When my boyfriend still lived at home, he had his son every other weekend and one night during the week, as per the divorce agreement, and we would all do everything with his parents — watch TV, eat, vacation, church, etc. I thought that, once we moved in together, that he, his son and I would create memories of our own together, hopefully with his seeing me in a more permanent sense or at least headed that way. However, my boyfriend’s domineering and controlling father stated to my boyfriend in front of me, days before we moved in together, that he expects that nothing should change as far as seeing his grandson. In other words, my boyfriend’s visitation agreement states that 30% of the time he gets his son. Therefore, my boyfriend’s father intends to see his grandson at least 30% of the time, just as he did before my boyfriend moved out. My boyfriend’s son’s bedroom is even at the grandparents’ place, not at my boyfriend’s. On a weeknight, my boyfriend will visit his son at his parents’ place and then come home to our place without his son, leaving him there overnight!!
Interestingly enough, my boyfriend’s parents see their grandson more than my boyfriend does. They watch him often during the workweek, because my boyfriend and his ex-wife need child care and my boyfriend’s mom is more than happy to do it, which is wonderful as child care is expensive. But despite seeing him as much as they do, they were very vocal about their disappointment when last week they only saw him once as opposed to the three to four times a week they are accustomed to.
My boyfriend feels pulled in all directions. Ultimately, he does what his parents want. He has a week off from work and and his dad made vacation plans for him, them, and my boyfriend’s son. Last year, we also spent his vacation with his parents (and of course my boyfriend’s son). Mind you, my boyfriend sees his parents at least two to three times a week and every Sunday! I’ve asked him if just the three of can do some things together, to make our own memories, be closer to his son, and be more like a family if that’s where we are headed. He gets defensive and says it would be World War III if he were to make a “move” like that. Help, we’re talking splitsville now. — Ready to Be a Family
So, basically, you moved in with your boyfriend KNOWING that his parents are super domineering and controlling and expected to see him and their grandson all the time? You moved in with him knowing there was no bedroom for the son at your place. And it seems you moved in with him without knowing whether you two (and his son) are headed towards being a family? I’m confused. WHY would you move in with someone — a father with partial custody of his son — without discussing these things?? Why would you take such a “wait and see” attitude about something like this, especially when you had SO MANY signs — including explicit statements from a domineering parent — about what life would be like after you moved in together? Why would think that, after you moved in together, you’d create memories as a family of three when you had, thus far, NEVER ever done ANYTHING as a threesome?
You took a leap of faith that was based way too much on wishful thinking, and now you’re paying the price. I mean, no shit you’re talking splitsville. You aren’t a couple who communicates well. If you were, you would KNOW where you are headed. You would know whether you were on the same page. You would have worked out custody stuff before moving in together. Did you never think to ask why the son wasn’t getting a bedroom at your new place? Did you not know he wasn’t until after you moved in together?
It might be too late, but, since you clearly didn’t discuss these important topics BEFORE you moved in together, you must do it now. Where do you both see your relationship in two years? Is the son ever going to live with you, even a few nights a week? Do you want additional children together? If so, what’s the game plan in dealing with the pushy grandparents? Now that you have seen how they are and how weak your boyfriend is with them, do you WANT to have kids with him? Do you want to marry him and deal with his parents for the rest of their lives? Your boyfriend is showing you what life as part of his family is like. Consider it a gift that you’ve seen as much as you have before getting married. It may be too late to discuss important topics before moving in together, but, honey, it’s not too late to RUN.
Follow along on Facebook, and Instagram.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at [email protected].
bittergaymark August 13, 2015, 10:21 am
Has it occurred to you, LW dearest, at all that maybe — just maybe — the grandfather here is taking the heat so to speak for simply enforcing WHAT THE POOR KID ACTUALLY WANTS?
