I’m six months pregnant and this has been going on since we met. He always told me that I had to make the father of my children more financially responsible for them. The process of child support is ongoing, and I really feel like he should not take this as far as making me choose between him and letting my daughter keep seeing her father.
Please give me a bit of advice regarding this matter. — Impossible Choice
Let me help you reframe the decision you have to make: Continue being a loving and compassionate mother to your 5-year-old daughter by supporting her relationship with her father or be a not very great mother by choosing to continue a relationship with a hateful and insecure man who doesn’t have the emotional depth to foster a pet parakeet let alone help you raise your children. The choice seems obvious to me. That you are pregnant with your fiancé’s baby — even though his assholery precedes your pregnancy and has been going on since you met — is a complication you’re going to have to deal with the way anyone deals with raising a child with someone she is not romantically involved with. You’re familiar with the process already. Lawyer up and try to protect yourself and your baby as much as you can. Definitely the best way to protect all your children is cutting the fiancé out of your life as a romantic partner and establishing clear boundaries with him.
And in the future, when someone tells you who they are, believe them. Your fiancé has been trying to control you since you met. What kind of man starts telling a woman he’s just met how to conduct her personal affairs and how to co-parent with an ex? Not a man you want to have dinner with, let along agree to marry and build a family and future with. Any man who pulls that kind of shit should be kicked to the curb immediately.
For your children’s benefit, if not your own, please, please don’t let yourself fall for this kind of jerk again. Your children don’t have the power or the voice to say no to the crazy. You have to say no for them and protect them from people who don’t have their best interests in mind. It’s never too late to start being a better mom. That’s the true choice you’re faced with making. Please don’t let your children down.
Roger explained that 11 years ago he was in the process of separating from the mother when she slept with someone else, got pregnant, and then came back to him saying she didn’t know who the baby’s father was for sure. They got back together and he gave the child his last name. Then he presented the woman to his family for the first time and told everyone it was his baby. He probably believed it too. Or wanted to believe it.
Since the relationship with the mother wasn’t working out (again), Roger moved out. They were never married, but Roger continued to help raise the child, considering him his own. When the child was about two, the mother wanted a DNA test so that the child could be made aware of his true biological father. But the biologocal father, a rich and famous man, doesn’t want the child. So, to legally force him to take the DNA test, my boyfriend “had to” decline any rights to the child, thereby losing all rights and custody over the child. The biological father took the test, it was positive, and he never wanted to meet with the boy. The judge accepted that the boy keep Roger’s last name.
Now, where is the problem? Well, Roger has been lying to his entire family and friends from the very beginning! Now I have to lie to them too! Or at least I have to pretend. The child’s mother doesn’t want to work and has been demanding Roger’s money. She is nine years older than he is — about 47 — and she has never dated anyone else for the past 11 years!!! She got fat and unattractive and hasn’t got a single diploma or any job qualification.
She refuses to get a job as a supermarket cashier or do anything that isn’t her dream of becoming a famous painter. She demands to be paid for eveything: rent, food, the child’s clothes, etc. From what I understand, she demands money from Roger to see the boy and to have him on weekends. When she found out Roger was dating someone, she forbade her son from coming to my place. She used the Apple tracking system to make sure her son wasn’t with me.
Roger and I recently started trying to have a baby of our own. I asked him how he intends on managing the financial aspect of having a baby, which costs a lot around here, since I can’t pay for it myself. He answered that he didn’t know how. Well, I sure can’t raise a second child on my own.
Sometimes he says, “It’s just money” or “I have to consider my son’s interest.” And, of course, the child often argues with his mom, before crying over the phone and complaining about her. The child is manipulative. He is trying to get the most out of every one of us. He is sweet, but he can’t be trusted.
How do you advise I deal with these circumstances? — Wants a Second
Well, for one thing, stop trying to have a baby you can’t afford with a man you have such deep issues with. If nothing else I say resonates with you, please, dear God, let THAT be something you hear: Stop trying to have a baby!! And if you are blinded by some fantasy that this is going to somehow magically all work out and you’re going to get the family you want — two kids with a helpful and loving co-parent who has no baggage that interferes with your life — and you continue trying to have a baby, I pray fate intervenes to prevent a pregnancy from happening.
Roger doesn’t sound like a bad person. He sounds like a man who has been trying to do right by a boy he considers a son, who comes from a complicated background. And in trying to do right — likely without legal representation and advice, it sounds like — he has made some missteps. Those missteps have been costly in a variety of ways. The best thing he can do for himself now is to get legal help to find out if there’s any way he can get some kind of parental protection since the two biological parents this poor boy has seem uninterested in providing for him.
All that said, this is only your problem if you decide to stay with Roger and build a future together, which I would advise you not to do. For one thing, your thinly-veiled contempt for an 11-year-old from a broken home suggests you lack the compassion and empathy to be an appropriate partner for a single dad, let alone be a co-parent to a yet-to-be-conceived child (again, please don’t!!) and a stepparent to a child you don’t think Roger should even claim (despite raising him as his own since birth).
I cannot imagine the grief and the agony and the overwhelming stress of losing a partner shortly after having a baby together. I’m not judging you for wanting to find a new partner to love you, to love and help parent your child, and to build the family together with that you thought you were building with your husband. I do hope that you let yourself properly process and grieve the immense loss you suffered, maybe even with the support of a counselor or a group of people familiar with the specific pain of losing a young spouse, before you begin searching for a new partner.
If you haven’t done that, it’s absolutely not too late to seek out that support now. Because while the idea of providing your child with a second parent to raise and love her is nice, what is more important is that the parent she already has is as strong as she can be on her own — emotionally, physically, mentally, financially, and spiritually. If you are all those things, you will be as good to your child as two parents. And if you are all of those things, you will attract people who are equally strong and capable, as friends and as potential romantic partners.
You already have the family you crave for your daughter and yourself. It’s you and she. Work on making the foundation of your family as strong as you can so that if and when there’s an opportunity to build on it, there will be enough support for it. I don’t believe you’re there yet. I think if you’re honest with yourself, you don’t believe you’re there yet either. Continuing to invest in a relationship that isn’t going anywhere isn’t going to help you get there. Let Roger go and then do the work on yourself that needs to be done to make yourself the best mom and, eventually, when the time is right, a good partner and even potential stepparent.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.