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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My husband and I dated for one year before getting married in November 2015. Not once has he mentioned me to his child's mother, nor his child. My husband and his ex-girlfriend have made arrangements for their child to stay in our home for a number of weeks. Any advice for interacting with my husband's child, or facing any backlash once his ex learns about me? :crying:
 

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To be clear, you weren't informed he had a child until recently? I'm not sure how I would take that or even if that would be acceptable to me. Not because of the existence of the child, but what amounts to lying by omission- unless he himself did not know about the child.
Advice? Steer clear of any parenting. Be supportive and helpful, but refuse to be left with the child. You didn't agree to this and he needs to bond with his child. So, he needs to make arrangements for the care of the child if there are work conflicts, not you. You are not the babysitter and you should only take on things as you feel comfortable with them.
Just my thoughts on the matter. Seems harsh, but this seems to have been dumped unfairly and suddenly on you. You need time.
 

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Wow... that's awkward. All you can do is be kind and polite. Remember this is not your child, and try to respond to the child like a new friend than a parent.

Regarding the bio mom... I have no idea. It depends on her personality. It's a very odd thing that he hasn't told them about you. Is she psycho?
 
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
To be clear, you weren't informed he had a child until recently? I'm not sure how I would take that or even if that would be acceptable to me. Not because of the existence of the child, but what amounts to lying by omission- unless he himself did not know about the child.
Advice? Steer clear of any parenting. Be supportive and helpful, but refuse to be left with the child. You didn't agree to this and he needs to bond with his child. So, he needs to make arrangements for the care of the child if there are work conflicts, not you. You are not the babysitter and you should only take on things as you feel comfortable with them.
Just my thoughts on the matter. Seems harsh, but this seems to have been dumped unfairly and suddenly on you. You need time.
Thank you for your comment!

I have known about his son the entire time. While we dated, I did not like that his son and ex-girlfriend were unaware of our relationship. I did accept it, because our relationship was not permanent. Our wedding was sudden and I continued to accept this, because my husband expressed concern that his son's mother would make it difficult for him to see their child if she knew about us. I never thought this continue for so long, but at this point I don't feel secure, like I have an advocate.

Your advice is great and not harsh at all! It makes sense that I should not allow his child to be alone with me, I'll be sure not to accept such responsibility. :thumb
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Wow... that's awkward. All you can do is be kind and polite. Remember this is not your child, and try to respond to the child like a new friend than a parent.

Regarding the bio mom... I have no idea. It depends on her personality. It's a very odd thing that he hasn't told them about you. Is she psycho?

Thanks for the feedback! Interacting with my stepson as a friend is an interesting idea, I hadn't considered that. I've been feeling like I shouldn't interact with him much at all, my position is a confusing one.

My husband described his son's mom as a great mother, but a terrible person. Apparently there was a time that she wasn't very compliant with him calling their son or visiting and she has spoken poorly of my husband to others. Things are better for him now, but I'm not sure what to make of her yet. If and when I get to speak with her or meet her, I will take your advice and be kind at all cost.
 

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My husband described his son's mom as a great mother, but a terrible person. Apparently there was a time that she wasn't very compliant with him calling their son or visiting and she has spoken poorly of my husband to others. Things are better for him now, but I'm not sure what to make of her yet. If and when I get to speak with her or meet her, I will take your advice and be kind at all cost.
Oh wow... she was already a handful, and then he hides this from her? You are in for a very wild ride.

My husband's ex is psycho, so I suspected she must be difficult if he's avoiding telling her. My husband does the same thing, and when he avoids telling the ex something, it usually ends badly.

She's likely to be very untrusting of the situation. If she's already they type to see him in a bad light, she will assume there was a REASON he was hiding you. And she's unlikely to see that she's caused the situation. Be ready for her to jump to some wide conclusions about you and your situation.
 

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Oh no. It sounded bad from your intro and now it sounds worse.

Your stepson needs to know about your marriage before he comes to spend a few weeks. Otherwise, you start your acquaintance with him reeling from a pretty serious parental betrayal. Your stepson will have feelings about the situation, and those feelings deserve consideration. Your stepson will also have feelings about when he was told about this, and the only way to not get slammed by those is to do right by him and tell him what's going on.

And really? If this was happening to me, yes, absolutely, the backlash would include making it tougher for my ex to see his children, because he would have just taken a giant step that screamed YOU AREN'T FAMILY at them. You're married. The time to announce it was when it happened. I'm deeply worried about what the whole situation says about your partner.