Diablo August 13, 2015, 10:35 am
Holy Crap! BGM hits the point that Wendy missed! Is the world coming to an end? Is it the rapture? Seriously, BGM, considering what the kid himself may actually want represents a new low for you in terms of empathy and compassion toward another. I’m sorry, but from now on, i’m going to call you Sensitive Gay Mark.
bagge72 August 13, 2015, 1:48 pm
Hmm I don’t know, BGM does like to give LW’s a whole lot of shit, but I have always noticed that when there are kids involved he is very passionate about what he has to say. He seems to have a soft sport for them.
Diablo August 13, 2015, 3:20 pm
He’s just a big humane softie who hides under a bejewelled crown of bitterness. We’ve got his number, though.
Cleopatra Jones August 13, 2015, 10:54 am
Or they want to help the kid maintain the only stability he has known since his parents divorced.
Skyblossom August 13, 2015, 11:03 am
Exactly! How many LWs are living with a partner where one or both has kids and it isn’t working. Kids need stability and being dragged through dad’s romances doesn’t provide that stability. The grandparents aren’t going to be bringing relationship drama into the boy’s life.
I do think it is commendable that the LW wants to form a family with the boyfriend and his son. We see way to many people who want to dump the kid from the previous relationship. It is commendable but not realistic in this situation.
Cleopatra Jones August 13, 2015, 11:18 am
I felt like her ‘let’s make our own family memories’ attitude was just a way to manipulate the boyfriend into marrying her. It felt a little too, ‘See I can be a good replacement mom for him’ for me.
I dunno, this letter just feels manipulative too me. I can’t get on board with someone who wants to make new memories by supplanting memories from the only stable family this kid has.
Skyblossom August 13, 2015, 11:48 am
I didn’t pick up a manipulative vibe as much as a naive vibe. We’ll move in together and be a family of three and start making memories. I’m assuming a manipulative person would have hammered out the details to make sure things went her way. I do think she sees herself as a replacement mom when the boy is over.
Cleopatra Jones August 13, 2015, 12:11 pm
Maybe manipulative wasn’t the right word for how I felt about the letter–maybe it was her naivete that bugged me. It feels like she’s trying to play ‘house’ with her boyfriend at the expense of the kid.
It’s sorta how I feel when I hear people talking about how wonderful their imaginary spouse/kid is going to be as if their life were some kind of Disney Channel sitcom.
Skyblossom August 13, 2015, 1:00 pm
Yes. I think trying to play house describes it. She thought that they would all live together and form a happy family and make their own happy memories, just the three of them. I think her intentions were good but she didn’t see reality right in front of her.
keyblade August 13, 2015, 12:19 pm
I think she feels the grandparents should take a step back into the more traditional role grandparents usually play. While she is okay with them being really involved, she would like there to be some limits where it isn’t all the time during the dad’s custody. I don’t blame her for wanting to have her own family home without her boyfriend’s parents attached to his kid during all the visits and vacations. Three days a week is a lot to be around in-laws. But they aren’t in-laws, yet. And the boy lives with them. And it isn’t her place to decide it’s time for him to move in yet, just because she’s ready and willing. Her boyfriend has to consider what is best for his child on the big stuff, irrespective of what it means to his relationship. He gets to decide if and when his son is ready to leave grandma and grandpa’s house. I can’t blame the letter writer for being weirded out by all the parental enmeshment and deciding it isn’t for her. But it isn’t her place to decide to “fix” her boyfriend’s relationship with his son or his parents. Rather than continue to push for something her boyfriend isn’t ready or willing to give, she should probably just move out.
dinoceros August 13, 2015, 2:24 pm
Yeah. Maybe when the kids are actually in his literal custody, he’s a crappy dad. I imagine there’s a reason that they started taking on most of the load of parenting on his behalf.
keyblade August 13, 2015, 11:21 am
Count me in on team BGM, Diablo, Cleo J, and Sky.
cdobbs August 13, 2015, 10:37 am
LW i think your boyfriend has made it loud and clear how he is choosing to raise his son…..don’t blame the grandparents….i really believe they are taking the fall to follow your boyfriends wishes and possibly the grandson’s wishes…..you really don’t have a say….you are not the biological mother….it almost sounds like your boyfriend just wants to live with you as a bit of an escape from his parents….but the fact your house can’t accomodate children speaks volumes….probably your only option is to continue dating the boyfriend with no expectation of becoming a step mom to his son
chief10 August 13, 2015, 10:38 am
That’s a good possibility BGM. My first thought was would it even be “legal” that the son was spending the night at another relatives house when he’s supposed to be under the custody and care of his father. But then reading that the grandparents do the daycare and they both are happy and save the $$$ for childcare, well they’ve got the trump card over both parents. Looks like they’re calling the shots. And you should’ve known/realized all this before.
