total dick move with his harsh comments, but I just can’t complete fault him on the taking care of yourself and protecting yourself from having a whoopsie daisy child.
Even for the LW, you have 3 kids that could easily not have their father around. I don’t know if the LW BF is in the picture seriously with his two kids by 2 DIFFERENT MOTHERS, and the LW’s father is clearly not. It’s just a recipe for disaster in my book. Hey, it happened to me. I was 3 months premature and had asthma as a child and it was enough for my Dad to skip town. At 28, I still haven’t seen or heard of him in 14 years. I could have easily made a child and ran out on them too, but it was my responsibility to reverse the pattern and take better care of myself sexually.
katie July 19, 2012, 4:39 pm
i agree. i think a holier then thou opinion is suited when it is correct.
lets_be_honest July 19, 2012, 4:51 pm
Are you saying its ok to say you are better than other people, so long as you actually are?
Will.i.am July 19, 2012, 4:56 pm
No. I believe there’s have’s and have nots. I’m going to try my hardest to be a have. People are always going to be better off than me and worse than me. I just do what makes me happy.
I can’t completely fault you for holier than thou, because I can admit I think I am better than some people. There, I said it. It’s also just my opinion as well. I can think I’m better than someone else and they think their life is grand and they are perfectly content. I’m not going to go up to them and say their life is fucked up and they need to live like me. Me feeling there’s people better than me and worse than me is what keeps me motivated to succeed. I want to be the best that I can at anything I do.
lets_be_honest July 19, 2012, 5:17 pm
Haha, I agree though with a lot of what you said.
katie July 19, 2012, 4:58 pm
no. but as will said, he has been around the block and managed to not get pregnant. i also, while i dont think i would say ive been around the block, have managed to never get pregnant. i remember when i turned 20 thinking that i didnt become a “teen pregnancy” stastisic and i was happy about that. and, i also know that i am a “model” for teens who dont want to become a teen pregnancy stastisic, because i was able to avoid it, they can too, you know?
if you are are living the life that someone else “should” be, or is asking how to be, or whatever, i dont think its wrong to be able to tell them. i dont think its wrong to tell them how they are doing things wrong. i think its ok to talk about your own successes relevant to the topic at hand… so its not so much that you are “better” then someone, but you are making better choices, showing them what choices they are making that are wrong, and then hopefully going the extra mile and guiding them towards a better future. i mean, isnt that what we do on here everyday? explain how we do things, why we do them, and talk about steps to take either in the future or when you find yourself in a similar situation?
lets_be_honest July 19, 2012, 5:11 pm
Good explanation. Seriously.
I’ve found, at least among the kids I grew up with, was that some of us got away with things (the whole luck concept Will mentioned) and some didn’t. If you take risks over and over, you’re more likely to suffer the consequences. BUT, there are a ton of people out there who only took a risk once and suffered the consequences. I think almost everyone can say that about something dumb they did in their youth. So when I’m feeling judgmental, I think about that.
Katie July 19, 2012, 5:23 pm
That’s like those people who play the lottery their whole lives and never win and the guy who plays it for the first time at age 30 and wins. All it takes is once!
lets_be_honest July 19, 2012, 5:30 pm
My poor sisters have probably heard that phrase over a million times thanks to me. Never too safe?? Right??
Lili July 19, 2012, 4:54 pm
But deciding when/where/why/how its appropriate is a little hard to do with just one letter and a one sided view. And, are we REALLY better than any of the LWs, I mean, like Really Truly? Sure our lives aren’t as ‘messed up’ in some areas, but I for one don’t ever think i’m ‘better’ than anyone who writes into DW. I actually don’t think I’m better than anyone in general, even the people who’ve made egregious mistakes.
katie July 19, 2012, 5:00 pm
but you still give them advice, and i think thats the thing. we all do on this site. so in some capacity you think that you know whats best for them…. and i dont think thats a bad thing. and i think those two thoughts can coexist- you can not feel “better” then someone while trying to get them to see their own stupidity and how to make better choices themselves.
Lili July 19, 2012, 5:23 pm
Actually, today and yesterday I didn’t really have much advice that I thought would be helpful to the LWs since I personally cannot comprehend getting into the situation, so I don’t even know how to help advise them to get out of it. If I made comments they were some innocuous type replies to others discussing food and lunches. I do like to comment on the forums when I think I have helpful things to say (for example, the thread about seeing an ex after the breakup) and I can relate to the LW, and offer something constructive and helpful. I don’t know if I’m in the place to give people a kick in the butt, I mean Wendy’s perfected doing it artfully.
GatorGirl July 19, 2012, 4:43 pm
Some people honestly don’t know about birth control and condoms and how a female reproductive system works. Honestly. I had to explain to my fiance what menstration was because he never learned it in health class. All he was taught was he would go to hell if he had sex before marriage.
Negativity does not help people who are trying to get help and figure out the best way to raise the children that are stuck in these shitty situations. Yes- a wake up call here and there is needed. But continued rude remarks to LW’s and members of the DW community is uncalled for. Beratting a woman who made a mistake or is wondering if she is about to make a mistake DOES NOT HELP THEM. Contructive criticism and real advice does.
lets_be_honest July 19, 2012, 4:48 pm
I’ve been harsh to some LWs too. Some need it. Others, they just don’t. And even my harshest advice was still advice, not just insults with no suggestions for self-improvement. BGM says it like it is, that’s his schtick, except no one is writing in looking for someone to tell them how much they’ve fucked up thus far. They want to know how to move forward. So its frustrating and pointless to attack an LW.
