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Iniquitous Bunny Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 02:19 PM
Original message
Step-dads and dads: I need input.
'm getting married in a few months to an incredible man. We currently live together and I share custody almost 50/50 with my ex-husband. I have a very crazy schedule, but I keep up my end of the bargain and so does he. We're usually quite amicable. Yesterday, my ex said to me, "So when you two are married, is he going to step up to the plate more in terms of taking care of the kids?" I know how to deal with this man and managed to smooth things over, but all night I kept thinking, "What the Hell?"

My fiance helps with my children in just about any way I ask, but I don't take advantage of that. Though he likes my kids (even really bonding with them now), 1)he's in this relationship because of me, not my children, and 2) he's going to be the step-dad not the dad and my ex must retain his primary responsibilities as the dad (plus I want them to have a good, positive relationship with their father).

This was after I agreed to make arrangements to my schedule so he could go to Vegas for his birthday in November. This is after I compromised at just about every turn in the last 2 and 1/2 years. I want my ex as involved with my children's lives as I do, but he acts like I'm putting him out by expecting him to be a parent as much as me. I honestly think that his view is that because I wanted the divorce, I should assume most of the financial and time responsibilities. Or perhaps because my fiance gets the priviledge of sleeping with me (I know he still has feelings for me), somehow that makes my fiance more responsible. :eyes:

Neither of us pay child support because of this arrangement and I loathe ending it because he's squirm and whine and I'll end up having to go to court and being the bad guy. I don't want money. What the Hell? Just wondering if anyone's been through this stuff and how you negotiated these waters. It may come down to going back to court in a few months though. Sigh. :(
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C_eh_N_eh_D_eh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 02:52 PM
Response to Original message
1. Sounds to me like he's just looking out for his progeny.
Maybe he's assuming that once you're married, he'll get less daddy time, and this new guy will replace him as the effective father figure. It's not an unreasonable assumption to make, especially if he himself never remarried. If someone else is about to usurp his role in his kids' lives, he should be, at the least, concerned about whether or not this new guy will do a proper job.
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Iniquitous Bunny Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 03:29 PM
Response to Reply #1
9. He wants less daddy time.
We have the kids 50/50 now and it appears too much for him. It's like he wants my fiance to take over now that he's earned his trust. That's my concern.
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Bucky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 04:26 PM
Response to Reply #9
15. Is that possibly a defense mechanism? He might be just insecure.
If the desire for less time came about after you started getting serious with the fiance, my guess (not knowing the man) is that he is doing the old "quit before they can fire me" number (aka, drop her before she drops me). My psychology degree from the Lucy Van Pelt School of Cardboard Box Analysis suggests to me that if he's still hung up on you, then the fear of losing his kids is his way of revisiting the trauma of the divorce.

That is, if he "lost" you to him (or really lost the possibilty of getting you back to him) then he's naturally going to start fearing he'll lose his kids next. His attachment to them may be emotionally conflated with his attachment to you. If that's the case, then this change in attitude may just be a phase he's got to work thru. Even after my daughter came to move in with me full time (she spent a couple of years unable to even talk to her mother), I always felt a little awkward setting my foot inside their home. And I'm the one who initiated the split up.

Really, us men just aren't emotionally equipped to handle emotions--they're damned useless. If I'd lost my marriage in a poker game that would've made more sense!! :)

But seriously, I think a couple of incidents of reassurance from his kids that he's still the dad is what he needs (and probably a good roll in the hay with transition girl).
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ScreamingMeemie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 02:56 PM
Response to Original message
2. It is hard to say but perhaps he is just concerned about the kids?
I don't know without knowing him. Yes, your fiance is in the relationship because of you...but the kids are a big part of you.

That said, I wish you the best of luck. I was a single mom who chose to have parental rights of father severed (long story) and MrG adopted my daughter 2 years after our marriage and 6 years after he came into her life.

