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lisa2007_gw

Should I leave my boyfriend?

lisa2007
16 years ago

I'm 26, boyfriend 37. We've been together about eight months. My boyfriend has sole custody of his 11-year-old son.The mother has completely disappeared off the face of the planet for the past 3 years. At the beginning, I found the child a bit anti-social and spoiled, but didn't say anything. I cherished the moments when he'd speak to me and tried to befriend him in a very slow, non-confrontational way (BF is acting the whole time like we're just friends... which was quite possible the child would believe that at first, since BF has many female friends.) My BF complained a lot about the child that he felt he wasn't "maturing" enough, etc and was thinking of sending him to boarding school. At the time I just said "Hey I think you're being too hard on him, he's just a kid."

Now, many months later, the situation has gotten much worse. I hvae come to see that all the problems that the boy makes are not at all his fault or the result of immaturity, or willfulness. I think they're just the direct result of bad parenting. My BF literally sets no limits or boundaries for him- - the only punihsment for disobedience is nagging or talking rudely to the child instead of something concrete like losing TV time or allowance. He talks in a nagging voice to the kid a lot. I found out he has NEVER initiated a conversation with teh child about how it really FEELS to grow up without a mother. In fact, he doesn't talk to the boy about feelings at all, his own feelings (e.g. "I'm really getting angry now because I see you haven't done what I asked you to.") or the boy's. About anything. He also spoils the child rotten, and has created a dynamic where the boy is always nagging BF to buy him stuff. Of course there are no clear limits what BF will and won't buy, so of course the kid is gonna beg all the time, so I feel like he's just turning his child into a brat and then pitying himself for having a bratty child!

He lets him spend massive amounts of time with teh neighborhood "little boy bicycle gang" which I partially think is cute (wish I'd had so many neighborhood friends growing up). But it's also problematic- - he won't ever force the boy to go anywhere with us, we love to go on daytrips into nature, hiking, or exploring around the area. I think this is perfect time to spend with your kid. Instead kid stays unsupervised in the neighborhood, and the whole time I'm worried, and we can't stay away TOO long because we need to get back for the kid, etc... WHen I would just actually love to have the little boy come with us more.

BF is relatively isolated because of his culture adn the culture where we live, it's like parents don't trade parenting tips, or he doens't feel comfortable getting his child's friend's parents to also help back him up on discipline issues. Or sometimes, all these ideas seem completely novel to him (e.g. if you groudn the boy and are worried he won't come straight home from school, call all his friends' parents and inform them he's grounded and ask them to call you if he shows up at their house. Seems simple no?)

OK to get to the point: it's really come to a head lately. First a mutual friend suggested i become like a helper/ coach to my BF because she sees what a bad parent he is. Also because his bad parenting was driving me crazy and I was threatening to leave the relationship unless he improved his OWN relationship with his son. My BF says he knows he's doing a lot wrong so he agreed to this idea. But this got nasty of course, as I should have known... Boundaries got blurred. A lot of drama happened. Really horrible #$#. Additionally, the child's behavior has been getting progressively worse (this is not related to my presence I know, as it just steadily worsened for two months while I was away and no involvement there. he simply keeps pushing the limits to the point now where he is stealing from his dad and disappearing for 12 hours at a time.)

We are taking some space now. I've told him I don't understand how with all the resources he has (time, money, etc.) he doesn't invest everything in learning how to be a good parent, and I'm only gonna come back if things really change. Meanwhile I went back on that a couple times and went out with him a couple times, but not in the past couple weeks and want to keep it like that... Problem is he keeps saying he knows he's doing something wrong, he's just not sure what. And that he always likes my parenting advice/ ideas. But then confusingly he says that he needs to keep trying "his own way" for a while longer (which means refusing to see a family therapist, read parenting books, get more advice from other parents).

Can anyone offer advice on girlfriends walking into tricky situations like this? I'm surprised myself, that seeing his terrible almost neglectful parenting hasn't sent me running for the hills. But this is the only issue in our relaitonship, and actually I love him a lot. But it seems like a big one... SHould I be running?

Comments (25)

  • Vivian Kaufman
    16 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    8 months is a long time to wait for someone to change...

    You have 2 choices.

