Do my feelings and opinions matter when it comes to his interactions with his ex and their kids?

Brittany - posted on 01/16/2013 ( 28 moms have responded )

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My boyfriend of two years has three teenage children with his ex wife of 15 years. The oldest, a son, turns 18 years old tomorrow. Sadly, his son (most likely by influence from his mother) does not like me. A few months ago he gave his father an "ultimatum: me or her". Since his father choose not to accept such a demand his son has decided not to visit his father anymore and has only come around when in need of something (car issues, Christmas, taking the dog to his mothers house, etc). Please keep in mind, I have been around his son MAYBE ten times at most as my boyfriend feels it is best to give his attention to his children when they are around vs sharing it with me and my two children (who are 7 & 4 years old). Granted we will get together here and there but for the most part, my boyfriend keeps me somewhat distant when he has his kids. Anyhow, my boyfriend texted his son asking if he could take him to dinner for his birthday of which he got no reply. Then this morning his ex wife replied saying "I am taking our son to dinner for his birthday. Would you (and our other two kids like to join us)? Our son would like you to be there but please do not bring your girlfriend". My boyfriend said he replied with "where are you going to dinner"? Of course this bothers me because 1.) Why can't all of us be there? 2.) Why weren't my feelings and opinions considered here by him (my boyfriend)? 3.) Why couldn't his son reply to his dad's text and tell him that? 4.) Why can't my ex kindly reply with "no you all go ahead and I will talk to our son about going another night". I have an ex husband myself that I am trying very hard to co-parent with but is heavily influenced by his new wife who is younger and has no children of her own. I understand how important it is for everyone to get along and be friendly, but I do not believe it is healthy to maintain a relationship with a woman (me) who you tell you love and want to marry one day and NOT include her in special events or take into consideration how she might feel if in fact he, his ex-wife and their three children go out to dinner together regardless if it's a birthday celebration. The reality of the whole situation sucks and I for one wouldn't wish any of this on my worst enemy, but there comes a time when everyone must move on and accept the fact that they are no longer "a family". It was her choice to break them apart, she is engaged to a new man, my boyfriend has been with me for two years......please tell me if I am wrong?

Again, I totally understand that he and his father should be able to have a relationship with or without me being a part of it. My concern comes with the fact that:

This morning his ex wife replied saying "I am taking our son to dinner for his birthday. Would you (and our other two kids like to join us)? Our son would like you to be there but please do not bring your girlfriend".

My ex asked his son if he would like to go to dinner with him and his siblings for his birthday and got no reply. Honestly, his son is a very social and popular person who is actually never home and is always with his friends or at a school function of which he's very involved in. Granted, maybe his son didn't want to hurt his Dad's feelings but going back to the "ultimatum" he gave his dad awhile back it sounds more to me like his son really doesn't care and his ex wife is trying to "control the situation". Honeslty, she is a very materialistic woman who never had to work receives a LARGE sum of alimony plus child support every month and even send receipts to my boyfriend expecting reimbursement for things not even required per the settlement. She is ten years older than me and still does not work. My impression is she's scared of how long my relationship has lasted with her ex and if we do marry, she will no longer be in control of situations like these. She uses the kids against their father to make herself look more deserving of what shes "earned" from being married to him for fifteen years and buys the kids anything and everything to keep them happy. It's a sad situation and I don't want to come inbetween his relationship with his children and will give him that much needed time with them. I however, don't believe that going out to dinner together as a "family unit" is acceptable because she is always known and has proven to have uliterior motives. Plus she knows how to get under my boyfriends skin by using their kids as leverage.

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Stephanie - posted on 01/16/2013

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I understand both sides but unfourtunatly divorce means seperation of parents which means seperate bdays etc. it shouldn't be brittneys fault because she wants to be part of her boyfriends life. She shouldn't have to be put in the shadows while her boyfriend has dinner w ex wife how akward is that? Plus it may be giving the kids more reason to not like her because they see mom and dad having dinner and hope something will develop. Parents should get along yes but they need to respect eachothers current situation not exclude the person the other choses to love. That's part of divorce u love ur kids and also move on with ur life. No kid 5 or 18 should give their parent an ultimatum. Unless there is a valid reason to not like the girlfriend everyone probley needs to communicate and solve the indifference.

