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non-traditional family


Brian
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This is a long one. But I need an outside opinion.

I am divorced, twice. I have one child from each relationship. The oldest is a boy, age 12, and the youngest, a girl, age 7. While in the 2nd marriage, I assisted the mother in raising her daughter from a previous relationship. The child was 1 when we first met. She is 11 now. The mother and I were together for several years, but had separated and divorced by the time our daughter was 4. When I had my daughter, and my son come for visitation, the other girl would come also, as she had only known me to be the father figure in her life. She does know who her dad is, and has since she was a baby, however, he chooses to remain out of her life. She has visited with him, and in the past four years, has seen him about 3 times. She has stated to a third party that she doesn't care for him, he doesn't care for her, and she never wants him in her life again.

All children call me dad, however, the other girl understands and verbalizes that she knows I'm not her "real" dad, but she loves me and wants to be a part of my life. My parents accept her as part of the family, as do my sisters and brothers.

About 3 years ago, I began dating a woman, and we were married last year. She has known about the children, and the parenting situation, and has been understanding of it all along. She is wanting to have a baby of her own, but we have not been able to get pregnant over the course of the past year.

When we had all of the kids for the summer, after the 2nd week or so, the other girl chose to not return for several weeks, and spent time with her grandmother (her mom's mom). We were all hurt, and even my wife expressed regret and stated that she loved the child too.

Just prior to christmas, my wife started expressing feelings about "the family" being separate from the other child, as she was not biologically related to me or her. She insisted in taking multiple photographs, moving children in and out, rearranging everyone, so that she could get a picture of just "the family" without the other girl in it.

My wife works with many therapists at her office, and has presented our situation to one of them. She states that he said we should sever the relationship with the child and reiterate to he that she is outside the family circle, that we still care for her and love her, that she is welcome to come for visits, but not on a regular basis, and only after the approval of the other children who are "in the family."

My wife has stated that she believes the whole situation is f'd up, and that she does not want to bring her child up in a household where she has to explain about kids and moms and kids who aren't even supposed to be there.

My wife has stated that I should make the decision and that she won't be there if I continue to have the child come over.

I am terribly torn on what to do. I have consulted with my 12 year old boy about his feelings about the other girl coming over. He said "I don't care if she comes over. As long as she's not coming over just to play the x-box or to get away from her step dad cause she doesn't like him. If she's coming because she loves you, then that's fine." (yes, I swear that is EXACTLY what he said) I spoke to the girl for about 20 minutes Sunday evening, questioning her understanding of the whole situation, and suggested that since she is growing older, she should be spending some more time with her mother.

I have spoken to the grandmother of this girl, and she states that the child was crying and questioning why nobody wants to be her dad. The mother is furious and insists that I told her that she could never come over again. Both mother and Grandmother have stated that if something were to happen to them, that they would want me to raise this girl.

SO, this is about the end:

Questions I bring up to myself are these: Am I the one who is thinking incorrectly about having a moral obligation to this child to continue to be there in her life as a father figure? Even if the initial decision to allow her to remain connected to me after the divorce was incorrect, what is the best path to take for the overall wellbeing of the child, and my children? Are my wife's requests out of line, knowing the situation before entering the relationship? Is the therapist right in only hearing facts and opinons from one side of a discussion and making a decision without knowing all the facts and opinions?

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Hi Brian

About 3 years ago, I began dating a woman, and we were married last year. She has known about the children, and the parenting situation, and has been understanding of it all along. She is wanting to have a baby of her own, but we have not been able to get pregnant over the course of the past year.

When we had all of the kids for the summer, after the 2nd week or so, the other girl chose to not return for several weeks, and spent time with her grandmother (her mom's mom). We were all hurt, and even my wife expressed regret and stated that she loved the child too.

It sounds to me as if your wife is being a bit of an hipercrite! If she states that she too loves the child then she should accept her as being your own, even though she isn't biologically yours. This child was a part of you before you even met her, you can't just throw her away because she is not your flesh and blood. She has grown to accept you as a father figure, and your wife should accept that. When she met and married you, she married you as a package, with children and all!

My wife works with many therapists at her office, and has presented our situation to one of them. She states that he said we should sever the relationship with the child and reiterate to he that she is outside the family circle, that we still care for her and love her, that she is welcome to come for visits, but not on a regular basis, and only after the approval of the other children who are "in the family."

My wife has stated that she believes the whole situation is f'd up, and that she does not want to bring her child up in a household where she has to explain about kids and moms and kids who aren't even supposed to be there.

