Whether and how to make the leap into single parenthood at 37 weeks pregant?
September 8, 2010 11:11 PM   Subscribe

I'm pretty sure it's better to be a single, lonely, terrified parent than an attached, angry, bitter parent - but need confirmation from a neutral third party.

1. Boyfriend and I learned we were pregnant in 2/10. The pregnancy was planned, but at the time we were living in separate rented houses (each with a housemate).
2. We're both professionals in our early 30s with stable jobs. He earns $65,000 per year and I earn twice that.
3. I immediately began house-hunting. It quickly became clear that we were not going to buy a house together (he didn’t agree that we needed to buy, wanted to continue renting, didn’t feel any sense of urgency, didn’t like the houses I liked, etc.). I bought my own house in 4/10. He has made it clear that he dislikes the house (too small, lacks storage, etc.).
4. I spent the next three months and several thousand dollars fixing up the house. He didn't participate in or help with this endeavor, but was quick to criticize whatever changes I did make. He once came over while I was (at five months pregnant) assembling new kitchen cabinets. He told me this was “not very relaxing” for him and left.
5. I selected, purchased, and assembled nursery furniture and otherwise organized and outfitted the nursery. He didn't participate in or help with any of the nursery preparation. He never thanked me for preparing the nursery, but has intimated that he disapproves of my choices.
6. I selected and purchased all of the other sundry baby products (clothes, diapers, toiletries, safety products). I also registered for and helped plan two baby showers. At my request, he attended the showers. I wrote all of the thank-you notes. He commented, after dragging the gifts inside my house, that there was now “more stuff for you to organize.” Apart from that, he managed to criticize the things I have purchased, but never thanked me.
7. I scheduled and (obviously) attended all of my doctor’s appointments, including selecting a new doctor mid-way through my pregnancy. He attended one doctor’s appointment, five months ago (the anatomy ultrasound). He didn't participate in or help with any of the other doctor’s appointments, nor did he pay any of the medical bills.
8. I researched, visited, and selected full time daycare for after the baby is born. He didn't participate in or help in any manner with this process. He did manage to criticize the childcare choices I mentioned.
9. I researched, visited, and selected a pediatrician for after the baby is born. He didn't participate in or help in any manner with this process.
10. I researched, paid for, and scheduled a birthing class and a doula. He didn't participate in or help in any matter with this process (well, he sat in my living room for 30 minutes while the doula talked, but apart from that, nothing). I hired the doula because I’m not entirely sure he’ll even show up when I go into labor, and I’m positive that he won’t stick around for the duration (or that I'll even want him to).
11. I researched, bought, and paid for multiple books on birthing, and gave him one for birthing partners. He didn’t read it.
12. I own a car that is safe, clean, comfortable, and child carrier friendly. He owns a truck that is trashed, filthy, without A/C (we live in Arizona), and unfit to legally transport a child in a child carrier. Whenever we go anywhere together, we take my car. My car broke down two weeks ago, requiring me to spend $300 on repairs. He didn't offer to help with repairs.
13. He doesn't have any significant debts preventing him from, for example, purchasing a decent home or transportation, or helping me pay bills.
14. He still lives in a rented house that he shares with a male housemate whom I have met once. I have not been inside his house in over four months. We spend most of our time together at my house.
15. Whenever we eat out or spend money on entertainment, we split the bill or take turns.
16. For a number of reasons but certainly for reasons that include the issues in this list, the relationship has been extremely unstable for the past year, in large part because of his feeling that I am controlling and calculating and my feeling that he is ungenerous and irresponsible. There are no plans to live together.
17. Baby is due in 3 weeks. She will, obviously, live with me. She will be on my health insurance. I am the only one who will be able to transport her. I will be responsible for her care, feeding, bathing, clothing, and medical care. He has made vague commitments to “be there.” He has also made vague commitments to “share the costs,” but in the same breath has suggested that I am some sort of spendthrift and that he has reservations about making a commitment to the baby and me financially.
18. He spends, so far as I can tell, 100% of his disposable income on himself.
19. He maintains that he “wants to be a father” and wants to be in this relationship. He wants the child to have his last name.
20. Tonight I asked him for $2,200, to cover one-half of the amounts I’ve spent to date for doctor visits, labs, ultrasounds, prescription medication, nursery furniture, baby clothes and supplies, childcare books and classes, and doula services (and that doesn't even begin to cover what I've spent). His response was that he would “have to think about it” because he doesn’t agree that all of the expenditures were necessary. Instead, he consistently claims that his “contributions” to date have consisted of “putting up with [my] bullshit.”
21. I'm tired, terrified, sad, discouraged, uncomfortable, and sick of spending my own money. My job performance is waning, my health is suffering, and my sanity went out the window several months ago. His continued refusal to contribute, or to recognize my contributions, has made me do increasingly crazy things (I threw a hammer at him, have made several threats to leave town, have ended the relationship more times than I can count, threatened suicide once I figured out this would get his attention, etc.).
22. I doubt that he will ever change. In fact, he has told me he will never change.
23. My family is out of state and, while supportive, they are not able to provide the sort of day-to-day help I need.
24. I’m in counseling. We’ve been in and out of counseling.
25. I don’t want to raise a child on my own. On the other hand, I’m already fully funding this venture, he is only a liability to me at this point, and I would rather address it now than later.

Without questioning why I thought it was a good idea to get pregnant in the first place (a valid question, but I’m 32, educated, employed, and apart from this relationship am generally a stable and responsible adult) or suggesting that we all need counseling (I know that already), is anyone able to give me any reason whatsoever to stick with this person? My therapist, family, friends, neighbors, and everyone else familiar with the situation have all advised me to get out now, before the baby is here. Am I missing anything? I need to make a decision (a real, final decision and not merely a threat) in the next few days in order to preserve my health and sanity for labor and delivery.
posted by pennywhistle to Human Relations (85 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
I doubt that he will ever change. In fact, he has told me he will never change.

This third party confirms that you are right.
posted by Brent Parker at 11:20 PM on September 8, 2010 [5 favorites]

Let me tell you a little story. Last year, I was dating a man. We met shortly after he split with his long term girlfriend. About two months into our relationship, he found out that his ex got pregnant with his daughter during their breakup, despite birth control, etc.

For the entirety of her pregnancy, I watched him cook for her and clean for her and take her to all her doctors appointments and contribute financially despite being on disability. I watched him do his damnedest to, despite the mess of the breakup, and the hurt and heartache the both of them were going through, be there for the mother of his child in every way possible.

That's a father.

Sounds like you've got an asshole hanger-on sperm donor. Why on earth are you sticking with this guy? He's made it absolutely clear he's got no interest in being a father. He seems like a pretty fucking shitty boyfriend, to boot.
posted by mollymayhem at 11:24 PM on September 8, 2010 [64 favorites]

If everything is as you say it is, you should leave him. He's not helping you with the child anyways.

Also it sounds to me like you misdescribed your two options. Your choice is between being a single, lonely, terrified parent or being a single, lonely, terrified, angry, bitter, partly attached parent. As far as the terror and loneliness go, could you turn to your family and friends for some help?
posted by creasy boy at 11:25 PM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Once you've chucked a hammer at a dude, I'm pretty sure you don't need strangers to tell you that you're not well-matched as partners or parents.

Take care of yourself and that baby girl. Lawyer up about child support, even. But don't expend time and energy your kid needs from you on trying to make thus guy change.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 11:27 PM on September 8, 2010 [12 favorites]

Sounds like you're already a single mother.
The line is where he wants the benefits ("I'm a dad!") without taking on any of the responsibilities. Even if he's just freaking out or has some other validish reason for being a jerkass to the mother of his child, kicking him to the curb might be the only way to get him to face reality, i.e. babies are a lot of responsibility and if he won't step up for any of that he won't be getting any of the package.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 11:28 PM on September 8, 2010

There is no reason to stick with this person. In my view, you have been a single parent from the day of conception.

If he can't be bothered to get a vehicle that can transport a baby, he's unable to be a decent dad.

If he's already complaining about the costs of parenthood, wait until the doctors visits and childcare fees and school expenses kick in.

He's told you he wants to be a father? Then he needs to grow up, act like a man, and do fatherly things (like help his pregnant girlfriend construct furniture, FFS). It doesn't sound like that's going to happen.

Ring him right now and say "too bad you couldn't put the effort in, I'm terrified that it's going to be even worse once the baby is born, so I'm doing it alone. You can have access visits, you can pay child support, and the baby will have MY last name because I'm the only parent who cares about her".
posted by malibustacey9999 at 11:30 PM on September 8, 2010 [4 favorites]

You sound very distressed, and it doesn't sound like you have liked this guy for a long time. Trust the (trustworthy!) people around you, who know the situation better than internet strangers.

Once you dump him: Do you have friends nearby who can help you in the first months? If not, can someone from your family travel to be with you? Can you move back to be with them for a few months? You need help, when the baby comes you will be more stressed. Getting the dad to help sounds like it is not a real option, so you need to think about your other options.

Anger: It is never okay to throw a hammer or threaten suicide to get someone's attention; you should talk this over with your therapist so you can come up with better coping mechanisms, for your sake and the baby's. Is this something you would have done before being pregnant? If not, if that behavior/type of anger is new with the pregnancy, you should mention it to your OB as well.

Support: If the baby is his, he has an obligation to support it financially. If you're going to break things off, you may want to talk to a lawyer about assuring that he does not think this is optional.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:35 PM on September 8, 2010 [13 favorites]

I think his lines about "I want to be a father" and "I want to be in this relationship" are wholly disingenuous and designed to make you into the "bad guy" when you finally kick him to the curb.

Don't fall for it.

Lawyer for child support.
posted by jbenben at 11:40 PM on September 8, 2010 [4 favorites]

...is anyone able to give me any reason whatsoever to stick with this person?

