Do Good Single Parents Lie to their Kids about Long-Term GFs?
July 22, 2010 6:22 AM   Subscribe

BF says I overreacted; my gut says otherwise.

Have been dating long-distance BF for about a year; things had been going pretty well (I have 3 kids, he has 1; she has severe behavioral issues).

Over a month ago on their visit to our home for the weekend, her behavior was out of control, he could not deal with her appropriately and put his hands on her.

I broke up with him. Weeks pass, he says he's getting both of them help, wants us to work, wants their relationship to be better.

I meet up with him, he seems to be making positive steps for positive changes for the 2 of them. Great. We go out again 2 nights later, he asks me to come over...AFTER she's asleep because he doesn't want to deal with her response if I'm there. (Somewhat bad feeling about this, but okay).

Fast forward to this week: we had planned a vacation together (the week his daughter is in sleepover camp); we decide that he should probably still come. My kids are also now coming; they're okay with this.

He comes and tells me that he hasn't told his kid he's here with us; that she thinks he's 1000s of miles away, working and at home. (I had concerns before that he is a pretty smooth obfuscator...telling lies to avoid conflict, or so he says).

I don't like this and tell him I don't like what it says about him as a person. He thinks I'm overreacting; his relationship with her is not my business. He also says he could have just as easily also lied to me that he HAD told her he was with us.

He later asks to borrow $400 because he's broke.

Stunned, I tell him to change his flight and leave.

Was I wrong here?
posted by dzaz to Human Relations (45 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
It's hard to say. He lies to his daughter and then asks to borrow $400 from you. Wow. He sounds like he has a lot of problems, none of which he's solving effectively. Sounds like you should keep yourself and your kids away from him.
posted by anniecat at 6:27 AM on July 22, 2010 [5 favorites]


You were not wrong. He is a jerk, on many many levels.
posted by molecicco at 6:31 AM on July 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


No right or wrong here. Was your reaction sudden? Yes. But I think your reaction to his request for money was your way of extricating yourself from this relationship you wanted out of anyway.
posted by murrey at 6:31 AM on July 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I want to add: I get all the red flags here and that I'm done with this guy. But I'm really wondering if I'm an atypical parent who wouldn't lie to her kids about my BF coming over or going on a trip with him.

Asking to borrow money confirmed just another area of ick; I have no interest in anyone who works full-time in a well-paying job and still can't support himself.
posted by dzaz at 6:32 AM on July 22, 2010


Looking at those previous questions things keep coming up involving his kid. Probably no single issue or incident is a deal breaker but the pattern is clear that however he deals or fails to deal with his daughter doesn't work for you. I feel terribly for her situation, and it's clear that she needs something that she isn't getting, but if it sounds like you've repeatedly addressed this. It's time to move on.

If you think she is being abused, re the putting his hands on her comment, you do need to intervene or contact those who will.
posted by 6550 at 6:33 AM on July 22, 2010


he... put his hands on her.

What exactly does this mean?
posted by dmt at 6:39 AM on July 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


But I'm really wondering if I'm an atypical parent who wouldn't lie to her kids about my BF coming over or going on a trip with him.

I can see some circumstances that are reasonable where a parent might lie about this. Don't know if those circumstances were present here or if you are atypical as a parent on this or not. You are who you are and handle things a certain way and that is important to you.

Find someone whose values mesh with yours.
posted by murrey at 6:45 AM on July 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


he... put his hands on her.

What exactly does this mean?


Agree. This can mean a lot of things, from irrelevant to abusive.

The lying to the kid isn't necessarily a deal breaker either, except to the extent it could affect his availability in an emergency situation. If she falls and needs stitches and he is not where he said he would be, that's bad parenting.

But just because all of these things aren't necessarily deal breakers, if you lost that lovin' feeling, that's all the excuse you need.
posted by gjc at 6:47 AM on July 22, 2010


How old is the kid? Lying to children isn't exactly uncommon - in this case he has a child with behavioural problems who has reacted badly to you in the past. He probably just wanted a quiet vacation without dealing with the tantrums from his kid. You say he's getting help for the two of them but its not a miracle cure, its not going to happen over-night.