My wife has stated that I should make the decision and that she won't be there if I continue to have the child come over.

Your wife should know better than to have a meeting with this therapist on her own, when it involves you and your children. Your wife works with them, so you say? I cannot honestly believe that a trained therapist would give out information like that, as this is bad practice! A therapist would not risk his job, and his reputation, by saying things like that, without first getting in touch with the other party involved, to verify what your wife is saying is true? I would clarify this if I was you!

She does not want to be in a house where she has to explain about kids and moms? She knew this when she met you, so what has changed? To me it sounds like she's trying to get rid of all your kids here, so she can have you for herself and any children you two bear together!

I have spoken to the grandmother of this girl, and she states that the child was crying and questioning why nobody wants to be her dad. The mother is furious and insists that I told her that she could never come over again. Both mother and Grandmother have stated that if something were to happen to them, that they would want me to raise this girl.

This girl must be so fucked up in the head! One minute she's got a dad and the next she hasn't, bear in mind that she's got to deal with the fact that her real father doesn't want her also!

This is a question of: Are you gonna be man enough and get your priority's right, or are you gonna screw this little girls head up even more, just to satisfy your wife?

The ball's in your court! But I know what I'd do!

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Guest ASchwartz

Hi Brian,

I would not have put it as bluntly as Paula, but, in essence, I really believe she has a very valid point. This "other child" is feeling unwelcome and left out. Perhaps things go on that none of the adults see when she is over, things between her and the other two children. Perhaps she "senses" that your present wife does not like her. But, she has already has one father who does not want to see her and I would not be surprised to hear that she feels rejected by you.

In many ways, what Paula is saying is that it is up to you to set certain limits with your wife and with all of the children. For example, I would not have asked your son if he wants her over or not, or however you stated it. You were asking a 12 year old boy to make a man's decision. As far as your wife is concerned, you have these children, they are yours and she must accept them all, like it or not.

Fairy tales stand the test of time because they focus on certain univesal truths. One of them is that step mothers often dislike their step children, and step children often dislike their step mother. This is what is happening with your wife right now. Remember the story of Cinderella, even children of the step mother did not like cinderella.

You may think this is silly but believe me that major psychologists and psychiatrists have written books about the subject, including Bruno Bettleheim.

You are being called upon to be firm in protecting your family, and that family includes all the children you mention.

You know, I am aware of how you refer to your daughter as "the other child." Interesting, no???

Allan:(

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I used the terms my daughter, my son and other child instead of using names. When introducing the children, I always include all of them, and outside of this forum, have never made reference to any of them being different from the others.

What I asked the boy was if he was bothered by her presence or felt jealous or ignored. I, coming from a large family myself, remembered feelings of jealousy involving my brothers and sisters while growing up, at one time or another.

We have scheduled an appointment with a family therapist from another company to try to assist us in sorting this all out. I agree with Paula that my obligations to the child are very important, as it was not the childs choice to be put in this situation. I find similarities of our reationship to those of a foster parent situation. I don't have anything legally keeping the child with me. I am not an adoptive parent. I love the child as if she were my own. She has expressed that she loves me like a father, but understands I am no her "real" dad.

These things seem to be what my wife says is the problem. There is no guarantee that she will continue to come to our house. She has a step dad, as her mother is re-married, but she has no affection for him, and he has no interest in her. (yeah, real nice guy) But my wife insists that she should develop a bond with him as the father figure and that it is no longer my problem. She says she is concerned about the child getting hurt while in our care and her mother suing us.

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These things seem to be what my wife says is the problem. There is no guarantee that she will continue to come to our house. She has a step dad, as her mother is re-married, but she has no affection for him, and he has no interest in her. (yeah, real nice guy) But my wife insists that she should develop a bond with him as the father figure and that it is no longer my problem. She says she is concerned about the child getting hurt while in our care and her mother suing us.

If your wife insist that you go and jump in the fire, would you? I am just trying to get my point across!

Why don't you let, as you once used to say 'your daughter' be the judge of whether she is going to get hurt or not? Sorry Brian, but your wife's got rather a lot to say all of a sudden! Do you not think so? Don't think I'm being rude or anything, but it's like the worm crawling out of the wood work, so to speak!

This is not about your wife here. This is about you and the girl you once called your daughter and have brought up for the past X amount of years!

At the end of the day, it all boils down to love doesn't it? You either love your daughter and accept her as a daughter or, You let your wife control your balls and tell this girl that you want nothing more to do with her? Shit happens! She'll get over it, she has no choice does she?

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