Am I Part Of Your Life Or What?

My boyfriend - who I don't live with (so I'm not technically a stepmum but we struggle with some of the same issues) - has two kids by two different mothers. We've had some conflicts about one of the mothers in particular messing us about regarding the days she's supposed to have her kid, but that's all gone pretty smoothly recently. However, I've just seen the schedule for the Christmas holidays and it seems that he's having their kid to stay on some days that he doesn't usually have him. OK, big deal, it's the holidays, things get mixed around a bit at such times and solutions need to be found. I get that. What I don't get - and don't accept - is that I'm not kept in the loop when it comes to discussing this. I suppose some may argue that because we don't live together, I don't have any "right" to be involved in such decisions. But hey, I'm part of the "family constellation" too now, whether anyone likes it or not. As I've said before in other forums here, I get that I'm second priority after the kids. That's fine by me. But not even discussing this with me, so that I can hear whether these changes are unavoidable or whether they've just been made to "better suit" the kid's mum? I don't buy that at all. That puts me in third place, after her needs. And not for the first time either. I'm really starting to feel like "Am I part of your life or what?". I think we need a chat about this and he needs to hear how this makes me feel. OK, I knew - kind of - what I was getting into, taking on a man with such a complicated situation. But I do need to be involved in the day-to-day planning of our time. I mean, if we were living together, I can't imagine him just making plans like that without even consulting me (and if he did, he'd certainly hear about it!). All this just makes me feel like I'm not worth very much to him. I know he's got a lot on his plate, but we were together - alone - the entire weekend and he didn't say a word about this. (And I asked him a few weeks ago to discuss Christmas with me as soon as he knew what the mother's requests were.) I guess he knows by now how I'm going to react, and is trying to avoid a conflict. But the thing is, he won't get a conflict if he tells me what's going on and gives me a chance to at least understand why, and maybe even give my input if I feel that his ex is taking liberties. That way, I won't feel sidestepped all the time. I just see this kind of behaviour as pretty spineless, to be honest.

Rant over :-) Hoping for respect in any comments that any of you who read this may post.
artdeco artdeco
2 Responses Nov 14, 2011

Hi art deco,<br />
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I had been in the same situation as you from July to Oct this year. Everything you mentioned above, I went through. I feel for you as much as I felt for myself. The relationship was conducted in a way in which I felt my love being abused. Love yourself please. If you do, please please do not allow any man to treat you this way. This kind of life you are leading & will be leading is and will always be at his, his ex and kid's mercy. Being single, we have every right to enjoy what we deserve. When he & his ex were single & dating, they had every chance to date with no other disturbances. Why do you permit yourself to be subjected to disrespect? Things will not get better as time goes by. When the kids reach their teens, you will have more grievances. I made a choice to love him dearly despite him coming with 3 kids but I realize I was only an option. Leave now, i realize a life as a single is much happier than having to be a back burner. We live once and do live well. I have made the right choice. Will you? All the best.

Thanks for this, although I'm sorry you've been in the same situation. I wrote you a long answer but managed to lose it in cyberspace. But I'll try to summarise it here.

I'm still undecided about whether it's all worth it, and so I'm sticking with him for now at least. But I am taking action to improve things for myself. I've asked a friend, who's actually a therapist, to have a word with my man when we meet up over the holidays. And when the baby mama tried to mess us around yesterday and dump the kid on us with only two days notice, I put my foot down and he actually told her no. But he played the emotional blackmail card anyhow, and I got mad at both her - for even asking - and him for not simply refusing her without discussing it with me (which is what I've asked him to do - I get stressed and angry if he even brings up the subject). He knows how I feel, and unless there's a really good reason, he has actually no need to ask me - the answer is always no. Despite that, I did try to be flexible and suggested we swapped days so that the mama would have the kid next week when she doesn't usually, but that obviously didn't pan out. So we stick to the agreed schedule. However, the damage is already done as far as I'm concerned. The default answer is "no". Period.

When I told him that it was too late, that I was already mad at him, he didn't get it at all. He has no idea what's going on here. He also has absolutely no clue about how to handle someone with mental health issues, which she has. My entirely amateur diagnosis is PTSD mixed with narcissism and resulting depression and rage issues. And he is still making the mistake of treating her like a "normal" person. You can't. You have to set extremely firm boundaries, even if that means bare-faced lying and forcing them into a corner. I have some ideas about how we can do this, but I'm sure he'd think them extremely underhand. Unfortunately, I know from personal experience of people with more or less the same problems that you have to be underhand in order to protect yourself. There is no moral quandary - the rules that apply to healthy people do not apply here. And you can actually force them to change their behaviour if you use such strategies. I've done it with other people in my life to good effect.

So, I'm going to soldier on and get the help I need. I'm already seeing a therapist myself and if my friend the therapist can contribute to opening my man's eyes to reality, then it's all good. I think he needs to hear it from someone other than me, someone professional.