Nope. Sue him for child support and save your energy for yourself and baby.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 11:42 PM on September 8, 2010 [3 favorites]

I think you already know that no amount of effort on your part is going to make this "easy" enough for him. If feasible, consider moving so that reconciliation won't be a tempting thought when/if he feels pangs of regret -- guilt is not sufficient groundwork for a healthy and fulfilling relationship. Don't let this guy compromise your ability to be a great parent, and prepare yourself for the idea that he may be both a financial and emotional deadbeat dad.
posted by biggity at 11:42 PM on September 8, 2010

After everything you've told me I'd be tempted to break up with him and then tell him you got it wrong, he's not actually the father, just to get him out of your life (tempting but probably not advisable). Yes, break up with the guy. He's giving no assistance so solidify that and tell him you don't want it but in return tell him (if it's true) that he has to stay out of both your lives so you can move on and find someone who does actually want to be a partner and father to your child when you're ready for that. Sounds like you're managing beautifully all by yourself in the meantime. Best of luck, you can do this!
posted by Jubey at 11:43 PM on September 8, 2010

If the pregnancy was planned, why doesn't he sound very excited about the baby? Putting aside all concerns about money and helping (which I suspect are exacerbated by a lack of communication), if he doesn't want to be a father then that's that. Do you think he would make a good father? For a household that makes 200k/year, I think that is more important than who pays for what.

According to your 25-point indictment, a lot of your complains seem to be that he "didn't offer" or "didn't volunteer" to do something. If you want this relationship to work, your communication must improve. Do you value his criticisms of your parenting and housing decisions? It sounds like you might be ignoring his input, causing him to shrink further away from the relationship. Don't get me wrong, he sounds like a jerk, but this relationship might still be salvageable.

You also don't mention any love or affection or happiness at all towards him. I think once a relationship gets into having-a-child territory, partners can no longer merely "expect" or "ask" each other to do things-- they have to be able to require certain things from each other (teamwork). That takes a level of trust, warmth, and love that may or may not exist in your case.
posted by acidic at 11:46 PM on September 8, 2010 [15 favorites]

Ok, in truth, I agree with jbenben and The Light Fantastic and everyone else. But you asked for reasons you might want to stay. Is there any evidence that he's refusing to contribute and instead constantly criticizing only because you disregarded his input at critical junctures, whereas with better communication and mutual understanding (of the sort one could get via couples counseling) you'd be able to work successfully as a team? If someone took control over my wishes, I might be critical rather than constructive. (Might.)
posted by salvia at 11:55 PM on September 8, 2010

Agree with everyone on the "DTMFA" aspect, but …
21. I'm tired, terrified, sad, discouraged, uncomfortable, and sick of spending my own money.
… kinda suggests you're in a place where you're not likely to be thinking completely rationally. Sure, yup, the fact you've made a big long 25-point list suggests you've taken a "rational" approach to things - but it doesn't mean you're operating rationally rationally. When you're in that space, issues become little problems, little problems become big problems, and big problems become insurmountable / deal-breaking problems.

Do yourself a favour, set it all aside for the next 3 weeks as much as possible, do everything you can to relax and de-stress, and then work on figuring out what you're gonna do with him. Likely the answer will be the same, but you'll be in a much better position to make the decision.
posted by Pinback at 11:56 PM on September 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

Have you sat down with your boyfriend to talk explicitly about values regarding money, spending, and raising a child? For example, have you asked yourself why you felt the need to purchase a home instead of continuing to rent? Can he articulate why he wants to continue to rent? Is having a car an imperative or can you two manage with one car? To me the primary conflict seems to be that he does not feel a house and tons of stuff is necessary to raise a kid whereas to you it is non-negotiable. I'd definitely expect him to pony up for 1/2 of the medical expenses and to share agreed upon costs, but you need to discuss your expectations regarding material needs vs. wants. As a mom I remember and understand the nesting instinct associated with pregnancy, but know that so much of what is marketed to new parents is absolutely unnecessary in the overall well-being of the kid.

And just a word of caution about the suicide threats, throwing of hammers, etc. - throwing hammers is assault and could land you in jail, and suicide threats could prompt social services to step in and take the baby away.
posted by tidecat at 12:02 AM on September 9, 2010 [9 favorites]

set it all aside for the next 3 weeks as much as possible

But if she sets it all aside for 3 weeks, she will have a newborn and will be sleep-deprived, and not in a better position to make big decisions calmly.

I agree that the poster sounds like she's in distress and maybe not thinking totally straight. (Which is understandable, having a baby on the way is stressful even if everything else is okay) That's why she should listen to the other trustworthy people in her life, as a reality check.

Poster: Don't listen to internet strangers, because all we have to go on is your description of things! You need advice from someone who is seeing the situation from outside your perspective. But if you think it's time to break things off, you should start thinking about the support network you can set up for yourself, who can come to your house, whose house can you go to, etc. Tell family/friends/whoever that you are going to need help.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:15 AM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

the effort and care you expend on trying to get him to be a father is going to far outweigh any help he may grudgingly give. You'll be a better mom coming from a calm "I'll take care of it myself" state of mind than if you had to run after him for help all the time. You're worried, but all the preparations you've already taken show that you are capable of taking care of one baby - don't let this clown make you take care of two.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 12:15 AM on September 9, 2010

Jesus, what a mess. Part ways and get a lawyer to deal with this creep.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:17 AM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

My $0.02- Spend more time with your therapist, family, friends, and neighbors. They're absolutely right. After the birth, call on these trustworthy, caring people to help you, even if it's just a little bit.

You are already a single mother, and a good one. You're doing just fine on your own. Not only is the father not contributing, he's actually acting like a child himself, and that makes it worse and harder for you to take care of your (and his) child. At this point I would treat him as a liability and a danger to your health.

Ignore anyone who suggests that you should "ask for what you want instead of making him guess" or be less "demanding" with him or anything along those lines. That's complete and total B.S. Anyone with half a brain knows that babies require a lot of care, money, and energy. The father is acting willfully ignorant, probably out of a sullen resentment. Pregnant women and new mothers are given license by pretty much everyone non-sociopathic to be stressed out and in need of help. He knows that. Usually I live by the expression, "never attribute to malice what can be explained by ignorance" but there's no way he's getting a free pass with an ignorance card on this one. And even if he really is that dumb, he's still a problem. The time to attempt to educate him is past. The time to worry about his feelings is past.
posted by Nixy at 12:21 AM on September 9, 2010 [5 favorites]

You'd be totally justified in breaking up with him. But, I wonder if that's what you're actually trying to achieve. I think you're really trying to send him a message in the hopes that something dramatic like being dumped a few weeks before the delivery date and missing the birth of his child will make him change. Your secret hope is that this will create the conditions necessary for reconciliation, that he will have a sudden epiphany and become the father you want him to be, which is why all your attempts at separating yourself from him have failed so far. Maybe it will be different this time, but I doubt it, I think you're repeating the exact same pattern as before, and things will stay the same.

Even if you have given up the hope of reconciliation, the break up would still be a way of impressing on him what a terrible father he is - which he is, of course. But he won't accept that, he's never accepted that, so what he'll do is try to win partial custody in order to prove that he is a good father and that you're really the one to blame, not him. You'll be fighting over assignment of blame for years, repeating the same battles you are having now.
posted by AlsoMike at 12:42 AM on September 9, 2010 [4 favorites]

From the information that you've provided, it sounds to me that you have been systematically excluding the father from any and all decisions you've been making, and barely providing him a forum to put up objections or discuss those objections with you until it's already too late. You bought a house when he said he'd rather not and you chose one he didn't particularly like, you fixed up the house with no mention of having consulted with him before doing it, you bought all sorts of baby items without discussing costs with him, you seem to have scheduled all of your doctor's appointments without first checking to see if he'll be available or willing to attend them etc etc.

I think I'd be pretty sullen and snipy given that sort of treatment. Perhaps before each of these steps you've been badgering him for input and he hasn't provided any (i.e. you ask him for things he would like in a house, and he just goes "I don't know, but not that!"), but from what I'm reading, I'm not seeing it. You've resorted to threats, which can cause some people to back away even further. He makes half as much as you, which can make what seems like reasonable purchases to you seem like total extravagances to him, and may well lead to him thinking that you are a spendthrift.

But, you know what, you're already acting like a single mother. It seems like your best option may well be to get an attorney, get child support payments out of him, and then just continue that way.
posted by that girl at 12:45 AM on September 9, 2010 [22 favorites]

Yeah, you're already a single mother. I don't think you want to pitch any more energy on getting this dude to be a partner to you. However, bear in mind that your child has a relationship with him that is independent of yours, and be prepared to advocate on behalf of that relationship. At least at first, that's probably limited to lawyering up for child support, but he needs to be aware that regardless of his commitment to you, he has a (legally enforceable) obligation to the kid.
posted by KathrynT at 12:52 AM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Here is my best defense for the guy:

1. Whether or not buying a home makes financial sense, particularly now, is a question on which honorable people disagree.
2. Buying without him could have sent a clear signal: "I am doing what I want and don't care what you want, I'm not working with you as a team here."
3. Your decision to buy despite his wishes negates any reasonable expectation he would help on your #4 and maybe #5 (that one could go either way, but I could see an argument on his side).
4. After three months of "I don't care what you think, I'm taking control here and this is what I'm doing," potentially with critical comments from you, a pattern might be set where he has stopped trying to be constructive, lets you be the over-achiever here, and then criticizes your choices because he feels unconsulted.
5. On the shower, is that typically planned by the father? Did you ask him to do it? That one seems random unless you specifically suggested he do it and he declined. It becomes more notable to me that you're keeping a list of all the things he did not do.
6. Was he aware that a doctor's appointment was necessary and/or that you'd like help planning it? (I realize that the need for one could seem to go without saying. That said, even if I'd done something like ... accidentally knocked out my boyfriend's tooth, I wouldn't head off and schedule an appointment for a service to his body without getting his permission.)
7. Did you ask him to pay your car repair bill? Had discussions occurred about splitting costs of your car? Otherwise, I find it surprising that you would expect him to offer.
8. You are judgmental about his car. I spent a summer in the southwest without A/C and was fine. Kids need love more than a clean car. It's clear your values are not his values but it's not the case that yours are right and his are wrong. Given that he makes half your income, spending less on a fast-depreciating asset might make sense. I agree that some adjustment needs to happen to it, so it can accommodate the car carrier.
9. $65k is not a bad income.
10. He has no debts. He lives within his means, perhaps because of his caution around major expenditures.
11. You split other bills, so he's not averse to paying for things. He pays equally on these dates, despite the income imbalance.
12. Given that you overrode his opinion about an enormous purchase, given that you have more expensive tastes in automobiles, and given that you don't really seem to have room for his different opinions about house purchases and cars, I do not entirely blame him for not wanting to give you a blank check on financial matters.
13. Even when you drop a $2200 invoice on him for a number of expenses presumably not previously discussed, in what I'm imagining was a resentful or angry way, he does not say "no," just that he needs some time.
14. He continues to consistently state that he wants to be there, be a father for the baby, and share baby expenses.
15. You have physically threatened him and manipulated him with suicide threats, and now you claim his actions "made you" do that. Whatever he says or does or how frustrated you get, it is not ok to attack someone with a hammer or threaten suicide to get their attention. No matter what they do, you always have a split second where you can choose between many options for your own behavior.
16. I don't know what he refers to as "your bullshit," but #15 above certainly qualifies.

He has a particular approach, and he would like to keep that. You have a different approach. It sounds like communication broke down early on, perhaps because you were unwilling to accept those differences in approach. You headed off on your own, and took control in a way that excluded him, and at that point, a lot of things, not everything, but things like the house, became "your thing." You have certainly taken on all the work, but what I'm not sure is how you communicated with him about your expectations and how he could contribute. When someone is rushing around the kitchen like "I have it all under control," I'm not going to step in and start chopping; I stay out of the way and maybe hover to see if they have suggestions for how I can help. As your resentment grew, things became strained, and you did all the work for the two of you but not in the spirit of "hey, we need to ... can you...? but in a way that reinforced that he was inferior and added to your list of grievances. Few people undertake constructive action just to prove that they're not a piece of shit, which sounds like how you view him. But instead of telling you to get lost, he took a stand-offish approach, went to counseling with you, and nevertheless wants to participate in the baby's life. Maybe with some counseling, better communication around planning, an openness on your part to understanding his approach to money, and better communication around financial decisions and the work that needs done, things could work out and your baby would have a father who is present, even if his truck lacks AC.

That's the best case I can make for staying with him. To make this case, I did try to imagine the most rosy picture of him as a friendly and laid back guy, his life in a rental with a roommate and a truck. I could go the other way, too. I'm sure this could seem like blaming the victim, too. I'm not blaming you, OP. At your request, I have provided one perspective on the facts made available to us. But only you know what is true from my list above.

I'm not sure this analysis means you should stay together, because if you're unwilling to be flexible about some of your values (must own a home! autos must have AC!), then well, you're not, and it's your life, and that's your right.

In the end, you have to do what allows you to keep moving forward, and I hesitate to try to contradict what you say you want to do (not my usual AskMe style). But, it was the request of the question.

I do think you should consider blaming him less and instead asking yourself whether he's really horrid or whether you're just different from one another. If nothing else, you should do that because this kind of resentment and blame-throwing is not going to be good for your daughter even if directed only at her father.

Good luck in this hard and scary time.
posted by salvia at 1:12 AM on September 9, 2010 [72 favorites]

has made me do increasingly crazy things (I threw a hammer at him, have made several threats to leave town, have ended the relationship more times than I can count, threatened suicide once I figured out this would get his attention, etc.).

Whether or not he's a competant father... you need professional help. If an unreasonable adult makes you threaten suicide and hurl a potentially lethal weapon at them, I can only hope your kid doesn't end up emotionally or physically crippled by your rage. Because children have it in them to be more tiring and trying than any adult without even meaning to.
posted by rodgerd at 1:31 AM on September 9, 2010 [31 favorites]

his feeling that I am controlling and calculating

Of course your controlling and calculating. He's lazy and indifferent. How are you going to take care of yourself and your baby if you're not controlling and calculating, when he contributes nothing?

You sound like the sort of person who can get through this and be a good single parent. The first year will be hard and the first three months will be harder--get some help in the house, some emotional support, accept that you'll be a bit of a zombie from sleep deprivation.

I could go either way on the lawyer -- in a way, if he refuses to participate, you might be better off and you seem to have resources so it might be in your interests to spend your time figuring out how to be a single mom. Sounds like you're halfway there.

He might not be as bad a guy as you're suggesting, although, I tell you, he sure sounds like an asshole. If that's the case, and he's being painted unfairly, I think it reads that you don't want to raise a kid with him, though he might be less of an asshole than the narrative implies. Either way, the answer is the same.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:43 AM on September 9, 2010 [2 favorites]

The only thing I can offer is a reminder that you cannot unmake the fact that this man, for all of his faults and differences from you, is your child's father and will be, forever. If that truck pisses you off now, just imagine what he and his new girlfriend will be driving when they come pick up your daughter for his two weeks of custody in four years' time. And where your daughter will sleep, what she will eat, what time she will go to bed, what TV shows she will be allowed to watch...

My parents didn't belong together; the only scenario I did not fantasize about as a kid was them getting married to each other again. But I can promise you they spent way, way too much energy being pointlessly furious about every last thing that the other person did with me. It is neither fun nor healthy and I cannot be more firm in my belief that you must fix that attitude of yours, whether or not your child's father stays in a partnership with you. The alternative involves a little girl who thinks that liking the Beatles is a rejection of a parent's love, and way way too much money spent on therapy.

And being a single mom bites, but I agree with those who said you're largely playing the role already. Plus you have some notable advantages - my mom couchsurfed for a few months after the divorce; I remember (vaugely) sleeping on buses because we had nothing else to do and nowhere to go.
posted by SMPA at 4:00 AM on September 9, 2010 [2 favorites]

Wow, this sounds like a nightmare situation, and I'm sure it's far more complex than what you are telling us, because we are only getting your point of view and not even an attempt at how he is feeling or thinking. As any intelligent and reasonable adult will know, the only way to properly judge a situation is to hear both sides of the story.

I just came in here to point this:

His continued refusal to contribute, or to recognize my contributions, has made me do increasingly crazy things (I threw a hammer at him, have made several threats to leave town, have ended the relationship more times than I can count, threatened suicide once I figured out this would get his attention, etc.).

Frankly, I'm surprised that not more people have picked up on this. If the post was written from another point of view, in which the poster was in a relationship where his girlfriend threw a hammer at him, have made several threats to leave town, have ended the relationship more times than [she] can count, threatened suicide once [she] figured out this would get his attention, I am sure that people who immediately jump at physical and emotional abuse.

You may be frustrated (and possibly understandably so, we don't know just by hearing your side of the story), but you cannot blame someone else for your actions, and you cannot resort to physical and emotional abuse!

Get a counselor. And a therapist. For the sake of your kid.
posted by moiraine at 4:02 AM on September 9, 2010 [39 favorites]

he has reservations about making a commitment to the baby and me financially.

That's nice. He has no financial obligation to you. However, he has a legal obligation to provide for his child. It isn't optional. It isn't something he gets to ponder at his leisure while you wait for him to grow the fuck up. It isn't something he can opt out of because he doesn't approve of the childcare arrangements you've made.

I realise that there must be a level on which you are in love with this man and that must make this so much more complicated than the obvious DTMFA conclusion. However, I do not think you can look to this man to meet any of your needs beyond basic sex and companionship, and when you are looking to raise a family with a partner, that doesn't even fill 1/10th of the requirement.

It's entirely possible he's a very nice person who is just far more easygoing about childrearing than you. His way is also OK - you can raise a baby in a rental with housemates, you can put a child in a truck even if it isn't legal, you can eschew a crap ton of stuff and opt out of consumer based child provisioning. All of that is fine and to many people admirable even.

But that means you have incompatible child rearing ethos and values and very likely should not be together when raising this child. It does not mean you should shut him out of his childs life.

My suggestion would be to reset the relationship. Forget him as a partner, suck up your personal disappointment, and reframe your relationship with him exclusively in terms of his relationship with his child. The minimums for him to meet his obligations as a father are a regular monthly financial contribution and, within say six months, child legal transportation if he'd like to be able to take junior anywhere. That's it. If he can commit to that then the door is open for him to get on with being the best dad he can figure out how to be.

Then having made your minimum requirements clear, you proceed to plan and raise your child on your own, which you are doing anyway because this man is a spectacularly unsuitable partner - for you, anyway. Get some help for the first few months. Plan how you will get sleep and deal with feeding an infant with that help. If he shows up to participate, fantastic. If not, carry on down the path that seems the most likely anyway.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:23 AM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

After reading your question carefully, I cannot think of any reason you should stay with this person. You both sound totally incompatible. BUT---you do need to find a way to get along with him. This is your child's father, and he wants to be in the child's life. You are probably not going to approve of his parenting style AT ALL, I can totally see that. You sound like a Super Organized Planner, he sounds like he's more of the laid-back, procrastinating type. Everything he does sets off all your worry alarms. But you know what? Generally, as long as kids are loved and they have their basic needs met, they're FINE. Parents being at each other's throats is tons more destructive to their well-being than whether or not they live in a house or an apt, go to this pediatrician or that one, etc etc.

