December 23, 2010 | 3:23 pm
Posted by Merissa Nathan Gerson
I am dating a man 12 years my senior, who is going to court soon to gain custody of his 6-year-old son. Though he previously had custody every other weekend, he has not had a relationship with him for several years due to difficulties with the mother. When he did have custody, he relied heavily on his girlfriend at the time to help care for his child (much to the chagrin of the birth mother). He has made remarks about me playing a similar role in his son’s life. He refers to his son as “the kid” or “the little crumb snatcher” and has nightmares about hitting or molesting his child (he was molested as an adolescent by his sister’s husband). My concern is this: while I don’t mind occasionally helping out & I am sensitive to his fears, I don’t want to be used as a babysitter and/or chaperone. I also think he should bond with his son without me there. How should I deal with this situation?
Honestly, I think you should get out of this situation. It is bad news when a man with serious issues from his childhood chooses to pass off the hard stuff to his woman. This man needs to be in therapy to remedy his nightmares, face his past, and therefore step up as father of the year.
Children grow attached to people, like women who care for them. I think we forget this when we find single Dad’s sexy, that we are dating a man AND his children. If your boyfriend is pawning off parenting on his girlfriends, then his kids are finding attachments to temporary women. Are you looking for marriage? Is this a fling for a moment or an investment forever?
Motherhood is for life. It isn’t a job you get real vacations from, or sabbatical. It is a heart contract, an action contract, and a commitment between you and the children you choose to raise. For this, we have birth control, condoms and choices. Ie, to marry or not to marry, to date or not to date, to bring life into the world, not to bring life into the world. I am, as I witness the horror of shows like 16 And Pregnant, more and more an advocate of abstinence.
Since abstinence is irrelevant, as the children already exist, and since you will probably continue to date this guy no matter what I say, here are some options. For one, set limits. Let this man-friend of yours know that you are happy to be involved – to a point. Make those limits crystal clear and if he crosses your threshold, express it. Yes, how you need to treat this guy is a lot like PARENTING. This involves being clear and being firm so that the child/boyfriend is steered in the proper direction.
Also, a gentle suggestion that he seek a remedy beyond your arms for his nightmares would be a smart move. Not only for you and for him, but for those kids. Violence and abuse recur in cycles for precisely this reason. Fear of hitting someone often results in hitting someone, because the energy bottles up and the thought is planted. Chances are he will hurt someone at some point unless he battles those demons.
It sucks, royally, when people we love were hurt in their pasts. But unless you truly love this man and want to weather many storms, remember that his past is his and you shouldn’t be the one shouldering the pain of his torment. That pain is his to resolve, and yours to know of, to rub his back, to support him, but not to carry as your own.
For parenting/step-parenting resources, see below:
Package Deal: My (not so) Glamorous Transition From Single Gal to Instant Mom by Izzy Rose
The I Hate Being a StepMom forum.
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