No one but you see’s anything wrong with this, and maybe this is the way the family works best. This does not meet your expectations/dreams and there’s no indication that anyone else wants or even thinks something should change. I think you’re in MOA’ville.
On a side note, Wendy has anyone else reported a SHOCKWAVE FLASH/SHOCKWAVE PLUG-IN FAILURE with the site. It happens to me everytime on DW as of late.
Dear Wendy August 13, 2015, 10:47 am
No, no one has has mentioned that. I don’t know what that is, but I’ll see what I can find out. Anyone else experiencing this?
Dear Wendy August 13, 2015, 10:48 am
What browser do you use?
Raccoon eyes August 13, 2015, 11:11 am
Yes, definitely on Chrome. I have experienced it for at least a week.
MissDre August 13, 2015, 1:55 pm
It’s most likely because Flash ads are no longer supported in Chrome, and the advertisers have no upgraded their display ad formatting. Probably nothing to do with Wendy’s site (I work in Advertising, and Google has been sending out warnings for ages that Flash ads would no longer be supported as of this month).
Tinywormhole August 13, 2015, 10:55 pm
I normally used Firefox but now DW crashes my browser. Works fine on Safari though.
Anonymous August 13, 2015, 10:49 am
I am not. I use a ibook (Safari) or iPhone….
Lianne August 13, 2015, 10:50 am
It’s been happening to me the past couple days but assumed it was my work browser. I use Chrome.
jilliebean August 13, 2015, 10:57 am
Weirdly, that just happened to me as I was reading this comment! I’m on Google Chrome and it says “Shockwave Flash has crashed”. Maybe it’s one of the ads. Everything else seems fine.
dinoceros August 13, 2015, 12:23 pm
I’m on Chrome typically, and Flash crashes a lot. Prior to it crashing, my computer slows down a lot, so I have to make sure I’m closed out of any DW window before trying to do anything else.
Sara August 13, 2015, 11:32 pm
I haven’t had any crashes, but the site has been incredibly slow for me when using Firefox, particularly on the forums. It doesn’t drag on Chrome the way it does on Firefox.
Dear Wendy August 14, 2015, 5:49 am
Thanks, everyone. I talked to my ad network asking if the crashes could be related to the kinds of ads they’re running and they said it could be related and then made some changes so not as many flash ads would show on the site. They said: ” Adobe has been getting a lot of flak lately from countless companies across the internet because of Shockwave Flash crashing so often. Adobe has assured everyone that they’re working on the issue, and hopefully they have it resolved quickly. Let us know if you continue to see the issue persist as much, but removing the amount of ads using Shockwave should take care of it.”
Let me know if you’re still having issues, but hopefully things will move smoother and faster now.
Lianne August 14, 2015, 8:47 am
chief10 August 14, 2015, 9:13 am
Thanks Wendy and everyone else, and yes I’m using Chrome. Sorry for the late response, this is my first time back on the site since yesterday. But it seems we all collectively got to the bottom of this.
Miss MJ August 13, 2015, 10:49 am
Whatever the underlying reason for this situation, LW, it isn’t yours to fix. If Kid, Dad, Mom and Grandparents are happy with the arrangement, then what you, as girlfriend, want is immaterial. So, either accept that in this situation your opinion is unwanted and nothing is going to change (meaning, as I read it, you will likely spend most every other weekend and vacations with your BF’s parents) or MOA.
Ika August 13, 2015, 10:50 am
So many questions!!!
How long was BF divorced before LW came in the picture?
Did the parents practically raise the boy? (I have the feeling that is the case)
What are LW and BF doing on the weekends now (if he has custody on the weekends, but she only talks about weeknight visits)?