So, my advice is: break up with this guy. But, since you two are linked forever, you are still going to have to be able to work things out as a team from time to time. You are going to have to accept that he is the way he is. Stop freaking out and throwing things at him. Resist the temptation to emotionally blackmail him into making the choices that you want by holding this child over his head. This is not for his sake, but for your child's. YOU TWO made the choice to bring this child into the world, don't make the poor kid's life miserable by playing tug of war with him/her in the middle.
posted by cottonswab at 4:30 AM on September 9, 2010 [3 favorites]

This does sound like a tough situation, and one that you need to get out of. But you will always be in a relationship with this man, because he is your daughter's father. Unless he is completely unwilling and unable, it would be better to have him present in her life. At some point, you thought he would make a good father, and you need to remember why. The fact that he leads his life differently than you does not mean that he shouldn't be a parent.

There is a program where I live called "Kids First" that addresses the issues of co-parenting when separated. Consider attending something like this.

You also don't have to make these decisions in the next three weeks. You are under a tremendous amount of stress, and now is the time to focus on finishing up at work and getting ready for the baby. Continue to see your therapist and hang in there.
posted by Sukey Says at 4:38 AM on September 9, 2010

I don't feel like I can honestly tell what level of relationship you should maintain with this guy, because I feel like we're only getting half the story--the half that consists of an extremely long laundry list of his sins--many of which are rather trivial (you make $130K and you are pissed that your not-even-cohabiting BF, who makes half that, did not "offer" to help with a $300 car repair? And despite the times-a-changing, baby showers are still often a "woman" thing). I agree with those above who detect hints of communication problems, and I suspect that this "failure to communicate" played a role in your decision to plan a pregnancy with someone who has such a radically different vision of how things would play out, and what his involvement should be.

There must be some part that made you think he'd be the right guy to make a family with (since you very clearly indicate that you never planned to raise the child on your own), but that's not a part of the story you've chosen to tell.

What I can tell you is that being a single parent is not the end of the world, and it is not something to be terrified of. This is doubly so if you go into it having--let's not kid ourselves-- far more "resources" than most parents. Money can't buy you happiness, but it can buy you a doula, child care, a house cleaner, a yard service, etc. etc. Being a parent is hard work, and being a single parent is harder. But for god's sake, it's not like getting thrown overboard into the north Atlantic and trying to survive for days until you're rescued. Don't catastrophize things!

And if the only "fatherly" think you ever get out of him is him taking the kid to the park for a few hours each Sunday, that's better than nothing. I don't see how he constitutes a net liability, except emotionally, and that is all in how you frame things. You may think you need to cut all ties RIGHT NOW in order to regain your sanity, but it seems to me you could accomplish the very same thing by simply laying aside most of your expectations about what he *should* be doing and accepting the situation for what it is.

I can also tell you that throwing hammers and threatening suicide as an attention-getting device is so far into the realm of Not OK that when you look back over your shoulder, you can't even see the "Welcome to Not OK" road sign anymore. Even if you cut slacker-dad out of your lives, this tendency to catastrophize and over-dramatize is going to stand in the way of successful parenting.
posted by drlith at 4:58 AM on September 9, 2010 [15 favorites]

More advice (sorry, I always post too fast!):

Prepare yourself for the fact that you are most likely (as the custodial parent) going to be doing most of the work raising this kid. If it's making you angry now, wait until the child that you are working night and day to raise and support, doing all the hard stuff like making them do chores, meeting with teachers, staying up all night with when they're sick, etc etc, comes back from dad's house with toys and candy and looks at you like you're the bad guy and he's Mr. Fun. I've been through this with my own daughter and let me tell you it's infuriating and it hurts. You get all the work and none of the glory! You have to swallow your anger A LOT. Find a friend or counselor NOW who you can vent to and who will be your cheerleader when times get tough. You will need someone by your side to tell you you're doing a good job and that it will pay off in the end. Because it does. My daughter is 17 and as she gets older she appreciates me more, and we are very close. While she loves her dad and spends time with him, she is starting to see that he was never a parent to her in the same sense that I was.
posted by cottonswab at 5:04 AM on September 9, 2010 [4 favorites]

It is fine that you researched, selected, assembled, purchased, attended everything spit out at parents-to-be, but little of it is necessary, and not buying into that sort of junk does not suggest bad parenting-to-be. If you are sick of spending your own money, simply stop spending it; your child does not require all the junk in Babies-R-Us. You helped plan and register for two showers for yourself? You are indeed "some sort of spendthrift." He may be "ungenerous," but you are greedy.

I am confused as to why he should be helping to pay your bills or building your kitchen. It sounds as though you can easily afford to do these things yourself. It is reasonable to want child support from a non-custodial parent -- but you do not yet have a child. I find it appalling that you went on what sounds like a considerable shopping spree for fripperies, shopping that he did not have input on, and then tried to present him with a bill for it. You are controlling and he is indeed putting up with bullshit.

Yes, yes, you don't like his truck; whatever. There is nothing here that suggests he will not be at a Honda dealership shortly after the baby has been born. Your complaints about him are not particularly damning stuff.

As for your question:

is anyone able to give me any reason whatsoever to stick with this person?

No. I think after "I threw a hammer at him, have made several threats to leave town, have ended the relationship more times than I can count, threatened suicide once I figured out this would get his attention, etc" the only reason to stick it out might be that this might be one of few reasonable men on earth willing to stick around in the face of such abuse, but I don't think that's fair to him.

However, I would urge you to be more civil and rational, and to keep as close a friendship with him as possible. Virtually ALL of your conundrums from now on can be sorted out with the honest, objective answer to "What is in the best interests of my child?" And in this case it is: being friends with Dad and doing all you can to foster a good relationship between father and child.
posted by kmennie at 5:23 AM on September 9, 2010 [13 favorites]

This guy probably doesn't want to be in a relationship with you (probably due to your suicide threats, hammer throwing, judgemental attitude and non-compromising/demanding behavior), but for whatever reason hasn't officially broken it off with you. It'll be better for you both to have that part of your relationship clear before moving on to "somebody has to financially support the child", which, both legally and ethically should be both of you.
posted by beerbajay at 5:35 AM on September 9, 2010 [3 favorites]

Frankly, I'm surprised that not more people have picked up on this. If the post was written from another point of view, in which the poster was in a relationship where his girlfriend threw a hammer at him, have made several threats to leave town, have ended the relationship more times than [she] can count, threatened suicide once [she] figured out this would get his attention, I am sure that people who immediately jump at physical and emotional abuse.

You may be frustrated (and possibly understandably so, we don't know just by hearing your side of the story), but you cannot blame someone else for your actions, and you cannot resort to physical and emotional abuse!

Get a counselor. And a therapist. For the sake of your kid.

Woah, I totally missed that, too. Yoinks. A hammer? Yes, sorry, I withdraw my answer -- yeah, therapist first.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 5:42 AM on September 9, 2010

pennywhistle: 24. I’m in counseling. We’ve been in and out of counseling.

My therapist, family, friends, neighbors, and everyone else...

NOTE: The OP has a therapist. I would like to think this means she is addressing the admittedly "crazy" behaviour including the suicide threats and hammer throwing, but calls for a therapist add nothing that wasn't offered in the original post.

Related: ongoing MeTa.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:00 AM on September 9, 2010

Well, *I'm* not going to blow smoke up your ass and tell you you sound like you can do this alone (at least not very well). If you can't deal with an adult who you love without throwing things at him and threatening suicide, you are in no way prepared to take care of a child solo. Until you have them, you can't really imagine how terrible they can be and what they do to you.

I'm not getting a lot of empathy here. I don't see you trying to understand his behavior. Why do you think he's acting this way? How does he feel about all this? Have you talked about it?

A lot of what you're complaining about is questionable. Why is a truck illegal? That's not my reading of the law. Is it a problem that you take turns spending on entertainment? Baby showers are horrible....I can't blame him for not wanting to go. If you guys don't want to move in together, what right do you have to question where/how he's living?

There are many ways to raise a child and it doesn't seem like you're prepared to accept that he's more laid back than you are about it. Babies are pretty resilient and won't break if you decide to raise them in a dirty house full of nice guys who watch sports and drink beer and drive them around in a stinky truck with a busted windshield. Add in the fact that parenthood doesn't get "real" for men until the baby is born, and a lot of your issues are pretty easily written off as you pushing to get things done that don't need to get done right now and/or confusing what's necessary with what's not.

I'm seeing a lot of demands being placed on him without a lot of 2-way communication, at least as you've put it. I can't blame him for being a little resistant to you asking for $2200 out of the blue.

You call him ungenerous and irresponsible. You earn 2x as much and wanted him to help pay $300 for *your* car. Does that make you ungenerous? You decided to have a child with this man you'd never lived with and clearly don't know very well. Does that make you irresponsible?

I don't have a solution. Breaking up doesn't seem like the smartest thing to do right now, not when things are about to change as much as they will and not when you're on the crazy hormonal roller-coaster of pregnancy. Get your butts into therapy and parenting classes.

More importantly, with $200K/yr at your disposal you need to hire a nanny that specializes in helping new parents. You need one until you guys are prepared to do this alone. Not to take care of the kids so much as to protect them from what sounds like a crazy environment. If my wife threw a hammer at me, I'd kick her out of the house or call the cops so fast it'd make her head spin. I love her, but that sort of instability isn't compatible with raising an infant.
posted by pjaust at 6:16 AM on September 9, 2010 [11 favorites]


You both appear to be selfish and stuck in your own ruts and quite frankly you two don't even seem to like each other. If you are in the US he will have to pay child support (even though you make more than he does) and he'll have to cover the baby on his medical insurance. Problem solved, move on.
posted by ThomasBrobber at 6:25 AM on September 9, 2010 [2 favorites]

I've read all of the answers above, and thoroughly read your question, and I don't see one reason you should stay with him. Not one. And the people who think you should wait until the baby is here? It gets harder then, not easier.

It doesn't sound to me like much of an actual relationship, and certainly not one that meets your needs. End it, and mean it, and focus on finding a way to co-parent amicably.

