subscribe to the RSS Feed

I know I'm right, I went to Harvard.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Impossible Parents

Posted by fxckfeelings on February 27, 2012

There’s no doubt that the welfare of kids’ should come first when you think about the pros and cons of continuing a difficult parenting relationship; after all, kids are what what parenting partnerships are for, and your self-esteem will never be great if you know you didn’t do your best for your child. That said, it’s important to be realistic about whether your relationship will let you be the parent you want to be and what the optimal distance is for minimizing conflict and security threats to your child. No matter how you feel about love and intimacy, you made a kid, and now you have to make that kid come first.
-Dr. Lastname

Recently, maybe 5 months ago, me and my ex broke up. I thought we were perfect together but I found out she had sex with 2 guys while we were strongly involved. I tried to be her friend, but it was hard, so things kind of went back to normal, even though I still couldn’t trust her and still don’t. We don’t go out anymore, but now I’ve found out that she’s pregnant with my child, although the doctor said it’s just a 50% chance that the baby lives. If the baby does live I want to be there for my child but I don’t want to be involved with the mother intimately in any way. If the baby doesn’t make it I don’t want to have anything to do with her anymore, period. How do I deal with the situation if the baby does live? I believe that a family should be a mother and father at home together, but I can’t love the mom, even if I want to be there through every step of my child’s life. If the baby doesn’t make it, then how do I get over her and the fact that she hurt me by sleeping with other guys as well as our baby not making it? Should we try to be friends, get back together, or cut all ties?

You’ve got great values, which, unfortunately, generate their own kind of unhappiness. You’re right to make providing a good stable home for your child your first priority, but you’re screwed with a mom like this.

Unfortunately, you probably can’t have the family you want without having a partner who’s fundamentally different from your ex-girlfriend; a different woman with a different personality and a different set of values (i.e., values more like yours).

So, unless your ex somehow recognizes her impulsivity and sincerely wants to become a better and better-controlled person (not for you, but for herself and the baby), she’s unlikely to become a stable partner for anyone.

If that change isn’t going to happen, it’s time to start thinking realistically about how to make the best of things. Your positive attitude gives you many options, even if they don’t include the ones you want most. If your baby lives, stay involved and stay available, but be aware that you can never protect a child completely from a flaky mother, or anything else for that matter. If you try too hard, you’ll cause conflict and do no good.

In the worst case scenario, your involvement causes your ex-girlfriend to expect too much, make demands, and feel injured. That probably won’t be happen, but according to King Solomon’s wisdom, the best parent is the one who’s ready to let go, and that parent is you.

In any case, if the baby lives, you should act like any responsible divorced dad and try to build a relationship with your ex that deals with child-care issues in a business-like way while not sharing personal feelings other than good wishes. You’re not friends, you’re co-workers in the business of raising your child.

If the baby doesn’t live, you may have some self-weaning to do. You say you intend to end the relationship, but you’ve said that before and it didn’t stick. Hire a therapist/coach if necessary to help keep you from sliding back in.

As for your potential grief, take consolation in knowing that you’ve risen to the challenge and can be proud of yourself. In addition, you’ve learned ways to improve your chance of creating the kind of family you want and deserve. You’ve got a solid moral code, and if you do become a dad, here’s hoping that gets passed along in your genetic code, as well.

STATEMENT:
“My ex-girlfriend’s pregnancy has made me the star of my own reality-TV show and left me feeling helpless and confused. There’s nothing wrong, however, with my ability to commit to partnership and parenting. As long as I don’t over-commit to protecting our child and/or her mother, I can be a good father at whatever level of commitment actually works.”

I married a guy I loved all through high school, after we knew I was pregnant, and now I hate myself for hating him. He’s a sweet guy, he means well, but he’s a fuckup. It didn’t matter when we were single and living on nothing, and it drives me crazy now that we’ve got a kid and need money. I hate that I can never count on him because he can’t keep a job or stay away from drugs. I hate that my disapproval makes him hate himself, and then he tries harder and fucks up more. He loves our kid and our kid loves him. He’s crazy about me. I just wish he’d go away. My goal is to find some way to not wreck our kid and not be cruel to him without going nuts from having to live with him.

Unless you’re a hippie who floats with the wind and never thinks about the future, it’s hard to stay positive about a partner who doesn’t do his/her job. Your love may start out strong and mutual, with great sex and long walks on the beach. Once you start caring about getting ahead, doing dirty jobs, and worrying about what happens when you or the kids get sick while he keeps getting high, peace no longer gets a chance.

Your kids (and maybe your friends and family) will probably like your “what-me-worry” partner more than they like you; after all, he’s smiling and fun-loving while you’re a grumpy worrywart. He wants to have a good time and you’re picking fights. You wonder why you’ve turned into a bitch.

Trouble is, your anger isn’t getting him to change and it’s hurting him, the kids, and your self-esteem. You can’t stop feeling angry and you have a right to feel angry, but that doesn’t make it a good idea to express it.

The bitter pill to swallow is that you can’t get back that loving feeling and/or change him into the partner you need. You can’t change the fact that you’re the family’s primary caregiver now and for the foreseeable future. Now that that’s settled, let’s consider how to make the best of things.

First, ask yourself whether you and your child are better off with or without your husband. Although you and your son’s feelings are a part of that equation, even more important is a worst case scenario analysis of your husband’s drug use and its impact on your son’s safety and/or the family’s financial stability.

Keeping your anger to yourself means you don’t have to take responsibility for your husband’s sorrow or non-recovery. Of course, you’d help him if you could, but you need to protect yourself and your family, and whether you leave him or simply withdraw emotionally, there will be distance, either way. You’re not doing it to hurt, humiliate or punish him, it’s just what happens when a guy makes a commitment he can’t keep.

Don’t blame him or yourself for your pain. Take courage from knowing you’re a good mother who’s doing what she has to do. You shared a love with your husband that was valuable for what it was, but couldn’t stand the strain of partnership. Until he grows up, you need to move on.

STATEMENT:
“I feel like a tired, resentful witch who can’t stop hating a nice, fun-loving guy who’s dying to win my approval, but I know I’ve got good reasons to be disappointed, just as I have good reasons to keep my feelings to myself. I’ll try to consider my husband’s shortcomings objectively, decide what to do, and give myself credit for making the best of a bad situation.”

Comments are closed.

home | top

Site Meter