Was I a real bitch to BGM today? Yep. Not because he was doing his usual bit about the LWs. Because he was directing nothing short of cruelty at a regular commenter who was sharing a good example of why some women don’t go for child support (a very good, smart reason why actually). Rather than give an argument against that reasoning, he basically called her mother a moron. The same woman GG credits with her wonderful upbringing. Is it my place to stick up for her? Not really. But I will. And I’ll stick up for any parent who did their best any day. Hell, I’ll stick up for anyone who acknowledges their mistakes and tries to fix them.
Anyway, thanks for the kind words Will.
GatorGirl July 19, 2012, 4:55 pm
Hey thanks for sticking up for me btw. A lot of the things you say remind me of things my mom believes/says. I have no doubt you are doing a great job raising your daughter.
lets_be_honest July 19, 2012, 5:05 pm
ele4phant July 19, 2012, 5:12 pm
I’m not really sure what to make of this, but here it goes.
People make mistakes. They do. I do. You have, I’m sure. We all do, of varying magnitude. Women should religiously take birth control, men should religiously use condoms, and everybody should be a little bit more discerning of who they sleep with (not a knock against casual sex – but you know, at least chat with someone a bit first so you know what kind of person they are). No disagreement there.
But you know what, people will fuck up. And what use is saying “Aha, you made a big mistake. I didn’t I’m better than you.” How is that going to help them sort out their mistakes and get on track? Its not. Being holier than thou – even if you actually are better, more morally in the high ground – does nothing to help anyone (unless you count making you feel awesome about yourself as being productive).
Sometimes people are absolutely in denial about their mistakes, and they need a harsh metaphorical kick in the butt to get it together. But berating people on mistakes that have already been made (even if you smarty pants were able to avoid such mistakes), that isn’t going to help them move forward.
And isn’t that what we’re trying to achieve here? This is an advice column right? Not a “Read about dumb-dumbs and feel better about myself” column.
Will.i.am July 19, 2012, 5:18 pm
It explains why I’m single and no one will have me, huh?
Lili July 19, 2012, 5:27 pm
A little less holier than thou and a little more compassion never hurt anyone 😉
ele4phant July 19, 2012, 5:33 pm
You can be as holier than thou as you want in your head – you know, just don’t trot it out when someone is asking for genuine advice and outside perspective in tackling their problems.
(Although if you can, just work on being more compassionate. We’ll all find ourselves in a situation where we need guidance or have a hill to climb due to our mistakes.)
GatorGirl July 19, 2012, 5:25 pm
painted_lady July 19, 2012, 7:03 pm
This is wonderful. I notice that all of us instantly become more compassionate when it’s something we’ve dealt with, and more likely to call people out for being harsh. Like lbh said, some people need a good kick in the pants, and some people need compassion, but we all determine that based on our own experiences. I get really up in arms about emotional abuse and sexual harassment, for example, theattack gets worked up over weddings these days (as well you should, I can’t imagine planning that mess), and lbh goes to bat for the single moms.
Maybe we should all remember a little better that honesty and cruelty aren’t the same things. Telling someone they need to get their act together by _________ is one thing, but calling someone stupid for mistakes they’ve made already is unacceptable.
Nadine July 19, 2012, 10:20 pm
One pregnancy scare – that you know of. Sorry, dude, but sometimes girlfriends get called first you know? And then if its nothing, why speak up?
Will.i.am July 20, 2012, 12:26 am
I don’t have any Jr.’s running around though. It may be only one pregnancy scare that I know of, but I also know that I am kid free!
ele4phant July 20, 2012, 12:59 am
This is a good point. I’ve only had a few (although they were due more to my lack of ability to accurately count time then legitimate negligence). And only one time did I share. The other times I’d take the test all by myself, get the negative, and then go about my business.
Will.i.am July 19, 2012, 4:52 pm
In part, I guess I don’t always understand how women, with no kids, can support a woman who may have multiple kids by multiple dads so much. Clearly, you have figured out how to not have kids. What makes you any different than them? My Dad grew pot and went to the pen. I clearly chose and different path than he did, because through his actions, it showed me something I didn’t want to be.
Why can’t more people do this? So instead of packing up all your belongings and move halfway across the country for a guy, stay home and build a secure life with your child. You can do everything right in life and still not get 1% of what someone who does everything wrong in life. All you can do is make the right choices that you feel will reap the best rewards. When a child is involved sacrifices have to be made, where your happiness comes last and there’s comes first, second, third, fourth, etc.
Call me a dickhead all you want, but I feel the world is full of have’s and have not’s. I much rather be on the have side then the have not side. If I were to end up on the have not side, you better believe I’m going to find all the legal ways I can to get back on the have side. LBH, you know what I mean by hustling!
lets_be_honest July 19, 2012, 5:03 pm
Listen I’m not out there rubbing the backs of women with 8 baby daddies telling them its not their fault and they will be A ok. Not at all. Even hearing of someone making the same mistake twice bugs me. Honestly though, I used to judge the crap out of girls who would get pregnant the way I did…And then I did. Things happen, people are people, they fuck up from time to time. Hopefully, they fuck up once, learn from it and move forward with their lives.
Will.i.am July 19, 2012, 5:12 pm
And youi are proving my point PERFECTLY here. People mess up, but what you do to make the wrong right is what matters. Not enough people do that and that’s the point I try to get across. That’s why I commended you. You had a child, the father is or isn’t really in the picture, and you did what you had to do for you and your child. You didn’t just move any and every guy in and go out and party all the time. You had someone who relied on you 100% and you had to become selfless.
I guess that’s what I’m saying the LW may need to try. Moving halfway across the country and only knowing the guy for 6 months, is just asking for trouble in my book!
lets_be_honest July 19, 2012, 5:23 pm
Yes, I totally agree with the point you’re making.