Also, one aspect that these so-called "doting parents" forget is the child himself. He's unsettled as it is, and constantly changing schedules do not help the matter. If they should stop messing things around for anyone, it's for him. Problem is, I suspect that the mother finds him too much a lot of the time, and this is just her way of dealing with that - passing him off on his father instead, finding excuses, suddenly being "forced" to work, etc. I can understand her finding it hard to cope, but if that's the case, she needs to get help herself. Either that or change the custody arrangements (which I obviously don't want but at least that would be honest).

Thanks for listening.

Hi, your grievances will have no end. Pardon me for being blunt. But life is all about choices. I do not admire your 'courage' though &amp; you must always remember, you ought not to grumble &amp; feel bad when treated not how a wife ought to be treated because you have made a decision to tread a path which even the angels fail to tread. You choose this path, you must be prepared mentally,emotionally to swallow all grievances with grace. You lay your own bed. The above were what I always tell myself when I made a choice to be with that man. My pride &amp; dignity somehow tell me I deserve better quality kind of life. When you look back, I hope you can proudly say aloud, "it was all worth the agony."

I have gone through this similar situation and it is trite, disingenuious way that you say you "Can understand her finding it hard to cope, but if that's the case, she needs to get help herself." I think that is what she is trying to do by having the father to become more active in his child's life. Why would you ever part your mouth and presume to expect her to go outside the confines of their relationship in order to get help for "his" child. I give it to you, you are definitely something because the fact that you try to justify your actions of the "no" response by making the assertion that it is a hardship on the child is nothing less than the ploy and underhanded tactics that you've been using to try and control and undermine your boyfriend's relationship with his own child. Not a good thing, and then you try to cover up your own flaws by projecting and saying that your boy-friend is being manipulative. Please stop this insidious behavior. You women are the problem, because you stepped into this mess knowing that it was an individual before "YOU. That individual whether you like it or not was there before YOU and will be there LONG AFTER YOU taking care of his child. Needless to say it is already painstakingly uncertain as to your parenting skills, because in my opinion you haven't fully accepted the situation,but yet, you stay and continue to be overtly domineering by barking out orders as though his child is something off of a menu and you can began to deselect the items that you don't want (ie, child's mother around at all, visitation, a closer bond with the BF and his child). Grow up child, he is with you, for whatever reason that is, but not for long if you keep placing these rigid demands, as though the parents do not have a say so in their own child's upbringing, and that they have to get approval from "YOU". Stop kidding yourself, you became apart of HIS team, meaning that you have to root for HIM! That being said, his child is a part of him biologically. You are literally seeing half of him and half of her, and you cannot choose which half you will allow to love today or any other day for that matter, because in doing so, you are showing mother's like myself that you are not only unworthy to be in the presence of his child or any child for that matter, but that you lack the most minute, fundamental respect for the birth and creation of this child as well as the very person that you claim to love. Nor does your post evoke a warm and fuzzy feeling towards his child. No dear your words sound more like the child is an obstacle, a burden if you will, and I can singlehandedly tell you, I don't believe that the dad shares this mutual feeling. So I suggest you wisen up and get your act together. Tell me if I'm wrong, but the words love nor endearment for the child appear in your post. However, it is obvious that your post is simply devoid of that "must have feeling" in your response even towards the mother of this child. Even in keeping with your adage about " you soldier on". You aren't in battle fool, this is a child and the child and his/her best interest is what is at stake, not your paranoia, not your controlling attributes, and definitely not your manipulative ways. My suggestion to you is get to know the child, then you can love the child as your own, and then when she wants to leave him there you will be more than happy to have him there, as you will actually have become attached and then you will actually start to treat the child as though he is a part of your family. In so doing, not only will the relationship with the child's father flourish- because for once he will see you being selfless, as well as you having taken an active, genuine interest in his child, but also he will love you more for it. You ever heard of that old saying " You can get more with honey than with Vinegar." Marinate on that, because this isn't an attack, but I am speaking from experience.

OK, we've talked about this now, and even though he understands what my grievance is and why I feel this way (ie from experience of being messed about by the baby mama already), he says that it works both ways. Like when I took some time out of the holiday weeks we booked together to go on my own little"holiday" - when he had the kids. Thing is, we have a completely different take on things in this respect - he sees quality time with me as any time spent with me, whether we have the kids or not. He's not bothered either way. I, on the other hand, want time with him alone, and it's very precious to me.<br />
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Also, he said that there's no hidden agenda of not including me in discussions, it's just that he doesn't know what's exactly going on at Christmas yet, for example with his other kid and baby mama. But to be honest, he's being extremely passive if you ask me. If I really wanted to spend some time alone with my girlfriend during the holidays, I would be asking my baby mamas and coordinating things right now - at the very latest. It's like he just goes with the flow, waiting for them to come to him instead of taking charge of the situation himself. I'm guessing it's very common among single dads - probably guilt is in the background somewhere. The mamas certainly don't hesitate to take the time they feel they need for themselves.So I won't be letting this drop, that's for sure. There will be follow-up.