    1. You continue to see your BF and continue to support him and his parenting choices--no complaints, no nagging, nothing. You will have made the CHOICE to tolerate these behaviors. Once you make that decision, there is no room for complaining.

    2. You move on, realizing that things are unlikely to change and these are not behaviors that you can accept or even tolerate.

    ...and FWIW, it sounds like things are unlikely to get better--only get worse.

    Still, it's your decision to make.

  • lisa2007
    Original Author
    16 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Vivian,
    I wish it were so simple. What about the fact that BF keeps saying "I'm trying to improve, I'm working with my son."? It makes it much harder to take option #2, but then if I stay, I feel like I keep "watching" and "monitoring" for the improvement... and i start to feel so invested in whether or not he really IS changing his parenting.

    I've realized BF is just fundamentally unable to handle uncomfortable feelings, e.g. if his son is not happy or upset or angry, BF can't just separate his own feelings from his kid's, let the kid have his feelings and send him to his room or tell him to chill out, it's like it puts him in a panic...

    Still haven't made a decision, I think I'll give it a couple weeks and check in with him again. Is it manipulative of me to do that, asking him what kinds of concrete steps he's made to learn to be a better parent? Is it manipulative to put getting family therapy or reading parenting books as a condition for continuing? Now it's like, he wants to continue and I"m still not sure...

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  • sweeby
    16 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Tough situation... But time IS running out. This child is 11 years old and heading quickly into puberty and probable delinquency. He has insufficient parental supervision, no firm limits, and is able to manipulate his father; this kid rules the roost. As you know, the whole mess is a result of poor parenting, and without a clear and decisive change, this situation will get worse, not better.

    - If you stay in this relationship and your BF doesn't improve his parenting skills - dramatically and quickly - everybody will be miserable for a long, long time. You. The BF. The kid.

    - If you put yourself into a position where you're trying to teach your BF how to be a good parent, you're also in a no-win situation. The kid will hate you for being the one who sets the limits, which are sure to be unpopular. The BF will resent you for constantly correcting him and setting yourself up as the "expert". (Since you're not actually a parent yourself, this is an especially precarious position, even though it sounds like you have a much better idea of what should be done that he has.) And BF may or may not listen to you since you're not a "real expert"...

    - If you leave, the BF and kid will still be messed up and heading downhill, but YOU will only be miserable for a little while.

    - If you get BF to agree to work with a counseler, family therapist, parent training -- something, and agree to support his efforts, there might be a chance.

    The way I see it, that's really the only chance you've got. So you've really got nothing to lose by giving a "get help or I'm outta here" ultimatum. Though there's probably a more positive 'spin' to put on it.

  • Vivian Kaufman
    16 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    But you see, it IS that simple. Really.

    8 months is more than enough time to get an idea of what their relationship dynamic is. You KNOW what it is and things like that just don't change--for the most part.

    You can't change things. You don't have that power. Only the BF can and he seems totally unwilling to do anything to help.

    Yeah, he's trying to improve. NOT. He hasn't changed in 8 months, has he? This situation is going to get worse rather than better in the near future as his son enters his teenage years.

    You can give him all the time you want, but unless he gets the help of some qualified people, things won't change. I see distinct misery in your future if you stick with this.

    Sweeby's right. "Get help or I'm outta here."

  • organic_maria
    16 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I agree with above. Very simple. 8 months is more than sufficient time to decide. He will not change in the parent area. You are 26 yrs old. Young and you probably will have a child in the near futur. Do you want a father figure like this???
    You know the answer, you know what you must do, its just that all the other attributes of this man in your mind is great except the parenting issue..THat is a HUGE PART. IT shows alot of what character he has in serious life situation with another human being. In this case his own flesh and blood. He knows teh harm he does but doesn't care except for his own selfish needs. I feel awful for his son. I think he son would do better with another family member or even an adoptive family that would really care. This man, is not a father figure and seems to be less of a man in total. Do yourselve a favor. Leave. Yes it will be sad for his son. But you are sweating someone elses blood and it will not get better. In fact it will get worse and you will be holding the bag not your BF. He sees the bag and doesnt' want to hold. He is waiting for you to pick it.
    Its only 8months. Dont invest anymore time with this man. Andi would get help for the son from youth protection or interventionof some sort from another family member for the wellbeing of this child.

