A little help for a step dad please?
March 4, 2011 7:34 PM   Subscribe

Background: I've been the step-dad to my boys for almost 10 years. They are now 12 and 13 and have no interest in spending time with their Bio-dad.

Bio-dad, however, has a sudden interest in making friends with them and hanging out. He's not a bad guy but he definitely put his military career ahead of his family/kids and has only seen them once a year for the last 9 years.

Two part question: 1. How do I let him know that his kids really don't want to talk or spend time with him? (If the kids were a few years older Mom and I wouldn't worry so much, but at their ages we really don't want them carrying the burden of explaining that.)

2. How do I broach the subject of my wanting to adopt the kids so that they can get free-ride scholarships as my dependents?

We are a very tight family but it's now a huge distress that we feel so obligated to care about the feelings of someone who we kinda care about but not that much.

This isn't a crisis exactly, but it is a huge deal that I would like to approach intelligently and with care.

MANY thanks in advance!
posted by snsranch to Human Relations (26 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Is there no loophole you could try to exploit in the university's regulations, so as to avoid the adoption issue altogether?
posted by nelljie at 7:39 PM on March 4, 2011

I'm not sure whether this will be popular or not, but I am of the opinion that anyone has the right to see their kids occasionally (unless they're abusive or otherwise intentionally hurtful, of course). I don't think it's your place to tell him that his kids don't want to see him, and I'm not sure that it would be fair to the kids to let them make the decision, at ages 12 and 13, to cut off contact with their biological dad, even if he hasn't been a big part of their lives so far. An occasional Saturday spent with their bio-dad won't kill them and might end up being pretty important to them someday.
posted by geegollygosh at 7:44 PM on March 4, 2011 [39 favorites]

I think conversation on both topics should start between your wife and the bio-dad. What's her relationship & communication like with this guy?

Do the kids really not want to spend any time with him at all? Not even out of curiosity? Or are they saying that because they perceive any interest in him would hurt your feelings?

Is this going to be an ongoing thing? Does he live in your town?
posted by BlahLaLa at 7:45 PM on March 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

Hi there fellow stepdad!

1. You don't prevent them from having a relationship, ever. Say nothing other than "hey kids, your dad wants to hang out on x day. Have fun!

2. I would not go down that road directly. The pain of knowing their dad gave them up would be too much. Find another way.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:57 PM on March 4, 2011 [6 favorites]

I'm not concerned about my feelings at all. I'm just being kinda Papa Bear looking after my peeps.

The pain of knowing their dad gave them up would be too much. Yea, man, that's been a big deal for my wife and I. Their last name is their identity. Don't really want them to change that. We'll try to find another way.

You guys are awesome. Thank you for helping me feel a little more comfortable in a weird situation!
posted by snsranch at 8:14 PM on March 4, 2011

If he's not a bad guy as you say, and he wants to start having a relationship with these boys, and he's not likely to just up and ditch them after they develop a relationship with him -- I think this could only help them. I don't think at all that anyone should stand in the way of it.

If they don't want to hang out with them because they have anger towards him, he needs to be informed of the anger so that he can do whatever he can to make whatever amends he can, and more importantly, so that they can forgive him, if that's possible. Carrying around a big wound of anger and hurt isn't good for anyone.

I think anyone would be much more amenable to the idea of your adopting their kids, if they don't see you as a foe standing in their way and thwarting them.
posted by Ashley801 at 8:17 PM on March 4, 2011 [3 favorites]

I think you're doing a great thing to try to adopt them, and getting a free ride for a college education is a HUGE gift that will make a very real difference in their lives. Can't their Bio-dad understand that?

I mean, I know when dads get into these situations it's a pride thing. HIS kids, he can see them, he can do what he wants! I get that. But it seems to me that the truly loving and unselfish thing to do would be to let them have every advantage, and you adopting them would provide that.