I hope it turns out just as well for you.
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Lowell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 02:57 PM
Response to Original message
3. Speaking as a Dad and a Step-Dad
I think your ex is pushing your buttons. His responsibilities don't end with the court date. He sounds self centered and probably not a very good father figure anyway. That said I've got to tell you something about being a step-dad. It ain't easy. For a long time my step children would resist discipline with a "you're not my real dad!" If I went after them then Mom would usually step in and say "don't go too far". It took years of patience and biting my tongue and exerting gentle persuasion until one day my step children realized that I was really the only father they had ever known. Now that they are grown up and out of the house they always call me dad, introduce me as their dad and have grown to respect me. Interestingly enough, their bio dad got in touch with them a few years ago and tried to mend fences. They both went out to Texas to visit. When they came back neither of them wanted anything to do with him. You ex stands a good chance of loosing his right to the title "Dad" if he is not careful. It might actually mean something to him later in life, after the damage is done. Lets just hope your fiance is patient, understanding and firm. It better to have a good step dad than a bad dad or none at all. my 2 cents.
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LeftyMom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 02:58 PM
Response to Original message
4. Sounds a bit like LeftyKid's Dad
He pisses and moans about the responsibility, makes it clear he has better things to do and generally sounds like he can't wait to have LK out of his life.
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Misunderestimator Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 03:00 PM
Response to Original message
5. Your fiance may be marrying only you...
but if he doesn't want to be a full-time parent, you should be concerned.

I accept the parenting of my partner's child 100%, even though she and her ex-husband share 50/50 parenting as well. The crux of it being that if the ex were to not be around for whatever reason in the future, I am more than willing to "step up to the plate" as a full-time parent. If your fiance is not willing to do that, I don't think it would be fair to your children ultimately.

That said... it is a kind of weird question to come from your ex. Do you think he is looking to have less responsibility? If that's the case, it's even more important that your children have a step-dad who is fully involved and responsible. You can't force your ex to be the role model you think he should be.

I'd consider at least having a talk with your fiance to see where he would stand if anything were to happen to your ex. And I wish you the best of luck in all ways.
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Iniquitous Bunny Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 03:27 PM
Response to Reply #5
8. I have no concerns about my fiance.
He's fine, but he's not their dad. He's also a parent and has been very active in the lives of all our children. I do believe my ex is looking for less responsibility, so I suppose I was just venting a bit about everything because I realize that likely I'm going to have to soon deal with child support (he has a great job and income, but he will likely make it difficult for all involved). One of the many reasons I'm with my fiance is because he is a good parent, so that's not really what I'm worried about. No one could replace their dad though whether I like it or not (nor could I replace his son's mom).
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leftofthedial Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 03:38 PM
Response to Reply #8
11. generally, remarriage has no effect on child support obligations
but if he wants to commit less time to his kids, you should work together to ensure that the kids are wanted wherever they are, whenever they are there.

I have the opposite problem. I wish I had MORE time with my kids.
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Misunderestimator Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 03:47 PM
Response to Reply #8
13. Well that's good news then.
I hope that your fears about your ex don't come about. Children need as much love as they can get, and it would be a shame if their father doesn't want to continue to be their father 100%. To clarify, I'm not saying that anyone would replace your children's father. I certainly don't replace my partner's ex as a parent, but I am an equal partner in parenting their child. He has three parents now.

I sincerely wish you the best for all of you in this situation.
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rug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 03:12 PM
Response to Original message
6. You can't bring him to court to make him see the kids more.
You can bring him to court to get a more rational schedule so you don't have to negotiate every exchange.
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Iniquitous Bunny Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 03:17 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. We're 50/50 now.
He acts as though it's too much for him, but because of it being 50/50, he doesn't have to pay child support. I more than want him to be a part of the kids' lives, but I also expect fairness. If I am going to have primary custody, I'm going to need child support and I want it legal.
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rug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 03:33 PM
Response to Reply #7
10. You'll get it. Support follows custody even if it's only an extra night.
If you can talk to him, try to set up a fixed schedule so the kids know what to expect. Otherwise, you'll have little choice but to go beyond 50/50, along with the support that goes with it.
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MissB Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 03:46 PM
Response to Original message
12. The most successful blended family I know
(and I'm neither a dad, stepdad or even divorced)

went through family counseling. The kids, the dad, the ex and the new wife. The adults were all able to act like adults (which it sounds like your ex may need some work on) and do what was best for the kids.
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Iniquitous Bunny Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 07:42 PM
Response to Reply #12
17. I'd like that.
My ex tends to view everyone else as having the problem. I suggested counseling with everyone once before and he just laughed. :( Most of the time it isn't that bad though, just stuff to deal with.
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Bucky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 04:16 PM
Response to Original message
14. The ex sounds insecure. I've been on all sides of that equation.
Forget trying to under the male mind and how the male ego shapes the male mind. Women are just too complicated to get us. :)

I've been the part time dad after my divorce, and then for the last four and a half years the full time single parent who's had to go to court to get child support met. None of it's fun, but then none of it's for you anyway. It's for the kids.

