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Shared Authority

Fernweh520's picture

First hello, warning I am long winded, could be the story teller in me, Im a history teacher so I do this for a living.  I am very new to all of this and I want to be ahead instead of behind on everything.  I am 40 and no children.  I have wanted children since I was a teen and envisioned a great family life with my ex.  I was married for 10 years and spent most of my 30s working to pay for round after round after round…ect of IVF, if we could swipe the card we did, I will be debt free soon and no more rice and beans.  In the end it changed our dynamic making us more just friends who were always sad, and sadness fed off each other. We both are teachers because of our love of children and being around our students made both of us even more depressed.  Currently I am almost 20 years teaching and plan on getting out soon so I can be around children less, maybe having my own would change this maybe not.

Started dating GF in Sept 2019, I always let it be known upfront that I plan on having a biological family, that it is my number one priority in life, tied with finding a love that is stronger than any I have had before.  My GF is the oldest woman I have dated since my divorce and I wont lie at 39 in a couple months and me having gone through so many disappointments I am nervous about success of starting a family with her. But I can honestly say she is amazing, we have common goals and wants, everything is amazing, especially when it is just us.  She was done having kids, but having met me she wants to give me a child, though she says if not I will always have her son ( I don’t see it this way and she knows this, her son is not looking for a father and she is not willing to give me authority of a father with him).  We are going to soon start not, not trying.

GF has a 10 yo son undiagnosed light spectrum autism(my family is almost all teachers and we all instantly saw it, and my gf was a teacher and agrees but has not taken him for testing)  , who is socially recluse, literally zero friends come over and if you ask who his best friend is it would be my GF. He ignores other kids when they are around, my nieces and nephew were so excited to meet him but he just ignored them, they were disappointed but understood he is spectrum.  All he does is watch youtube, rarely even plays video games…I mean every evening after school, and all weekend. GF has been a stay at home mom and she struggles to give him any space (sits next to him on couch most of night and plays on her phone while he watches youtube) as she is fearful of the negatives of the world, yet she is a strong woman who is extremely independent and physically active. She complains of his inactivity (he is getting chubby compared to pictures prior to divorce) but is fearful to send him outside for he will be kidnapped, plus he doesn’t want to and she doesn’t want a battle.  Custody is 50/50 with his bio father, but she watches him every work day after school and Bio Father picks him up around 6pm, so us (gf and my) time is limited to every other weekend and after 6pm a couple nights a week (not a complaint it could be worse).

Her son does want to please but has bad habits that she perpetuates because “he is comfortable around me (gf)”  The only problem is she puts up with them and then will snap and I mean snap on him hard after he pushes too far….but usually gf never really give a consequence.  I am extremely calm and even, she is amazed by me, and even her son has pointed out how good I am for them both. She says she is happiest around him, but I see her always on edge when her son is around. I read emotions really well, I’m ENFP if that means anything to people.  The only time I see her guard come down completely is when she is with me on our own, she will half admit this, but I think she feels guilt for it. She has told me she understands if I don’t like her son as he is not a likeable personality, for the record I don’t dislike him, I dislike his behavior and attitude. I have actually influenced him a lot with little to no authority.  He is starting to take some responsibility for his actions, he no longer does the Loser sign on his forehead to his mom and he now rarely says shut up to her as I used logic and reason to advance change.  On the L on forehead he for a while pretended that he changed the L to Love and she was letting him get away with this so I called him out and now he doesn’t at all.   There are several other things that she explodes over and I see the simple solution but she fails to do anything. When I say just try this she has brought up that I am not a parent and don’t understand, I usually push back that I don’t need to hear that as it is a trigger for me, but also I am a teacher of almost 20 years of kids her sons age, I am a hands on uncle and I was an odd male who babysat a lot as a teen, so I do understand children quite well, but again I am not a parent so she doesn’t give full weight. One particularly bad thing is tucking him in, he is super slow and does it as a power play.  She has said she wont tuck him in anymore if he is slow, but she always gets out of bed and does it anyway….except the last two times I stayed when her son was home, she followed through, and he could not believe it, he did all he could to get her out and finally gave up after almost an hour.  I told her I wish she would not have done that while I was there as he will connect it to me, that she needs to continue this now that she started following through, well the next night I did not stay after those two nights he quickly went to bed and she tucked him in and was amazed, I said keep it up….he then went to his dad, comes back and after the first night I asked how bedtime went, she said he was slow again, and she was frustrated, I asked if she tucked him in and she says yes…palm face….I told her that makes it look like it is me causing this, but she just brushes it off and continues tucking him in regardless.

So far her son likes me a lot, though I see he worries about losing his mom, so I am always trying to strike a balance, honestly I think more than she is, as she would have me stay every night, but this brings me to my questions.  She is super protective of him, and has said leave discipline to her so he can see me as fun and build report.  I agreed at first but as time has gone on and we start looking at seriously having children I see simple interventions that would help so much in heading off her explosions, I am able to implement some,  I do what I can but just being able to say turn off the tv or you will lose it for the next 30 minutes would go so far, but she is insistent she only can implement negative consequences.  If she wants kids with me she should trust my judgment enough to give me simple authority with her son.  I am not looking for over the top power, but just the ability to do some simple things like take away a video game for a day or make him turn off the tv and if he doesn’t lose it for the rest of the evening. Basically follow the rules she sets up, but enforce them before she inevitably explodes. (I actually get her frustrations as he is super different and unresponsive, but its easily fixed she just doesn’t see it)  I don’t see using negative consequences much, but I want the ability if needed.  Am I crazy for wanting this? Is it uncommon to have this simple power?  I know I am not a true step parent yet, but if I am to have a life with her I think these are reasonable things, especially when she says I should look at him as my son in case we cant have kids.  He never will be my “son” because he has a father he still loves (despite domestic abuse in the past) and is heavily involved and she wont give me simple powers.  I want to just tell her that as long as she isn’t giving me any authority she can never expect him to look at me as a father.  Advice?

