Life can be complicated. Extremely complicated.
That’s the feeling I got after seeing a recent reader email. A woman wrote me with a situation I’d never encountered:
Her ex-husband has a pregnant girlfriend who is moving in with him and his 10-year-old son. The reader, who is the boy’s mother, isn’t happy. I can understand—I’m opposed to live-in girlfriends when you have kids at home.
But the reader’s situation is even thornier. Her ex-husband’s girlfriend is pregnant by another man – not him. And the father of the unborn child “wants nothing to do with her [the girlfriend],” the woman adds.
“My ex truly loves her and wants to be in her life and help raise the child,” she writes. “What are your thoughts?”
Do I have to answer that question? Talk about being on the spot.
To make matters worse (if that’s possible), the girlfriend and her ex-husband have had an “on-again, off-again” relationship, the woman writes.
I plan to call a relationship expert and present this scenario – and get his or her advice. I’ll let you know what I learn.
Problems I see
In the meantime, I’ll give you my thoughts. Here are my concerns about the situation:
- What if the unborn child’s father changes his mind and wants to raise the child? What if the reader’s ex-husband objects and a protracted legal fight ensues?
- What if the ex-husband and his girlfriend break up again – after he has committed to raising her child? What happens to the child then?
- How is the 10-year-old boy going to feel about his father raising someone else’s biological child? Is the boy going to be proud of his dad for loving his girlfriend and wanting to help her? Or is the boy going to resent his father for sharing his attention with another child?
Mercy. I’ve never heard of such a multi-layered, potentially explosive scenario even in soap operas.
I feel sorry for the email writer. She says she and her ex “have a fantastic relationship and share our son 50/50.”
Sounds like that relationship is now in jeopardy. Will the mom fight to have more time with her son if the pregnant girlfriend moves in with her ex?
What would you do in this situation if you were the ex-husband?
Me? I definitely would not let my pregnant girlfriend move in with me and my son. This situation hits close to home because my son is close in age at 11.
My own child is my first responsibility. I am not going to jeopardize our relationship and his wellbeing by bringing someone else’s child into our home.
I would offer to help the girlfriend by suggesting resources, such as nonprofit organizations or churches, that could help her with the newborn. I’d be glad to offer her encouragement and moral support. But that’s where I’d drawn the line.
If the girlfriend broke up with me because I wouldn’t help her raise the child, so be it. I have my hands full with my own kid, thank you very much.
My mind is made up. Is yours? Let me know.
As a divorced dad, you may face unforeseen, difficult circumstances. But you can cut through sometimes conflicting emotions by asking yourself this: What’s best for my child? That clarifies the situation and dictates your response.