  • lisa2007
    Original Author
    16 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Ok not to keep adding more "buts"... but, I have to confess myself, I didn't put my foot down and clearly state my feelings about all this until about a month ago... We've actually known each other and been "together" for over a year, but much of that time I've been away. We've only lived in the same town for maybe two or three of those 8 months. At first I thought it really wasn't my business, his parenting, which other people told me as well. That plus the cultural differences, I thougth I'd better stay out of it. And again, maybe I wasn't clear earlier, but he loves his son a lot, wants to spend time with him, wants to be a good dad, worries a lot about his son going "the wrong way."

    Wasn't till a month ago I clearly stated how much his parenting bothered me and he agreed to do that parenting coach thing, which of course went well until he had to really enforce something with the child that he didn't have the strength to do. And instead of calling me for backup or support, then he changed that plan, and agreed with his child that I would come stay with the child instead of forcing the child to go stay with his friends for the weekend! (he doesn't like to sleep at friends' houses, but the night before he had refused to make a choice when he had the chance between me coming over or him going to friends'. So "parenting coach" said, listen BF, he must go to friends then, I'm not entering this situation with no rules established and he hasn't chosen for me to come, he actually just wanted to stay home alone, he always wants to just be alone when BF has to travel out of town.) Point is, this got sticky with me being asked, with BF on his way out of town, to go take care of the kid for the weekend because BF could not enforce what he said he would. Normally I wouldn't mind staying with the kid for the weekend, I was actually a little disappointed that he didn't "pick" for me to come stay as my BF had thought he would, I'd had tons of stuff planned we could do together.

    Anyway my point is that relatively soon after I made my feelings known about his parenting was when the #$% hit the fan so there hasnt really been much time to see what he is and isn't willing to do. He's the kind of guy who when he has time to think about something a little while, he often "sees the light" and totally changes his mind on whatever he's been stubborn about.

    He DOES care a lot about his son -- he doesn't want to end up leaving him alone so much. He goes straight home after work to be with him, unless I'm around spends the whole weekend at home to be around when son "wants" to spend time with Dad. Not being close to his son, his son not wanting to spend time with BF, his son's misbehavior, it's all tearing my BF apart and I can see it's not an act on his part. His failure at parenting is not the result of not caring- - it's his inability to be strict, to set boundaries, to watch his child be "unhappy" for a moment, that leads him to let the boy run the house, to let the boy decide to be alone for 3 days at a time, etc.

    If we were in America or England therapy would be a good idea and it'd be much easier to enforce that ultimatum but we're not, there's not many therapists around here and people aren't used to using them. Ditto for youth services- - honestly after that incident where the son was alone 3 days I would have called them if we lived in America (because when I expressed my anger at being sent to watch him after BF and I had agreed he'd go stay with his friends, BF got mad and misunderstood, thought I was saying I wouldn't help him out at all, and told me I didn't need to go over there at all. In my stupidity I hoped he would be able to make (and enforce) other sleeping arrangemetns for the child, but no, turned out it just meant the kid was alone for 3 days. and didn't go to school one of those days.)If we were in America I bet youth services wouldn't find the situation bad enough to remove the kid (millions of parents don't set boundaries for their kids, I think...) but at least they'd probably order him to go to parenting classes. Man, I wish we had that kind of thing here...

    He's told me he's thinking a lot about sending his son to live with his brother's family, that maybe they could do a better job with him. I tend to agree but of course would feel bad as well for the boy, after his mom abandons him then basically his dad does too. And who knows if boy's uncle might also have the same issues/ guilt complex about setting boundaries, and let the boy run wild there too.

    Problem is it's hard to get mad or blame BF too much when what I'm asking him to do (therapy, parenting classes, books) is just not common or part of the culture here.

    So the summary: it's really only been a month since I was clear about my feelings. after which the big explosion and misunderstanding and "space." At the beginning of "space" he needed to "keeep trying a little longer his way" but then again, that was before his son started stealing. (On one hand I was sad to hear that, really sad... at the same time I felt a little vindicated that what I was saying all along really was true... things would just keep gettng worse unless he learned to enforce boundaries.)Maybe he's changed his mind since and decided radical change is in order (mind you, this is a society that does not believe in radical change, everything is about "slowly slowly"). Should I go back and check? And under these circumstances, what would be a fair thing to ask for in the "ultimatum?"