I say this as someone who's dad really messed me up because he had the ownership/pride mentality, yet he only really wanted to be there about half the time. This meant that when it came to taking out loans, I couldn't, because I was "technically" relying on my dad, but I often went into the red because he forgot to give me money on a monthly basis for expenses. He simply didn't want to think about it unless he was in the mood. Countless examples of this I don't really want to get into, but the thing is, he tripped me up for a long time because he was ALMOST responsible but not quite, but he wouldn't just get out of the position of provider and free it up for someone else to take the role who would have been there 100%. (Whether me, or my own step-dad, or loans, etc.) My step-dad was the one who sat by and watched this with pain and often anger, and the one who always opened his house to me when my own dad wouldn't.

I think people are well-meaning, and yes, it's good for kids to visit with bio-dad, but reliability is huge. Name-only sometimes dads are incredibly traumatizing in a way that's really hard to explain unless you've experienced it.
posted by Nixy at 8:38 PM on March 4, 2011 [4 favorites]

If he has visitation even very little it is the legal responsibility of your wife to enforce it by making them go. I am not at all saying this would happen in your case but I have seen custody reversed many times when one parent doesn't make the kids go to visitation. The question will be "do you make your kids clean their rooms? Do you make them do their homework? Then why don't you do this?" I agree with the above that you and your wife should say "hey you're going to go hang out with your dad today" and that's that.

The adoption issue is separate and they should still spen time with their bio-dad even if that happens.
posted by boobjob at 8:40 PM on March 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

Graciousness is your friend. Compassion and empathy for all parties should be your guide. Ultimately, your boys will be better off having some kind of relationship with their father. Every kid can ALWAYS use another adult in their lives that loves them. Their father's desire to be more involved in their lives should be cause for celebration in your home. Draw a bigger family circle.
posted by raisingsand at 9:54 PM on March 4, 2011 [8 favorites]

Check your mefi-mail.
posted by zia at 10:54 PM on March 4, 2011

I think it's worth trying to understand why the kids are resistant. Obviously they have reasons, even good reasons, but they may not be the reasons you think. Yes, they may be angry at bio-dad for neglecting them, but they are also moody preteens who are generally getting anxious about the world and their place in it. They may be worried that they are obligated to make bio-dad happy. They may be worried that they won't be "good enough" to keep bio-dad in their lives. They may be worried that bio-dad will want to take them away from you and disrupt their lives. They may even be worried that you and their mom WANT the bio-dad to take them away. There are a lot of unknowns to them.

You, as the adult, have the benefit of a longer view. Assuming bio-dad is a decent guy who is hoping to reconcile his mistakes and become an honest parent, you should let him. I think the kids will resent you for keeping them apart when they're older and wiser. Just because they are resistant now doesn't mean it's going to scar them for life. Kids are resilient--once they get past the unknown, they'll relax and hopefully start to bond with him. (This can happen whether or not he terminates his parental rights and you adopt them--you won't be obligated, but assuming he's not horrible, it would be the decent thing to do for all involved.)

Also, understand that he may try to reach out to them regardless of whether you sanction it or not, so you might as well get ahead of the situation and help control it from the very beginning.

As for bio-dad, I think a calm, frank conversation is in order. Make it clear to bio-dad that his increased involvement in their lives is something you support, but that this is not going to be the first step toward joint custody. You need to tell him that you want to adopt the kids, but that you also want them to know their bio-dad IF he's willing to step up and be a reliable part of their lives. What you want is for them to have a close and supportive relationship with him, but you have been their dad all their lives and you always will be. Not in chest-thumping way--you need him to agree to surrender his parental rights, and he's more likely to do that if he likes you and understands how invested you are in raising his kids (to him, they're still his kids, who he feels terrible guilt about abandoning, and you'll win points by respecting that he feels that way).

Once he and you and mom are all on the same page about the legalities, then you have to hash out the terms of this new arrangement will entail--how many visits per month, how long, whether or not sleepovers or long visits will be permitted at first, etc. Agree to revisit your agreement as the situation evolves. Once you have the ground rules, bring the kids into the conversation. Let them know what the rules are going to be--that it doesn't mean they have to live with bio-dad, that it's okay for it to be weird for a while, that this is not just something bio-dad wants but what you and their mother want, too (united front is important). Make it clear that you're going to try for a while (three months, say), but if they're really miserable about it, they will have a say in how to fix it. Likewise, if they're having a grand old time with bio-dad, agree to expand the parameters accordingly. Sleepovers, short trips, meeting his extended family, whatever.