On the other hand, asking to borrow $400 is a bit off. That's not lunch money - if his only excuse was that he was broke then there's something seriously wrong.
posted by missmagenta at 6:49 AM on July 22, 2010


But I'm really wondering if I'm an atypical parent who wouldn't lie to her kids about my BF coming over or going on a trip with him.

This aspect strikes me as judgment of you. She severe behavioral issues and frankly it just might be easier for his sanity if he tells the occasional lie. For you to take this as flaw in his character seems a bit overboard,yes.
posted by new brand day at 6:52 AM on July 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


This is question #3 relating to his parenting skills. It's pretty obvious you don't respect his style, which is perfectly okay, but stop lingering in a relationship that has no future and I would suggest, stop caring what he thinks about things. If you don't want him there, tell him to go, be firm and have that be the end of the relationship.
posted by Hiker at 6:53 AM on July 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


Let's say we validate your feelings and call him a bad parent for lying to his kid. Then what? Does anything change?

Let's say that sometimes parents don't tell their kids everything-- particularly when it comes to their sex life. Now what? Does this change anything for you?

You gave us a lot of extraneous information when it came to the guy, but your question boils down to: Am I wrong to feel that lying to your kids about your personal sex life is always wrong? The answer to that question is personal depending on how you want to raise your kids. I think it's fine to smudge the details, i.e. "Mommy is going away this week end to have some fun with her friend. You will have lots of fun with Grandma. I'll see you in three days."

I in no way validate the other crap this guy pulled however. Physical bullying is never OK. Mooching off your new GF/BF is not OK.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:55 AM on July 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Hands on was this: we were planning on getting in the car and going out for lunch, she (she's 10) refused to go so she stood outside the car for a few minutes, screaming that she wasn't coming. BF and me and my kids sat in the car. Then she went and stood behind the car, yelling that we weren't going anywhere. She then came to the passenger side where her dad was sitting, opened the car door and tried slamming the door off its hinges. Me and my kids got out of the car, she then started grabbing him and tried to pull him out of the car. She blocked the car door as he sat in the car and then he yelled, "That's enough!", pushed her out of the way, got out of the car, grabbed her by the shirt and yanked her away from the car.
posted by dzaz at 7:01 AM on July 22, 2010


That was what 'putting his hands on her' was?? That sounds like how my father, and any father of my friends when I was a kid, would have reacted had I screamed and pushed the envelope like that. My dad would've gone nuclear, and he is an amazing father.

I think that breaking up with him for that was definitely an overreaction. In a previous life I was a youth care worker and worked with many children with behavioural issues. Believe me, it gets stressful fast and expecting someone else to adhere to your own parenting standards with a difficult child is too much, I think.

That being said, asking you for $400 is too much. For THAT you were correct to break up with him.
posted by fso at 7:14 AM on July 22, 2010 [11 favorites]


(I have 3 kids, he has 1; she has severe behavioral issues).

Who is she? Is she supposed to be his child? Did you break up with him after he "put his hands" on his own child, or your child?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:14 AM on July 22, 2010


Honestly, judging by your history of questions, I don't think this relationship is sustainable or good for any of the kids involved, leave alone the parents.

No, I don't think it was ok for him to lie to his daughter in this particular situation. Nor was it ok for him to go on a trip with you where your kids were also invited. I feel very sorry for his daughter. No matter what her behavioural problems, she doesn't deserve to be wilfully excluded from a potential family unit. I fear your relationship with him (no fault of yours, given the serious problems the girl appears to have) is not making her situation better.
posted by tavegyl at 7:19 AM on July 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


This relationship has been doomed for awhile based on your previous questions. Were you overreacting to "putting his hands on her"? I think so. He didn't spank her (which I think any other parent would have felt justified in doing). He was removing her from the dangerous and scary situation she was creating. Were you overreacting to the lie? I think if you had parented this girl for 10 years you would have different standards for "lying" at this point. Were you overreacting to the $400? Maybe. You say you have no interest in a guy that works full time and can't support himself, but he's not just supporting himself.

