Our Story, Dating Dad, Part I

>> Monday, November 23, 2009

I was recently asked to write a post about how it felt to be dating a man with children (when I didn't have my own) for others to read who are childless but dating somebody with children. I've put it off for awhile because it I had such mixed emotions during that time. First I'll give you the background and then tell you what I learned going through it all. Here goes...

When I was dating my husband, he was anxious for me to meet his daughter. We'd fallen in love quickly and he wanted to keep moving closer to marriage. The first time he wanted to introduce us, I told him it was too soon. It was too soon in our relationship for me to meet her and too soon in our relationship for this little girl to meet me.

It was a few months later when I met her. She was shy but wanting to be friendly. She shyly offered me some of her candy corn. She melted my heart and I quickly fell in love with this little girl a little more every time she was with us. She loved me right back.

When she'd get to our place, the first words out of her mouth when she came in the door was, "Where is Syn?" Then I'd hear little feet running through the apartment looking for me to give me a big hug. We spent a lot of time together. I wasn't her biological mother but I loved her and she loved me right back. That doesn't mean I wanted to replace her mother - not at all.

She wasn't supposed to love me. She wasn't supposed to talk to me. The ex wasted no time in making that point known to the child. The little girl was upset. I was upset hearing this little girl regurgitate, what an adult who should've known better, had told her to say. Tears were shed knowing that it had started - the use of a sweet, innocent child for an adult's purely selfish reasons. I remember exactly where it happened - it was in the Pizza Hut parking lot where we used to live. We drove home very sad. My husband talked to his daughter about what she'd been told and it wasn't how the little girl felt. She was doing what she'd been told to do. There were a lot of hugs between the three of us and we kept going forward. It's a time I've never forgotten in all these years. It was the first real ding in my rose-colored glasses and that ding was going to spider across the glass of my rose-colored glasses quickly.

It didn't stop there. Her mother tried to accuse me of hurting the child physically. She threw what my stepdaughter called "fits of the head" about me to her when she was with her mom. The ex tried to withhold my stepdaughter from her dad if I was going to be there. Seeing as how we lived together, my being there was a definite. The ex would call repeatedly at night to see if I was there but we'd ignore the phone. The ex would call his family claiming he wasn't paying her support when he was (and had given her an open letter asking her to fill in the amount she wanted to put into an agreement between them officially as well). I believe there were many of those types of calls to his family because the relationship with his family was strained. It hurt him to see that they didn't ask him for the truth or support him. My husband frequently asked me to marry him but I refused. The situation was so uncertain and difficult with his ex. I needed to know that she wasn't going to come between us. I needed to see that HE wasn't going to let her come between us.

I also couldn't understand how somebody loving a child was a bad thing. I frequently wondered at the ex's behavior because it seemed like she'd prefer it if I treated the child indifferently or badly.

I loved this little girl and her dad but the ex was doing everything she could to make everything difficult. It wasn't until my husband gave up trying to work with the ex and getting beat up emotionally that he filed in court to get visitation and child support established legally that I agreed to marry him (yes, he WANTED to get it in a court order...he's not a deadbeat and the ex wouldn't agree to a child support amount or visitation agreement). He had tried to work WITH her but she wasn't willing so he took it to court. When I saw that he wasn't going to let her lead him around, we got engaged.

If you read my blog, you know I have a stepson too. Are you wondering where the stepson was in all of this? I'll tell you...

The ex had asked my husband to give up parental rights to his son. He refused. The ex withheld his son from him for the entire time we were dating and engaged. He'd go to pick up his daughter and have to leave his son behind. She wouldn't allow him to take him too. She told my husband that if he didn't love her (the ex), he couldn't love his son. She threatened to tell everybody he wasn't my husband's son if he tried to get visitation (should've gotten the paternity test then because that's always been a question in my mind after she said that). That went on until the courts forced her to hand him over to his dad. That was four days before we married. She'd withheld him for six months from his dad.

The interference and other behaviors didn't stop with getting married. I'll write more later. It's upsetting to rehash all this in my mind. I miss that relationship with my stepdaughter. She was a sweet, loving child until she was forced to choose or else be emotionally torn apart. No child should have to go through that. No parent should have to fight so hard or be treated so badly just for the right to be able to love their own children.

To read Part 2, click here.


Anonymous November 24, 2009 at 8:00 AM  

Your post made me cry..for you, for me, for your sweet stepchild, for my kids and steps. Sitting here reading this over I was hit with the thought-"what are we doing to our children?" There is a whole generation out there who have become victims of their parents' anger and vindictiveness. What kind of adults will we produce with these kids who have been forced to make a choice-one they didn't want to make-should never have been made to make. They have been given adult roles that they are years away from being adult enough to understand.

I have been with dh 6 years. Initially things with his 2 kids were wonderful-they were 10 and 12 when we met. As time went on things got increasingly more tense until they have now reached the point of unbearable most days. For a year now our home, our relationship and our authority have been sabotaged. It wasn't until recently that we understood why-their mother has told them that I was the reason that their dad left. This was untrue and dirty. She had been having an affair with her boss 3 years prior to me even meeting their dad. This is the man she is now living with. She refused to be the one to move out of the house so they just kept living together until dh could take it no longer and moved in with his mother.

These were the sweetest kids. We used to have so much fun together-those days are over-every second day and weekend are so stress-filled and upsetting-all because this woman choose to inflict this kind of pain on us and her children. DH hasn't addressed this yet-neither one of us even know how to right now-or even if there is any point-the kids are going to believe what they want to believe-or what they're told to believe. Without coming out and saying that their mother was having an affair with the man now living in their home since they were just little, DH has told them that I was in no way the reason their parents' marriage ended-that it was over years before we met-but the "truth" has been set in their minds-I just live each day the best I can for myself and dh and my 2 kids and hope that someday when they are older dsk will fully understand that what their mother did was wrong and unfair and that the truth will win out in the end.

God Bless you and give you the strength you need to continue to stepparent with an open heart.

Anonymous February 2, 2010 at 8:44 AM  

I used to have a GREAT relationship with my stepdaughter, too--but her mother's slow I.V. drip of poison has changed all of that. I thought the times SD and I shared together...the funny moments, the thoughtful conversations... would be enough of an inoculation against her mother's venom, but I was very sadly mistaken. Quite paradoxically, SD(17) informed me that she really never liked me, and that she had been pretending to do so. Well, I have to consider our relationship over at this point to preserve the sanity I have left after being such a sucker. Yes, I know her mother had everything to do with this and that SD is just reacting to her mother's screwed up sense of what loyalty means. This is not the first time SD has laid the blame of her parents not being together squarely on my shoulders, but I am done taking her (and ultimately) her mother's bullshit.

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