He won’t introduce me to his kids

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

We’ve been together over 3 yrs, very serious, he lives with me (I pay all bills as he pays for his ex-wife + all bills in the home she lives in with his 3 kids) Ages 16, 12 (girls) + 10(boy)-their bdays are coming up this summer. He was separated for at least a year when we met but went through a difficult divorce “battling over issues” so that took awhile to complete but he finally did last year.

He wanted me to meet the kids much earlier when I thought we should wait…then the divorce got rough + we both thought it best to wait….now is now. Divorce done deal, he still sincerely speaks of our future + his being with me forever….but no involvement with the kids.

Any night he sees them, I don’t see him. + Vice versa. He sees them Mon + Wed nights after work+school + gets home between 10:30 + 11 depending on how late he feels he needs to stay with them (oh, at the home his ex lives at w/them–she leaves Mon +Wed + comes home approx 9pm + goes into her rm til he leaves). He also picks them up Fri evenings and sleeps over his parents with them (only the 2 younger ones)+ drops them off Sat about 4pm then he comes home (to me/us)….. I could go on with details I think may be pertinent…..but i feel like there is enough info here to be able to tell me something…like, how nuts am I + how if he hasn’t called any of the therapists he said he looked into, he never will….+ as long as this totally works for him, why would he change it?

HELP, need some GOOD advice. (All my friends + OUR mutual friends think i should leave/give up….he’s a great guy, great dad but he has some serious kid issues…he doesn’t give them boundries + lets them make the decisions,,,,can’t say no)~

I read a similar letter from June 06 where a gal left their apt every his kids came to see him there…some differences, clearly, in our stories. Any advice??

A: As you said, this works for him. Why would he change it? It seems he feels guilty about the divorce and is keeping things as unchanged for his kids as he can. He’s also trying to make up for it by being more like a buddy than a parent. I’m sure he genuinely loves his kids. I’m reasonably sure he also loves you. But on some level, he’s not coming to grips with his new reality and isn’t able to help the kids make the adjustment either. Meanwhile, you participate in the situation by paying all the bills and accepting the way he is structuring his life.

I’m not going to tell you to leave him. I don’t know enough about him. I do suggest you make an appointment with a therapist who specializes in divorced and restructured families. Go by yourself a few times to lay the groundwork. Then invite your partner to join you. The two of you need to work together to figure out the role you will have in the children’s lives and how he can be a supportive father while they adjust to the entire situation. Ideally, you will also develop at least a courteous and respectful relationship with his ex. After all, you will be co-parenting the children as they move back and forth between your homes. If your partner won’t join you in the project, you’ll have the information you need to decide what you need to do.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 31 Mar 2009

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2009). He won’t introduce me to his kids. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 23, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2009/03/31/2281/