Generally speaking, terrible people aren't also great parents. She could be a terrible girlfriend and a great parent, or terrible for him and a great parent, but a terrible human being and also a great parent stretches credulity. That description, combined with the sudden and secret wedding, makes me want to recommend Lundy Bancroft's Why Does He Do That?, and advise you to consider whether this relationship is really a good idea at all.
 

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Has he seen his child since you two started dating and/or got married? How old is the child? Does the child have another stepparent? Is your relationship with your husband the reason the relationship with the ex ended? Has your husband introduced other women to his child and ex before? Is your husband going to tell the ex about you before your stepchild shows up, or is it going to be a surprise?

I'm asking these questions because this helps frame the kind of situation you are going to be thrown into and might help identify some strategies for making this easier (mentally) on the child who's about to get blindsided.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
My husband described his son's mom as a great mother, but a terrible person. Apparently there was a time that she wasn't very compliant with him calling their son or visiting and she has spoken poorly of my husband to others. Things are better for him now, but I'm not sure what to make of her yet. If and when I get to speak with her or meet her, I will take your advice and be kind at all cost.
Oh wow... she was already a handful, and then he hides this from her? You are in for a very wild ride.

My husband's ex is psycho, so I suspected she must be difficult if he's avoiding telling her. My husband does the same thing, and when he avoids telling the ex something, it usually ends badly.

She's likely to be very untrusting of the situation. If she's already they type to see him in a bad light, she will assume there was a REASON he was hiding you. And she's unlikely to see that she's caused the situation. Be ready for her to jump to some wide conclusions about you and your situation.
:eyes: I agree, this will definitely be a wild. Whatever her reaction is, I won't even blame her or being angry about.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Oh no. It sounded bad from your intro and now it sounds worse.

Your stepson needs to know about your marriage before he comes to spend a few weeks. Otherwise, you start your acquaintance with him reeling from a pretty serious parental betrayal. Your stepson will have feelings about the situation, and those feelings deserve consideration. Your stepson will also have feelings about when he was told about this, and the only way to not get slammed by those is to do right by him and tell him what's going on.

And really? If this was happening to me, yes, absolutely, the backlash would include making it tougher for my ex to see his children, because he would have just taken a giant step that screamed YOU AREN'T FAMILY at them. You're married. The time to announce it was when it happened. I'm deeply worried about what the whole situation says about your partner.

Generally speaking, terrible people aren't also great parents. She could be a terrible girlfriend and a great parent, or terrible for him and a great parent, but a terrible human being and also a great parent stretches credulity. That description, combined with the sudden and secret wedding, makes me want to recommend Lundy Bancroft's Why Does He Do That?, and advise you to consider whether this relationship is really a good idea at all.
Thank you for the feedback! I completely agree with you about how he described her, it doesn't make sense. I can't imagine how this will affect my husband's son and ex, I feel powerless in easing any pain or tension. I will look into your book recommendation, it sounds helpful and may give me the strength to remove myself from the entire situation, even if it's temporary.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Has he seen his child since you two started dating and/or got married? How old is the child? Does the child have another stepparent? Is your relationship with your husband the reason the relationship with the ex ended? Has your husband introduced other women to his child and ex before? Is your husband going to tell the ex about you before your stepchild shows up, or is it going to be a surprise?

I'm asking these questions because this helps frame the kind of situation you are going to be thrown into and might help identify some strategies for making this easier (mentally) on the child who's about to get blindsided.
Yes, he has. We live in the Midwest; my husband is in graduate school and I teach in a public school nearby. His 3 year old son lives on the east coast with his mother, so my husband visits him during his school breaks and during the summer spent time with him in the Caribbean (this is where my husband is from originally). The day after our wedding, he actually went to the east coast to visit with his son before his ex carried out her Thanksgiving Day plans with their child. My stepson will be coming to visit in a few weeks, sometime around his fourth birthday. My husband has told me several times that his is son is "incapable" of understanding that he and his son's mother are not together and that I'm his stepmother (as an educator, I know this is not true, children understand what you expose them to)... I think I'm in for a rough time...
 

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If this child's experience is that mommy lives in New Hampshire (or wherever), and Daddy lives in Minnesota and takes him to the Bahamas in summer, I would say that the child has a solid understanding of the idea that Mommy and Daddy aren't together. He has a very short lifetime of direct experience of that fact. Er, unless Mommy in this case believes that she has a LD co-parenting relationship because of the academic job market, and *she* believes that she's in a romantic relationship with your husband. Which is sort of also possible.