susanm's picture

Not to sound harsh but I need to cut to the chase and so do you.  If you want a biological child, a 39 year old woman who is not dying for another child is not your match.  You have already experienced the expense and heartbreak of fertility treatment.  Forget being a stepparent and the hell that goes with it.  Follow your heart and find someone who wants to have a bio-family with you now before you regret time passing you by.

Aniki's picture

I agree with susanm. While it's very possible for a 39yo to conceive and give birth, this woman sounds lukewarm, at best, about the idea. And why would this woman expect her son to look to you as a father when he already has one who is active in his life? Sounds like she may be bitter about her ex and is trying to replace him with you.

This is 2020. There are plenty of women who have been career-minded and put off starting a family until later in life. Keep looking. You could also find a childless woman who is willing to adopt.

Fernweh520's picture

She knows I want to be a father and that is where she comes from with saying she wants him to look at me as a father. She always wanted more, but not with her ex and she had moved past the idea and came to accept it.  There are many times she gets super excited about the idea of more kids, so she is more than luke warm on wanting more, but she admits she wont go through fertility treatments to have one, and I am not sure I would again, the idea of being a parent would probably just ride off into the sunset. 

Aniki's picture

I'm a little confused - under the impression you want a biological child and do not actually view yourself as "father" to a future stepchild. Is this correct??

This boy's father is very active in his life - 50/50. An equal authority figure in the household might be a better fit. Ideally, you two should be a unit with rules and the consequences for violating the rules. When the bioparent undermines your expected authority, it causes problems.

Fernweh520's picture

I want a bio child, would have no problem being a father to step, however, gf son is not really hungering for a father figure  and if she isnt really interested in handing any power to me then it never really will work out where her idea of him looking at me as a father figure would occur

Aniki's picture

she isnt really interested in handing any power to me

That is a very strange statement. I repeat... Ideally, you two should be a unit with rules and the consequences for violating the rules. It's not necessary that you play Daddy. 

Honestly, it sounds like you'd be better off with a woman who does not have any children, but wants one/five.


susanm's picture

Wait - so if this 39 year old woman does not conceive naturally you will just "ride off into the sunset."  Not to put too fine a point on it but you seriously sound like a real jerk!  There is a high probability that she will NOT conceive naturally and you are well aware of it.  Why would you set her up like that???  "Well, we tried sweetheart but it didn't take.  Time for me to move along to greener pastures.  Best of luck in your future endeavors!"  Wow......

Fernweh520's picture

I would not really, I should have prefaced it as my idea of being a parent would ride off into the sunset.  My bad, apologize for confusion.

Siemprematahari's picture

You've been with this woman for 4 months. Bottom line you want a child and she seems to be ok with it but not exactly excited about the idea. Don't waste anymore of your time and look to being with someone that is actually convinced that they want children and take it from there. Also someone who is more in alignment with your parenting style would work better. 

Ispofacto's picture

I generally have an unfavorable opinion of any physically fit adult who is financially dependent on another adult.  The boy is well into school age and there is no reason this woman should not be working fulltime.  Huge red flag.  Women who call themselves SAHM to children who are not home.  Double points for mooching off a man who is not the father.

Then there's the coddling.  Another huge red flag.  Probably related to point number one.

Then there's the denial of his condition.  Red flag.

Don't be so desperate to have a child that you tie yourself to a user.


strugglingSM's picture

I agree with the sentiments above. If you do want a child, you need to either fast forward with this woman, who does not sound overly enthused about having enough child (my read is that she'd likely be okay with another child, but would also likely be okay without one) or decide that you want to look for someone else who has more time and also more interest in having a child with you. 

I don't think anyone would recommend fast forwarding, so if your real goal is to have a bio child, you may need to cut your losses and look for someone else. 

Also, your GF seems to have a seriously dysfunctional relationship with her son. If he is indeed on the spectrum, he should be getting some form of support to help with his coping. Human beings who are isolated from others typically develop mental health issues. Also, her responses to him sound both enabling and then shaming (snapping after he's gone too far) and over-protective (not letting him outside for fear that he'd be kidnapped). Bringing a baby into that situation would seem to be recipe for disaster. 

Rags's picture

If you are putting so much of your future happiness on children you are going to have to find another partner.  Though with your focus on authority you may find it difficult to find a long term partner who will both breed with you and abdicate authority to you.

I undersand that each person is different when it comes to children and building an equity life partnership.  Kids have never been a huge driver for me. In fact I have never had any desire to have children or ... to not have children.  Kids are great but  as they are not anything that I would feel like I was missing out on by not having.  I have no BKs though I have raised my SS-27 as my own.  He is launched as is the goal any parent has for their children so it is not all about his mom and I and our life together.

Good luck whatever way you and your SO decide to go on staying together and procreating.

WarMachine13's picture

Dude. You've been together 4 months and you're always on edge when her son is around. 

Cut bait and fish elsewhere. 

SteppedOut's picture

This. And find a woman a bit younger than yourself to increase your chances of becoming a father.