Moreover, if you’re writing in for advice you are either a) admitting you are dumb and need help or b) acknowledging you fucked up and never want that to happen again. Either way, pretty good in my book.
GatorGirl July 19, 2012, 5:03 pm
“In part, I guess I don’t always understand how women, with no kids, can support a woman who may have multiple kids by multiple dads so much. Clearly, you have figured out how to not have kids. What makes you any different than them?”
I can support them because my mom was a single mother, because I have friends who made bad choices and ended up single mothers, because I know that I am lucky that I avoided pregnancy (sometimes by the grace of God). I can put myself in their shoes. I learned from my mothers mistakes- but some of these people don’t have any one to learn from. And some people don’t think they have any other choice. It’s awesome that you and LBH and myself have learned some awesome life lessons- but a lot of the LW’s haven’t yet and we’re helping them learn them.
Will.i.am July 19, 2012, 5:09 pm
My Mom was a single parent too. You know what happened after my Mom gave birth to me and my Dad left, she didn’t have anymore children? My Mom made mistakes, as have I, but my Mom hustled to make a good and peaceful life for me, my oldeest brother, and myself. My Mom didn’t uproot me and move me in with strange men, that could have put my life in danger. My Mom did remarry when I was 5, but divoreced when I was 10, and has only dated 2 people since then.
My Mom went without, A LOT, so I could have what I needed to have a relatively good life.
GatorGirl July 19, 2012, 5:14 pm
I wasn’t really takling about this LW. BGM’s comment was very broad and that’s what pissed me off. I don’t think this LW should move across the country for this guy she’s only known for a few months. But I’m also not going to tolorate someone (not you) attacking sinlge mothers and women as a whole.
ele4phant July 19, 2012, 5:29 pm
Agreed, I think we all got swept away from the original letter and we were all squabbling about a much bigger picture.
Lili July 19, 2012, 5:32 pm
Isn’t that where we always squabble haha! BTW I totally agree with you up there, and thought it was brilliantly stated!
Ok now I’m off to obsess over the map of Bite and plan out where/when I want to eat what…
ele4phant July 19, 2012, 5:35 pm
Oh, its gets to busy.
BTW!!! I hope you haven’t signed off yet because: Will Ferrell and Zack Galifianakis (sp) are serving coffee Local Color Cafe in Pike Place Market. I don’t know for how long. I don’t feel like going downtown, but you should
theattack July 19, 2012, 5:12 pm
Wowwww guys. Shit got real today.
lets_be_honest July 19, 2012, 5:26 pm
You know those ecards on facebook, with the one liners? I love those usually. You reminded me of one. Said something like If you add “and shit” to the end of anything, it automatically makes it sound gangsta. APs gonna be mad when she sees all this!
Katie July 19, 2012, 5:26 pm
I know. I’m sad.
lets_be_honest July 19, 2012, 5:32 pm
Will a WKS cheer you up?
Katie July 19, 2012, 6:10 pm
haha. Thanks lbh
Clare July 19, 2012, 5:52 pm
For some reason it’s not letting me reply to my own comment up above, but I just wanted to say we should ALL not jump to insults. Obviously BGM should not be making comments about people’s moms, that goes without saying. But what I was trying to say above is that there’s no reason to respond to an insult with another insult — at a certain point you don’t want to stoop to that level. I think there’s a middle ground (obviously) — it seems like most people would agree that everyone (men AND women) should try to make smart choices about who they get involved with but, once there’s a baby, you should just try to make the best of the situation you find yourself in and build a good life for yourself and your child whether or not that includes the other parent.
rachel July 19, 2012, 7:25 pm
Holy crap guys. Shit’s not supposed to get all crazy when I’m not near my computer to read it!
Kristina July 19, 2012, 7:07 pm
I don’t want to judge the LW for her actions too much because people who make a lot of mistakes need compassion and guidance, not judgment. I had a crazy experience last night where I am ever so thankful to be alive right now, and life is too fragile. That applies to you, LW, and it’s too fragile to make spur of the moment choices like uprooting your son’s life for a man you’ve only known for several months. Your son needs you more than most children need their parents because of his Down’s syndrome. I think you need to ask yourself a lot of questions. Questions that involve how to put you and the well-being of your child first–because that’s how it should be–and I’m not doubting that you love your child, but new love clouds your judgment too easily. You need to slow down and think about how your actions will affect everything. You haven’t known this man for very long, and if he is right for you, he will wait. And if he’s right for you, he will also take on the role of co-parenting your child without asking. But it takes time. A lot of time. Maybe he doesn’t know how to interact with a special needs child in the way that you do. And are you ready to have 2 other children involved in your life? Ask yourself questions, and ask your boyfriend questions before you decide to uproot your life and your son’s life too.
You know you’re ready when there are no major questions to ask about how it will work out, whether it will work out, etc.
painted_lady July 19, 2012, 7:42 pm
WWS. LW, I don’t know this for sure, so I hate to project, but I think you’re so ready to have the traditional nuclear family that society tells you to want that you’re missing the steps needed to achieve it. Asking a man you’ve been with for seven months whether he could love your son as his own is like asking him to see into the future. Moving cross-country to be with someone you’ve been seeing for seven months is way, way, WAY too fast. At this point you should *want* to do these things – new! exciting! whirlwind! – but that doesn’t mean you *actually* do them. Because you barely know him. Even if he’s nuts, he should be able to hide it well for another 3-6 months. And if he’s pressuring you to do this stuff so fast…well, that in and of itself is a warning sign.