Your husband's explanation sets you up for years of pretending to not be married, on account of his son's supposed incapacity to understand fairly common family situations.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Yes, I agree with everything you said... Would you like to know how this gets "better"? I just found out a couple of days ago that when she flies their son in to visit, she wants the three of them to go out, because she hasn't planned anything for their son's birthday (he's supposed to come the weekend of his birthday, or the following weekend, which is her birthday). Of course, I'm not invited and there are implications that all of them would stay in a hotel until she leaves the next morning. So, it's possible my stepson also doesn't "understand" that they aren't together, because it seems to me that they pretend they are when he's around. This doesn't seem like co-parenting between two people who don't like each other and would never want to be together again.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Has he seen his child since you two started dating and/or got married? How old is the child? Does the child have another stepparent? Is your relationship with your husband the reason the relationship with the ex ended? Has your husband introduced other women to his child and ex before? Is your husband going to tell the ex about you before your stepchild shows up, or is it going to be a surprise?

I'm asking these questions because this helps frame the kind of situation you are going to be thrown into and might help identify some strategies for making this easier (mentally) on the child who's about to get blindsided.
I just realized that I did not answer an important question that you presented. My relationship with my husband did not cause the break-up between him and his ex. She was unfaithful to him and the relationship ended about 1.5 years before I met my husband.
 

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Er, unless Mommy in this case believes that she has a LD co-parenting relationship because of the academic job market, and *she* believes that she's in a romantic relationship with your husband. Which is sort of also possible.

Your husband's explanation sets you up for years of pretending to not be married, on account of his son's supposed incapacity to understand fairly common family situations.
This. So very much this. I hate to ask it, but could your husband still have a relationship with the ex, one that his son sees? And he's telling you his son doesn't recognize the difference because how you two will act in front of him is how he and his ex currently act (i.e. like a couple) hoping that if his son mentions anything that he can blame it on age?

This child hasn't really known his parents to be a couple (as least, shouldn't be able to remember it since they would have had to separated before he was 2 years old), so why would he assume they are and/or have that be the default?

All of this seems very weird. The ex has a history of preventing your husband from seeing his son, but let him take him out of the country for what sounds like a lengthy period of time? That seems like an absurd amount of trust from someone who has issues with even phone calls.

HOWEVER, assuming that I am just a bitter old bat who barely trusts humanity, what is your husband's plan to tell his ex about you? When does he plan on having that conversation? How is he planning on introducing you to both his son AND his ex? THAT needs to be decided now, and THAT you do have a say in. You DON'T have to lie when the child is there (and you won't be able to, unless you plan on staying in another bedroom or another house), and you DON'T have to lie if you meet the ex.

You need to have a very serious conversation with your husband and tell him what your expectations are. If you plan on sleeping in your own bed with him, hugging him, kissing him, not lying for his sake, etc. All of that needs to be said now, by you. You also need to explain to him that you won't be parenting and you won't be spending one-on-one time with his son. These areas you get to make decisions on, and you need to be upfront about what those decisions are and what you are comfortable/not comfortable with (including how you get introduced to these new family members of yours).
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Er, unless Mommy in this case believes that she has a LD co-parenting relationship because of the academic job market, and *she* believes that she's in a romantic relationship with your husband. Which is sort of also possible.

Your husband's explanation sets you up for years of pretending to not be married, on account of his son's supposed incapacity to understand fairly common family situations.
This. So very much this. I hate to ask it, but could your husband still have a relationship with the ex, one that his son sees? And he's telling you his son doesn't recognize the difference because how you two will act in front of him is how he and his ex currently act (i.e. like a couple) hoping that if his son mentions anything that he can blame it on age?

This child hasn't really known his parents to be a couple (as least, shouldn't be able to remember it since they would have had to separated before he was 2 years old), so why would he assume they are and/or have that be the default?

All of this seems very weird. The ex has a history of preventing your husband from seeing his son, but let him take him out of the country for what sounds like a lengthy period of time? That seems like an absurd amount of trust from someone who has issues with even phone calls.

HOWEVER, assuming that I am just a bitter old bat who barely trusts humanity, what is your husband's plan to tell his ex about you? When does he plan on having that conversation? How is he planning on introducing you to both his son AND his ex? THAT needs to be decided now, and THAT you do have a say in. You DON'T have to lie when the child is there (and you won't be able to, unless you plan on staying in another bedroom or another house), and you DON'T have to lie if you meet the ex.