But were you wrong to break up with him? No, if that's what you felt was right and still feel was right, then you did the right thing. Being in this relationship wasn't good for you, him, or your kids.
posted by amethysts at 7:27 AM on July 22, 2010 [6 favorites]


Just wanted to pop back in and add this:

Dating is about finding mutual ground, developing trust, being with someone you find irresistible. Your gut tells you that you don't trust this guy. That's it, that's all you need. You most certainly don't have to date him and you owe him nothing more than "Thanks, but I'm no longer interested." You don't have to explain yourself to him or fight about who is "overreacting." You are not compelled to date anyone.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:28 AM on July 22, 2010 [6 favorites]


I meet up with him, he seems to be making positive steps for positive changes for the 2 of them.

Do any of these steps involve concrete decisions or changes (like, he's actually got her evaluated and they're seeing a specialist together in X weeks time), or just a resolution to Do Something About This, Really This Time?

Based on your earlier questions, it seems like a lot of your concern over this situation comes from a totally reasonable concern and frustration that he isn't getting his daughter the help she needs - and that while he repeatedly says he's going to change that, usually when you talk about leaving, the changes don't happen. If you see his behaviour with his daughter right now as further evidence that this pattern is going to continue, then that's hardly an overreaction.
posted by Catseye at 7:29 AM on July 22, 2010


Who is she? Is she supposed to be his child? Did you break up with him after he "put his hands" on his own child, or your child?

This is his daughter, he grabbed her and yanked her away from the car after me and my kids had gotten out and went in the house and she was just standing outside his door. Her hysterical moment had passed and she was just standing there. I didn't see any reason to push her and then yank her by her clothes away from the car.

The resolution to get her help in the past 4 weeks has involved him talking to her pediatrician once. She suggested evaluations. He did nothing and had no other future plan.

As far as icked out with money, he knows I'm supporting 3 kids on less $ than him so it felt especially icky to ask someone he knows is less-well-off for $.

Lastly, he had also expected me and my kids to be complicit in the "he was never with us" story for future get togethers with him and his daughter. So add to the mix he expected my kids to also lie.
posted by dzaz at 7:42 AM on July 22, 2010


Her hysterical moment had passed and she was just standing there. I didn't see any reason to push her and then yank her by her clothes away from the car.

Worse would have been done to me by my father had I acted like that as a child, whether or not the episode was over. My father was not abusive in any way, but he did discipline his children when the time called for it. This seems like one of those times.

I definitely think you overreacted to this.
posted by King Bee at 7:50 AM on July 22, 2010


All of your previous questions indicate your discomfort with the way he handles his seemingly out-of-control child, and the way he lies to people around him (his parents, his kid, possibly you) in order to avoid uncomfortable situations for himself.

He hasn't changed either behavior, despite you telling him it makes him uncomfortable. He's not going to change either behavior. You need to either accept both aspects of his personality, or move on.

What else are you hoping to learn here?
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 7:54 AM on July 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


But I'm really wondering if I'm an atypical parent who wouldn't lie to her kids about my BF coming over or going on a trip with him.

All ethics aside, there are very practical reasons why it's dumb to lie to people who live with you. I have brought this up a few times on AskMe (usually in "should I tell my partner I cheated?" threads), and no one ever responds. I don't know if that means people disagree with me, agree with me so thoroughly they don't have anything to add, don't understand what I'm talking about or don't find it interesting/relevant. But since I seem to be fairly alone in the following convictions, take what I say with appropriate amounts of salt.

Whenever you lie, there's some risk of getting caught. I think people greatly underestimate this risk when lying to people they're close to (especially people they live with). They underestimate in two ways. First, they think underestimate how likely it is that they'll be caught; second, they underestimate the amount of damage the lie will cause if it's outed a long time after it's told.

There's a VERY good chance your kids or partner will discover you've lied for two reason: 1. you (or someone else involved with the keeping the lie hidden) will screw up. 2. time.

Even if there's a tiny chance of getting caught on any given day, when you live with people, there are many, many, many given days.