Good luck. It sounds like those kids are lucky to have a stepdad like you. I think you'll do fine. Just be honest, but compassionate. He didn't want to be the asshole who dumped his kids on someone else. He probably thought he was doing them a favor by letting someone better suited to the job raise them, and each awkward, erratic visitation since then must have been terribly bittersweet--great to see the kids, but every second a reminder that he failed to be a dad to them. Anyone would eventually withdraw from that kind of situation. (And a military career--I'm guessing he had some periods of time when he wasn't nearby enough to visit often? Especially overseas?) But for whatever reason, he's putting that part of his life behind him and trying to become the kind of man he wanted to be but couldn't figure out how to be before. Be generous and kind.

I think it can work. It'll be tough at first. The kids might not be happy about it at first. But I think you owe it to them to try. I think avoiding it is the worst thing you could do. Good luck.

(All else fails, talk to a family counselor about this.)
posted by thinkingwoman at 10:55 PM on March 4, 2011 [5 favorites]

Uh, visiting their bio-dad isn't a choice. It isn't something they can selectively request to do or not do. It is their responsibility as his kids, and it is your responsibility as their step-father to insist they spend time with their father, barring abuse or violence of some sort of course.

Let's put it another way -- the best way you can be the most awesome step-dad in the world is to encourage and foster and support their relationship with their bio-dad. If you aren't doing that the the best of your abilities, then you're being negligent. (And yes, caveats apply, but they don't apply as nearly as much as you might think -- really.)

Adoption? A scholarship isn't a good reason to adopt them.
posted by incessant at 11:32 PM on March 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

I definitely remember being forced into situations by my parents at that age and hated them for it. I don't really understand all of the other answers telling you "the kids will get over it." If there is a court enforceable visitation agreement, then that is obviously a different story.

I think the mom (or maybe mom + you) should have an open and honest discussion with the bio-dad about the kids' feelings. Be nice, but let him know they aren't keen for XYZ reasons and maybe he should tread lightly if he wants them to come around. Make it clear you both support his role in their lives, but that his re-entry needs to go smoothly.

You don't say why the boys don't want to spend time with bio-dad. If they hold anger for him or similar, maybe suggest he and the boys visit a counselor together? I doubt the boys or bio-dad will be keen for that, but it's a legitimate suggestion. This suggestion to attend family counseling with his sons puts the responsibility of repairing the relationship squarely on bio-dad and has the benefit of letting him know parenting isn't just fun and games on his timetable. If he's serious, he'll make the effort. If he isn't serious, no harm done and you'll find out soon enough.

I think you should wait a few years on the adoption and see how this relationship thing shakes out, first.

Mostly, I just wanted to caution you about forcing your sons to see their bio-dad. Don't get in the middle of this. Be a positive and supportive player, but let the bio-dad and the boys work this out for themselves.

The burden here is on the bio-dad, not you.
posted by jbenben at 12:19 AM on March 5, 2011 [5 favorites]

I agree with others about visitations to see their biological father. In a few years, they'll be able to stop it if they really want, and it's not going to hurt them. It's something that could matter to them later.

However, about the adoption..

You've been there for nearly ten years. You've raised them. You are their dad. (It just so happens that, in our modern crazy world, a person can have more than one dad.) So I don't understand the resistance in some of the above comments to the idea of adoption. I mean, heck, they can go to college for free! And it's not like you'd be changing the relationship you have -- all you would be doing is making legal the relationship you clearly already have with them. All of that seems like excellent reason to legally adopt them, in my book.

I should note, I'm someone who was legally adopted by a step-dad when I was 8. The difference is, my bio-dad was insane and I'd only known my step-dad for a year. The whole "legal adoption" thing probably went over my head more than it would for your sons, at their ages, but it totally had no effect on me. I didn't see my bio-father as a father figure, I didn't care. And now that I'm older, and that legal father has had no contact with me for years and years, I wish that, while I was still a minor, I had been adopted again, by the (newer) step-father who has really, earnestly, taken the emotional role of father in my life. I see the legal title as a means as expressing a particular emotional relationship. And, from what you say, it sounds like you have that relationship.