You need to have a very serious conversation with your husband and tell him what your expectations are. If you plan on sleeping in your own bed with him, hugging him, kissing him, not lying for his sake, etc. All of that needs to be said now, by you. You also need to explain to him that you won't be parenting and you won't be spending one-on-one time with his son. These areas you get to make decisions on, and you need to be upfront about what those decisions are and what you are comfortable/not comfortable with (including how you get introduced to these new family members of yours).
This is great advice, thank you! Honestly, I haven't given much thought about what I want or what makes me comfortable. I've been feeling like I don't have any ground to stand because I am not a mother myself.

Their relationship did end before their son was 1 due to her infidelity. Both are originally from the Caribbean and I think they want their son to experience their culture, so my husband flew out there after his son had been dropped of. Time was split between my husband and his family and his ex's mother.

I didn't fully consider how my husband and his ex behave in front of their son. Just last night, i gained the understanding that the last time he visited, my husband and his ex took their out for dinner or another activity. I was previously under the impression that when he visits, he stays in a hotel with his son and rents a car for outings. Now, when she flies their son out for a drop-off, he will be picking them up without me, the three of them will go out, and she won't be returning home until the next morning. All of this prompted to me to seek out this forum, because I'm tired of thinking that I'm over-reacting and putting myself on the back burner, because I am not a parent. I'm feeling so much validation in everything I've been thinking, thank you!
 

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Yes, I agree with everything you said... Would you like to know how this gets "better"? I just found out a couple of days ago that when she flies their son in to visit, she wants the three of them to go out, because she hasn't planned anything for their son's birthday (he's supposed to come the weekend of his birthday, or the following weekend, which is her birthday). Of course, I'm not invited and there are implications that all of them would stay in a hotel until she leaves the next morning. So, it's possible my stepson also doesn't "understand" that they aren't together, because it seems to me that they pretend they are when he's around. This doesn't seem like co-parenting between two people who don't like each other and would never want to be together again.
That's a very healthy co-parenting choice for parents who are friendly and comfortable with each other.

Unlikely in the circumstances he's described, but those are clearly not the real circumstances.
 

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This is great advice, thank you! Honestly, I haven't given much thought about what I want or what makes me comfortable. I've been feeling like I don't have any ground to stand because I am not a mother myself.

Their relationship did end before their son was 1 due to her infidelity. Both are originally from the Caribbean and I think they want their son to experience their culture, so my husband flew out there after his son had been dropped of. Time was split between my husband and his family and his ex's mother.

I didn't fully consider how my husband and his ex behave in front of their son. Just last night, i gained the understanding that the last time he visited, my husband and his ex took their out for dinner or another activity. I was previously under the impression that when he visits, he stays in a hotel with his son and rents a car for outings. Now, when she flies their son out for a drop-off, he will be picking them up without me, the three of them will go out, and she won't be returning home until the next morning. All of this prompted to me to seek out this forum, because I'm tired of thinking that I'm over-reacting and putting myself on the back burner, because I am not a parent. I'm feeling so much validation in everything I've been thinking, thank you!
I'm childless myself, and I have found myself second-guessing at times what is okay and what is not because of that reason.

Here's what I can tell you from my experience: it's not uncommon for exes who co-parent to have outings together. I know when there is going to be a parent outing that won't involve me (like when my husband took his ex and sons out school clothes and supply shopping and bought lunch for them all) and it's just a thing that happens. We've had my husband's ex and her new husband over for Thanksgiving AND Christmas, and his ex plans the birthday parties and invites us to them. It gives the kids a couple of holidays where they don't have to be split up and they can be with ALL of their family.

HOWEVER, my husband's ex knows about me. His kids know about me. These relationships are all very clearly defined for everyone involved. Was it easy to define? Not always. It has caused stress, hurt feelings, jealousy, etc. BUT, because everything is out in the open, everyone can discuss those feelings and take action that minimizes those negative feelings.

Being silent on the matter is only going to make you resentful. It's only going to make his ex be untrusting of him. It's only going to cause legal headaches if she decides to use this as a reason to seek sole custody or raise child support or withhold her son from his father (which causes a legal headache for your husband and you). It's only going to cause him to see his son less, to push you further away, or make it harder for you to trust him.

