So my question is: Should I try to bring her into the relationship again? I need them to be comfortable around each other because they are the most important people in my life at the moment. It is very important to me. I don’t want to break up with him because I love him, but I won’t keep my daughter at a distance because he can’t be man enough to be around her for too long. — Looking For Man Enough
Well, I have to commend you for not rushing a relationship between your daughter and boyfriend. I get a lot of letters from single moms who move in with their new boyfriends after only a few months, but it’s much more appropriate that you’ve waited eight months before trying to incorporate your boyfriend into your life with your daughter. And you’re right to say that he has to accept her (and vice versa) in order for you to move forward. What gives me pause about your scenario is that you’re already discussing marriage with this man. Shouldn’t a healthy, harmonious relationship with your daughter kind of be a prerequisite for even discussing such a serious step? (It should).
So, you’ve now seen a red flag: Your boyfriend couldn’t even be friendly to your daughter while she was in his home. He shows no interest in getting to know her, and, in fact, has said he’s uncomfortable with her being part of your relationship. You ask if you should try to bring her into the relationship and my answer is: no, not right now — not after he’s explicitly said he’s uncomfortable with that. You could — and should — ask him when he envisions her being part of his life, IF he envisions that at all. After eight months of dating, a person who’s involved with a single parent may not be part of the kid’s life yet, but he should definitely know, or at least have some idea, about whether he wants to be eventually. And, certainly, if he’s talking about marriage with this single parent he’s dating, he really should be showing some interest, at the very least, in getting know his girlfriend’s child. That he’s actually showing discomfort with this is telling, and you need to pay attention to this red flag and find out why he’s uncomfortable. If you can’t get a satisfactory answer — if your communication is so poor — in general, but specifically around the topic of your daughter — then he isn’t the guy for you. You and your daughter are a packaged-deal. And while a potential partner shouldn’t have to immediately say whether he accepts the whole package, after eight months he really needs to be able to say he has interest in exploring whether the whole package fits his life and vice versa.
You need to make the deal too enticing to pass up. Rather than hypotheticals (“We could afford our own place!”), you need to find actual homes you could afford without taking in a roommate. You need to find potential jobs your husband could apply for that would pay enough to cover your bills. And you need to describe, in as much detail, what you imagine your life would be like in this town, in ways that seem better than your life currently is. Would living in the same town as your family provide some childcare that you maybe don’t have now, and would that child care allow you to work part-time, or perhaps enjoy some date nights that you aren’t able to afford currently? Would you be willing to take care of our child on your own for a weekend every so often so your husband could still go visit his friends, and maybe even have guy getaways with them? Basically: you need to show your husband how much better not only your and your son’s life would be, but his life as well. Give him details, paint the picture of your future, and make it a deal he can’t refuse.
You should definitely check with a family attorney about the legal issues of your question, but as for the ethical issues, your top priority should be your 4-year-old (grand)daughter whom you’ve adopted and agreed to care for as your own child. Does it benefit her to have her dad show up any time and in any physical and emotional state? Probably not. I would establish some clear boundaries and rules for visitation — a day or days of the week — when he is invited to spend time with your granddaughter, provided he’s sober. You reserve the right to turn him away if he’s high or drunk or in any way belligerent or obviously not fit to be in a child’s presence. Set a time limit, and decide if you and/or your spouse want/need to be present for these visitations. Consider drawing up a legally-binding visitation guide and having your son sign it. He may give you shit about it and you may feel guilty, but, ultimately, you’ll be doing everything you can to protect your granddaughter while also providing as much opportunity for her to know her father in a safe and restricted environment. When it doesn’t seem safe, you say no, and you have no reason to feel guilty about protecting your granddaughter.
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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at [email protected].
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]dearwendy.com.