    THanks everyone for your replies so far.

  • Vivian Kaufman
    16 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I think that everyone here has given their advice and you have the right to accept/reject it.

    We can only give advice based upon our own culture and own experiences. Being that we don't know anything about your BF's culture, I guess that it's not possible.

    You can make all the excuses in the world for someone, but you ARE obviously qustioning his parental abilities. It's up to you whether or not you want to continue to be involved with him.

  • chloemichelle
    16 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    It is as simple as you want it to be or as you make it. It is as complicated as you want it to be or as you make it. You are in complete control. You can have, build up, make as many excuses as you want/need to believe you have to stay. You can reject, breakdown, dissolve as many excuses as you want/need to believe you have to go. I think your heart/head are in direct conflict with one another. So your head is making up reasons to justify what your heart wants. IMO, cut the emotions out of the situation and put the facts on paper. Then make your decision, I think things will be clearer without the emotional baggage. Good Luck.

  • sweeby
    16 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    "Problem is it's hard to get mad or blame BF too much when what I'm asking him to do (therapy, parenting classes, books) is just not common or part of the culture here. "

    OK - So therapists, parenting classes and self-help books are pretty American. What types of options are available where you live? (Though your profile says U.S.) What does your BF's culture do when a parent isn't parenting well? Is there extended family there to help? Hired nannies? Boarding schools? Church programs? Is there a 'whole village' anywhere to raise the child? What are the temptations and risks for a young teen?

    While it's good that your BF hasn't been "half-way parenting" and "promising to do better" for the whole eight months, and seems to be starting to understand, there's still a very long road ahead with lots of obstacles. And the episode with the "parenting coach" wasn't a promising start. If your BF is unwilling to make his son unhappy, he's not likely to make any significant improvements quickly enough to head of major problems.

    Yes, there are some extenuating circumstances, but the core situation still isn't all that different from your first post. And your options remain the same.

    Is this the man you want to tie your own future to?
    And is this the man you want raising your own children?

  • bnicebkind
    16 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    You seem to be the only one in this relationship with any wisdom, integrity as in doing the right thing by this child.

    I think the question of whether to continue to see your boyfriend, comes down to where do you see yourself in five years? If your answer is married, with your own children...then is this REALLY the kind of man you want as a father for YOUR children? A man who would actually abandon or pass his own child off on someone else to raise, because its too much trouble to bother doing right? That it is too much trouble to actually pick up a parenting book, or takes some parenting classes for the sake of his own son?

    I think therein lies your answer.

    And we wonder why kids end up such a mess. If you go ahead, the kid is headed for those teenage years and you will have some rough road ahead, from the looks of it.

  • organic_maria
    16 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Technically an ultimatum is absolute and usual is not fair. Its not about being fair. Its about doing something yes or no. When people give ultimatums its a straight answer yes or no..no beating around the bush. ' you either change or i'm out"
    I think alot of people would agree with me, that your BF has to work his issues out with his son first before heading into any relationship. A friend of mind was in the exact same spot as you. Had been dating a man for 7 months and he had sole custody of 2 kids. Well he wasnt' much of a parent either and started to rely on my friend. She resented that and called it off. You want to know you will be a team...not a one man person.
    I know you have invested alot of emotion..Its your choice if you want to contact him just to see where he is heading now...but i would let it go. He must develope and concentrate on his son father relationship. He must not let it explode any farther than what it has. And if this man starts using you as a cruch, it will only harm him and his son.

  • lisa2007
    Original Author
    16 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Thanks, everyone here has made really great replies. Sometimes harsh sounding but I think I have really needed a reality check.

    Sweeby- - all those options he's considered, namely boarding school, trying to convince his parents to move here (they don't want to) to help him... He's stayed in this town because at least it's relatively safe, no drugs only very petty crime, kids CAN pretty much run wild and doesn't seem too much harm can come. But of course deviant criminal behavior can happen anywhere... as can alcohol, and kids here ride motorcycles at very young ages. In any case it's only taking back his role as "father" that I think could make me respect him again.