Kids don’t deal well with instability, and special needs kids often handle it less well than neurotypical kids. Your son deserves this to be a well thought out decision rather than whirlwind and exciting. That stuff is overrated anyway, and for him all it’s going to be is scary and intimidating. Why the rush? If this is a good thing, it will survive long distance, it will survive some more time and some cooler heads. And if it doesn’t survive, is that really someone you’d have risked your son’s stability for?
iwannatalktosampson July 19, 2012, 7:59 pm
Wow this thread really got out of hand. I like BGM because honestly he often says things I’m thinking – and I assume other people are thinking as well. So maybe I’m an asshole too. I really like LBH too and think she is one of the few exceptions of great single moms. The problem though is that she really is the exception – not the rule. 🙁 So I get why she’s defensive because she’s proof that people can make good decisions after mistakes are made – but she really really is one of the few. I wish I knew more great single moms. But I can’t think of one. Love you both! I hope you come back Mark!
rachel July 19, 2012, 8:28 pm
My mom was a pretty great single mom. But, she definitely made mistakes in her life. BGM is way harsh sometimes and can overgeneralize, but I do think he makes a lot of good points.
GatorGirl July 19, 2012, 8:41 pm
Mark makes excellent points on a regular basis. His candor and touch love is usually awesome. But today I felt personally attacked. And that is unacceptable. LBH is getting a lot of shit right now and her asshole comment was in my defense. Yes she shouldn’t have called. Names but BGM shouldn’t have made a personal attack on my mother.
iwannatalktosampson July 19, 2012, 8:53 pm
And two wrongs totally make a right. Come on. This is starting to sound like kindergarten. But mommmm he was mean first. Rise above.
GatorGirl July 19, 2012, 9:00 pm
I was merely trying to point out that LBH is getting the majority of the crap but it’s not like it wasn’t provoked. We all agree that the asshole comment was not a great idea. Mark says things to provoke people and today he took it too far. Yes I’m pointing out that he started it because personally attacked my mother. All most anyone would react poorly to that.
Budj July 20, 2012, 9:42 am
I don’t think anyone can defend what Mark said yesterday, but I found LBH quite persistent in the aggressive tones. I’m glad it’s over to say the least, but this is the second time aggressive behaviors have caused a person to leave the forum and that isn’t ok, imo.
lets_be_honest July 20, 2012, 1:02 pm
Budj, you can’t seriously blame me for people leaving. For the amount of times I’ve gotten worked up on here, so have other people, usually a lot worse and more frequent than I have. Even bgm didn’t say I was the reason, his reason was because he was sick of how many people don’t see things his way and how dumb they can be. I’d also venture to guess that plenty of people have not commented or left all together because of other people/reasons. Its upsetting you would place the blame on me. I’m sorry you think that.
Katie Z July 20, 2012, 1:23 pm
The whole thing with Zepp led her to leave the forum, and your behavior was the main reason that thread went to an extreme level. She expressed a thought which obviously wasn’t 100% polite and you went nuts and called her an immature pig.
lets_be_honest July 20, 2012, 2:35 pm
Just to clarify, she said she feels sorry for my kid. I said that was a piggish statement to make. And then everyone agreed with me and they went “nuts” on her. I’m not sure why its cool for some people to trash other people’s families on here all of a sudden. Its really a shame. However, at least Wendy’s getting some new commenters out of this. Positives in everything, right?
FireStar July 20, 2012, 3:11 pm
Y’know, the last couple of letters have sparked comments more or less focused on responsibility. The LWs taking responsibility for their choices, for their lives, for their children. This notion of blaming LBH – or anyone for that matter – for someone else leaving DW is ridiculous and bordering offensive. The reason the thread that offended Zepp was so extreme was because of what Zepp said. It was her choice to make the statements, and when disapproval rained down on her, it was her choice to leave. BGM stopped posting because HE chose to. Surely we all know enough of BGM to know he isn’t mindlessly led astray from his own convictions. Everyone is a big boy or girl and capable of deciding what is best for them. Quite frankly it diminishes them to suggest LBH – or anyone – has that much power over them to force them into silence.
iwannatalktosampson July 20, 2012, 3:50 pm
Right? Plus Zepp sucked anyway. (kidding). (too soon?)
katie July 20, 2012, 4:06 pm
you guys, i feel like im living in mean girls right now with this bad talk about BGM (dont let the door hit you on the way out… or let it? really?) and now about zepp.. please, lets not be like this…
im upset again.
iwannatalktosampson July 20, 2012, 4:10 pm
Sorry Katie I was totally kidding! Just trying to make light of the situation. You know I want BGM to come back – and I even FB’ed him and told him so!
katie July 20, 2012, 4:12 pm
ok good, im glad you were kidding. i kinda thought you were…but i know all those people who said those mean things to BGM werent kidding.. at all.
iwannatalktosampson July 20, 2012, 4:18 pm
I know… which is sad to me because I think he was really good at playing devils advocate and calling people out on their shit. Maybe I can talk him into coming back soon.
MsMisery July 20, 2012, 12:53 pm
The thing is, he can never just make his point without completely personally attacking whoever it is directed towards. I *would* agree with him more often too, if he weren’t such a heat seeking missle. I enjoy a good dose of snark but there’s no need to chew the faces off everyone on the internet.
rachel July 19, 2012, 8:55 pm
Oh definitely. No one should have to feel personally attacked.
Will.i.am July 20, 2012, 12:30 am
Yes. This is why I get so frustrated. There’s not enough LBH’s, but there’s plenty of women who think just like the LW, who don’t ask for a second, third, or fourth opinion. They just wash, rinse, and repeat their lives.