Shawnn - posted on 01/16/2013

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Brittany, the fact of the matter is, you aren't even the step mother. And you are asking your boyfriend to consider your feelings, and that you want to participate, but you are at the same time asking him to NOT consider the feelings of his biological children and family!

The man's son is 18, or soon will be, and is perfectly able to make his own choices in life, and decide who he does and doesn't want in his life. He probably didn't respond to his father, and had his mother respond because he didn't feel comfortable asking that you not attend, but in all reality it's HIS birthday,and he has every right to indicate who he would like to have attend the event. If the kid only wants his family, then you're not invited.

How do you KNOW for sure that "his mother influences" his decision to like or not like you? FYI, I don't have to ask my mother how I feel about my stepmothers. I never did ask my mother how I felt about my stepmothers! I am an individual. Nowhere is it written that I have to like every woman my father sleeps with, and I most certainly haven't approved of his last 2 wives/girlfriends. And I'm an adult, with kids of my own. My father had the respect for me to not bring his current fling around me. I have the respect for him to not speak poorly of her, and to respond politely (but indifferently) when I do see the woman, but I don't have to like her, nor do I have to include her in my family events!

His son gave him conditions for his visits, he either has his son, or you. Well, that's not unreasonable, given that you're not married, and haven't really participated in his family events anyway, from the sounds of it.

Just be content raising your children for now. You don't need the stress and drama that a relationship of this type brings. The stress and drama that it sounds you are bringing upon yourself by trying to push into an event that you're not invited to.

If you and the boyfriend actually DO get married, then his son needs to respect that decision. But, for now (and in the eyes of his kids) you're just the girlfriend. Girlfriend isn't permanent. Not that marriage really is anymore, either, but honey you don't have a leg to stand on.

Ariana - posted on 01/16/2013

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This is a tricky situation. I think in this specific instance, with an 18 year old who is upset about all of this and barely seeing his Dad going out for his Birthday without you is not unreasonable. I'm sorry but if the child wants to go to his bday without you than he should be able to.

Now if they come over to your house I don't believe you should have to leave or move out of the way. If they visit you are part of your household and should be treated as such, but for outside dinners with his mother that is just going to be awkward and if you pushed yourself in there it's going to tear his fathers relationship apart further. It's not like your husband went to christmas without you,it's his now adult sons birthday dinner.

Are his other two children younger or are they adults? If they visit the house you might want to have it so you all spend more time together. If you're part of his family then they need to see you as such and the activities they do you should be included in (not ALL activities since if they're teenagers you might not always be able to include the 7 and 4 year old in things they do, and they also need special time with their father), but in general you should all do things 'together'.

I mean if you did show up or forced your way in the teenager could ask all the questions you did in reverse. Why can't it just be us there? Why weren't my feelings and opinions considered about who I want to be here? Why couldn't my Dad have told his gf I'm going out and we'll go out later? He's being selfish yes but he also doesn't even know you. You said he's only seen you 10 times so it's not like you have any connection with the child. Why did you HAVE to be at his birthday?

The situation does suck and it isn't fair but if you force your way in it's just going to make everyone more frustrated and it will be directed at you. You're part of the household and if they're at your house or visiting their dad you should be part of that, that's where I would start. If you feel like you want to be more involved than he should let you be around his kids more when they visit. If they barely know you of course they aren't going to want you around their birthday, you're some stranger to them. I wouldn't want some person I've only met a few times at my birthday, especially if I was a moody teenager and I felt like my father had already chosen them over me.

