We are planning our wedding for next year and, while we agreed that we would have one child together, I’m not comfortable with the relationship between him and his ex’s kids, so I’m not sure if I want to bring a child into this confusion. I have discussed this with him, but he tells me he has nothing to do with the kids’ mom — he just wants to be a father-figure to the kids. His house is full of these kids’ photos, but something that irritates me more is that my fiancé has a daughter who is 25 and he acts like he cares more about these other kids than he does about his own daughter. This situation is driving me insane. Please advise me on what I should do. If they were his kids, I would understand and try to be more accommodating. — He’s Not Their Dad
There are a number of things that stick out to me from your letter. First: You’ve already agreed to have a child with your fiancé despite having reservations about bringing “a child into this confusion”? How about getting that part figured out first before agreeing to marry someone and have a child together. Second, your fiancé is already a father figure to four kids, so maybe he doesn’t need any more kids. Maybe the idea that he hasn’t been very present in his daughter’s life and is potentially using three kids who aren’t biologically his to feel better about himself is a sign that perhaps he has some issues that might prevent him from being the dad to your child that you might want? Third, his ex has asked him on several occasions to cut out being involved in her children’s lives and he continues to disregard that request? That’s so inappropriate and disrespectful and would be giving me such serious pause if I were planning a future with this person. If he can’t respect the mother of kids who AREN’T biologically his, how can you expect him to respect you in any future disagreements you might have about a child who IS biologically his?
I just… I wouldn’t be moving forward so quickly with this guy. At least, I wouldn’t be talking about having kids with him. After more than a decade of his acting like a father figure to kids who aren’t his, despite the protests of at least one biological parent of the kids, I don’t see anything changing any time soon. It’s clear he doesn’t respect boundaries. At best, his judgment seems questionable. And his relationship with the child who IS biologically his doesn’t seem like one that inspires much optimism about his potential as a father.
One more thing from your letter that made me go “huh”: You say that if the three younger kids were your fiancé’s, you “would understand and try to be more accommodating.” Well, I should hope that you would do more that try to accommodate a partner’s involvement and interest in his children’s lives. And with that language, I suspect that it isn’t just that these kids aren’t biologically your fiancé’s or that their mother has asked your fiancé to step back or that your fiancé has a weird relationship with his daughter that is “driving you insane.” I suspect that what’s truly at the root of your concern here is that your fiancé has interest and involvement in a life outside of what you have and want to create with him — that there are other people taking his focus and attention, and that, even if it were 100% appropriate for him to devote his time and attention to them, it would be an effort for you to “accommodate” that. And to that I say: Get over yourself. And if you can’t — MOA, and find someone whose attention you’re better able to share or don’t feel you have to compete for.
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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.