I’m 29. Three weeks ago, I started dating a man, 28. We’d been friends for six months. I knew he had a child, age three.
Upon asking me to date him, he asked me to accept his child, which I did readily.
The boy and I have bonded so well. I’ve been clear that I’m not replacing his mother. His father has him full-time; his mother (mid-20s) has him for weekends.
I’d expected that my boyfriend would’ve told her that he’s in a relationship and I’m helping him with their child.
He hadn't. She found out and exploded into a rage.
I’d previously known that they had a bitter break-up two years before and only communicated on parenting matters.
After this fight, he showed me their text messages.
She requests money that doesn’t relate to their child or for expenses she cannot explain, and he gives in.
Her two-day child visitation becomes one day because she says she has to work.
Yet she also says she doesn't have a job, lives with her parents, and receives government assistance. He pays all child expenses.
He doesn’t communicate clearly about important matters, which frustrates her.
I decided to take a step back from helping with the child.
But she’s still outraged that her son’s spending time with me. She’s now texting every weekend to complain and argue.
He doesn’t mention me as his girlfriend and gives in to everything.
He asked for advice. I said that she doesn’t want him to move on with someone else, that he has to stand up for himself, make rules, and not tolerate her behaviour.
Meanwhile, he didn’t tell her that I’d be accompanying him for a child pickup.
The boy was excited to see me and introduced me to his mother. She grunted out "hi" without looking at me and drove off with her mother.
My boyfriend doesn’t speak to her in person. He later received many texts about how embarrassed she was and that her mom had to see me.
Now, the three-year-old tells me he has to yell at his mom to stop talking about me in a bad way.
I’m trying to be patient and accepting. I don't want to walk away entirely from this relationship, as I really do love him and his child.
I was thinking to end it until they sort themselves out. Or, just date two nights a week and keep it just three hours outside of home until everything’s settled.
This drama isn’t a bad show you can turn off. It’ll persist.
Worse, the big sufferer here is the little boy who needs his parents to provide loving security, instead of confusion and strife.
You’d be wise to truly step away and insist that your boyfriend focus on setting mutual boundaries with his ex before you can resume a relationship.
He’d benefit from individual counselling to learn how to handle being assertive but more open with her.
She has seen his generosity of paying for everything only as weakness.
He should seek court mediation to work out an agreement more acceptable to both. Otherwise, their son remains at risk of emotional abuse.
I understand that you may choose instead to still partially “date” him while he works on their parenting issues.
If so, leave their every text and argument to them.
Keep your contact with the boy warm and caring, but less hands-on unless when necessary, during this limited-dating period.
I have three daughters, ranging in age from 14-19. They’re great girls - all bright, athletic, lovely people.
But they take up a LOT of my time. I’m constantly driving them here and there, helping them with laundry, cooking for them, and on and on.
I actually don’t mind, but my husband feels like the odd man out. How can I make him feel more needed and included, and how can the girls?
Little Time for Dad
You need a re-boot of family functions.
Example: Dad can cook and so can the girls. He can also help them with laundry.
Have them choose one night weekly for taking over food preparation and cooking… and another for laundry and folding together. Suggest they put on their music and they’ll all end up singing.
You drive them to activities? He can pick them up. Soon the 19-year-old can drive sometimes, too, while you and your husband relax together.
Tip of the day:
In early dating, leave the bitter drama between divorced parents for them to resolve, whenever possible.