    Things like culture, not having my longest-time friends around here, etc. can all end up making the picture very fuzzy when actually it should be clear. My "cultural sensitivity conscience" let me excuse a lot of BF's behavior that later I found out has NOTHING to do with his culture, is really not very acceptable parenting here. Problem was before the only people I was asking were friends of his (some American!) who have also "excused" his behavior out of some kind of warped pity or loyalty to him. Now that I ask more people outside of the scene I understand it's really a big problem, and his culture doesn't excuse this behavior. See, at the beginning I truly thought that "it takes a village" was the philosophy of this "village" here. Having grown up in the kind of neighborhood where we weren't allowed beyond the yard even as teenagers, I thought it was great the child could "grow up with the neighborhood" but then realized no one in the neighborhood is really looking out for, or disciplining, the boy. That BF doesn't know many of the boy's friends' parents, so has no idea where to call or whose house to go to when the boy goes missing.
    As organic maria said:
    You know the answer, you know what you must do, its just that all the other attributes of this man in your mind is great except the parenting issue..THat is a HUGE PART. IT shows alot of what character he has in serious life situation with another human being. In this case his own flesh and blood. He knows teh harm he does but doesn't care except for his own selfish needs.

    This was a great thing to read. It's hard on him as I don't think he's selfish in the way so many folks are. But what you made me realize was that actually, he has the SAME problem with me that he does with his son! With is his child, he can't deal with the boy's nagging or whining, it makes him so uncomfrotable to see the boy "unhappy" that he just caves. Or if the boy is angry and chooses to lock himself in his room for 2 days and not go to school, BF does not confront him and force him to talk about his anger and force him to go to school Basically he can't deal with or confront "negative" feelings and I realized it's the same thing with me... When I get angry with him about something, even if I'm calm and just say how hurt or disappointed I am, he just totally shuts down. Sometimes gets to the point where I'm crying, simply because he won't respond, but STILL he can't/won't respond, just sits there... Later will apologize profusely and tell me he just feels so "panicked" when i'm sad or angry... or if I"m angry, it often makes him immediately feel angry so he just won't talk about why I'M angry and fix the darn problem which was usually something small and easily fix-able had it been nipped in the bud.

    So this has all been a great realization... I realize, whoever said it, that my heart and mind are telling me different things... Somehow I think just the power of attraction has been so strong it's made me lose my "mind" literally. Plus honestly, the sense of connection to and responsibility for his son that I have gotten... I've truly missed the kid the past month and look for him on the streets whenever I go out, every little boy I pass. He's a brat but I love him, I love his smile, I love his pout, doesn't panic me the way it does his dad! I hate the thought of him growing up in this same situation if I just up and leave now, maybe part of me hoped I could affect some good before I left... Of course I know it's not my problem, etc... but still it's hard.

    I've decided just to keep taking space from him for a while to let my attraction, heart and mind sort themselves out. Perhaps later I'll give a strong ultimatum- - I've found out there ARE therapy resources a little far away, but they're available. He'll probably say no, in which case I can go freely, feeling like I've done all I could.

  • lisa2007
    Original Author
    16 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Just an update...

    Organic maria somehow i posted my last post without reading yours, think we were writing at the same time... not sure exactly what you meant if it was fair to give an ultimatum or not...

    But we met for dinner and that's basically what i did in a nice way. Said i cared about him a lot but i just cannot be in a relationship with someone who can't take care of himself and take care of his kid, first. That his level of suffering as a single father is not normal and there is help out there, and his little boy is hurting and really needs him to be the DAd and do the right thing and get help for both of them... He of course acted kind of clueless like "where could I find a therapist?" when I gave him a name and number said "where did you find this?" duh, not that hard even though i suck at the language of this country. I also tried to explain to him more about what is family therapy, I think he didn't even really know, thought they will just give him advice. Explained actually they do more asking questions than giving advice... He liked that idea but then thinking of more problems: nearest resource is about 4 hours away or short flight, he said "ok maybe it's good to go but my son, he won't want to go, how can i make him go there?!"

    so i reminded him that is the central problem- - that sometimes children need to be forced to do things that are uncomfortable (sit in teh car 4 hours). And if parents know it's the right thing to do, but don't force the child, deep down the child will feel sad like the parent didn't care enough to exert authority...

    but the best part was just to be able to say "listen it's your call- - I'm not forcing you. I'm just telling you I'm not going to see you again until you've done this." Plus pulled out a long list of other things that I explained I would need him to do in order for me to feel like he had the situaiton under control and was taking care of his son. (list of things like hiring a baby-sitter every single time we go out, talking to boy's teacher once a week, reading 5 books on parenting, my ex getting a real bed for himself and sleeping in the second bedroom not in the living room).