What the heck did LW see as appealing in this doormat?
Seriously LW, your BF sounds like a shitty parent. I mean he didn’t even make sure his son had a bedroom at his new apartment. He is more than happy to let his parents do everything for him, down to organizing his social life.
I hope, for Jebus’ sake that you are using BC. Last thing you need is to get pregnant before getting out of this dysfunctional mess, as you have to do.
Ele4phant August 13, 2015, 10:56 am
To clarify – is there no bedroom at all for the child and the LW’s, or has a bedroom not been set up for the child? I didn’t get the sense from the LW that they moved into a one bedroom that could not accommodate the child or anything, just that a second bedroom hadn’t been set up specifically as the child’s room. It sounds like the LW moved into a place she assumed could and would accommodate the child, but has found that not to be the case and the kiddo is still sleeping at grandma and grandpa’s.
Skyblossom August 13, 2015, 10:59 am
I’m assuming that your place has a second bedroom and you assumed the son would be staying in it when he was with his dad but that hasn’t happened.
In this situation the boy has stability at his grandparents. The grandparents may be better parents to him than his dad. You have no say in all of this so you will get what they give you. I don’t think you can realistically expect anything to change so you either accept him as he is, with the situation as is, or you split.
othy August 13, 2015, 11:17 am
This was my assumption too, and the LW was surprised when the kid’s stuff didn’t make the move with the boyfriend’s stuff.
Skyblossom August 13, 2015, 11:43 am
Yes. She made assumptions but didn’t discuss them so was surprised.
Ele4phant August 13, 2015, 12:37 pm
I was thinking the same thing – I’m suprised Wendy and some other posters assumed they moved to a place without a second bedroom. If that was the case, her confusion would be a non-starter. The kid doesn’t sleep at your house – because you don’t have a place for him to sleep. Duh.
They must have moved to a place where the kid could have a room, but his stuff hasn’t been moved over as the LW assumed it would.
Ika August 13, 2015, 12:43 pm
But I mean, in the process of looking at houses/apartments wouldn’t the most normal thing to do be like “Oh, isn’t this room great for Billy Bob? We can get it painted in his favourite colour, get a good toy chest for that corner…”
I don’t get how it NEVER came up
Skyblossom August 13, 2015, 12:56 pm
I think it was up in the air between the boyfriend and his parents and that is why his dad so forcefully said nothing would change with the grandson just days before the son moved out. The grandfather was afraid that the son would take the grandson. They may have choosen a place and called the second room the son’s room but when it came down to it the boyfriend left the son behind. Her boyfriend, could at any time that his son is at his parent’s house for his visitation, go and pick up his son and take him out to do something. He doesn’t.
Ele4phant August 13, 2015, 1:16 pm
Maybe it did come up. Maybe the boyfriend originally thought his son would make the move too, and then grandpa put his foot down on that idea and the boyfriend caved. Or maybe once the kid found out the plan he asked grandpa to tell dad he wanted to stay.
Maybe it was a miscommunication between the LW and the boyfriend. Maybe the boyfriend assumed the room could be used by the child very occasionally and the LW assumed it would always be used by the child when it was dads turn to have custody. IDK.
My only point was – people were discussing this like they moved into a place with no second bedroom, I interpreted it that they did but the kid’s stuffed hasn’t been moved in.
kare August 13, 2015, 11:05 am
Maybe I’m missing something – but couldn’t the boyfriend just not leave the son there? If he wants his son with him so badly, couldn’t he visit his parents and not leave the son overnight? I feel like it’s highly possible the boyfriend enjoys the current arrangement in which he a part time secondary caregiver. My best friend’s SIL is the same way. She goes on and on about how much she loves her son and how she doesn’t get enough time with him, but doesn’t have a bedroom for him at her house or even sees him every day. Whenever someone points out that she could have her son with her if she wanted (there’s nothing legally stopping her and she makes a decent living), she just talks about how it’s the son’s routine, the parents would miss him too much, it’s too hard being a lawyer to raise a child, etc.