I think you can do this on your own - you already are - and even though it's scary and not how you pictured, you can get through it and thrive.
posted by mrs. taters at 6:27 AM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

And I don't see any evidence that you're selfish, or unreasonable, or crazy. If he *won't* participate, and you want the stability of a house, then what are you supposed to do, just wait until he starts approving of things?? You shouldn't have to ask him to be involved with doctors or fixing up the house where his baby will live or with planning, and you should expect not to get snippy comments from him about "more stuff to organize" - you guys may be incompatible but it doesn't make you wrong or a bad person for trying to get shit together for your baby that's about to arrive. If you *weren't* getting anything done and you were just going along with his laissez faire, people here would be bitching that you weren't doing what you need to do to prepare. Sigh.
posted by mrs. taters at 6:31 AM on September 9, 2010 [4 favorites]

There is no reason in hell you can't do this alone. It is absolutely batshit TERRIFYING to imagine being a single parent, but once you take the leap, you learn something wonderful: unless you are a sociopath, the things that you need to do for your child... they just get done. Somehow. Planning out the logistics beforehand helps, but you will NOT let your kid starve, and you will NOT let your kid crawl around inadequately clothed in a filthy gutter, chewing on cigarette butts.

You can do this. Some of your actions have been really inappropriate (the hammer!), but I suspect you are acting from a place of EXTREME fear and anxiety and hurt. When it is just you and the lil' one (as I suspect it will be, in the very near future), all of the gnawing, horrible "do I do this? do I not do this? why does he suck? AAAAGH!" anxiety will fall away. You'll have a whole new bale of new-baby anxiety, of course, but also the joy of the wee one.
posted by julthumbscrew at 6:39 AM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

The best and most sincere advice I can give you is to suggest you print off your question just as you have written it--no responses attached--and bring it to your therapist, and possibly your OB, if your OB has an excellent reputation for aiding women in acute distress. (Let's hope so, though it's not always the case.)

You may already have discussed these issues in therapy, but I think your question just as written might be helpful for your therapist to read, and may open up some new avenues of dialog. Certainly it will add a bit of a different perspective for him/her, because most people interact differently in therapeutic situations than in our interactions with the everyday world, including online. Even if you have discussed these problems, I think your therapist will be greatly helped by seeing how you are currently constructing the narrative of what's happening in your life and your interpersonal interactions.
posted by Uniformitarianism Now! at 6:40 AM on September 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


This is not a realistic, or even reasonable, goal.

Look. As much as you hate they guy now, you're stuck with him. You willingly got pregnant with him and he is the kid's father. Unless and until he actually does something that harms the child, he's the kid's father and that comes with certain unalienable rights.

Do not fool yourself into thinking you can just break up with him and go on about your life as though he never existed. He's your co-parent, whether you like it or not, and is going to be for the rest of your child's life.

You're going to need to wrap your head around the enormity of that.

Whether you stay with him or separate is one thing. Whether you get to raise this child on your own without him around is entirely up to him.

I would suggest that you, at a minimum, need some counseling. You would both be well served by seeing a co-parent counselor and working through some of the differences in your approach.

I wish the word father had more meaning around here.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 6:41 AM on September 9, 2010 [7 favorites]

I don’t want to raise a child on my own.

Then why did you pick this person to have one with? Surely he did not sprout all these qualities overnight.

Yes, you are better off on your own. Think of how many hours you would have saved over the last nine months trying to encourage his participation, and how much more you would have enjoyed all of your preparations without all of his criticism.

But your child will be better off WITH him in the picture, so take some of the good advice above and make sure that you don't burn any bridges until you can be sure your child's needs will be well taken care of.
posted by hermitosis at 7:19 AM on September 9, 2010 [2 favorites]

I hate to ask this, but are you sure this baby was planned and wanted by him? It sounds like he feels pushed into a husband role and you've been trying to force him to be something he's not and want something he didn't really want. You have probably let him know he doesn't measure up. That's not a great feeling.

You seem fairly sure of what you want. You guys seem like a terrible match and your histrionics and his reluctance and the way he openly dislikes you seem to point that you guys don't belong
together. You think this is about breaking up but you don't seem to get that the relationship is already broken up and gone.
posted by anniecat at 7:24 AM on September 9, 2010 [5 favorites]

Both parents of a child are, and should be, required to provide support.

You need a therapist, and you do need to deal with your own anger and behavior. No matter how big an asshole he may or may not be, your child will be a bigger jerk more times than you will be able count. Kids are more frustrating than you can imagine. "has made me do increasingly crazy things (I threw a hammer at him, have made several threats to leave town, have ended the relationship more times than I can count, threatened suicide once I figured out this would get his attention, etc.). " He doesn't make you do these things. You are responsible for your behavior.

You don't get to choose his level of fathering. He has a legal right and moral responsibility to father his child.

You're terrified, and you're trying really hard to stay in control of your life. Take a deep breath. Parenting is hard, but it's also do-able. Kids are resilient and fun. You will not be in full control of your life for at least the next 18 years. You're going to need professional help to sort this out. Offer the guy the opportunity to go to couples counseling. Good luck.
posted by theora55 at 7:39 AM on September 9, 2010

From where I sit, you seem poorly matched - you high strung and in need of much planning, him laid back and taking things as they come. I don't really see where he has done anything wrong, frankly, but I am the lazy type myself.

As for the money, if you make twice as much as he does, perhaps it's reasonable that some of his contributions be in things like putting shelves up rather than directly in cash.

Throwing a hammer at someone is definitely over the line, though. When that happened, it should have caused everything to come to a halt, and a major conversation to take place, wherein you figured out what the hell was wrong, and how you were going to fix it. You can't go on after an incident like that as if everything's normal, and he had every right to withdraw after that if you didn't make an obvious and concerted effort to make things better.
posted by mdn at 7:40 AM on September 9, 2010

And I don't see any evidence that you're selfish, or unreasonable, or crazy.

I agree, but there does seem to be strong indication that you are both acting in selfish, unreasonable and/or crazy ways. I honestly doubt whether either of you are the horrible people that some of the posters above think, and the fact that there are so many on either side of this just makes that clear.

What I do know, is that the wrong relationship can turn great (or at least good) people into the kinds of people I would never want to spend time with. For the sake of your child, don't focus on who shoulders the blame, but recognize that this relationship is obviously not right for either of you, and end your involvement with him as a romantic partner.

Whether you stay with him or separate is one thing. Whether you get to raise this child on your own without him around is entirely up to him.

You can't unilaterally decide that he is not still your partner in parenting and just block him out of your baby's life once you break off the relationship. Give yourself a bit of time to get un-crazy about him, and then recognize that if he does love your daughter and wants to be involved, that his lifestyle choices are not somehow going to break her, as long as he's providing love, food and shelter in a stable, non-abusive manner, even if his parenting model looks nothing like yours.

What will do far more damage to your child than having two very different but co-operative (or at least civil) parents will be having one or two bitter, angry and controlling parent(s). Regardless of whether you are still together or apart.
posted by scrute at 7:41 AM on September 9, 2010

On a practical note, speaking as a mother of grown children and a grandmother:

Do you have a relative or close friend who can come and stay with you for a few weeks after the baby is born? If not, perhaps your doula can recommend some sweet person who can come do housework, cooking, laundry for the first couple of weeks. Clearly you can't count on the boyfriend to do any of these things.

Just knowing that you won't be all alone all the time with baby those first few exhausting weeks might help relieve some of your anxiety.

Good luck, and feel free to memail me if you need some motherly advice.
posted by mareli at 7:41 AM on September 9, 2010

His continued refusal to contribute, or to recognize my contributions, has made me do increasingly crazy things (I threw a hammer at him, have made several threats to leave town, have ended the relationship more times than I can count, threatened suicide once I figured out this would get his attention, etc.).

My mother the therapist would probably laugh her ass off that I'm about to say this, but...

You are an adult. No one can MAKE you do anything. You CHOSE to do those things as a means of getting his attention because you didn't think the attention you were already getting was sufficient. Please own your own behavior first.

I think you should probably break up with him as your boyfriend because it sounds like this is a horrible relationship. But you can't break up with him as the father of your child, so you're going to be in a relationship with him for a very long time.

Maybe what you need now is not a couples counselor* but someone who can mediate between the two of you regarding issues with the child. (I think this is sometimes referred to as a co-parenting counselor.

* Certainly, keep going to your own therapist -- though I question whether your therapist is aware of everything going on if she hasn't called you on some of your own behaviors yet. I mean, are you getting anything out of therapy? Are you changing and growing? It might be time to find someone new.
posted by devinemissk at 7:59 AM on September 9, 2010 [3 favorites]

My suggestion would be to reset the relationship. Forget him as a partner, suck up your personal disappointment, and reframe your relationship with him exclusively in terms of his relationship with his child.

Excellent advice. Back way off in your hopes and expectations of him and communicate with him with the professionalism, clarity, and cordiality that you would a business partner you were going to have to stay partnered with for the next two to three decades.
posted by salvia at 8:08 AM on September 9, 2010

He's a dick. You enable him by not asking for what you want and not telling him how you feel and then presenting him with the bill without involving him.

You have a child and some feelings for him. He has feelings for you.

Have a non-confrontational meeting. Tell him the things you want and ask him point-blank for what you want. Have a list of thinks you'll bend on and what you must have.

You guys avoid scary conversations all the time. Now that you have a child, that has to stop.

Get a counselor.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:11 AM on September 9, 2010

has made me do increasingly crazy things (I threw a hammer at him, have made several threats to leave town, have ended the relationship more times than I can count, threatened suicide once

I did not see this at first. He made you do nothing. You chose to do those things. If you cannot acknowlege that, are you going to do the same thing to the baby when it "makes you" do those things? My mom threatened to kill herself to my face over 1200 since I was about 6. Don't ever do any of these things, ever. Soon enough, you will have a child who will not respond to everything you want. Please, never ever do that to the child.

I note that your sins are buried at the bottom. You're looking for allies. Fight that tendency. You need a lot of therapy--frankly, most people do.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:22 AM on September 9, 2010 [6 favorites]

Life is, necessarily, very subjective. You've asked a question which screams that we are only getting one side of the story. The other side (his side, and also the quasi-objective side of a good therapist) is integral to a real answer.

That said, without assigning blame (because you are both to blame for your relationship and for it's affect on you), this is what I think you should do.

1. Get him out of your life at least for now. Tell him, "I can't do this with you." But know (know) that you are going to be dealing with each other for the next twenty+ years and maybe even, when the hurricane of right now is over, you'll find yourself drifting back from an entirely new perspective and things will work out (though, also, maybe not). But right now you're probably both really really busy just pushing each other's buttons.

2. Have your baby and try to be as happy as possible.

3. Work on making the relationship with the father of your child as manageable and positive as is humanely possible.

3a. Never trash-talk him to your child, in fact, focus on taking the high-road. In the short term there is very little tangible satisfaction in this but (drawing the example from someone very close to me) the long long long term (talking decades) benefit to yourself and everyone around you is truly immeasurable.

4. Try to understand what went wrong. Try to fix it for next time. Love your child and the part of his/her father that you loved.
posted by From Bklyn at 8:39 AM on September 9, 2010 [3 favorites]

You have 3 weeks to go until you have your family expand. I would get rid of him now and focus on your daughter, there is no reason in what you have articulated above to have him involved any longer in your life.

You can always re-evaluate after you give birth, but for right now enjoy the time you can with the soon to be baby and don't spend energy you don't have on someone who is not going to be there for you emotionally or financially.
posted by iamabot at 9:08 AM on September 9, 2010

It's not likely he's going to turn into Superdad, but you should get legal advice. He's the father, he's financially responsible--if you don't want to get money for child support, I would at least work out an agreement that stipulates that he contribute to trust fund or educational fund.

If you really want to be clear of him, get him to terminate his parental rights. I'm betting he won't do this.
He might be a lousy boyfriend but a good father.
posted by Ideefixe at 9:12 AM on September 9, 2010

First, the relationship.

A laundry list this long and repeated insistence that you are fed up with this guy is reason enough to consider the relationship between you and him likely dead. This does not mean the relationship between the baby and him, he is still the father. This only means that the two of you would likely be better off not being together.

Second, a more problematic issue.

You threw a hammer at him. You say his actions made you do crazy things, but the simple fact is, you picked up that hammer and threw it. That changes "likely" to "definitely". When either partner resorts to throwing objects or suicide threats, the relationship is finished. If it were just the other issues, communication and compromise are not out of the question. This is the step too far that a healthy couple will not cross. Fixing this issue in an otherwise good relationship is a major undertaking requiring fundamental change in a person and often still isn't enough to salvage the relationship. In this case, the relationship is already toxic enough to discard and you have crossed a line that you know is out of control. There's not only no reason to stay together, there are very, very strong reasons to not stay together.

Finally, something that you should consider, since I believe this question was asked with regards to what is best for the baby.

I don't want to be unnecessarily harsh, but I believe this is also necessary. You committed a violent act out of frustration against another person. You say you are in counseling. Bring this issue up in counseling immediately! You are the one who acted, regardless of what your boyfriend said or did. This is not behavior you can permit around your baby. I know it is unthinkable that you would ever intentionally harm your child. The fact is, your temper is literally dangerous and even if it is directed at someone or something else, you could accidentally be placing your child in danger with this kind of behavior. This is something you need to bring up in your counseling immediately. You also should consider separate anger management counseling. I understand that there are some extremely frustrating circumstances here. Even one violent outburst is completely unacceptable, especially when a newborn is on the way.

Please, for the sake of your child, do not hold anything back in counseling. Make sure you do whatever is in the child's best interest no matter how humbling or difficult it may be for you.
posted by Saydur at 9:19 AM on September 9, 2010 [9 favorites]

Answering the question you posed: is anyone able to give me any reason whatsoever to stick with this person? with a question back to you - rewind to before your planned pregnancy and check your list against his behaviors and attitudes then. Did he always show these traits or are they just after the pregnancy? I suspect that once you got pregnant, you created an specific "fantasy" of how things would work - buying a home together, jointly putting together the perfect crib, merrily skipping to doctor's appointments hand-in-hand, etc.

The underlying issue appears to be that you and the father have had different expectations on how this pregnancy time would look. You decided in your mind that everything would be a certain way and when he didn't follow your lead, you went ahead and did it anyway because that's how you expected/thought it should be. He probably had a completely separate understanding of how the pregnancy would go - nothing in his life would really "change" until the baby came along and even then, he may not realize the extent of the change. He's rolling along, living his life the way he probably always has. On the other hand, you have made a lot of changes as a result of the pregnancy. Neither of you are right or wrong in the approach, you're just on different tracks. The issues got worse because the more you wanted your version to come to life, the more he resisted and vice-versa.

The bottom line is, if you want to stay with him, you have to accept that fact that he is separate from you and has his own thoughts about how to be involved and it will take a lot of compromise and communication to find a happy ground here. But when all is said and done, your child deserves two parents and it's up to both of you to be responsible enough to come to agreements on how to proceed, because even if you do "DTMF" you have to consider the future fantasies you're going to have - what is the baby's first birthday going to be - are you wanting something low-key and he wants a princess extravaganza? Is baby getting 15 presents at Christmas or 2 presents?

All of these seemingly simple decisions will be magnified if you both continue down the path of having such completely opposite expectations. You will have to communicate and compromise about your child with this man for a long, long time. So again, rewind and review and assess your relationship before the pregnancy and you might have an answer to your question of staying together or separating. Good luck.
posted by cyniczny at 9:21 AM on September 9, 2010 [2 favorites]

Sounds like he's not helping your situation. Have a discussion about roles. If you don't like the answers, separate for now, reconsider later.

Please don't take this personally. The "crazy things" and what seems like general irrational anger and high stress suggest you may need to upgrade the therapist to a psychiatrist with OB training. I've told immediate family the same thing; intensive outpatient talk can be very helpful, and modern drugs are not dope. If this is not "who you are" normally, they may be able to help get you through a very trying time.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 9:29 AM on September 9, 2010

You might want to bear in mind that that he may try to use the hammer throwing incident, the threats to leave town and commit suicide against you if you try to exclude him from his child's life and he decides he wants custody.

Try to take a step back and see things from his perspective. Clearly the two of you had very different ideas about where you saw your future after getting pregnant but I don't see any mention of discussions or attempts to compromise, it sounds like communication broke down months ago when you decided to buy a house for yourself on your own - a house that you knew he didn't like. To him that might have sent him a very clear signal about the future and its understandable why he thinks you're being controlling - you're taking charging and doing the things you want to do and if he disagrees in things that should be joint decisions, you do what you wanted anyway. You don't mention it but I assume you had originally planned to live together with the baby, or had you not even discussed that? You then resent him for not helping you fix up your house. It seems like you've both been building up bitterness and resentment over these differences for months.

You're a planner, he's a procrastinator, you're materialistic (2 baby showers in addition to all the things you say you bought?!), he's not. If you want to be a spendthrift and have all the toys and gadgets that the TV and Magazines etc say you need, that's fine but its unreasonable to expect him to pay 50% (particularly given that you earn twice what he does), this is stuff that you want and will be used at your house. Nor is it reasonable to expect him to pay to repair your car or fix up your house. Anything that you expected him to help with or share the costs of, should have been discussed with and approved by him. From your own description you're not treating him like a partner, you're doing whatever you like and expecting him to contribute his "fair share". Maybe you're just missing out the parts where you discussed all this with him and tried to engage him at every step and he wasn't interested. Asking him to pay his share of the medical bills and essential supplies is reasonable but he shouldn't have to pay for all the extra luxuries if he didn't agree to them before-hand.

He might not be perfect and maybe he's not as enthusiastic and involved as you'd like him to be - maybe that's just the way he is or maybe its because of his resentment over the house issue but some of your expectations are way out of line. If you buy a house for yourself, on your own against your partner's wishes you can't expect him to help you fix it up. You expect him to thank you for buying the stuff that you wanted for the nursery in your house?

But to your actual question:
is anyone able to give me any reason whatsoever to stick with this person?

Because he's the father of your child, he's a man who 9 months ago you (presumably) loved and cared about enough to want to make a new life with. Something has gone horribly wrong between the two of you but that doesn't mean your relationship isn't still salvageable - if you want it to be - if you think back to before all this pregnancy/house madness, do you have any fond memories left of this person? You cannot just cut this man out of your life, its his baby too whether you like it or not. Why are there no plans to live together? Have you asked him to move in with you? Have you talked about merging financials? These are things most people do before deciding to get pregnant. You say you don't want to raise this child on your own but what were you expecting? You don't live with the father and you expect the child to live with you at your house - that's very much like being a single parent. Even if you break up with him he will still get to have a part in raising the child.
posted by missmagenta at 9:40 AM on September 9, 2010 [7 favorites]

Sweetie you are already a single parent. Ditch him, sue for child support, and use it to pay a nanny and to buy one of those foot massage bath devices for yourself.
posted by custard heart at 9:44 AM on September 9, 2010

The underlying issue appears to be that you and the father have had different expectations on how this pregnancy time would look. You decided in your mind that everything would be a certain way and when he didn't follow your lead, you went ahead and did it anyway because that's how you expected/thought it should be. He probably had a completely separate understanding of how the pregnancy would go - nothing in his life would really "change" until the baby came along and even then, he may not realize the extent of the change. He's rolling along, living his life the way he probably always has. On the other hand, you have made a lot of changes as a result of the pregnancy. Neither of you are right or wrong in the approach, you're just on different tracks. The issues got worse because the more you wanted your version to come to life, the more he resisted and vice-versa.


