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What is my obligation?

VAStep415's picture

FH and I have been together for 5 years. We moved in together after a year and after 2 months of living together, we found out about the existence of FSS6 (2 years old at the time). FH never had a relationship w/ BM; they had some mutual friends and ended up having a one night stand when he had just broken up with his then-girlfriend. BM contacted him when she decided that she wanted child support.

It's been 4 years now since we found out about FSS. It was very obvious from the beginning that BM didn't really want to be a mother and therefore doesn't put any real effort into caring for her son, leaving most of the responsibility to her mother when they're on good terms. When they're not on good terms, she finds whatever loser will have her and moves in with him, taking FSS with her. After the last time this happened, about a year and a half ago, FH stepped in and took over the bulk of the custody. FSS lives with us most of the time now.

I have never wanted children of my own and I made that clear to FH from the beginning. FH himself was on the fence about it. Learning about the existence of FSS blindsided both of us and we've tried to cope the best we can but it's been difficult, to say the least. I supported FH in his decision to take over more custody, though, and try to provide a stable home for FSS because it was the right thing to do for FSS.

The problem I'm facing now is that FH seems to expect me to be a substitute mother to FSS. This expectation has always been there to a degree, but since we got engaged last summer it's gotten progressively worse. I do my best considering that I never wanted a life with a child in it at all. I make FSS's meals, do his laundry, clean his room, keep up with school functions and doctor's appointments, plan his birthday parties, keep up with all the legal/court issues and documentation, and just overall help out FH and do my duty as the lady of the house. I try to be a good role model and treat FSS fairly, just like I would any child in my home. The reality, though, is that I do not love FSS. I say it back when he tells me he loves me and I play the part, but really, I don't like him at all. It's not his fault, I know, and I work very hard every day to never, ever let it show that deep down I just wish he never existed and that I could have my life back.

But just this past weekend FH and I got into a huge argument about what exactly my responsibility is when it comes to FSS. FH implied that not only was it my responsibility to make sure FSS got dinner every night (something I mistakenly thought I was doing voluntarily out of the kindness of my heart), but that I should be taking FSS on outings and doing activities with him on my own on a regular basis. He said that I'm supposed to love FSS. He made me feel like a horrible person for not feeling the way he thought I should feel about his son.

FH has gotten this idea in his head that I should be the mother to FSS that BM isn't. I think FH looks at me as a co-parent because I was around before we found out about FSS. But I am NOT that child's mother. Is it really my responsibility to make up for her apathy? Isn't it enough that I do everything for FSS? Am I supposed to force myself to love him? Is that required? How would one even go about that? Help!

VAStep415's picture

Oh yes, paternity was established ASAP after BM contacted FH. I made sure of that. (Yet another thing that seems to fall on me- making sure our butts are covered legally. Who knows how long it would have taken FH to get around to doing a paternity test if I hadn't insisted.)

hippiegirl's picture

You have the right to feel the way you feel. FH is out of line expecting you to love his kid. It IS his kid, isn't it? My skids crawled out of the woodwork after 10 years of being with my DH, so I know where you're coming from.

VAStep415's picture


shielded2009's picture

Is it really my responsibility to make up for her apathy?

Nope...You can't do that...Nobody can do that...That's the life and the road he'll have to travel...It's not the most ideal, but it's life...He'll have to learn how to deal with that, but it's not your responsibility to take that over...

Isn't it enough that I do everything for FSS?

Honestly, I think it's too much...I have a mantra as it pertains to SD, "I assist...If it's important to YOU (DH) then it's important to me to assist you. If you don't have the initiative, neither do I."...period. What is your FH doing? Everything pertaining to your FSS is FH responsibility...not yours...If you're willing to help him, fine, but it's not yours...I don't believe on "wifely or womanly roles"...What would he do if you weren't around? Deal and cope...or find another woman willing to parent his kid...

Am I supposed to force myself to love him?
Is that required?

Nope. I think you should like him and be kind to him, but don't beat yourself up for not loving him...That's normal...He's in effect a stranger...

I think a lot of your issues are from your own view of what you should be doing. A lot of what you do and your perspective, I don't agree with for myself...I would NEVER do any of the stuff you're doing...That's just me. I'm not my SD's parent. She's got 2 parents...Regardless of their active brain cells or intelligence, or desire to be parents, their her parents...I assist the one that I'm connected to (DH)...I'm not a replacement mother...

When DH and I got together, we had that conversation...Though it took some time for him to TRULY get it, I have always felt that way...Bathing, cleaning up after, feeding, homework, etc...That's DH's responsibility...I wasn't there when SD came about, so I'm not the one responsible for her care...(And SD's way of getting here is very similar to yours...though DH knew from day one...)...DH had to learn over time to parent HIS child...He fought me initially, but he knows I'm not budging...and over time, he understands...

Honestly, you and FH need to have a sit down talk about expectations and roles...It'd be best done with a 3rd party...Like a counselor...If not, honestly...He'd be staying a FH....