McLovin July 20, 2012, 2:02 am
I don’t entirely disagree with you about BGM. You, on the other hand, have never painted every. single. LW. as a wasted existence meandering through life randomly, and destroying everyone and everything around them – as BGM seems to think. It’s the way he delivers his opinions that bother me most, not the message itself. You two might often share the same opinion, but you are far more compassionate in your delivery.
bethany July 20, 2012, 9:37 am
I hope BGM comes back, too.
I’m not even going to get into what happened above, because it doesn’t involve me, and to be honest, I don’t really care… I think it’s worth noting though, that it’s important for many LWs to hear his point, in his somtimes abrasive tone. People respond to things differently, and sometimes that slap in the face is what some people need. If they get offended or if they get their feelings hurt by what he says, maybe it will cause them to look inward and figure out why that offensed them or hurt their feelings (Gatorgirl, I’m not talking about you and your situation here). Some might be able to identify with a nicer tone, and what’s what we have Wendy and other commenters for.
It’s hard to see people who could have so much potential and could have such great lives fuck it all up… And I think this is where BGM is coming from.
Addie Pray July 19, 2012, 8:21 pm
WHOA WHOA WHOA.
I’m going to go pour a glass of wine and figure out what the hell happened today up in here.
iwannatalktosampson July 19, 2012, 8:28 pm
For reals. But instead lets talk about my new yoga addiction. I mean I am going on 2 of the last 3 days. Gettin’ wild up in herrrrr.
Addie Pray July 19, 2012, 8:58 pm
Good job, iwanna. I haven’t been in a month. I am afraid to go back.
Wanna hear what I had for lunch today? Falafel sandwich, salad, egg rolls, chicken cordon blue, cheese and crackers, and a fucking apple. I ate that from noon to 4. I am home now and my stomach is rock hard. Like there’s a girls’ size basketball in there. Hey, at least it’s not a boys’ size basketball. *That* would be out of line.
Why did everybody get all crazy mad today? Was it because I’ve been working hard lately and they’re acting out? I thought so.
iwannatalktosampson July 19, 2012, 9:03 pm
chicken cordon blue was made my angels.
I think it definitely had to do with the fact that you’re not here to regulate. To add the occasional BJ comment to remind everyone what’s really important in life.
Addie Pray July 19, 2012, 9:09 pm
Seriously. Can you believe I now know 10 HJ moves and 10 BJ moves? I mean, my game just stepped up by, like, 1,000%. 10,000% maybe even.
iwannatalktosampson July 19, 2012, 9:07 pm
Oh and I had eggs for lunch. Because my yoga teacher told me I had to eat protein within 45 minutes of working out. And I’m going through this weird craving eggs faze. I put garlic salt on them. They were delicious. I might make more when I get home. Who knows how crazy I’ll get.
Maybe I won’t even have anything for dinner. I have an interview tomorrow and I’m kinda scared my interview suit won’t fit. Better skip dinner. And then go to yoga in the morning. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. I am determined to get these bar prep pounds off of me.
katie July 19, 2012, 9:45 pm
i wish you two were here earlier. im still upset…
painted_lady July 20, 2012, 3:34 am
I LOVE YOU KATIE!!!!
Feel any better?
katie July 20, 2012, 7:58 am
yes. i do after that!!
Budj July 20, 2012, 9:37 am
I steered clear of that situation – definitely made me feel bad / weird. The type of drama I don’t like. Let’s keep it to Jerry Springer-style train wrecks between people I don’t interact with on a daily basis 😛
Addie Pray July 20, 2012, 1:19 pm
Ahem, Budj, to you read the part where I said I learned a lot of new moves?!
bethany July 20, 2012, 9:38 am
Just go back already!!! COME ON. We’re going to have some words.
Addie Pray July 20, 2012, 11:58 am
I’m afraid. For fun I did the japense ham sandwich…. could only hold my nose on my shins for a second. too much belly in the way. ACK!!
Wendy July 19, 2012, 8:30 pm
What the fuck, everyone. Can’t y’all play nice?
Do not call each other assholes. Do not personally attack someone. Try to be compassionate in your tough love. Embrace differences. And for the love of God, until mercury is out of its retro cycle (19 more days), practice more patience.
Addie Pray July 19, 2012, 8:52 pm
Heeheee, LBH got in twouble!!!
Anna July 19, 2012, 10:45 pm
Hear hear!! I was shocked when I woke from my nap and discovered the shitstorm that ensued here today. It’s one thing to give an LW some tough love. It’s a completely different thing to be a judgmental jerk. If someone is writing to Wendy for advice, it’s pretty counterproductive to rip them apart for their past life decisions that may or may not have led them up to the point of writing the letter.
Come on now. Can’t we all just get along? Embrace peace and harmony and love and shit? Yes, everything sounds more gangster if you add “and shit” on the end.
Leroy July 19, 2012, 11:35 pm
Addie Pray July 20, 2012, 7:15 am
Leroy July 20, 2012, 10:54 am
What Would Leroy Do?
Michelle.Lea July 20, 2012, 4:38 pm
the other guy July 19, 2012, 10:02 pm
This guy needs to MOA, only known this LW for a few months and already she is trying to dominate his life and make him the daddy to a special needs kid.
Also the LW needs to stop trying to force this.
Will.i.am July 20, 2012, 12:21 am
I’ll kind of clear up the frustration here. It’s a big reason why Brad, Budj, and Buggie(?) don’t comment on these letters. I feel ganged up on when I spout my opinion as well, and I’m a guy who has seen a lot. It’s tough because I don’t think BGM has any issues with feminism at all, but I think he feels chastised maybe because feminist women are supporting women that make dumb choices. Clearly, BGM and myself don’t support douche guys that make poor decisions. It makes it really hard for us to post and speak our minds. You read the same letters and then go to the comment section and read the same things, and it becomes harder and harder to read the same things over and over again. It’s a prime reason why I haven’t been posting as much as I once was. I’m a huge debater and I even like to sway on the side of devils advocate.