Stephanie - posted on 01/16/2013

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I don't think the kids should be punished at all that's not what I'm saying. But I don't think it's fair to brittney girlfriend or wife to have to accept her boyfriend having dinner with the ex wife. It seems like she has to be the one to make all the sacrifices and be put in the shadows. I don't think she was demanding the kids to like her I just think she wants to be included. And that's fair. Kids are always going to want their parents to stay Togethor it's natural but unfortunately divorce is very real. Sometimes if the parents are celebrating bdays Togethor and excluding(purposely) their exs new husband or wife or whatever could be sending the wrong message to the kids. I only say this because I've been in that situation where the ex wife was pushing a relationship with her ex husband by excluding me and the kids finally spoke up and say they were confused they liked me but couldn't show it in fear of upsetting their mother. So all I'm saying is the kids have to learn to accept the current situation because dad may Marry her and things do change. There's nothin wrong with mom having special mother and son bday dinner and dad doing same. When sin gets married I'm sure mom and dad won't meet and drive Togethor to church they will both be there but not as a married couple. I hope that makes sense. I will never claim to be right I'm just saying how I would feel. I would be upset as she is if u are going to start a life with someone it's got to be 100 percent not just when it's convinent. She's part of his life or not. Doesn't mean she has to be included in bday dinner with son but either does the ex wife. They are divorced they are going to have their own special seperate relationship w their children and hopefully the new partners in their lives will someday be accepted and included

Amy - posted on 01/16/2013

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I didn't read all the responses but I have to say I disagree with Stephanie, in now way should the children be punished because the parents are divorced! Why should the kids have separate birthdays because their parents can't suck it up and get along 1 day a year. They aren't going to have two separate weddings so that both their parents can attend.

Where I live parents are required to take a parenting class when they file for custody of the kids and the whole class is basically telling adults to act like adults for the sake of their children. The best thing for kids is to co-parent and have a united front for the kids regardless if they are 5 or 21, I realize that is not possible in every situation but your boyfriend should put his kids feelings before yours, that doesn't give the kids the right to disregard you but at this point as someone pointed out you are not even a step mother. If the dynamics bother you then maybe you should re-evaluate your relationship.

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Somethings need time.....sometimes longer. For kids it is life long that their dad is their dad and their mom is their mom. I've been married 15 years and apart for five. We still celebrate together as a family without our significant others. And our significant others support us doing so. We believe it's in the best interest of the children to see we love them and can work together. It's all about what works best for the kids. It's nothing personal even though it might feel that way. Sometimes it's harder being the step parent because sometimes you have to over ride your feelings for the sake of the step kids. But honestly the mom and dad do that in many ways also when it comes to a step parent. Good luck.

Dove - posted on 01/16/2013

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We had that class too, Amy.... Apparently my ex slept through it. lol @@

Stephanie - posted on 01/16/2013

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One last thought. I think everyone is right in their own opinion. There is no right or wrong way to feel or handle it. But brittney feels how she feels and is entitled to that. Handle it however your heart tells you to. There is no easy answer.... If u and ur husband can get on same page GREAT and u can figure it out Togethor. I respect everyone that would not get upset over dinner with ex that's very strong women!! I think everyone's opinion is very valuable. Brittney follow your heart and do what u feel is right i know it's a hard situation for everyone.

Shawnn - posted on 01/16/2013

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Ariana,

Well stated.

Brittany,

You wanted to know what people would do in your shoes? Well, in that situation, I would get over it.

I'm not the new wife, I'm the girlfriend (in that situation) I have NO RIGHT to indicate to my boyfriend how to interact with his kids, and his ex-wife, but if I ever want to be accepted by those kids (and treated civilly by the ex), I need to mind my space, and allow my boyfriend to bring me into the relationship with his family gradually. and if my boyfriend's kids don't want to interact, I would not push the issue.

Oh, wait, I WAS in that situation, and Yep, that's exactly how I handled it. I did NOT force my (now) husband's exwife to accept the relationship, nor did I demand to be included with the kids. Of course my situation was different, and we spent years fighting for my husband to even get visitation. But I NEVER imposed on that relationship, and never assumed that I had any right to.

Much like Ariana, I do not like my current stepmother, and I did give my father the choice of spending time with me, and my kids by himself, or, if he insisted on bringing his trophy wife, he would not be welcome to visit my home. I don't agree with my father's values, nor his morals, and I don't have to accept his wife. Yes, I will be civil to the woman if I run into her in public, but I most definitely do not have to include her in my life, nor that of my family. She has no right to expect inclusion. If Dad wants to visit me, he leaves her at home.

Lakota - posted on 01/16/2013

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Ariana, always words of wisdom. I love your posts and I agree with you 100%.

Ariana - posted on 01/16/2013

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I think this situation is getting a little overanalyzed really. His son didn't want you there, so his mom texted. It happens, he's a teenager. You've already stated they don't really know you and you are the girlfriend right now, not his wife. I still don't like my step-dad and he's been married to my mother for almost 12 years. Granted I'm not rude to him but I was 8 when they married not a teenager. He doesn't have to like you, he doesn't have to want you with him at his birthday.