VAStep415's picture

"No human being can ever be forced to love another. We as human beings are just not geared that way. Even if the conditions are right and you honestly wish you could love this child, it is improbable at best and impossible at worst."

Thank you! My gut told me this but having FH, FH's family, AND my own family all imposing the expectation that I'm supposed to fall in love with the child really messes with my head. Since FSS entered our lives, FH and FH's parents always pushed him to give me hugs and tell me he loves me. I was never given the opportunity to develop a relationship with him organically. I am not usually a good or comfortable liar, so putting up the front of loving someone I don't is extremely taxing, but I suppose that's the choice we're left with in these situations, isn't it?

paul_in_utah's picture

This is pure baloney. I never get tired of the do-gooder pledge of "they're CHILDREN, it's not their fault." Sure, it's not the kid's fault, but it is also not your responsibility. Some step-parents may choose to take on the burden of parental duties, but one partner should not try to guilt another into doing so. If you want to help, great. The bio-parent should view it as a gift, not an entitlelment. The problems usually start when the bio-parents start taking the step-parent for granted.

Also, it is important to remember that things often change signficantly in the step-family environment. My skids were not so bad for the first few years, but over time they have become major problems. I busted my ass for years trying to help them, and in return I not only didn't get thanks, I get unending hostility because I'm not a "real" parent. Throw in a non-supportive DW, and guess what? I don't feel like I should be responsible for these kids.

bestwife's picture

Were you the one who spread her legs for a one night stand without birth control? (that how my SS made his entry into the world)

No - well it is highly repulsive (to me) to be expected to deal with the consequences of other's stupid actions.

Yes it is a child - but there a literally millions and millions of children who could use better parenting. I can't help all of them. And if I do choose to help one - then let it be one of my choosing. Not some piece of trash's crotch droppings (thank you for whoever first used that phrase).

I do not have children because I am a responsible person. My SS24 is literally a crotch dropping. He is kind of sweet - but oh my gosh he is such a pathetic loser. Mostly homeless (not staying here EVER EVER) crashing in section 8 apts, smoking weed and drinking, working at restaurants that have no drug testing requirements. Underbelly life.

He's been in jail multiple times. His mother who is educated, inherited money, has a great job, etc. lives less than a mile away. If SHE is not going to bail out his sorry butt, then I am NOT going to. She tossed him out in his teens (before my arrival on the scene) when she found a man (pathetic ex druggie) who would accept her hogwort self.

His girlfriend is now pregnant. So NOT my concern. I will never see this child or become emotionally involved. Yes I know that makes me seem awfully cold hearted - but I refused to place myself in a position where I have to care.

I give a lot of my time and money (I had a very, very successful career in the IT area with a company that went public)to help others. Primarily those that try to help themselves get ahead in life. I grew up in gutter poverty. The desire to live a successful life must come from within. Those are the ones I help.

Doubletakex3's picture

Yes it is a child - but there a literally millions and millions of children who could use better parenting. I can't help all of them. And if I do choose to help one - then let it be one of my choosing. Not some piece of trash's crotch droppings (thank you for whoever first used that phrase).

Funny that you make this comparison as I've thought to myself that I feel like I'm contributing to the BM's charity since I'm basically covering for her lack of financial or otherwise contribution to raising her kids. I've mused that it would be better if she just created a charity and then at least I could use it as a tax write-off!

Doubletakex3's picture

I wrote a long and very eloquent (:-)) post yesterday but my browser crashed and it was lost. Ugh.

I think there's misunderstanding caused around the term 'love.' It sounds like you are demonstrating love by your actions: care, compassion, respect, etc. I get that your FH would like you to share his undying parental love but that's just not realistic. When I explained to my FH what I felt I could do for his kids (care, role model, etc.) he was perfectly fine with it. But, he wasn't fine with me saying that I can't "love" them. Okay, then, I love them but I mean something different when I say love than he does. Whatever.

My FH has a stepdaughter so I was able to turn it around on him. He admitted that he doesn't have the same love for her as he does his biological children. He loves her in a different way...and that's the same for me with his bio kids.

The distinction, of course, causes a different emotional / internal reaction. When FH sees his BD2's crib he thinks, "Isn't that cute? That's BD's bed..." Whereas I think, "OMG another 16 years of skid hell." I dismantle the crib as soon as she's out the door and he can't understand why!

I help reconcile it this way: would I have loved my wacko grandmother if she were not my grandmother? No, I would have stayed away from that wacko lady. But, I loved her. It's different when it's your blood. It just is.

Katybellanne's picture

Don't MARRY him!! You will lose your life, grow resentful hate your life. Just because you have a vagina does not make you responsible!!! He has 2 parents, between them they need to grow the hell up. He was their mistake not yours. I know here's just an innocent child BUT he HAS two parents. Your BF is the one who is the person who weds to get a grip on the reality of his one night of unprotected sex