    I said listen, don't decide now, just think about it... adn he said ok, he would seriously.

    The best was how, at the beginning when I said "listen i'm giving you my honest opinion that your kid's in trouble from experiecne, I have worked X Y and Z jobs with kids before, nanny, preschool, afterschool, etc." he said "well those kids are different, not from this culture here." ha. but then at the very end of the conversation as we're leaving he turns to me and says "so, do you think i should start giving him his allowance again?" hee hee, now he wants advice again.

    Anyway i just feel good, like maybe it's over with him, maybe it's not, but in any case i've been super clear about what i want. (am i putting too much hope in family therapy?) I feel like I can relax now and feel like I'm not so invested in the outcome anymore, the decision is in his hands. I've set the bar pretty high (for him, it's high at least) and he can choose whether or not to jump. And i said listen even if you don't want to get back together please please consider this for your boy, because he is really hurting. Stealing and lying and locking himself up do not make him happy.

  • lazy_gardens
    16 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Lisa -
    What "culture" are we talking about? He may be using his "culture" as an excuse.

  • lisa2007
    Original Author
    16 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    lazy gardens,
    Don't want to say in what country I live; indeed it is a very different culture here. But at the same time, i think certain things are universal for kids. Stealing, locking yourself in your room... I don't think those are signs a kid is happy and on track in any culture. I used to accept that excuse until I asked more people here "from this culture" and they confirmed that a lot of what's going on in that house is not normal. True, a lot of what I would judge as abnormal turns out is more accepted here. but not everything, adn certainly not the more serious stuff.

    He is using anything as an excuse to not admit that he is the real source of the problem with his child- - he says "oh but how many of those parents were single fathers?" as if that has created his son's discipline problems... I mean, sure maybe everything would be much better if the kid had a mom around... but not if she used the same parenting style he does! Or excuse that he has to work 8.5 hours per day unlike other employees who work only 7.5 or 8. (though he has virtually no commute) i mean c'mon.

  • organic_maria
    16 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    hi lisa,

    i think you are doing the right thing. Keep space and let him do what he has to do. He must do this for his son and himself. After reading your post i can see that this man would rely heavily on you for decision making. He needs to do that himself. Being a good friend and help in this situation is better for you and both your bf and his son.
    No matter what culture you come from, parenting is parenting. Its a responsibility that falls on teh shoulder of the parents or parent. not on anyone else.
    As for working hours..lol..talk about excuses! My friend was a single dad as well for his son since he was born! The mother got up and left him with a one month old. He worked 15 hours a day! had baby sitters etc...lost all his friends cause he couldnt go out but he stuck with it. Cause he was the only thing the kid had and he wasnt' going to let him down like his mother did!
    Your BF needs a massive swift kick in the butt like you are doing!
    You are doing a great job. I hope he does the long drive with his son for his first new steps. It will scare both of them i'm sure but for a healthy relationship for bothof them, its needed.
    All the best!

  • lisa2007
    Original Author
    16 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    wow, maria, your friend sounds amazing... yes i was often ticked off at the ex's excuses, i worked before with single mothers who were dirt poor, workign two jobs and raising their nieces and nephews often as well, with long commutes no car only crappy buses. BF does not realize how good he has it...

    I am indeed backing far away and have decided need to have NO contact at all. Otherwise I feel like he really "uses" the fact that he occasionally asks my advice as a "proof" that he's making changes... when what he asks advice about are the "symptom" things, not the real problem. E.g. yesterday asking should he reinstate allowance after son stole from him a couple weeks ago... instead of asking "how do i talk to my son about stealing, about right and wrong, about peer pressure?" or "how do i make sure he connects the punishment with the crime?" because those are the much bigger problems, he can't talk to his kid, but he never asks about that...