Couple of points: First, going to court does not make you the bad guy. It makes you the person who couldn't agree out of court with the bad guy, and therefor the good guy. Second, it's counterproductive to think of anyone as the bad guy. There are obligations by law that all divorced parents--both custodial and non-custodial--owe to their kids. Your ex will never pay YOU child support. He can only pay child support, which you would happen to be the executor of. The sooner he learns this, the better all will be (assuming it really comes to the point where someone ends up making regular payments). You may not want his money, but your awkward feelings don't justify depriving his kids of the right to be supported by their father.

When I went to court the last time (this past summer) to get my kid's mom to keep up on her payments, I wanted to feel like shit. Some days I did, which is normal. But I had to realize that my daughter doesn't deserved to be deprived of any support her mom can provide. I'm not even a factor in this financial obligation. The sooner we came to see our financial transactions as professional duties, the sooner the shit ended.

Next, ignore the jealousy shit. It's his problem. Not yours, not you fiance's, not your kids'. His. Don't enable his shit and don't "compromise". Instead, come to mutual understandings. There really is not difference between a compromise and a mutual understanding--except where you brain is at when you finalize the decision, which is all the difference in the world.

Next, congratulate yourselves on handling it well up to now. It's the most complicate thing in the world, so any successes are small miracles. Take credit and take a bow and tell him he deserves to do the same. This will always be difficult. But most states just lay out pretty clear formulas on what the rules are for managing children under split custody. If you can't agree or get along, there's probably a required-by-law default that all have to comply with. I've found that if we always start with that as the basis for how we're going to alter our decisions, giving up a point feels like far less of a loss.

Finally, congratulations on the impending marriage. It's good for your kids to see you moving on with your life and will give them excellent skills in the future for how they manage their own difficult relationships. It's also reassuring to them that you're finding happiness with this new partner. He's not going to be a dad, per se, but a step dad can be a great asset in a kid's life. With luck, it will also let your ex know it's time for him to move on too.

It wouldn't hurt to reassure the dad that the kids still think of him as the Number One male. As men, we're almost hardwired for jealousy. If you ex is being contrarian about it, expecting your new hubby to try and take over, it can be a good and bad sign. On the one hand he's got to work thru his jealousy. On the other, being able to express that sarcasm may be an indication that he's already processing this new presense in his life. If the new man makes a few concessions to the ex in terms of overseeing the kids--something like "I'm not the one to ask, kiddo, there's your father right there"--could help assuage his insecurity.

Most of the time these issues are just things that take time to ride out. Most of the time--obviously I don't know much about your situation.
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Iniquitous Bunny Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 07:38 PM
Response to Reply #14
16. Thank you so much.
I'm busy getting everyone ready for bed, so not much time. (Step-dad-to-be and I just spent 3 hours running the concession stand at a Little League game.) Anyway, your post gave me so much to think about and some of the insights really clicked. I appreciate that. :)
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Corgigal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 07:56 PM
Response to Original message
18. less responsibility
I have an ex and my husband has an ex. Together we have 5 children...TOGETHER, we have 5 children.
2 our my present husband children, 2 are from my first marriage and 1 from his first marriage.
We have no step brothers and sisters here and my husband does what he must for all the children.
ALL of them.

This is about money. It always is and remember my name because within 6 month you can PM and tell me.,..yep it was. Ex never say things like step up to the plate unless it's financial.
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flvegan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 08:11 PM
Response to Original message
19. I've been the stepdad
In reading through the thread, you stated that you didn't want money, but you wanted support if you became the primary. To be honest, I'd reconsider that.

To me, it seems that the father wants out, looking for the new Mr. Iniquitous Bunny to take the baton on handoff and run with it. It's a shitty thing to suggest that another "dad" should "step up" to be just that, a good dad.

I don't know your financial situation, but I, personally would strike while the iron is hot. I'd ask your ex to sign off on letting your fiance legally adopt your kids. It removes him from the equation. All decisions are yours. The kids can still have a positive relationship with the birth father as is agreed upon by the lot of you.

I don't think that the peace of mind that you, your fiance and your kids (your family) will have, knowing that there is no encumbrance nor outside "right" that could usurp your family structure, could ever be trumped by the possibility of child support. Besides, if the birth father is a real man, he'll help you folks out anyway, simply because it's the right damn thing to do.

And that's the bottom line.
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