My parents just recently have been able to go out to dinner with all of us which NEVER happened during my childhood, so it seems a bit unreasonable for you to think it's weird that the mother and him can go out for their sons birthday. I would have loved for my parents to be able to go out for my birthday together. And honestly I would have not wanted my stepparent to be there (although I wouldn't say anything).

Right now I would say you need to let this go. If you want to become more a part of his family you should talk to him about being around when he has visitation with his kids. On one hand you want to go to their birthday, but you haven't even been seeing them on a regular basis, they don't consider you a part of the family or even someone they know. You need to try and make a connection/bond with these kids before you expect your boyfriend to take you with him in all of these events.

If she's doing this just for control, that's what she's doing, leave it be. It's up to your boyfriend to decide how he's going to handle this. If you were his wife and you saw the kids all the time then I would think he's being inconsiderate. That isn't the situation though.

If you want to start being included in the other childrens lives you should be a part of the times he's getting visits with them. If you aren't a part of that why would you expect to be part of the birthday celebrations? You aren't around in the regular visiting times, they barely know you. Talk to your boyfriend about being there during the times he gets visitation with his kids so you can get to know them if it's important to you to be part of their lives, but don't force your way in.

The harder you push the harder they will resist, if the 18 year old doesn't want you at his birthday he doesn't want you there, the best thing you can do is accept that as of right now and do what you can to facilitate a good relationship with him later. Maybe you could have your husband invite him out for dinner with you and your children and his siblings. Although legally the boy is an adult he's still a teenager and you are the apposing force to his mother and in his mind his father has already 'chosen' you over him which must be frustrating to him. Try to show him you want a connection with him.

You are the responsible adult here, you should be trying to foster at least a working relationship with the kids not getting upset because they don't automatically accept or like you. And if you're upset because of the mother trying to be controlling there is nothing you can do about this. If you think about it you trying to force your way into it is also being a bit controlling, considering you two aren't even married yet. Why are you going to allow a teenager and a controlling woman to get under your skin this much? If that really is her motivation, to control the situation, she is certainly controlling your emotions right now.

It's better for you to accept the situation as it is, move on, and try to foster a working relationship between all of you. Invite the boy out to dinner as a show of good will, maybe he'll accept, maybe he won't, but at least it will show that even though he didn't want you at 'his' bday dinner you're still a nice friendly person who's willing to try and be connected to him. Don't get worked up over the mom, if you trust your boyfriend this isn't a problem.

Stephanie - posted on 01/16/2013

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This is true we can't control what other people do I am just a firm believer in getting along whole respecting eachother. The ex wife shouldn't invite dad to dinner mabey they can have seperate dinners a father son dinner etc. the boyfriend should probley be including brittany more in his life with his children and allow for acceptance by keeping her at bay it's only reinforcing then to not interact with her. Brittany you prob need to have heart to heart w ur boyfriend and ask him what type of relationship he wants u to have w his children. He should include u and teach his children to accept u instead of keeping u away that's not fair for anyone u are part of his life and if he plans on it being for the long haul then mabey it's time for everyone to be Togethor and try to accept eachother. He is the father it's still his roof his rules the kids at some point will need to accept that. By u spending time w him while he has his kids doesn't mean he's taking time away from his kids it only means his including u in his life

Brittany - posted on 01/16/2013

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Dove, you are correct. I guess I prefer opinions on how other's would HANDLE the situation. Not whether my feelings are right or wrong (which was wrong on my part to ask).

Dove - posted on 01/16/2013

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But Brittany can't control the choices her boyfriend makes. She can talk to him about it and he can then choose to take her feelings into consideration... or not. Or she can accept the way he is doing things (whether she chooses to talk to him or not)... or she can leave.

Sure, we can all sit here and discuss what we think he should or should not do, but really.... not one single person on HERE can control him and his choices... or the son... or the ex-wife. Only each individual person can control themselves.