    He has been using me just to make himself feel like he's trying when he's really not, and really not willing to look deep inside his own heart and take responsibility to change himself. So I'm outta there for a long long time. Let him see what it's like to have no one around to give sympathy or advice... and to miss his awesome girlfriend who was smart and beautiful and loved him and loved his kid.....and realize it's because he can't get his act together and be a parent. Then if he wants to change, let him come back when he's done all that stuff on my list including therapy and maybe had a few revelations about responsibility... If he doesn't want to do that stuff now then it means he hasn't really bottomed-out enough I think... maybe he needs the kid to hurt someone, or get in an accident, or run away, before he hits rock bottom and looks himself in the mirror. I've realized I can't force the change and the self-examination, can only set my boundaries.

    Thank you all SO MUCH for reading my craziness and kicking it STRAIGHT with me!

  • dirt_yfingernails
    16 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Cheers, Lisa.
    It had to be tough. You've done the right thing.

  • lisa2007
    Original Author
    16 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    sorry this is a long vent...

    Fingernails: aye, yes and it was difficult. his birthday so i agreed to go out one last time, i'm going away on business soon anyway so i felt like that would protect and reinforce that not seeing each other until that list is finished... i know it was screwed up to go out with him but somehow i really feel like everyone deserves a nice birthday...

    but then he wanted to "talk" about that list, started going over it, like "ok well, the thing about meeting with his teacher every week.... can you go with me? and, i don't know if every week is going to be possible, i mean, she might get really annoyed."
    I said "well, hello, i mean it just means contact once a week to get her observations on him... so after the first meeting or two in which you explain the situation you can just call her once a week." Reasonable, no? I mean, wouldn't any teacher have sympathy for a single father who appraoches her saying he's struggling and needs her feedback?

    But then he still wanted me to go with him... my heart was torn but I was like "no, listen, it doesn't sound like you really want to do this stuff on this list. if you don't agree with it, if you don't think you're at crisis point enough to tell the teacher, hey listen sorry Ms. Teacher to be bugging you, i'm only doing it because i'm at wit's end over my son" ... well if you don't think you're at crisis point yet that you're still worrying about what she'll be annoyed with and what she thinks about you... then you're just not ready.

    (And besides, I mean wouldn't it be strange for me as girlfriend to go along to such a meeting? it's not my kid! Plus not so much teacher's impression but my point that BF should be doing this stuff HIMSELF! though later i thought, maybe he's worried she'll think he's coming on to her and that's why he wants me along... and then i felt bad for refusing)

    Then he wanted to move on to the other stuff, and I sensed he was trying to turn it into some kind of bargaining session. He was like "hmmm maybe I can do 60% or 80% of this but not all..." Remember the list was:

    going to family therapy 8 sessions, hiring a baby-sitter every single time we go out, talking to boy's teacher once a week, reading 5 books on parenting, my ex getting a real bed for himself and sleeping in the second bedroom not in the living room....

    I thought "what on earth?! an ultimatum is an ultimatum! this is not negotiable!" Like him saying "oh maybe it's going to be hard to get a baby-sitter, i mean if it were a regular job fine, but it would be hard to get someone say for the weekend if we go away, especially if it's only occasionally. (in the ultimatum it said, OR the child just comes along! simple no?)

    I blew my top then, not literally but just said "hey it doesn't really sound like you're ready to make real changes so whatever... it's your call..." which unfortunatley turned into this long coversation on whether he is truly ready, etc... at which point i said "listen there are some deep underlying issues here which i don't think it's good to hear about from someone like me, we're too close, but a therapist could help you figure it out reasonably quick if it's a good one."

    At which point he says "yeah well actually i'm thinking more about calling my cousin who's a pediatrician... " at which point i thought "great a pediatrician is really going to help you figure out your parenting... especially if it's your relative who needs to stay on good terms with you!" but i humored him adn said "that sounds like a great start, ask her opinion about the situatin, maybe ask her if she things family therapy would help"

    but then he continues "because you know she met my son a couple years ago, spent a day with us, and she told me she thought my son was going to have problems." INside i'm like "what the #$%$#!!! a professional told you that, two years ago, and you never followed up on that?! You never asked her why she thought that, and what you could do about it? I sure as heck would be concerned if a pediatrician told me that. I'd ask a thousand questions and call that person whenever problems did happen!"