As to the second underestimate, this may be unfair, but in close relationships, lies are almost never water-under-the-bridge. It's common for wives and husbands to go berserk if they discover their spouses cheated on them once, twenty years ago; it's common for adult children to feel deeply wounded if they discover their parents lied to them when they were small.

As a kid, I remember many times when I KNEW a grownup was lying to me. And it was also obvious that the grownup was completely unaware I knew and was positive his lie was safe.

The perfect lie is like the perfect murder. It doesn't exist. The murderer always leaves behind a hair or a fiber from his pant leg. And that's all it takes.
posted by grumblebee at 7:55 AM on July 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


As the mom of an explosive kid, I will say that I have more than once experienced other parents thinking that I was doing things with my kid they "would never do" with theirs--including yelling when I'm frustrated, moving him bodily by lifting him by his upper arms when he's just completely stuck, and "giving in" (as other parents see it) to avoid an explosion I'd rather not deal with. Parents who don't have especially challenging children can have a hard time believing just how hard it is.

So there may be some element here of him doing things you're uncomfortable with that are happening because a) dealing with a really challenging child can mean you live a big proportion of your life right at or near the end of your rope, so you do sometimes do or say regrettable things; or b) you have made a decision to do things a certain way, which is different from how other parents do it, because in your judgment it's a better choice.

Your boyfriend lying to his daughter about seeing you may fall into that category: the kind of thing parents don't normally do but which seemed like a better choice to him than dealing with the behavioral fallout of telling her he was seeing you.

Now, that isn't to say that it was necessarily a right choice, or that it's one you have to be comfortable with. Openness between the two of you about why you make the parenting choices you do would be important, as would maybe a measure of trust on your part that he has good reasons for the decisions he makes--for me, a lot would depend on how he talked about his daughter, whether it seemed to me he was making thoughtful choices or just knee-jerking, whether he has something of an overall philosophy or unifying approach to how he tries to deal with her.

Also, if you're a long-term girlfriend, eventually she has to accept you, and in your shoes I'd want to know he had some ideas about how to help that happen.

The $400 is not necessarily a deal-breaker; there's no written law that boyfriends and girlfriends won't lend each other money. It feels like a red flag to me; I don't think you were necessarily wrong to let it be the last straw for you.
posted by not that girl at 7:56 AM on July 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


You really sound like you want to be out of this relationship, so all the rest is just kind of window-dressing, no?
posted by gaspode at 7:57 AM on July 22, 2010 [5 favorites]


There isn't a color wheel for this sort of thing -- you can't hold up your reaction to "the proper reaction" and see whether they match.
Is this something you dislike enough that you wouldn't put up with it if you were in a more formalized and permanent relationship? Seems like yes.
Has he shown willingness to change it? Seems like no.

Dump him, move on.
posted by Etrigan at 7:58 AM on July 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


he... put his hands on her

Hands on was this: we were planning on getting in the car and going out for lunch, she (she's 10) refused to go so she stood outside the car for a few minutes, screaming that she wasn't coming. BF and me and my kids sat in the car. Then she went and stood behind the car, yelling that we weren't going anywhere. She then came to the passenger side where her dad was sitting, opened the car door and tried slamming the door off its hinges. Me and my kids got out of the car, she then started grabbing him and tried to pull him out of the car. She blocked the car door as he sat in the car and then he yelled, "That's enough!", pushed her out of the way, got out of the car, grabbed her by the shirt and yanked her away from the car.

That you implied this near non-event was severe abuse says to me that you're looking for any excuse to break up. Yes, you overreacted, but it seems like you did because you don't like him very much to begin with.