Skyblossom August 13, 2015, 11:46 am
Since the boyfriend is the one with custody he could take his son with him but he doesn’t. He could also spend the night at his parents whenever his son is there but he also doesn’t do that.
keyblade August 13, 2015, 11:12 am
I don’t have any experience with blended families. It seems like a lot of single couples start off moving in and seeing how they like it before tying the knot (if they are so inclined to tie). I’m not sure how one goes about trying on a family with children before deciding to commit. It seems like it would be very confusing to a kid to have to go through that process. Especially since that kid already had to adapt to his parents divorce. It sounds like the father wanted the child to have a sense of primary family that included the grandparents and now he does. It’s unfair to yank that away so that the letter writer can try on being a family. It sounds like the grandparents were invited to take on strong roles as financial and nurturing care-givers for awhile now to the satisfaction of everyone involved up until now. It’s only natural that they would have strong opinions with the dynamics being what they are.
I’m not sure what the letter writer can really do, here. It isn’t primarily the grandpa’s fault she isn’t getting what she wants. Her boyfriend is comfortable having his parents co-raise his son. I agree with BGM that the son might really prize having his traditional vacation with dad and grandparents.
I don’t blame the letter writer for feeling blocked out from moving forward. But I don’t have any ideas on how to proceed. She can continue to express her dissatisfaction but ultimately it’s up to her to figure out how address it. Perhaps she should run for the hills.
juliecatharine August 13, 2015, 11:27 am
I really don’t get how all of this wasn’t discussed and hammered out before moving in. Seriously, wtf. LW, you’re a girlfriend, not a fiancé, not a wife, definitely not a parent or step-parent. Your boyfriend sounds like a man-child who is very happy to allow his parents and ex to do the heavy lifting of raising his son. I would MOA.
sobriquet August 13, 2015, 12:14 pm
I don’t see anything terribly wrong with this arrangement. It sounds like both father and grandparents are very involved and that the grandparents are simply more involved than you would like. If the son is happy to keep his bedroom at his grandparents house, then that’s all that should matter.
LW, I think you’re caught up in what your ideal family should look like and that’s blinding you from the positives of this reality. The kid has many people invested in his well-being and that is a wonderful thing. If everyone else is okay with the kid staying at his grandparents house, then take advantage of that extra alone time. If the grandparents tend to travel with you on vacations, then be sure to plan a night or two for you and your boyfriend to go out on your own. Shift your perspective about this and I think you’ll realize that things are not as bad as you think they are!
(And if you want to make your own memories with the son, then start planning stuff for just the 3 of you! Even just a trip to the movies or a baseball game every once in awhile.)
dinoceros August 13, 2015, 12:29 pm
I have to wonder how much is that the parents are domineering versus the dad being apathetic and enjoying his free time. If he wanted his kid at home with him, he’d make it happen. There are parents who lift cars to get their kids out from under them — I think he could say, “Hey, Bobby is going to live with me now.” But he doesn’t. Most parents I know would be heartbroken if they left them every night like that.
dinoceros August 13, 2015, 12:32 pm
Also, I’m not sure why LW thinks that suddenly he’ll start parenting. Single parenthood sucks, but it’s not unreasonable to think that he was capable of parenting 30% of the time even prior to her being in the picture.
d2 August 14, 2015, 5:55 am
I have seen this situation a few times where one parent never took control of their own life (or their children’s lives) after a divorce, and let the grandparents raise the kids in shared custody like this LW’s BF is doing. In the cases that I witnessed, it was because one of the grandparents was controlling and the parent did not want to start “WW III”. In all of those cases, the children ended up resenting the controlling grandparents and their spineless parent. Because one parent did take personal responsibility, the kids witnessed the difference, and recognized the manipulation and lack of responsibility.
As it stands, the BF is totally willing to accept being controlled by his parents. He likely has never known anything different and therefore has little motivation to change. If the LW stays with the BF, she too will have to accept a life that is controlled by his parents. And if the BF ever does try to stand up for himself, the LW should indeed be prepared for WW III.
keyblade August 14, 2015, 6:27 am
That sounds terrible. I’ve known some controlling parents in my day, but never a grown child that would so easily give up living with their own child to avoid conflict. That would be three red flags in one for me.