    More and more I just can't believe this guy!

    we left with me saying "ok well call me way way down the road, and if and only if there have been radical changes." which he kind of took to mean never. so in that sense my ultimatum has failed, it seems by saying i wasn't going to budge on it and wasn't going to go with him to see teacher, like he gave up... I feel bad but I think I have to save my sanity no?

    Thanks all for just letting me vent. Sorry to have taken up so much of everyone's time!

  • Vivian Kaufman
    16 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    ...the other thing is, I'm not sure you want him making these changes for YOU. He should be making the necessary changes for HIS SON--because he cares about his upbringing, not so that he can keep you.

    I'd be RUNNING the other way, myself.

  • sweeby
    16 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    A sad chapter...

    But you can't fix him Lisa. He can fix himself, if he tries, but not until then. He's looking for excuses, and - you meany, you - you didn't give him any.

    You're doing the right thing.

  • organic_maria
    16 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Oh boy lisa!
    What a piece of work this man is!!!! HOLY DINA! Your ultimatim did not fail. He is drawing at any string he could get now to keep you around. He is hittin the panic button major league time! Let him sweat it! If this doesn't teach him, i do not know what will. i'm sorry..but this guy sounds dense and really desperate. He needs to grow up. RUN AWAY!!!

  • emmhip
    16 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I just read this entire thread, and wow. Just wow.

    You did exactly what needed to be done. You didn't enable this man to make more excuses for his own refusal to do what needs to be done. Obviously, your BF is content to live in a fantasy land of denial, good thing you've decided that you don't want to live there with him! Imagine if you stayed and had a child of your own with this man? Then you would have unruly teenager on your hands, and a baby with a totally "out to lunch" dad. Bad father figure, and ultimately a bad DAD.

    I'm sure you feel really bad for his son, but it is HIS son, and sadly, you are not going to make the changes for your BF, he has to actually want to change and improve. And from the recap of the birthday dinner, he doesn't sound like he wants to really do much of anything.

    Your only 26, find a nice man who has integrity and can handle life, in the real world. You are absolutely doing the right thing. Good luck!

  • hamsteve
    16 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I also just read this entire thread. And Wow! WOW!!!
    I am a Stepfather in my 40's.
    I agree 100% that you need to leave this man and move on. Immediately! And don't look back!
    He will not change significantly for any reason you might throw at him, and his son will have some very very serious problems when he gets into his teen years. You haven't seen anything yet!

    You are only 26 years old! This is stll very young (lucky you!). Please do what you must to build your life as a single person, for now, and get that self esteem way up there. There are still many, many nice guys out there that you WILL meet and that have the relationship skills, intelligence, and loving heart you would be happy with. Just get out there and enjoy your single life, build your friendships (male and female), and don't settle for a terrible situation like the one you described. There is no hurry to get married, so wait for the right one, patience is always the right approach.

    I can assure you that most good and kind men in their late 20's and 30's are not looking for the perfect woman. They just want what you also want, love, caring, intelligence, and a best friend. Don't be fooled by the "hot" guys that talk a good line, go for the less flashy ones that need a little encouragement. Everything will fall nicely into place before you know it. Have Fun!

  • texas_iris
    16 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I sure wish there were forums such as these 13 years ago. I stayed in a relationship where I had 2 boys and we had 2 children together. The older boys were horribly treated while his biological children got away with murder.
    The problems that resulted from different parenting were catastrophic. First, he constantly undermined my parenting with our 2 children. He treated his step-sons with contempt and disrespect. In retrospect, it is called abuse. Physical, emotional and psychological. If someone is going to live with/marry someone who has children, you are essentially marrying all of them. You can not change the way someone parents unless they're willing to admit that there is a different way to approach it. If they're serious enough about changing, they will initiate what they are learning. There are numerous parenting classes/counseling/books that are at their disposable. They must make the effort and take charge. I met a wonderful man with 2 daughters and his parenting skills are awesome. I was willing to learn from him because I knew that my younger children were allowed to rule the roost while the older ones resented the hell out of the ex. We have each others' backs. We do not disagree on parenting in front of any of the children. We stay strong together and are a united front. The kids cannot tag-team us.
    I would run, not walk, away from that situation and never look back.