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I need some advice

JD's picture

Eight months ago I began dating a wonderful woman Angie, a mother of a five year old boy named Jason. From day one, I have done everything in my power to be a strong male role model for Jason and have absolutely bonded with him in every way imaginable. He loves me just as much as I love him and the quality time we share is priceless.

Just to give a bit of a backdrop...Angie was just coming out of a seven year relationship with Jason's father Tom, which ended because Angie and Tom were fighting too much and just not moving forward. Angie told me that Jason and his father always had a pretty strong father-son relationship when they were together, but the day Angie and Tom split up he basically turned into the definition of a deadbeat dad. In the past eight months he only came to see his son on an average of twice per month, and has not paid even the minimum amount of state mandated child support. I am writing this on the day that Angie is going to court to have the judge set child support and schedule for parenting time between Tom and Jason. And that is where I am so conflicted. On Jason's visits to Tom's house, the environment is not at all the way it should be between a father and son. It's bad enough that Tom does not financially support his son properly, but he is just not an involved and dedicated parent in the way that I feel that I am and in the way that Angie is. When Jason is with me and Angie, he is happy and content and progressing on all levels that a young child should. When he returns from Tom's house, he is lethargic and sad and just not his normal self. He cries when he has to go visit there, and he wakes up several times during the middle of the night when he comes home.

The way I have been raising Jason has been so positive and emotionally stimulating to his well-being and development, and he just does not get that from Tom or his family (they are very cold and uninvolved). I encourage healthy eating in the home and only feed him homemade, home-cooked meals and have made it a point to eliminate unhealthy snacks from our house (Tom only feeds his son fast food and junk food). Jason and I take daily walks where he gets excellent exercise (he sits in the house and watches Tom play video games when he visits there). We go on "playdates," where I encourage Jason to make friends and help him in becoming socially involved with other children. I take him to the library and read books to him. I have arranged for a private tutor to prepare him for kindergarten. I have gotten Jason on a regular sleeping schedule where he goes to bed without any fuss whatsoever each evening when his bedtime arrives, and does not wake up during the night at all (except, as I said, when he returns home from his visits with Tom). In addition to the above, I give Jason as much love as I possibly can give along with my parents who treat him like their own grandson. Tom's mother will not even allow herself to be publicly called "Grandma." Although Jason isn't physically abused in Tom's care, he is not cared for properly and his emotional well-being is compromised at the very least. What's occurring on his visits are detrimental to his immediate (and long-term) growth.

I am just at my wits end and worry all the time when he is visiting with Tom, and I know things are only going to get worse once this child support and parenting schedule is set in place. Angie was the one who realized months ago that Tom's deadbeat dad behavior was inexcusable and was prepared to have Tom forfeit his rights as Jason's father. I was, and still am, fully prepared to legally become Jason's father. But now Angie has done a complete 360, and doesn't feel it's best to have Tom fully out of the picture at this time. She is holding out some fantasy that he all of a sudden is now going to become a model father. I feel Jason is young enough now where he will forget about Tom and the boy loves me so much that I will certainly be able to fill that role forever. I'm already filling that role now, and I'm very hurt that Angie has changed her tune and is not pushing for Tom to terminate his parental rights. With a court-mandated joint custody arrangement between Angie and Tom, my voice will now become the third voice (if it is heard at all) and I will have no legal rights in any decision making even if I marry Angie (which I am planning to do). It seems like everything now is going to just go up in the air. All the negatives that will result in a joint custody arrangement between Tom and Angie far outweigh any possible father-son bond that Angie is hoping occurs between Jason and Tom. But there is no convincing Angie of this.

I'm only looking out for the best interests of Jason here and I love him and Angie so much that I'm so torn and worked up about all this. Am I wrong? What do I do at this point?

JD's picture

Thanks Minne...I'm trying my best to stay positive and not let this whole mess effect our relationship. It's just I hate when Angie makes excuses for Tom. She told me that even when they were together he wasn't as involved a parent as he should be. She told me she would have to take Jason down the shore alone because he refused, and he refused to do family things like go Christmas shopping and stuff like that. She says he "shows his love in different ways," but I just don't understand that concept. And I'm sure they had their good times too, but at this point there is no indication that Tom is going to automatically do the right thing. Me and Angie and Jason do all these kinds of family things together and I know it's going to be me going to parent-teacher conferences when Jason starts school, and it's gonna be me who is there with him on doctor visits and at all other important milestones. And the fact that I'm so ready to commit to all these things should be reason enough for Angie to understand that that is how you show love and allow me to do all that with no reservations or possibility of Tom causing problems. Recently Jason was sick and the guy did not even come to see his son once. Big deal, he calls him on the phone for five minutes. Just this past Sunday Jason said his father yelled at him (Angie says "well he must have been doing something wrong") and just continues to defend him on everything. For the few rare moments they spend together instead of Tom teaching him things and bonding and spending quality time, he is yelling? It's like everything I try to teach Jason is set back after his visits with Tom and his family, and I hate to sit here and be silent when I see this happening. And Angie wants to continue to allow these visits because Tom is the biological father and because she is hoping that he all of a sudden becomes "Super Dad."

