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"Disneyland Dad" where does my dh fit in?

1501 Views 7 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  Laggie
I need some thoughs and support on this issue that has recently come up.

My 16 month old's father has just recently shown interest in spending time with him. We are in the process of working things out in court, and after a deposition in which I claimed that he "didn't show enough interest to have custody" he asked for overnights. I had a labial reconstruction surgery on Monday, and I asked his dad to take him for the first few nights.

My son's father is extremely wealthy. When my son is there, he never gets told no and he gets whatever he wants. He came home the other night and was not only extra needy and disobedient; he wanted NOTHING to do with me or my dh. My husband has been in our lives since my son was 4 months old. My son calls him dad and my husband considers ds his son as well.

My husband is feeling very insecure now that ds seemed to enjoy his time with his father. DH understands that my son will have a relationship with him, but he feels like my son will never like or respect him because he isn't rich and he sometimes needs to be "the bad guy" to keep order in the house. DH is sure that my son will see that his father can buy him anything he wants and doesn't have rules and that he'll hate us and want to live with his father.

I think that my son will realize that dh and I love him dearly and that any rules that we have are because we love him and we want him to grow to be a successful adult. DH's negative thoughts depress me. I don't want to think that this could happen, and I don't know what to say to DH to help him understand that our son will still love us if we tell him no and can't afford to shower him with gifts. As of now, DH doesn't feel like he can parent my son at all because he fears that my son will grow up to hate him, and I'm feeling like a single parent again.

This all feels so complicated and confusing and frustrating.
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Wow, that sounds like a really rough situation.

Your son needs a DAD. That's where your husband fits in. What bio-dad is doing is not being a dad. The everyday stuff is the important stuff. Who will teach your son what a real man is like? Who will teach your son how to be a father himself one day? If your husband backs off of regular dad duties because he's afraid your son will hate him one day, it will be a real loss to your son. I am sure your husband feels low right now. Let him know that he's a REAL dad, and that your son needs him. I think men have this need to be needed, so let him know that he is.

Another thing you may want to consider is that at the age your son is at, it is really common to prefer one person over the other for a while. The way he is acting may be an age thing. He seems sort of young to figure out that bio-dad is rich and you guys are not.

Good luck with everything.
this similar thing happened to my niece. after not seeing her dad until she was two, all of a sudden he wanted to see her- after court,some short visits, she went and spent a long weekend with him (he is not rich at all, a fireman) she came home not wanting any of us (her and her mom lived with us). we all thought she was mad at us because she had never really been away from us for that long of a period before this. could he have been mad because of that?? has he ever been away from you for that long and with who (grandma that he sees all the time?). .
I agree with the pp's, a DAD is the person who is there for you, disneyland dad's are just facades. If your DH wants to be the dad, he will, and your son at 16 MONTHS doesn't have a sophisticated enough understanding of relationships to be saying anything in how he acts! He's just responding to a very strange experience of being handed to a stranger who acts differently than his parents for a few days. And your son may have some gender reactions to your DH, but that doesn't mean he's not caring for or needing your dh still. If your son had stayed with someone else, like maybe your sister, he might have come back with a strange reaction to you...

I'd urge your dh to be reasonable and mature here...and if he can't get over it, then that's not a good sign. When a young child goes away for a few days, it's going to be hard on them when they get back...for my two it takes almost as much time to get back to normal as the visit itself, so two days adjustign for a two day visit, a week for a week, etc. And I'm sure this will just happen more often as your child gets over, assuming his biodad stays in the picture, but what if your dh steps back, biodad is involved for a whopping additional year, then on to other things? Your child could have a real problem then, and no amount of your dh handing responsibility off to a biodad will help him.
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Your husband could be right, kids often idolize the ncp. Money only makes that worse because they imagine that life with the ncp would be party all the time.

But trying to match that or letting go of the child doesn't help that.

Structure and dicipline is love, it is how we show our kids we love them. Kids know it too. IF your son is going to idolize his bio father it won't be helped or hindered by your dh's letting go of his stepson. What will happen for sure is that your son will feel his sf pull away and be hurt by that. How does that help?

I really do understand your dh's feelings, I know that must be very tough and hard for him. I think that he may need to put some emotional distance between himself and his ss- at least in so far as reminding himself that this isn't his son. If he has had him to himself for a long time he may have forgotten that the boy wasn't his.

I would advise that it is a set up for your dh and your son to teach him to call his sf "dad" because it will invariably put your son in a position of pain. Dad will demand the title and be hurt by this and the tug of war for the name will take place through the child. That isn't kind. Find a new, lovey name for sf that shows his importance but reserves that title for his bio father. Being a stepparent is a wonderful thing- but it is different than being a bio parent. It is important for you to know that too. Don't expect your dh to be a bio parent. Expect him to be a stepfather. A wonderful, loving stepfather!
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Alarm bells are going off here. I don't see any reason why anyone needs to be a "bad guy" if the only child in the house is 16 mo: given their developmental needs, loving guidance and a lot of redirection are more appropriate. Is he reading parenting stuff, or just going in with the blithe confidence that having once been a child himself, he knows how to parent? (my dh did this, and it was one heck of a learning curve.)
Your dh is the constant, the role model, the mentor. Your dh is the person that your son will remember as the one who dressed his boo-boos and was there for the worst days of his life. Your dh is the witness to your son's babyhood, a walking talking photograph album who can share his memories when your son says "what was my first word? When did I walk? When did I crawl?" It's an organic, evolving relationship.
Disneyland, otoh, is a pile of mass-produced, artificially constructed tat. Nuff said?

eta: my kids all call my dh dad: Isaac started after peer-pressure from preschool and Alex picked it up from there. Mainstream schooling tends to assume that all stepparents are called mum and dad as well, at least here in the UK. We have dad and bio-dad is daddy.
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The one thing that is bothering me about this thread is that people seem to be suggesting that because the biodad is not there every day, as is the sf, he is less of a father. I realize the situation discussed here is unique because biodad has not been involved, and I certainly don't condone that.
However, I think there should also be some recognition of how hard it is to be a "non-custodial" parent. My DH has been extremely involved in his son's life since he and his ex separated when SS was 1yr (he is now 10). Despite his best efforts, he only gets to see his son once a week and every other weekend, while the stepfather sees him every day. To suggest the sf is more of a parent than my DH is really unfair, and untrue.
I empathize with the problem of one parent throwing money at a kid and the other parent having to deal with the repercussions-- in our situation it is the mother who spends constantly and we who do not. SS is 10 and it's worse than ever-- I'll let you know when we figure it out!
I also am not defending a biodad who appeared to be absent.
But it must be very difficult for him to make this adjustment too-- assuming he is behaving in good faith. When you don't see your kid much, you want to have fun with them and shower them with gifts, not make them do chores. It is constantly frustrating to non-custodial stepparents, but I hope you see that it's a natural response, and also one borne of guilt. Also, I would say 16 months is fairly young for overnight visits. I know that when my DH finally divorced (SS was over 3 years old) he was told by his attorney "not to push overnights" because the child was still young. And SS knew DH very well!
The biodad here obviously will either learn very quickly what it really is to be a parent, or he won't. You can try to guide him (without imposing yourself on him) but that is all you can do.
I think sometimes part of steplife is feeling a little helpless.
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My 7 year old SD is generally cranky/difficult when she first gets to our house, and the same way when she gets back to her mom's. Of course the temptation is to blame the other parent - it must be because she gets to do whatever she wants at their house, etc etc. But in reality I think it's normal for the kids to need a bit of adjustment time. I find it helps if she has a bit of "down time" to unwind by herself for a bit...

Probably with a 16 month old it's a little bit different, but I think it's normal for him to take some time to adjust.
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