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August 19, 2018 - Welcome Guest!

Advice » Relationships

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Relationship/parenting

Question:

I have been in a relationship for almost 4 years and I have an 8-year-old boy from a previous marriage. My boyfriend didn't care too much for kids when we first met. Red flag number 1 right? Well we continued to date. I didn't think it would become much more but before I knew it, we were living together. However, he had to have his own room, because he wasn't ready for the whole package. He thought it would be best for my son if we did it this way so that they could get to know each other slowly. Needless to say, excuse after excuse and nearly 4 years later, he still has no better a relationship then he did when we first met - and now we have a 2-year-old together.

My son doesn't like him at all, and refuses to come over a lot of times because my boyfriend ignores him when he is here. I have had numerous conversations with him regarding my feelings and my son's feelings. He says he needs more time, but he is an okay father to our daughter. His idea of "family" is only the three of us; mine is all four of us. I want to leave him but he makes me feel guilty and tells me I am selfish - that I would ruin my daughter's life for my own happiness. What should I do?

Samantha, 32-year-old woman

Answer:

Dear Samantha,

I am not going to tell you what to do. No one has that right, including your guy.

In making your own decision, you can simply ignore the emotional blackmail that if you part with him you are selfish and will ruin your daughter's life. After all, you parted from your son's father, and the boy is still there and growing. Wanting regular loving contact with your son and being there for him is scarcely a selfish wish.

I can see that you are in a difficult bind. It is unlikely that your partner will change his attitudes. If you were to leave him, he might well promise to do so, but we know that people slip back into old habits once they get their way.

So, either you have to live with the current situation, or leave him. If you do leave him, chances are he will continue with regular caring access to his daughter, so I don't see how that will ruin her life.

If you do decide to stay, there are practical solutions. Instead of having the boy come over to your place, you can organize a neutral spot. For example, if your parents live nearby, you can spend time there with the two kids, and when your daughter is older, sometimes without her, sometimes with. Or you can do what many non-custodial fathers do, and spend one day a week or so in special, high-quality enjoyable activities with the boy.

In summary, he has no right to tell you what to do. You can make up your own mind, and he needs to wear your decision. You are the one with the power in this situation. Whether you decide to stay or go, you can organize practical solutions that look after the best interests of both your children.

Good luck,

Bob

This question was answered by Dr. Bob Rich. Dr. Rich has 30+ years of experience as a psychotherapist. Dr. Rich is also a writer and a "mudsmith". Bob is now retired from psychological practice, but still works with people as a counselor.

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