Regardless, it doesn't matter if you're "right" or not. You don't trust him, the relationship is doomed.
posted by spaltavian at 8:21 AM on July 22, 2010 [5 favorites]


this near non-event

I don't wan to get into a debate about parenting styles, but I will point out that I don't consider that a near non-event. I consider it highly inappropriate. My point isn't that I'm right (naturally I think I am). It's that the OP isn't the only person in the world troubled by such behavior. If I saw my partner doing that, the fact that I would be shocked would not mean I want to get out of the relationship. It would mean I was shocked by a parent acting aggressively towards a child.
posted by grumblebee at 8:41 AM on July 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Was I wrong here?
I think the main thing that's wrong here is that you keep staying with this guy when it's obviously not working. Both BF's behavior patterns and BF's daughter's behavior patterns are very clear. This relationship is not working out well for you and your children.
posted by December at 8:43 AM on July 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


The severe abuse here is "not getting the kid evaluated and helped;" in light of that, sure you're going to be exceptionally pissed off when you watch them employ what passes for coping strategies in their relationship. You know this isn't how it should go.

Given that, he sounds like he's a bad single parent *for you to be dating.* He might be bad at it all around, but that's not something you can address to your own satisfaction. You'll have to move on, even if it hurts to know that the kid may not get help.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 8:56 AM on July 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


He also says he could have just as easily also lied to me that he HAD told her he was with us.

This jumps out at me as being manipulative, as does the part about borrowing money. Not so much that he asked for the money as the way (it sounds like) that conversation went. Questioning your own reactions to this kind of stuff will drive you nuts eventually.

At first it sounded as if you didn't like this guy's parenting style; now it sounds as if you just don't like him. That's fine. As others have pointed out, you don't need to be in the right here. If it's not working, you are allowed to get out.
posted by BibiRose at 9:12 AM on July 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


Looking at your OP again. If you told him to turn around and fly home over the request for the loan, that does sound like rather an extreme reaction, taken in isolation. If that's what he's claiming-- that you were overreacting to ask him to leave-- yeah, he may be right on some level. But what happened is probably a function of the fact that he shouldn't have come in the first place; the relationship was in the process of winding down whether you both knew it or not.
posted by BibiRose at 9:20 AM on July 22, 2010


He also says he could have just as easily also lied to me that he HAD told her he was with us.

This is a confession that a lie is always right on the tip of his tongue.
posted by General Tonic at 9:50 AM on July 22, 2010 [7 favorites]


Not to be nitpicky, but I don't think I implied severe abuse, I said he put his hands on her. And it was well after a meltdown had passed and seemed like an extreme overreaction to a tantrum.

In any case, no, I don't like his parenting style, his continuous dancing around the truth, his insistence on getting my family to join in on his lie, or his inability to handle money to the point where he's asking me for loans when he knows I support a larger family on much less than him.
posted by dzaz at 10:23 AM on July 22, 2010


If your gut yelled at you so loudly that you told him to go home, then listen to your gut. You already broke up with him once, and now you've done it again. Stop over thinking it and accept that you can't deal with him. This is a romantic relationship - facts don't matter, if you feel he's not right for you then he isn't. I've ignored my gut before, and every time I've done it, I've regretted it.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 10:28 AM on July 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure what you're really asking. You've posted repeatedly about this guy and your lack of desire/ability to deal with his child and his parenting style. I knew this was your question before I even clicked through from my feed reader.

You've been told over and over to get out of the relationship or seek concrete paths to resolving your differences, and this question isn't really new or different than those. If you just need someone to say "he's evil! DTMFA!!" then that's been done. I do think you overreacted here, but I think you've underreacted in the past by not making a clean break and being done with it, for the sake of everyone involved.
posted by donnagirl at 10:34 AM on July 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


I didn't see any reason to push her and then yank her by her clothes away from the car.

Because 10 year olds don't act like this:

he (she's 10) refused to go so she stood outside the car for a few minutes, screaming that she wasn't coming. BF and me and my kids sat in the car. Then she went and stood behind the car, yelling that we weren't going anywhere. She then came to the passenger side where her dad was sitting, opened the car door and tried slamming the door off its hinges
posted by asockpuppet at 11:11 AM on July 22, 2010


In any case, no, I don't like his parenting style, his continuous dancing around the truth, his insistence on getting my family to join in on his lie, or his inability to handle money to the point where he's asking me for loans when he knows I support a larger family on much less than him.