Maybe I shouldn't have so many doubts like this but quite frankly I just don't understand not having your 100% heart and soul and dedication into your child. Tom does not have that, there is no denying it. If I am away one day I miss Jason. His mom misses him all day when she has to go to work and this guy only sees the kid once a week at the most. Again, these are not particularly terms of abuse but they are very different ways of raising your child and this all stems from Tom's upbringing. His mother is a cold and ill-hearted person, and I only pray that Jason's exposure to that environment does not make him develop a cold side to him as he grows up. I can only do my best to try and counter that by giving all the love I can give. I guess time will tell on how this all goes.

Orange County Ca's picture

He's the kids father and if he wants to remain in contact with the kid you need to keep out of it. Do the best you can when the kid is with you and don't be too upset over his actions when he's visiting Dad. Kids find this whole routine upsetting. Who can blame them? Meanwhile you can spend as much time and money on the kid that you desire as long as it doesn't interfere with his visits.. Good for you.

You're a step-father here. You have no rights legal or otherwise. The boys mother and father have made it clear that you're not going to replace Dad so accept your role. Yes its very unfortunate that his father is a dead beat and I'm not going to defend him. But a dead beat Dad is better than no Dad at all.

Your job as your spouses husband is to back her up in every decision she makes about her child. She wants her ex to be a father and if she gives him 20 years to shape up so be it. End of subject. If you have issues by all means bring them up. Once.


There's an exception to everything I say.

JD's picture

I hear ya Orange County make good points. But 20 years to shape up? I hope that was said in jest.

Anyway, the court awarded Angie $125 per week in support payments and Tom gets to pick up Jason ever other Friday and keep him until Sundays at 7. I was not happy at all when I heard that and I know Angie isn't totally happy about it either. I was wishing and praying that Tom would just sign over his parental rights. Me and Angie had a pretty big talk about everything this afternoon when she got home (started off as a big argument), but all in all I think we are on the same page now. She's going to give Tom this one last shot now to be a father and I have to respect that even if I don't agree with it. She said she's gonna give him about 3 months to see what happens. If Jason is effected negatively she said she's going to reopen the case. I'm trying to stay as positive as I can that everything works out.

BorBor's picture

JD, Tom is Jasons father.not you It is great that you are a positive influence on his life. The bottom line is, your are not Jason's Dad.

I think its good that Angie is getting a routine, and is having structure with the ex. But in no way shape or form do I agree that you push the Father out of the picture.
You have only been with this women for 8 months, Im sorry and I might be critized for saying this, but you sound almost obsessed.

Step back, step away and let Angie handle the Dad. You sound like you are giving her stress.
and Its not up to you to decide what Tom is feeling.

BorBor's picture

I was wondering why this blog upset me so much, besides from the obvious reasons, pushing the Father out.
I dated someone, before I met DH, and it lasted less then a year. He was obsessed with being the Dad to my kids. He put thier father down every chance he got. He compared himself to my ex to promote himself. He also wanted me to take their father to court, and hang him to dry. I didnt.

He jumped into the father role, love, love, love the kids. My kids were stressed, because they felt a loyatly to their father and would come home with a sour face, to be loyal to him.

Their father was almost exactly like Tom, no structure, no boundaries. Also like Tom he had a good relationship with the kids before the divorce. I knew that my ex was going thru an adjustment, I knew that my ex is important to my children development. Then one day my ex's light went off in his head, and became the Dad he was before the divorce. They still get junk food and still stay up late. Not my time, not my problem. He is good Dad where it counts.

The man I dated gave me so much stress. I hear DJ talking bout this child, But he really should be talking about Angie.

just sharing thanks

JD's picture

BorBor, thank you. Your post makes a lot of sense, and it seems like that's a very similar situation to the one I'm in. The only thing is, Jason doesn't seem to have any of that loyalty to his father (at least he doesn't openly show it on a daily basis and he's a very affectionate and expressive child). I guess I was somewhat obsessed with this whole situation, and I am going to make it a point to not give Angie any added stresses from now on. I just love her and Jason so much. Angie told me that Tom apologized to her before their court appearance for being so absent for the past eight months, and that he is now going to step up. I personally am not going to encourage or discourage the situation, instead I'm going to be neutral and just see what happens. The way I see it, if Tom really has changed, he should be a real man and thank me for stepping in the past eight months when he was absent. It's not that I need or want any kudos or pats on the back but if he was a real man he would do that. But I know that won't happen. Again, we are all going to give this time. Venting on these forums does help a lot I must admit. I feel somewhat less tense about this to some degree.

BorBor's picture

Take it slow JD, you are dating and in love with Angie. In time all the pieces will fall together. Be the best you can be when you are with her, and leave out the stress and the opinions.

In time if/or when you guys get married, you will be a stepfather, which is just as important role in a child life. Dont think that being a step __ is less important. You can be a great positive influence in Jason life. Pushing the Dad out is not going to work. Saying positive (not being negative) things about Tom, giving him the respect and support as Jason Dad, will make you a better person in Angie and Jason eyes.

Good Luck

JD's picture

You have all been helpful. Much appreciated. For now, I am going to try and take all of your advice while practicing the serenity prayer:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.

JD's picture

Danyelle, Tom now has a court ordered schedule (just implemented last week) that says he can take Jason every OTHER weekend. Only time will tell to see if he follows through on that. Before court, for the past eight months, he rarely picked him up at all by his own free will, and was not involved in his life at all the way he should have been. I am starting to accept all this though and become at peace with it but the fact still remains we all just need to see if he actually steps up now.

JD's picture

I need some more advice...does anyone show these forums to their other halves? I told Angie I often come online to "vent" and she said she would like to read these threads.

"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change...Courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference."