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Cheryl and I split up about four years ago. I continued to get the kids almost every weekend. They tell everyone that I’m their dad. For three years, I never introduced them to a woman. I started dating my current girlfriend, “Maxine,” about a year ago. She knew the situation she was getting into with the kids, who were 8 and 9 when I introduced her to them. Throughout the three years following my breakup with Cheryl, I wasn’t the strongest disciplinarian I should have been with the kids when they were with me. Now Maxine, who moved in with me after a couple months, says we need to set and enforce stricter rules. She has kids that she has already raised and she did a great job.
It didn’t take very long for my daughter to start on Maxine. She has a love letter that I wrote my girlfriend that was hanging on the fridge, she’s made comments to me that Maxine needs to go, and she has been very disrespectful to her. I have addressed these issues, even to a point of taking the kids home not long after getting them. My daughter told me that she didn’t want to be at my house with us, so I took them both home to their mother’s. I again reached out to my daughter about my getting her and her brother, and she said she didn’t want to come. Now four weeks later I have reached out and have taken them to lunch. While at lunch, my daughter asked about Maxine in a genuine way, and when I asked them if they would want to come over the following week, they both said yes.
I told Maxine how they had acted and how I believe this may be the beginning of their changing and accepting her, but she was not happy about their coming over. We don’t argue or fight about anything except about my kids. She has made her argument that they are not even my kids. The last five days we have argued a lot. She basically wants me to choose her or them. Everything she has asked me to do with the kids, I have done. Examples: I set up a schedule for every other weekend I get them, I’ve stuck to my guns on discipline, I’ve given them chores to do, and I don’t get them if they express they don’t want to be here.
I set up an appointment for next Friday to see a psychologist about all of this. I had already planned to get the kids mid-week and then return them home on Friday before our appointment, but Maxine demanded I don’t get them until the following weekend so we can go to the appointment first. I told her that I’m not calling the kids, who haven’t been over in five weeks, to tell them I can’t come get them. Now she’s finding another place to stay while I have the kids. I did try and compromise with her and told her that I would bring them back to their mom’s after one night instead of two, but that isn’t good enough for her.
Maxine says she can’t seem to grasp my raising an ex-girlfriend’s kids that are not my blood. She believes I should not be a father figure but a mentor from a distance. Can you please tell me what your thoughts are? — Their Dad
My thoughts are that Maxine is a psychotic, controlling bitch who is out to destroy your relationship with your children and you should dump her immediately, kick her out of your house, apologize to your children for your lapse in judgment in bringing Maxine into their lives, and then be more cautious in the future about how quickly you escalate your romantic relationships. It sounds like you moved in with Cheryl, your ex, after just a few months of dating, and then you started living with Maxine after only a couple months of dating. That’s too fast, especially when there are children in the picture. You didn’t know Maxine well enough. Now you are starting to see her true colors. She’s the kind of woman who would make a man choose between her or his children. She’s the kind of woman who would argue that a man, who has raised his kids for over eight years, since they were babies, isn’t a real father simply because he doesn’t share their DNA. You are their dad. They know that, you know that, your ex knows that, your parents know that, everyone knows that except, apparently, the woman you’re sharing a home and a life with. Can you not see the glaring conflict?
This is not a situation that will ever improve. Maxine has zero interest in sharing you with your kids. She will continue doing everything she can to come between you, exploiting your feelings and attraction for her in an effort to “win.” Her prize is a life with you free of the burden of your kids. That’s all they are to her – a burden. She doesn’t want a relationship with them and she doesn’t want you to have a relationship with them.
Please, please, come to the light. It’s not too late. You can save everything you have with your kids if you dump Maxine now and repair the still-minimal damage she’s wrought. It’s not too late! But the longer you wait and the longer you subject your kids to the malignant cancer that is your girlfriend, the more the chance of saving your relationship with your children slips away. The time to act is now.
From the archives (this was originally posted on April 19, 2011):
Well, he never called or texted to say that he wouldn’t be available, but first thing Monday morning he asked if I was feeling better (I had been sick the week before), told me I looked nice, and apologized for not calling because he (being the nice guy) ended up helping a friend move. I gave him the cold shoulder. I am so confused about the inconsistency between his flirtatious interest and his non-committal attitude toward getting to know me more that I deleted his number, defriended him on Facebook, and haven’t been speaking to him. He looks very sad when I see him, but I feel like I may have read him wrong this whole time and am afraid that he’s only been nice because he doesn’t know how to say no to me. Did I give up too soon or should I just MOA? — Office Crush(ed)
My response here. The comments are kind of a funny walk down memory lane, too. Old-timers: Remember the purple thumbs?! And the mini debates in the comments about silly stuff all the time? Ah, such simple times.