Brittany - posted on 01/16/2013

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Shawnn,

I don't believe I am forcing any type of relationship with his children. I will never be their mother....I have no intentions of replacing their mother. I have NEVER given his children a reason not to like me. They hardly know me for that matter. I have ALWAYS talked highly of their mother when we've been in each other's company. Again, please keep in mind I too am going through a similar situation with my ex and his new wife.

Perfect example of his ex wife's behaviour......she sent my boyfriend that text this morning.....wouldn't you know my boyfriend was served with court papers stating she intends to take away some of his visitation with the kids. Why? It's a CONTROL thing. It's not about the kids or their best interests here.....it's about what can she do to ruin his life (between him and I and now him and his kids).

Shawnn - posted on 01/16/2013

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Ah, thank you Dove! I like agreeing with you too!

Brittany,

Perhaps the text came from his ex because SHE was the one going to pay for dinner, and the kid asked his mother if his dad could come!

Why is that so strange to you? Ex spouses SHOULD communicate and get along. You are letting your feelings get hurt over something that you have no control over, nor should you! If you were married, you could have a separate celebration for the kid on your own time, but you are not. The boy wants his FAMILY. His biological family. He doesn't have to include anyone in his day that he doesn't want to include. That's the facts of the matter.

And you're trying to FORCE the family to like, accept, and respect you, and that's plain wrong. EARN their affection, their acceptance and their respect, and you'll all be happier for it.

Stephanie - posted on 01/16/2013

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I've been there, my ex husbands wife wants to be the mom and dad and rule the roost. I try to accept her because she is part of their lives thru their father so they need to respect her for that reason. My husband also has ex wife who used to invite him places and it did make me feel threatend however my husband explained to his kids this is my life and I'm happy so u need to accept that I have right to be happy also. We can't just live to give our kids their way all the time. There has to be balance and respect. The son needs to talk to his dad of why he has issues with u and if he can't do that then y should u and ur boyfriend be punished. He's 18 he's an adult and will have to live with his decision to exclude his dad. The ex wife needs to move on and respect his new life with u and understand she may be making a nice gesture to invite him it's also giving everybody false hope and insecuritys. Your boyfriend needs to respect your feelings as well.

Dove - posted on 01/16/2013

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I agree entirely with Shawnn (I just like to say that)... and that's the nicest thing I have to say here.

Brittany - posted on 01/16/2013

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Thank you Stephanie. Your reply made the most sense while taking EVERYONE'S feelings into consideration.

Brittany - posted on 01/16/2013

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You are correct, it is none of my business what she gets in alimony much less child support as I have two children of my own that I raise full time and receive child support of my own. My ex cheated on me and is now married to the woman. My boyfriends ex cheated on him, thought she was pregnant, found out she wasnt and went on to take everything from him (these are my boyfriends words not mine). Believe me, I have a good heart and could have done the same to my ex but it all came down to my children. I wanted them, knew my ex couldn't take care of them properly so he let us go. I moved from Seattle, WA to Virginia with nothing besides my two kids and our clothes. Now, I am the one ENCOURAGING my ex to be a bigger part of our kids lives because I know how important it is that he be there for them.

I believe people are missing the point to my question here though....the text didn't come from his son. The text came from his ex wife. The son had no problem giving his dad an ultimatum before, why would he suddenly be worried about hurting his dad's feelings now? If he's an "adult" he's entitled to his opinions and has a right to communicate them. However it should be coming from him and not the mother aka ex wife. I would never do anything to hurt his relationship with his children, I've told my boyfriend that he should always respect their feelings and encourage good communication. However, his ex is not his wife anymore. His son is an adult. They will always have these children in common and can always be civil with one another. Though, where does that line get drawn? When does the reality of that come into effect? Don't forget, I tell my boyfriend that I love him.....I want to marry him.....I too have children with an ex husband......though if my ex called and said "let's have dinner together with our son for his birthday" I would be sure to include my new family and ask that he include his.

Stephanie - posted on 01/16/2013

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I think it was unreasonable for the ex wife to ask him to dinner. When people divorce they are no longer a husband wife unit. It would be ok for the father and son to have dinner but not with the ex wife. I believe if your boyfriend wants a life with u then he needs to teach his kids this is his life now and you will be part of it. Its not fair that u be excluded because his kids can't accept you. There has to be balance when the kids are adults with their own lives it will be u and him.... So mabey they need to have open minds also and try to respect his relationship with u. I would not be ok with my husband having dinner with his ex. If he invited his son and his son declined well then mabey he will have a nice time with his mother and his dad and him can get Togethor another time

Shawnn - posted on 01/16/2013

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Brittany, yes, children must learn respect. However, they must also be shown respect. My young adult child, and my adult child both were taught to be polite to other adults, even strangers. HOWEVER, being polite and showing respect are two different things. And NO ONE has to respect anyone else, unless the respect is mutual.