I also wanted to add - its understandable why he thinks you're being controlling - I'm not seeing any compromise from either of you but you have the upper hand - the baby is going to be living with you in your house so if you want all these things that he doesn't you can just go right ahead and get them, he can't force his choices on you or make you buy less stuff. He effectively has no power in this relationship, in fact all he can do is withhold funds when you drop a bill for over $2k on him. I think you need to have a serious sit down with him to explain to him your expectations going forward with this relationship but also to listen to his wants and expectations. You need to start communicating - without all the crazyness.
posted by missmagenta at 9:51 AM on September 9, 2010 [3 favorites]

Not to be devil's advocate here, but did you ask him for help on items 1 - 19 or did you sit around waiting for him to help you or volunteer? Did you really plan this pregnancy without planning a future together? You planned 2 baby showers for...yourself? You became physically violent but he didn't?

Would your boyfriend post a question that reads "My girlfriend is constantly getting mad at me for not helping her, but she never asks for my help and I don't know how to determine when she needs it, especially when we don't live together [more inside] We are also having a baby together and pregnancy hormones have made her so batshit she threw a hammer at me."?

While you do make a case for you and him not staying together, you haven't convinced me that he's some total monster and you are a perfectly sane capable parent. You need to end the relationship and speak with your therapist about how mature people communicate. You should probably also get a mediator or lawyer to work out child custody and support arangements. Both you and your boyfriend sound very ill prepared to be good parents, single or not and you should make learning about communication and parenting priority number 1 right now. Sorry to call you out on your crazy, but someone had to do it.
posted by WeekendJen at 10:02 AM on September 9, 2010 [6 favorites]

What Saydur said.
posted by unSane at 10:30 AM on September 9, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for the comments everyone. Just wanted to clarify one thing re the baby showers (and the accusations that I'm materialistic!) -- by "planned" I mean that I accepted my (our) friends' and my colleagues' gracious offers to host showers (in spite of the fact that showers make me supremely uncomfortable--I decided to let them happen). My part included spending a couple of miserable afternoons walking around giant baby stores with a laser gun selecting stuff, preparing invitation lists, and writing thank you notes. I concede that none of this is a hardship, BELIEVE ME I know that, I guess my point was that all of the gifts were for "us" but (as with everything else) I did the legwork while he dumped everything off and told me I could "organize" it. Just irritating. And my car is five years old and I bought it used. I'm not out shopping at Neiman's. I work hard, I pay my taxes, and 90% of the baby purchases I've made have been craigslist or goodwill. Just saying...in my defense. Anyway, most of you are right on. Noted and thanks.
posted by pennywhistle at 11:02 AM on September 9, 2010

I don't mean to suggest this isn't incredibly difficult, but... look at it from another point of view. You make a REALLY good living, and are obviously competent carrying through on things. It doesn't mean raising a kid without a father is going to be easy, but I've known people who are did it a lot younger and with a lot less money. But you have to stop blaming him for everything, at least for the sake of your health and the baby's health. Maybe once you stop blaming him, he might be able to contribute somehow. Even if it's emotionally and not materially.
posted by Rocket26 at 11:45 AM on September 9, 2010

Baby showers are traditionally women-only events, so it's not surprising that he wasn't gung-ho about participating. Registries are also not necessary (since with babies, unlike marriages, there's no need for matching china). So if you didn't want to do it, you should have just not done it...but that's all in the past, and is not really a good enough reason to estrange yourself from your child's father.

I'm also really surprised that of all the criticism that this thread has leveled at you, you picked out the minor shower issue to refute. You actually sound like a super-frugal person who is uncomfortable spending money, rather than a spendthrift. Perhaps it's time to get used to the fact that children are extremely expensive "ventures" to "fund" (as you put it). If you're making a good living, you should learn how to enjoy spending it! Maybe a financial planner can help you adjust your lifestyle and budget to comfortably accomodate the new addition to your family (actually additions, if you decide to keep the boyfriend).
posted by acidic at 12:01 PM on September 9, 2010

Also, stopping throwing hammers and threatening suicide would be an excellent idea about now, for many reasons, not least of which is that they give him a rock solid basis for calling in Child Protection Services once the baby is born.

The 'he made me throw hammers because he's such an asshole' defence is not likely to be effective.
posted by unSane at 12:05 PM on September 9, 2010 [4 favorites]

My therapist, family, friends, neighbors, and everyone else familiar with the situation have all advised me to get out now, before the baby is here.

So, first off: why would a bunch of random strangers be more compelling than this laundry list of people who are so much more deeply involved in your personal life?

If I were in your position, here's what I'd do:

1. Leave the relationship, and never look back;
2. Ask my friends and family and neighbors to help support me during the most difficult times of my child's infancy, because raising an infant without support is really hard (and no, what your boyfriend is providing is not support, so that's not a reason to keep him);
3. Immediately focus my therapy sessions on anger management, because if you'll throw a hammer at your boyfriend when he's being an asshole, you may very well abuse your infant when your infant is being an asshole (which, to be fair, all infants are -- selfish, needy bags of meat1.)

Good luck.

1I have children, I love my children, I love other people's children, but until a child has a personality -- which takes a while -- they're needy, selfish bags of meat. It's just nature's way.
posted by davejay at 12:11 PM on September 9, 2010 [5 favorites]

It doesn't sound like you two are a good fit (to understate it a bit).

However, if you are just looking to look at every angle before making a decision, which is sounds as if you are--consider that you may not be acting entirely rationally yourself right now. Honestly, and I say this as a mother of four kids: You are way overthinking and overmanaging things. Having a child does require some planning, but your list sounds like you've gone into nesting overdrive. The father of your child may simply be bewildered and reacting defensively.

Pregnancy can make a person crazy! I know. But really, most people the world over don't spend over $4400 before the baby is even born. I think we spent a couple hundred at most on essentials with our first child (got the crib later). So yeah, your boyfriend might have a point when he questions the spending or snarks about "more stuff for you to organize."

It's clear that what you are looking for is support. But you are calculating that in terms of money and planning; he seems to see it in terms of just being there. He was there for the meeting with the doula and there by your request at the showers. It appears he's "there" for you a fair amount of the rest of the time, as he's your boyfriend, and you're going places in your car and spending time at your house and so on.

I don't think that just "being there" is good enough, when it comes to having a child. But I do think that men can feel clueless and like outsiders when it comes to the whole process of pregnancy. Things get a bit clearer when the baby arrives. At either time, it's important to be able to sit down with the guy and tell him what you need. And I don't mean hand him a bill--rather, work out with him what your expectations are and what his are. Many times, as a pregnant or new mom, the financial stuff is the least of your worries; you just need a backrub or someone to take the kid off your hands for a while or whatever. Is your boyfriend the type of person who will do this kind of thing? Is he good with kids? Does he cook or wash the dishes? Does he run out to do errands when you're not up for it? If not--if he really has nothing to offer--then yeah, cut the ties. But if he does these things, don't underestimate the value of his contribution.

Have you seen the movie "Spanglish"? Your list of grievances reminded me of the super-controlling wife. She doesn't recognize the value of her husband until the end of the movie because she is so consumed with managing everyone around her. Her husband is more laid back, but also much more empathetic and attuned to the needs of kids. Both characters are movie stereotypes of course. But IF (and it's a big if, and I obvously have no idea) your boyfriend might have some of these traits, then sure, you might consider trying to make it work with him.

When it comes to kids, money & planning isn't everything. It's not even half.
posted by torticat at 6:09 PM on September 9, 2010 [2 favorites]

Oh, and I don't think anyone else responded to this--but don't give your child your boyfriend's last name! Regardless of the short-term outcome of your relationship, there is absolutely no reason for the baby's identity, in the form of a name, to be tied to him rather than you.
posted by torticat at 6:14 PM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm not sure how you ended up planning a baby with a man who doesn't sound like he's very committed to you, much less to co-raising a child with you, but it's time to just break up and raise your kid. Lots of people manage to raise their children as single parents. It's terrifying, yes, but you sound capable enough. Continue on with your therapy, get child support squared away, and move on.
posted by asciident at 8:24 PM on September 9, 2010

Mod note: this is in MetaTalk, if your answer is not answering one of the OPs questions, go there or take a wakk please, thank you
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:57 PM on September 9, 2010

I don't know if this thought will be helpful to you or not. But here's how I hear your post: "Below is my 16-point analysis of our relationship. I have done the service of presenting it to you with impeccable grammar and no excess words. Please let me know if I have omitted or misinterpreted anything. If I do not hear from you, I will submit this conclusion to him at 10 AM tomorrow." Whereas what I think your post is really saying is "Oh! My! God! I am so scared. And frustrated!! I have no idea what to do! I hate hate HATE him right now, but I cannot leave him, I cannot even DECIDE to leave him, but the baby is coming in three weeks, and he says nice things, but he never helps, and it makes me so mad I cannot even CONTAIN myself, and oh my fucking god. Help!!!!!"

I wonder if it's possible if your boyfriend hears your conversations as "Here is my 16-point list of accomplishments achieved this weekend. Here is the schedule for the upcoming week. During this time, I will incur the following expenses. I have worked them into this budget as follows. As highlighted in red shading, a critical area to watch is the cashflow in week 14. But because of the cautious assumptions in Rows 10 and 17, I assume that sufficient cash will be available." Whereas what you are really saying deep down is "Oh! My! God! I am so scared. There is so much to do!! This is all enormously expensive, jeeeezuz christ I had no IDEA. But what expenses can we not expend? What if we're renting and get kicked out? What if we don't have what we need?? I have no idea how I'm going to pay for all this or find time to take care of all this, please help!!!!"
posted by salvia at 9:29 PM on September 9, 2010 [8 favorites]

This relationship is too toxic for you to consider remaining in it.

I think that, despite your laundry list, you are remaining in it because you are still in love with him.