This is NOT a problem of you overstepping as a stepparent. I was upfront with my husband that, when things got serious and we knew where our relationship was going, I HAD to know his kids and at least meet his ex or else I wouldn't continue the relationship. I wasn't going to try and start a family without all family members (including his ex) were at least aware that I existed. I told him because I refused to be a secret and I refused to start a family where everyone was resentful and uncomfortable. I was willing to walk away, but luckily my husband had no issues with this.

Telling your husband what YOU want and need out of your relationship with him and his family (who are now your family) is not overstepping; that's just part of being in a relationship. You can't tell him how to raise his kid or how to interact with his ex, but you can tell him how you expect to be treated. If he thinks the demands are too much, he can compromise or leave. You have the same power as well. Exercise it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Yes, I agree with everything you said... Would you like to know how this gets "better"? I just found out a couple of days ago that when she flies their son in to visit, she wants the three of them to go out, because she hasn't planned anything for their son's birthday (he's supposed to come the weekend of his birthday, or the following weekend, which is her birthday). Of course, I'm not invited and there are implications that all of them would stay in a hotel until she leaves the next morning. So, it's possible my stepson also doesn't "understand" that they aren't together, because it seems to me that they pretend they are when he's around. This doesn't seem like co-parenting between two people who don't like each other and would never want to be together again.
That's a very healthy co-parenting choice for parents who are friendly and comfortable with each other.

Unlikely in the circumstances he's described, but those are clearly not the real circumstances.
Okay, something to consider. Their current relationship could be much better, but since I haven't met her or seen them interact, it's hard to say. I hope it's simply a more healthy situation and that he sleeps in a separate hotel room.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
This is great advice, thank you! Honestly, I haven't given much thought about what I want or what makes me comfortable. I've been feeling like I don't have any ground to stand because I am not a mother myself.

Their relationship did end before their son was 1 due to her infidelity. Both are originally from the Caribbean and I think they want their son to experience their culture, so my husband flew out there after his son had been dropped of. Time was split between my husband and his family and his ex's mother.

I didn't fully consider how my husband and his ex behave in front of their son. Just last night, i gained the understanding that the last time he visited, my husband and his ex took their out for dinner or another activity. I was previously under the impression that when he visits, he stays in a hotel with his son and rents a car for outings. Now, when she flies their son out for a drop-off, he will be picking them up without me, the three of them will go out, and she won't be returning home until the next morning. All of this prompted to me to seek out this forum, because I'm tired of thinking that I'm over-reacting and putting myself on the back burner, because I am not a parent. I'm feeling so much validation in everything I've been thinking, thank you!
I'm childless myself, and I have found myself second-guessing at times what is okay and what is not because of that reason.

Here's what I can tell you from my experience: it's not uncommon for exes who co-parent to have outings together. I know when there is going to be a parent outing that won't involve me (like when my husband took his ex and sons out school clothes and supply shopping and bought lunch for them all) and it's just a thing that happens. We've had my husband's ex and her new husband over for Thanksgiving AND Christmas, and his ex plans the birthday parties and invites us to them. It gives the kids a couple of holidays where they don't have to be split up and they can be with ALL of their family.

HOWEVER, my husband's ex knows about me. His kids know about me. These relationships are all very clearly defined for everyone involved. Was it easy to define? Not always. It has caused stress, hurt feelings, jealousy, etc. BUT, because everything is out in the open, everyone can discuss those feelings and take action that minimizes those negative feelings.

Being silent on the matter is only going to make you resentful. It's only going to make his ex be untrusting of him. It's only going to cause legal headaches if she decides to use this as a reason to seek sole custody or raise child support or withhold her son from his father (which causes a legal headache for your husband and you). It's only going to cause him to see his son less, to push you further away, or make it harder for you to trust him.

This is NOT a problem of you overstepping as a stepparent. I was upfront with my husband that, when things got serious and we knew where our relationship was going, I HAD to know his kids and at least meet his ex or else I wouldn't continue the relationship. I wasn't going to try and start a family without all family members (including his ex) were at least aware that I existed. I told him because I refused to be a secret and I refused to start a family where everyone was resentful and uncomfortable. I was willing to walk away, but luckily my husband had no issues with this.

Telling your husband what YOU want and need out of your relationship with him and his family (who are now your family) is not overstepping; that's just part of being in a relationship. You can't tell him how to raise his kid or how to interact with his ex, but you can tell him how you expect to be treated. If he thinks the demands are too much, he can compromise or leave. You have the same power as well. Exercise it.
Such a breath of fresh air, thank you for sharing! This was so helpful and I am going to think deeply about what I need in this situation. :)
 
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