As a guy, living in an area where many women are a lot like this LW, it’s really fucking frustrating. I can’t get a date for my life at times, but these women can keep making stupid ass choices and wondering why they keep getting their hurts broken. I’ll support any woman that doesn’t want to make poor choices and wants to turn a corner to make good choices. It’s so hard when I see this continually and it’s like they can’t ever see that what they are doing is completely ass backwards. Then here, it’s like everyone wants to coddle the person, when sometimes they just need that TOUGH LOVE. Life isn’t rainbows and bubble gum drops. Life throws curve balls and if you aren’t prepared for them, you will drown.
Yes, I think there’s better ways to express your feelings without going to the measure that BGM did, but it gets ridiculously frustrating when this continues. Then, as men, sometimes we feel like our opinion doesn’t matter, because we aren’t women. I’ve shared plenty of shit that I’ve done to women that is bad. That’s why I comment as often as I do. I recognize the shit that guys pull on women, because I’ve either done it or know someone who has. I’m not against feminism at all, but I am against supporting a woman who’s making poor choices, just because she’s a woman. I think the choice for the LW to even think about moving to NJ with her VERY NEW boyfriend is a terrible idea, but I think this letter may have just blew BGM’s top. This could fall back onto why women are from mars and men are from venus, but I’m just a bit more straight forward with telling someone they are being boneheaded about a decision they are going to make. I think tough love is very important and sometimes you need to tell someone they are an idiot to get the point across. In life, you can’t just always sugarcoat things.
Maybe, everyone here will have a bit more clarity of how some of us straight to the point guys think, and why things build up and we blow our tops.
ele4phant July 20, 2012, 12:36 am
Let me start by saying I really enjoyed this post (and many of your posts), and I want to stand up and clap for it. There’s just one tiny (really really tinsy) bit I want to call out, as it has to do with my response to BGM. Ready? Here it is:
“I’m just a bit more straight forward with telling someone they are being boneheaded about a decision they are going to make.”
Now, I agree with this. We *should* call people out when they are *about* to do something boneheaded. And I agree, BGM is usually particularly adept at that, and I do appreciate it. In the context of this particular letter, I do think it would be dumb to rush a relationship when three kids are on the line. Agree agree agree.
However, the comments had drifted away from this particular letter, to all single mothers. And statements were being made about how single mothers were boneheaded, in general.
And while I think we should call people when they are going to be boneheaded, or refuse to recognize that they have been boneheaded, it makes zero sense to me to call people boneheaded about mistakes that *have long since passed*? I mean unless you are able to provide them with a time machine, what is going to be accomplished by crapping on them?
Criticism should always be welcome, but it should be constructive. It should offer suggestions and guidance for the future, not scorn for the past. Today I don’t think BGM was saying anything constructive. At least I didn’t see it as such, but I was only one of the voices speaking back today.
Will.i.am July 20, 2012, 12:56 am
I wholeheartedly agree. I never call LBH boneheaded, because she made her daughter situation right. She wasn’t out partying and bringing strange men around her daughter. I get just as much as the next person that people make mistakes, but it chaps my hide to know that people just want to continue making mistakes without a care in the world. I’ve grown up in the South, as an African-American, in poverty, as a sick child, have seen my Mother beat by another man’s fist, and with a father who went to prison. I’ve seen a lot, so I have very little sympathy for someone who continues to fuck up. My situation is very similar to a lot of trouble kids and you can beat it just as easily as I did. I mentored kids at a predominantly poor elementary school, just because some of the faculty knew my story and knew what I came from. Who better to tell a story of encouragement than someone who had rough patches, but could see the light at the end of the tunnel.
I surrounded myself with people who were very different than what I grew up around. I hung out with kids who had Mom’s and Dad’s at home. I hung out with kids that had big nice houses and parents drove fancy cars. I hung out with kids, who as soon turned 16, they had a dependable car waiting for them. Why did I hang out with these kids? They were my motivation to escape what I grew up as, and just because I grew up poor, didn’t mean I had to stay poor. At 28, I’ve graduated college, live on my own, and built a nice career in my hometown. It wasn’t always easy, but I never gave up and I went for what was mine. No one was going to make my dream happen; I had to make it happen for myself. I got help along the way, but only because I was willing to show what I was capable of.
I think I got a bit off subject here, but you get the picture.
theattack July 20, 2012, 12:58 am
Will.i.am, I absolutely support tough love when it is needed. What BGM frequently gives is not tough love. It is just hatred and ugliness of spirit. That’s why I always take issue with him, and I don’t believe I’ve ever taken issue with you or your comments. The main difference today though, is between attacking another commenter and constructively giving the LW a reality check.
I’m sorry that you feel as if your perspective is less welcome as a man. I think all of us can agree that we love having you guys around, and we value your insight. What would a comment section be if all the commenters were the same? It would be meaningless. You all bring a fresh perspective that we as women don’t always see at first. Likewise, we sometimes remind you that you don’t always see what we see in a letter. It probably feels like we’re ganging up on you when that happens because there are so many of us and so few of you. But please know that even if we don’t say it enough, we really do value your contributions to the community, and many of us specifically look forward to your comments.