But honey, you're threatening suicide to get the attention of the father of your baby? He's *that* distracted and uninterested?

Unless you are 100% pure crazy, honey, there is someone else.
posted by endless_forms at 4:03 AM on September 10, 2010

Keep this in mind: pregnancy can trigger a lot of instincts in mothers-to-be, and one of those instincts is to force the father to shit or get off the pot. Along with the "baby is coming, must make good nest" instinct, those could be triggering some of this behavior.

(And rightly or wrongly, there is an old husbands' tale out there that good dads just let their pregnant mates do whatever they want so as to not rock the boat. This may be simply a combination of this and the above instincts not meshing properly.)

But seriously, threatening suicide and throwing hammers are things that lead me to believe that you might have some issues. I'm not blaming or accusing or anything like that. But please work on these feelings with your therapist. Or a different therapist. Because these behaviors don't lead to good outcomes. Whether babydaddy is a 100% asshole, or just a clueless but lazy fuck, you need to make sure you have your feelings and motivations squared away.
posted by gjc at 5:47 AM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

I think that you will be eminently capable of looking after your child as a single mother. It takes organising but it is possible. Based on what you've said, that's the only real option at this point. It's not really as scary as it seems.

The best thing you can do is allow the father as much access as possible, and interact with him only on a co-parent basis. How he steps up to that will be entirely up to him. You're going to have to learn to suppress your frustration if he doesn't step up, at least in front of the kid.

Good parenting, that's where it's at.
posted by h00py at 5:54 AM on September 10, 2010

Oh, that sounds bad. By not in front of the kid I don't mean throw things at him when the kid isn't around, I mean feel free to vent about the father, if necessary, to friends and family, not the kid.
posted by h00py at 5:59 AM on September 10, 2010

...is anyone able to give me any reason whatsoever to stick with this person?

You should try and maintain a civil relationship at least in the event that you have future episodes of violence and he ends up with custody of his child.
posted by vapidave at 8:16 AM on September 10, 2010 [7 favorites]

I have heard someone who is a single mom say that she wish she had taken the advice to simply leave the father off the birth certificate altogether, and she was getting some small amount of financial support -- did not consider it worth the detriments of having to bring her child to the father and his parents to be in their care as was ordered by the court.

Talk to a lawyer and see if he will be able to enforce any sort of parental rights, I don't see any reason that it would be healthy for the child for him to be involved. It's not as though you will be ending a bond between them if one never starts. If he was to hurt your child during a visit you will regret trying to get him involved for a long time, or even if the child forms a bond with him and a few years later he gets "bored".

You earn enough money to hire someone to help with the baby, or to offer housing and compensation to someone (perhaps a single mom themselves) who could care for the baby while you are at work.

I'm not understanding the part of your question where you wonder if you should stay with this guy -- nothing about your description even makes it sound like you are "in a relationship" -- I believe the word you might refer to him by is "babydaddy", but on the other hand you could simply refuse to tell people anything if they ask about the "father" (it would be a somewhat rude thing to ask). Tell them "I am the parent".

Having this guy sitting on your couch or occupying your bed while you change diapers and feed the baby is probably not going to feel a lot better than doing these things without him in your house. You don't want to raise a child on your own, but it doesn't sound like he is actually going to do anything. If you want someone to have sex with occasionally and watch tv with for a bit, you can probably find someone else.
posted by yohko at 9:39 AM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

The big problems seem to be those old standbys: Communication and Money.

a) You bought a bunch of stuff without consulting him, and you expect him to pay half. This is unreasonable.

b) You make twice as much as he does, and you expect him to pay half. This is unreasonable.

c) You make a bunch of big decisions without consulting him, and get angry when he voices an opinion once he finally gets a chance, i.e. after you've already finalized your decision. This is unreasonable.

These issues could have been be dealt with simply enough early on. It's probably too late for that. The damage, it seems, has been done.

d) When planning your pregnancy, you forgot to plan your relationship with the father.

Whoops! Consider it a lesson learned. Next time, get all your ducks in a row.

At this point, your relationship with your child's father is probably most likely to take the form of a monthly child support cheque. If the man is a constant source of undue stress (as it seems he is), such an arrangement is probably for the best.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:54 AM on September 10, 2010 [4 favorites]

leave the father off the birth certificate altogether

Only the poster and other people who know the guy in real life can assess this, but there's big difference between
a. he's not contributing, and we don't get along, but he's not a bad guy; I will be civil and we'll work out a way that they can have some level of positive relationship, and
b. he's a bad enough guy that I should leave him off his own child's birth certificate/prevent them having a relationship in the first place.
posted by LobsterMitten at 1:00 PM on September 10, 2010

Oh dear -- that did come across as a suggestion that they never have a relationship!! I meant that talking to a lawyer now now NOW would be a very good idea, rather than waiting to see if there are problems down the road -- much less of an ordeal for the child that way. It seems like the OP has enough income that she does not have to put the name down simply to be able to take him to court for child support, and there might be a bad side to trying to go after him for that. Plus, it might only add stress, subtract time, and contribute to bad feelings on both sides if he does not pay.

I guess I should elaborate -- if this was to be done, the thing to do would be to keep an eye on and decide when, where, how, if, etc, on contact between him and the child, for the next 18 years -- rather than letting a court decide visitation and child support, rather than having to go to court over and over in disputes over visitation and child support, rather than him ignoring his own child and leaving care to someone you don't even know during a visitation weekend that he wanted only to win a power struggle. Not feeling trapped into doing all this because you will lose the right to care for your own child unless you send them away for the weekend when they cry and beg not to go, and come back upset over the way they have been treated (not abused, but not loved for who they are either). Things like that are what the mom I spoke to was thinking of. OP should behave in a civil and fair manner and do what is best for the child.

What is best for the child is more important than what his "rights" are, and they can certainly be civil and work out a way to have a level of positive relationship without his name on a bit of paper -- but having that name on that paper has important legal implications, and IANAL. Talk to one, not just someone who knows the guy -- a lawyer, who will know the legal implications of what that paper says. Find out what will be best for the child on this, it has nothing to do with him being judged for being "bad".

I'm not saying the OP should leave his name off, just that I have heard another single mom say she wish she had done it that way. There are a lot of suggestions in this thread to get child support from him, but she may not want to go that route -- it might only cause more stress for her, and be a point of contention for the father. There are opportunity costs, time away from work to deal with it, and fathers who don't pay tend to be kept from visiting their child and there is usually a lot of bad feeling on the part of the party not being paid also. OP dear, I hope that you would realize that you can easily provide financially for a child on your income and could completely leave money issues out of deciding what is healthiest for your child in forming a relationship with his/her father. This is a luxury that you have, the ability to choose on this, that many women with lower incomes do not have. An infant, toddler, or preschooler knows nothing about money or where it comes from, only about how they are treated and if they are loved. Perhaps once the baby comes he will want to help out, perhaps not. If he wants to see the baby but not help it may still be good for the child to do so, even if you wish he was more helpful. OTOH, who knows what "wants to be a father" means to him -- it could mean only that his family line and name carry on.

The OP should also make a file or record of some sort with everything she knows about his family tree, relative's names, ways he might be found 18 years in the future if he has moved away and not been in contact, pictures of him and his parents, hereditary health issues, etc. Whether his name is on the birth certificate has no bearing on this -- that name being there is no guarantee they will have a relationship. Even if he disappears, or turns out not to be the kind of father you want your child around, once your child is 18 they should have all of this information. It should be recorded soon while fresh in the mind, and it needs to be recorded in such a way as the child will get it in the future even if something happens to the mother before that time. The future adult this child will become has a right to have that information, no matter how the father behaves.

Well, that's a bit long -- but LobsterMitten's comment made it clear that I should be a bit clearer on what I'm suggesting, and why.

tl;dr: What you do now has a large effect on your future interactions with this man, and since it's possible it might involve one of you taking the other of you to court, I think you should talk to a lawyer now rather than later.

One last thing -- do line up some post-birth baby care and help around the house, some women are unable to move around much for a bit afterward. There's a specialty person one can hire for this, a doula or midwife may be able to put you in touch with one.
posted by yohko at 9:44 PM on September 10, 2010

Well, he doesn't have to be part of the baby's life except legally. Take his @ss to court. He owes child support. He doesn't have to put together a nursery, doesn't have to get a car seat, doesn't have to even give a shit. But legally, he owes $ towards that child or go to jail. It is as simple as that.

I'm not in the same boat as you but I'm married to someone who is financially incompetent and a lot of times selfish (his good times over bills/the kid). It does NOT change. I know it's scary. Hell I'm scared to dump someone w/ these habits but trust me, I'm absolutely miserable, depressed, and scared to continue life like this. It's non-stop chaos and stress--stress I don't deserve or need for being responsible.

And neither do you.

You CAN do it alone. Get into support groups, family, friends--anyone is more of a support system than this loser.

And he is a loser.

Mefi email me if you need to know what life is like married to someone like him. I got ton-o-tales for you.
posted by stormpooper at 8:41 AM on September 13, 2010

To bw honest, both of you sound like a nightmare. It may be the stress of the situation. You earn twice what he does and are expecting him to pay your bills and enter into financial commitment; he doesn't sound like he wants to give you the emotional support you need.

I come from a country where people don't have baby showers or doulas(I'm not even quite sure what these are), two cars per family is unusual, medical bills aren't really a factor (is it common for father to pay half?_ and single motherdom is often a fast-track route to poverty. You're in a fortunate position in that you can afford to get help for you and the baby if you need it and if you bring it up on your own. A lot of people manage to do it without this. Not to say it will automatically be easier for you - of course not - but you are in a position where you don't have to stay with someone with whom you are not in love because of circumstances. And in the meantime, given your reaction to things, you really need to see someone who can give you emotional support. Threatening suicide is never the answer to anything.
posted by mippy at 3:04 PM on September 15, 2010

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