53196 Quotes About Too Late

Should Stepdad Get Parenting Time? Part 2

UPDATE!

Jim continues to badger Brian, as does Jim’s son (who derives his income from Brian’s dad).  This sudden interest in Brian is a little odd, since Jim is suing to force Brian and his mom out of their home AND asking the court to award him, a wealthy man, attorney fees.  

Brian remains nonplussed.  This story will be updated as appropriate.

Dear Robin:

I was in a ten-year relationship and marriage with a man (“Jim”) who recently left the marriage abruptly.  

I’m not sure exactly what put the final nail in the coffin of our marriage, but the last fight we had was because I could not believe my son Brian was not invited to my stepson’s rehearsal dinner.Jim waited until over week after he left to say anything to my 15-year-old son, and when he did, he texted him goodbye and told him “take care of your mom.”

He has been gone for two months and recently told me it is my duty to facilitatate a relationship between him and my son.  Given his historical treatment (ignoring) of Brian, I found the idea odd.  This was the biggest issue for me during the marriage.  I begged him for years to spend time with Brian but for years he refused.

So should I make this happen?  

My kid doesn’t ever want to see him again and Jim is blaming that on me.  So what do I owe Jim and Brian in this situation?  What is the right thing to do?

Dear Cathy:

Ordinarily I would encourage you to help make this happen.  Ten years is a long time to be in a child’s life, and losing a stepparent, especially so abruptly, could have negative repurcussions for Brian.

Like I said, ordinarily I’d side with Jim on this one.  But there are details that matter in this case.  Readers, here’s the rest of the story:

Cathy’s son was five when Jim came into their lives. The two biggest problems Cathy had in the marriage were: 1) how Jim treated Brian, and 2) how Jim’s kids treated Cathy and Brian (and Jim).

How Jim Treated Brian

  • Over the years Cathy begged Jim to, just once or twice a year, spend some quality time with Brian.  Jim refused.
  • Brian expressed sadness and disappointment to his mom repeatedly over the years and each time she’d again make efforts to get Jim to have a relationship with her son.  Each time he became furious, said “I’m not his father,” and made it clear he would not do anything with Brian outside seeing him with Cathy during her parenting time.
  • After their last fight about the subject, Jim insisted he was “doing his very best.”  Cathy asked him to please describe what that meant, and he said, “I drive him to school most days when he is with us.”  Brian’s school is directly on the way to Jim’s office.
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  • When Cathy expressed her shock and dismay that her son was not welcome at her stepson’s wedding rehearsal dinner (paid for by her husband), her husband said, “You are insane if you think he should be invited.  It’s for close family and members of the wedding party only.  And you are really crazy if you think Brian should have been in the wedding party.  What’s wrong with you?”
  • As mentioned above, Jim texted Brian after being gone for over a week and told Brian to “take care of” his mom.  This was very upsetting to Brian, who then felt that his mother was now his responsibility, as opposed to the other way around.
  • Jim is now attempting to force the sale of Cathy and Brian’s home, even as his income is ten times higher than Cathy’s, she would not be able to finance a new home, a move would require a move of her business, and any home she could rent would cost double what her mortgage is and fall outside Brian’s school district.
  • When Brian found out Jim had left the marriage, he was first upset, crying to Cathy, “just because Jim doesn’t love me doesn’t mean I don’t love him!” Within a week, however, Brian noted that Jim’s absence was remarkable in how little had changed in the home and Brian’s life.
  • During a lunch with Cathy, Brian said, “Mom, at some point you will fall in love again.  Can you promise me one thing?  Can you promise that if you bring someone into our lives, he will care about me?”  At that point Cathy realized what ten years of neglect had done to her son, and her sadness at the end of the marriage became overwhelming relief, combined with the guilt of having raised her child in a home in which his stepdad showed her son the affection one would show a houseplant or a surly cat.

Cathy’s frustration over Jim’s attitude towards having a meaningful relationship with Brian was compounded by the fact she made it a top priority to repair Jim’s broken and dysfunctional relationships with his three adult children, none of whom were interacting with him on a regular and normal basis when Cathy and Jim met.

Oven ten years she worked tirelessly to change that.

She made innumerable meals, planned trips, arranged golf games, welcomed one into her home for over a year (her idea which Jim passed off as his own), and urged Jim to keep working on making his relationship with his kids better.  

During his ten-year relationship with Cathy, nearly every single time he saw his children was arranged by Cathy.

She was succesful, so much so that at their wedding Jim’s middle child thanked Cathy for “giving us our dad back.”  Unfortunately, their gratitude did not extend to actual kindness towards Cathy or Brian.

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How Jim’s Kids Treated Cathy and Brian

  • Over ten years and countless celebrations put on by Cathy for Jim’s kids’ birthdays, special events, holidays, and the like, the kids never offered to celebrate anything of Cathy’s or Brian’s, unless they were invited to do so at Cathy’s home with all the work done by Cathy.  At Brian’s 8th grade graduation and birthday party, Jim’s kids arrived 90 minutes late, ate quickly, and immediately left.
  • Cathy and Brian’s birthdays were usually ignored, although sometimes acknowleged by a text message.
  • For the year that one of Jim’s children lived in their home, he showed constant disrespect for the house, Cathy, and extended no effort to help in any way or spend time with Brian, despite the free ride and having all his meals prepared and cleaned up by Cathy.  Cathy asked Jim to speak with his son about his behavior and attitude, multiple times, but Jim was too weak when it came to his kids to discuss anything with them that might be uncomfortable.
  • Two of the three children got married and did not include Brian in the wedding, even though all other siblings on both sides, along with other family members, were made members of the wedding party. Even being in charge of the guest book was apparently too much to ask.
  • When the kids would, once or twice a year, see their dad without Cathy making the arrangements, neither Cathy nor Brian would be invited.
  • Over ten years, none of the kids ever asked Brian to do something with them.  Not once.
  • See discussion of weddings above.  In my entire life, I have never heard of a stepchild being excluded from a wedding event.  I can’t even wrap my head around that one enough to adequately comment upon it but I encourage readers to do so.
  • After Cathy and Jim separated, the middle son wrote an ugly letter to Cathy saying that her expectation they have any sort of relationship with Brian was “unnatural,” “unrealistic,” and finished with this doozy: “I never had anything in common with him, and frankly, he didn’t ever seem all that interested in me.”  
  • In the same letter, that son said the only reason he and his siblings were “kind” to Cathy and Brian is because their dad “was” in love with Cathy.  He opened the letter by mocking Cathy’s sharing of her family history with them over the years.
  • The only communication to Brian after the separation came from Jim’s youngest son, who just so happens to earn his income from Brian’s father (long story) and had never reached out to Brian to express interest in spending time with him over the ten years of the relationship, including the year they lived together.  

Over 1,300 words were sacrificed to describe Cathy’s situation so I’ll make the advice short and sweet.  

Cathy, you stated:

So should I make this happen?  

My kid doesn’t ever want to see him again and Jim is blaming that on me.  So what do I owe Jim and Brian in this situation?  What is the right thing to do?

Should you make this happen?  

No.  

What do you owe Jim?  

Nothing.  

What do you owe Brian?  

The right to make his own choices about with whom he spends his time.

What is the right thing to do?  

Tell Brian if he wants to continue his “relationship” with Jim you are absolutely fine with that.

Brian is old enough to deliberate the value of a relationship (loosely termed) with Jim and make his own decision.  

What puzzles me is: why now?  What’s Jim’s angle?  Is he lonely?  Does he feel guilty?  Is this a negotiation tactic?

Whatever the case may be, this is neither your responsibility nor choice.  Brian appears to be voting with his feet already.  The fact that Jim blames this on you shows that he cannot accept how much he hurt your son over the years because that is an indictment of him as a human being.  Honestly, I find that sad.  

Your son expressed a lot of love towards Jim, more than his own children