In this case, the ex-wife also uses the grandparents as free babysitters during the workweek. And with the grandpa arranging the vacation my guess is that he is paying for everything. To me it sounds like most of the control comes from the convenience of not having to pay for anything.
Personally, I could see an eleven year old as not being particularly keen to go on vacation with his dad’s girlfriend. It’s a strange situation because the girlfriend has so little interaction with the kid after two years. I think a better transition would have been for the boyfriend to move out by himself with his son for another year, at least, before deciding to move in with the girlfriend. This would have given him time to set his own boundaries with his parents and take ownership of being ready to be a single parent. Then the letter writer could have had an easier time getting to know the boy without being too disruptive to his life. But they moved right in with each other. Maybe she didn’t want to wait another year and her boyfriend didn’t want to lose her. Who knows? But the boyfriend wasn’t ready to be a single dad by himself out of the relationship. Because of this, my guess is all the changes this boy will have to face will be blamed on the letter writer (if she gets her way).
I do think ultimately the boy will wonder why his dad let his grandparents raise him. Right now, I wouldn’t be surprised if the boy didn’t want to leave his second room (away from his mom) behind to start something new. IMO, that should have been done well before his dad embarked on a romantic relationship. The boyfriend kind of put the cart before the horse, here.
It’s so easy to speculate from the internet. I don’t know.
Clementine August 14, 2015, 9:45 am
I sympathize with you, LW. It sounds like you made some reasonable assumptions–even if they were a little naïve.
Step back and look at this from everyone’s point of view.
Grammy & Gramps: Are basically raising The Kid half-time. They provide support and stability and may even be more of a parent to the boy than your boyfriend. They have no stake in appeasing you at his expense. They will not immediately fade out of his life now that dad has an insta-mom in his new place. They’ve seen him grow up, seen him struggle through his parents’ divorce, and probably coached him through all the typical growing pains. They will always take his side, never yours. That’s their job. How wonderful that this child has so much love in his life. Get ok with that.
The Kid: He’s 11. Grammy’s place is his home. He’s old enough to say, “I want to stay here.” Maybe he’s not keen on moving in with you. Let him be where he feels stable. Get ok with that.
Boyfriend: Sigh. He’s pulled. I get it. His parents have provided a lot of support, child care he can’t afford, and stability for his kid. I’m willing to bet they paid his divorce expenses. Whether his inertia is due the welfare of his son or an unwillingness to jump off that gravy train, we don’t know. But we do know that he’s going to do what his parents tell him. Can you get ok with that? Is that a dealbreaker? I think some empathetic questions and good listening are crucial here, because he’s telling you who he is.
In the end, this thing with The Kid is not about you. If you decide to stay with your boyfriend, find other ways to build a relationship with his son. Start smaller. Do little things—ask if he wants to go to the grocery store with you. Show up at soccer games. Invite him for ice cream. Offer to help him buy a birthday gift for his dad, or ask for his help. Set up a bedroom for him at your place. Let him decorate it however he wants. After a while, maybe you can move up to this “making memories” thing, which, if we’re being honest, is a naive idea. I think what you mean is “becoming a unit of three,” which you aren’t yet and certainly can’t force.
Monkeys mommy August 15, 2015, 8:53 am
I lived this situation about 12 years ago. My ex had full custody of his then two year old daughter, and they lived with his parents full time (even though he had his own house). When we married and moved into his home, his parents were insistent the child remain with them. We had “visitation”. Eventually, I put my foot down, and told him to grow a pair and bring our daughter home. We were married, and had a new baby on the way, it was time to stop the nonsense. They reluctantly let her go, sending one bag of clothes. Her entire room remained at their place. We built a new one and moved on. They still kept their shrine to her at their place- and it came in handy four years later when I left him for being a nutjob. So, maybe your boyfriend’s grandparents are not so far off base… Why shake up the kid’s life for nothing?