Now to the feminism thing: I really don’t think that we support commenters for making bad decisions. In fact, that’s pretty much the opposite of why everyone is here, right? I think the difference here is that women are probably more likely to see the effectiveness of nurturing someone and gently nudging them in the right direction, while men might be more used to a swift kick in the ass. It’s the way we’re socialized through baby dolls and sports, and it’s what most of us have seen our parents do. I honestly don’t see a bit of connection between feminism and supporting bad life decisions.
Leroy July 20, 2012, 11:25 am
I think that your probably right, that the tendency to absolve blame arises from nurturing more so than Feminism. But I have observed a few incidents here where many of the commenters have gone overboard asserting that the LW is blameless for a situation that they’ve obviously contributed to. This is especially common when there is a husband or boyfriend involved.
Past a point, this sort of ‘nurturing’ is disempowering because it casts women as absolute victims. If they’re not responsible for any of the outcomes in their life, then it follows that they’re powerless to change them.
Will.i.am July 20, 2012, 12:39 pm
Funny how some guys are coming out and saying exactly what I said. See ladies, notice how some of the guys feel just like I do, but choose not to say anything and try to avoid or ignore it?
ele4phant July 20, 2012, 1:32 pm
I think you misunderstand what she meant by “nurturing and nudging”. She is not saying women should be absolved of blame or allowed to play the victim for their choices, she means taking a more gentle approach at getting someone to see their mistakes and encouraging them to make better choices to turn it around.
Its still holding them accountable. It’s still coming at things with the message “You need to be responsible for your actions”; its just a different packaging. You may disagree that this can be effective, but in my personal experiences and observations, I’ve noted that when people are given a harsh treatment they sometimes become alienated and tune out the valid advice behind it, ultimately rendering it ineffective.
theattack July 20, 2012, 3:54 pm
Yup, This is exactly what I meant. To the people who think nurturing is always horrible: speak to any social worker who does counseling. We all take different approaches with different clients, because they need different things. I’m hard as hell on some of them, because that’s what will help them the most. But some people who need help need it gently. Talk to teachers, or to nurses in nursing homes, etc. They can all tell you this.
ele4phant July 20, 2012, 4:25 pm
Agree about the “people are off if they assume nurturing immediately means coddling or is bad”. I keep coming back to this:
Do you want to say the morally “right” thing, or do you want to frame your opinions in a way that is going to be effectively listened to?
Being right and being heard aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive, but if you lead with “God you are a fucking idiot” you run the risk of alienating people and then having them tune-out your advice, even if the are 100% being fucking idiots.
We can wax all day long about whether someone deserves to be called an idiot for their poor behavior and choices, but deserving or not if you want them to listen to them sometimes you need to use a tempered approach. That may be frustrating if you feel someone really deserves to get a verbal lashing, but again, what is you want when you’re commenting? To get to be right, or get to give effective advice?
Nurturing can often be an effective way to communicate. Sometimes the only way. You don’t have to like it, but don’t get all mad if your preferred hard ass approach fails.
I also think we have more leeway in real life to be more forthright with people we know than we can on the internet. As someone else was talking about, their dad has a real tough love approach. Mine too. But when my dad is coming down on me, I have the benefit of knowing he’s criticizing my an aspect of my behavior, not me as a total person. I know his anger is coming from a loving place. If a complete stranger does the same, I think “Well who the hell is this guy? What’s his problem?” And that’s what we are here, anonymous strangers. So, while with family and friends it might pay to be a hard ass, I think its less effective in this context.
Maybe the LW sand we as commenters are too “sensitive”. But so what? Do you want to get your point through or not?
theattack July 20, 2012, 4:43 pm
Perfectly written. I completely agree with you.
painted_lady July 20, 2012, 3:32 am
Will, I don’t ever see you as having blown your top. Whatever you have to say, you say respectfully and kindly, and even when I disagree, your perspective is always appreciated. I hope you feel as valued as you are here, because you have such insights, and you come at it with such a measured stance, that even if you feel you’re blowing your top, it never comes across that way.
Obviously because I have a different life experience, I have a different perspective from you, but as one of the fairly staunch feminists around here, I’ve felt attacked at times, especially in cases where I’ve also played devil’s advocate (in the case of the TA who wanted to sleep with a student, for example). Don’t think that it’s because you’re a dude – it’s because you’re smart, you’re opinionated, and you’re not afraid to voice it. One thing that I can’t recall you being is hateful, and that’s where I draw the line and comments verge into inappropriate and unhelpful. If I recall correctly, we’ve had a few debates on here, and while there would never be a debate if there weren’t a difference of opinion, I have never once felt attacked by you. More often the bigger disagreements on here have been with the way something was said and a refusal to admit that a comment was way, way over the line in its hatefulness, rather than the content of the comment itself.
jlyfsh July 20, 2012, 8:18 am
so Will.i.am I have a completely unrelated and random question. Have you taken your vacation to Myrtle Beach yet? Did you enjoy SC if you’ve been already??
GatorGirl July 20, 2012, 8:42 am
WIll, thank you for an articulate post.
My issue was BGM personally attacked me yesterday. And that is not okay. Wendy fosters a great community here on DearWendy and 99.9% of the time it is a positive place where an equal amount of tough love and compasion are handed out. Yesterday, very rude comments were made to me and I did nothing to deserve them. I simply was offering up my (positive) experiance growing up with a single mother when I was basically told my mother was an idiot for having me. The comment was uncalled for, unneccessary and unprovoked. Personal attacks on anyone; regular commentors, random commentors, LWs- are not acceptable in my book. No one attacked BGM yesterday until he attacked me.
iwannatalktosampson July 20, 2012, 9:21 am
Will – THANK YOU! This was an awesome post. I completely agree. And in real life I see otherwise smart women make these same mistakes over and over again and it is really frustrating. That’s why I never think these letters are fake because I know people who do things like this. Move across the country for a guy they’ve known 6 months when they have kids to think about.