I cannot respect someone who will not or cannot respect me. In turn, I do not expect my children (adult or otherwise) to "automatically" respect ANYONE! They are to be treated politely, but respect is earned. And until you have earned that boy's respect, and in turn show him that you respect him, you don't have any right to expect it.

Answer me this. If "adults are to be respected" in any case, what do you do with an adult who is an admitted child molester? Do you respect him? Because if you force your children to respect any adult, you are telling them to respect ALL adults. And some do not DESERVE the respect.

Lakota - posted on 01/16/2013

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I have to agree with Shawnn. That's why I asked if you two were living together, because that would change things a little - as far as his son's respect for you. I don't think his dad should be punished, but, for lack of a better way to say this, you don't have the "right" to expect to be included in family activities or decisions he makes when it comes to his kids.

Sandra - posted on 01/16/2013

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Sorry about the situation. It is not unreasonable for the young man to want only his dad at his dinner. I understand that you would like to be included but it is the young man's choice however you should not be kept at a distance when the kids visit especially if he says that he loves you and wants to marry you. You need to express how you feel about the situation.
What happened to his marriage, the LARGE amount of alimony his ex-wife receives, her not working is really not your business. If you have expressed that you have a problem with his mom and have expressed this (subconciously or not), this may be another problem. They do have children together and child support is important.
The young man may be having a hard time accepting that his parents are no longer together, please take that into consideration.

Brittany - posted on 01/16/2013

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Thank you for your honest opinion. I do value it and will consider allowing your advice to help me in this situation. I am a firm believer that children need structure and as parents, we need them to understand that life is hard and nothing is ever sugar coated. People deserve to be treated the way they themselves want to be treated and everyone always deserves a chance. Adults are to be respected regardless if they're strangers and if such a "stranger" is important to one's mother or father, sister or brother, whomever, that respect should be carried out. Yes, he is 18 and considered an adult so it's about time he start acting like one.......his mother is engaged and practically lives with her new man. Why should his dad be punished for trying to move on just like his mother is?

Brittany - posted on 01/16/2013

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No, we do not live together. Due to the type of employment he has, living together before marriage is not tolerated.

Lakota - posted on 01/16/2013

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Hi, Brittany. I'm sorry to hear that you are having a hard time with your boyfriends ex. Do you two live together?

Brittany - posted on 01/16/2013

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Thank you so much for your reply, Ariana. I totally understand that he and his father should be able to have a relationship with or without me being a part of it. My concern comes with the fact that:

This morning his ex wife replied saying "I am taking our son to dinner for his birthday. Would you (and our other two kids like to join us)? Our son would like you to be there but please do not bring your girlfriend".

My ex asked his son if he would like to go to dinner with him and his siblings for his birthday and got no reply. Honestly, his son is a very social and popular person who is actually never home and is always with his friends or at a school function of which he's very involved in. Granted, maybe his son didn't want to hurt his Dad's feelings but going back to the "ultimatum" he gave his dad awhile back it sounds more to me like his son really doesn't care and his ex wife is trying to "control the situation". Honeslty, she is a very materialistic woman who never had to work receives a LARGE sum of alimony plus child support every month and even send receipts to my boyfriend expecting reimbursement for things not even required per the settlement. She is ten years older than me and still does not work. My impression is she's scared of how long my relationship has lasted with her ex and if we do marry, she will no longer be in control of situations like these. She uses the kids against their father to make herself look more deserving of what shes "earned" from being married to him for fifteen years and buys the kids anything and everything to keep them happy. It's a sad situation and I don't want to come inbetween his relationship with his children and will give him that much needed time with them. I however, don't believe that going out to dinner together as a "family unit" is acceptable because she is always known and has proven to have uliterior motives. Plus she knows how to get under my boyfriends skin by using their kids as leverage.

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