I'm having trouble seeing the question here. If you are asking for permission not to like these things, you don't need it, from anyone. If you want to know whether it is reasonable not to like these things, the answer will depend on whom you ask. If it makes you uncomfortable that you don't like these things, that's an issue that might be profitably addressed in therapy.
posted by AkzidenzGrotesk at 11:23 AM on July 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I suppose I'm asking because I've been doubting my instincts, which is a problem. My previous posts show that this guy kept lying to me about helping his kid, when I saw what I thought was an overreaction to a tantrum that had ended, he then lied again about really helping her this time. But he didn't, and asking us to be complicit in his latest lie compounded with asking me for money made me realize my initial instincts were right. And then he told me my instincts were wrong.

Guess I was asking for a reality check, which I got.
posted by dzaz at 11:27 AM on July 22, 2010


Was I wrong here?

This is only a relevant question if you actually want to keep finding reasons to hang on to a relationship that obviously doesn't work. Overthinking whether your reaction was "correct" and whether it's "typical" for parents to do what he does, etc. only keeps you tethered mentally and emotionally to him. You cannot move forward from this relationship -- which you have repeatedly said you want to do, and which you have received lots of support and permission to do -- by constantly looking over your shoulder behind you.

In other words: You have made your decision. It is a good one. Eyes forward.
posted by scody at 11:32 AM on July 22, 2010


you're dating with kids - that requires a constant reality check in any romantic relationship. it's not just you seeing these things, it's your kids too.

what will this man teach your children about honesty?
what will this man teach your children about caring for offspring?
what will this man teach your children about how to treat women?
what are you teaching your children by constantly exposing them to what sounds like a fairly toxic father/daughter relationship?
what are you teaching your children by breaking up, getting back together, going on vacation, and then sending your (ex) beau home?
posted by nadawi at 12:38 PM on July 22, 2010


I am so glad you are getting this guy out of your life. I've been following the whole saga, and it doesn't sound like this relationship has been any fun for months. I don't care what the stated reason for dumping him was; this relationship was not getting any better, and you're well out of it. I bet your kids are ecstatic.
posted by freshwater at 3:09 PM on July 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


You didn't overreact. Seems like past time to stop this.

Strength to you.
posted by batmonkey at 3:37 PM on July 22, 2010 [1 favorite]



I didn't see any reason to push her and then yank her by her clothes away from the car.

Because 10 year olds don't act like this:


Aha...but this kid, she always did. She always had extremely disturbing actions (screaming, throwing anything, physical aggressions, verbal abuse) that he would ignore, then he'd powderkeg.

I do feel bad...she needs help and he's not going to help her. I tried. But I'm out.
posted by dzaz at 4:14 PM on July 22, 2010


Yes, I think grabbing her shirt and yanking her is a poor substitute for getting her treatment and getting himself support in learning to parent a difficult child.

Yes, I think asking people to lie to her inappropriately asks you to be complicit in placating her rather than learning to deal with her more directly. If he's so scared of her knowing the truth that he asks you to lie, that's putting you and your kids in a weird relationship to her. You wouldn't feel the need to lie, but now he's asking you to play-act that you do, which would feel really icky to me.

Yes, then asking to borrow $400, especially amidst all this disagreement, would raise questions about his ability to be an equal partner.

Now, the huge caveat for me is that any of these might've been able to be forgiven, understood, and sympathized with in certain situations. None, to me, are totally fine. Even in the early days of a relationship, all would raise a question mark for further observation on that issue. But my reaction might be "??" or "!" instead of "!*!!#$&%!!" But you have already done that further observation. You are already fairly certain that his way of parenting and his idea of responsibilty don't work for you. So you can't have the "hmm, I wonder what this means?" forbearance. Seeing yet another tip of that same iceberg could easily create the reaction you describe. Good for you for being done.

One last thought: you obviously care a lot about your kids and put lots of thought into your parenting approach. So I'm sure you're handling it deliberately and with thoughtfulness, but I nevertheless wonder how this relationship drama is for them and wonder if it wouldn't be good now to demonstrate what a clean break looks like. Sounds like, with this girl, they've put up with a lot already.
posted by salvia at 8:50 AM on July 23, 2010


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