I personally will be sad to see BGM go. As I stated above I very often agree with everything he says. I think women are too coddled because I mean we’re women right? I’m not even not including myself in that. My Dad is Red Forman – but at the same time if I ever fucked something up he would be there to clean up the mess. My brother doesn’t necessarily get the same drop-everything treatment. But then again my biggest fuckups are getting into fender-benders and breaking my car and stuff.
I make good decisions in life because there was always someone just around the corner waiting to tell me I’m a dumbass if I screw up. I think BGM really does want to point out the ridiculous choices some women make because EVERYONE is coddling them. They don’t have a single person in their life telling them they are fucking up. It’s a matter of seeing red flags.
I know the attack said something earlier about “well of course she didn’t have a crystal ball at the time to know the guy would be a loser” or something like that. And I wanted to comment that half the problem is women ignore GLARING red flags all the time. I doubt some guy was a great upstanding, respectful, responsible guy with his shit together and then BAM baby comes and he disappears. I’m sorry I just don’t know smart, respectful, responsible guys that do that.
But I didn’t because there is kind of a rara sisterhood gang around here sometimes. Like I am the devil for saying that about gatorgirls mom. When I bet she would even admit she ignored red flags. But how dare I? I don’t know I too am sometimes not willing to share my thoughts on stuff when I know I am on the tough love side of the fence.
katie July 20, 2012, 9:27 am
ah im glad were friends. love this.
iwannatalktosampson July 20, 2012, 9:30 am
Haha me too. Tough love givers unite. I wish I was here yesterday “in the heat of things”.
GatorGirl July 20, 2012, 9:35 am
There is a difference between saying she might have ignored some red flags and being plain rude.
Will.i.am July 20, 2012, 9:53 am
And that’s the point in the end. Call a spade a spade. It’s ok to make mistakes if you don’t continue to make them. Just like sleeping around without a condom regularly. You keep it up and you may be surprised with a child.
I’m a big rational guy, so I try and see things from the negative light A LOT. If the negative light doesn’t outweigh the positive gain, I will go ahead and step out. If the negative light does outweigh the positive, than I’m not always going to try anyways and hope for the best. Hoping for the best is where you can get yourself into trouble, because you are ignoring all the red flags, because you hope you can change the outcome. Most of the time, you really can’t change the outcome. Someone has decided to act a certain way, because that is what they want to do. Whether it’s always being a relationship style person, or having a social life every weekend. They have chosen that is the path they want to take and it will take something rather daunting to change their perspective.
I really wish BGM hadn’t flown off the handle. Maybe he’s dealing with his own personal issues or maybe he is truly fed up with the DW community. That’s only something he knows and only he can remedy. We can tell him all day how big of an ass he can be or how bitter he can be, but if he doesn’t feel the need to change himself, than that choice would be on him. Even if he continued to post in that manner, and it pissed particular commenters off, the best thing to do is just not to comment.
Just like I know a guy that likes to use the word nigger in a joking manner. I really don’t care that he uses it, because to me, I would be wasting my own energy to get onto him. That’s his personality, so instead of telling him it can become a “dog and pony show” I just don’t go around when he’s there. He’s not keeping me from enjoying my own social life and he can keep being the type of personality he is. I accept the way that he is, because he’s a grown man, but I can for damn sure control how I spend my time around him. So that’s what I choose to do and no one gets their feelings hurt in the end. It doesn’t work for much larger worldly issues, but for an aquantance, it works perfectly.
Chicago-Dude July 20, 2012, 11:38 am
Have you every spoken up to the “guy” about his use of the word, “nigger” without going “angry black male” on him?
Generally, yes – passivity isn’t a crime.
However, refusing to acquiesce to a view point isn’t a platform to launch a verbal assult BUT as you rightfully note, often times our experiences (good/bad) when provoked ignite a fire that only we can subdue.
(Mark doesn’t need my defending of him, but allow me to): Mark’s choice of words aren’t overly harsh in my opinion. My best friend is that frank, but I also know it’s because he has my best interest – and want me to stop being such a fuck-up on certain fronts especially the recurring ones. His view point (and choice of words) can be a refreshing outlier here on DW. When I disagree with him, I simply ignore him/move on. If he was my friend and was said that to my face, I might jab him in the arm and tell him to chill out and drink go drink a glass of water.
Someone (I don’t care if you’re black, brown, green, blue, turquoise or white) using the word nigger or nigga will ignite that fire in me which must be controlled because I find it offensive.
(Funny, here in Chicago I’ve heard white and asian dudes refer to each other as such – it raises the eyebrow – and the obvious question from me of, “do you understand the history of power association/racism with using that word?!” that almost always does the trick).
I don’t know where I was going with my thoughts, and I think i got lost but I must jump on #2-of-4 conference calls for today. (the life of a !)
Will.i.am July 20, 2012, 12:36 pm
I’ve thought about it and then I think he’ll say it around someone who doesn’t like it and they’ll put him in his place. For me, I don’t care enough about him, to put forth the energy to tell him. Man, that sounds just lazy as hell. You will not see me making a move for power anytime soon.
bethany July 20, 2012, 9:41 am
Thank you for this. I totally agree with you.
Will.i.am July 20, 2012, 8:35 am
No, I haven’t made it to Mrytle and I doubt I will this summer. I’ve been incredibly busy at work and my time has just been unavailable. Between work and mountain biking, I just don’t have much free time anymore. The only thing I’ve done this summer was OKC for a bachelor party and that was an absolute blast!!