I don't understand the idea of the kids being crushed, knowing their bio father gave them up. He, uh, wasn't in their lives until very recently. Kids aren't stupid enough to overlook that. But, even though he was nowhere around, you were. During the adoption process for me, the emphasis was never, "Bio-dad gave! you! up!" Instead, it was, "Step-dad loves you so much, he's going to always protect you."

I also have a different point of view about the name change. My name changed when I was adopted, and it had absolutely zero effect on my identity... But, then again, I was 8. But, then again, I also changed my name for a second time, when I was 19. This second time, I specifically took the name of my (newer) step-dad, the one who is really my dad. I couldn't be legally adopted anymore, but I could make, through my name, my identity as his daughter obvious. It didn't feel like having my identity removed, instead, it felt like finally having my identity revealed. Since you've been in their lives for so long, since you've clearly been the father figure, and since you clearly are a family unit, it's very possible they'll feel the same. Of course, they might not -- everyone feels a little differently about their name... But, don't just assume the largest catastrophe in life is having your last name changed.

And let's not forget the free ride to college. Unless someone in the picture here has a couple hundred thousand just lying around, that could be a really, really big deal. Even if you ignore the emotional component to adoption, even if you just want to be fully pragmatic, that's still excellent reason.

So, I think you should fully support the bio-dad's ability to see the kids. And you should do it to his face. But I think the adoption is still worth looking into. Ask the kids what they think. Talk it over as a family unit, to make sure everyone is on the same page. Then, if you, wife, and kids are all agreed that a name change, a legal declaration of your status as Father, and a full-ride to college are all good things, ask the bio-dad. Don't make the adoption a matter of whether he'll have a relationship with the kids -- just make it a request to have your relationship with the kids acknowledged.

Maybe I'm a total freak, and everyone acting like adoption is a horrible, terrible thing is right... But, I've gone through it. I would eagerly go through it again, if I could have a legal document saying (new) step-dad is my Father. I care about emotional family connections, and I think yours is a situation where the emotional family connection may very well merit a legal expression.
posted by meese at 4:14 AM on March 5, 2011 [5 favorites]

If the kids aren't interested because they've got no emotional connection to him, that's something I'd definitely talk to the biological dad about; let him know that his actions, however he justified them, have long term consequences and he has a lot of relationship building to do. Sure, you parents can force them to spend time with him, but that's not exactly going to make them more open and interested in getting to know him. I would present it to them as something they don't have a choice about, but if their biological dad could have the attitude that he's not going to automatically be close and accepted, it'll make things a lot better.

what matters is where it's coming from. is it "of course they should know me, I'm their father!" or is it, I've missed out on a lot of time with my kids and i want to get to know them. If it's about him, his needs, his wants - it's going to be difficult, because kids just don't care - and the more he tries to compel them to be some idea of what he's decided his sons should be without doing the heavy lifting of building a relationship, the more they'll turn off and block him out. If the bio-dad's interest comes from a place of genuine regret where he realises he's missed out on these incredible lives and wants to really know them... well, that's the ideal, and putting the kids' needs first will be much easier and much more likely to lead to positive things for everyone.
posted by lemniskate at 4:16 AM on March 5, 2011 [2 favorites]

I agree with the other posters who said this isn't up to you, it's between the kids and their father, with their mother standing in for them as necessary. A couple of things to remember. At ages 12 and 13 they're supposed to start pulling away from parents and not wanting to spend time with them. Conveniently for them, there's a peripheral parent who they get to do that with, without actually pulling away from their true caregivers.

My kids are now 15 and 17. Throughout their lives their father has flitted in and out, causing a ruckus when he was around and going years at a time with no contact. They (pretend as though they) couldn't care less one way or another, and when he leaves the very occasional voicemail they say they don't want to call him back. I have always said to them that he loves them in his way and if someone leaves them a message, they need to return the call, no matter who it is. They don't like it when I hand them the phone with grandma on the other end either, but they still need to talk to her.

It doesn't matter how close you are with your kids, he's their father and he has a right to see them. More importantly than that, they have a right to see him. Please make sure that you're not unintentionally making them feel as though they have to reject him in order to have you. With the adoption issue, that's a reality. They would have to separate from their father in order to connect with you. They don't understand the practical advantages of that, and you're asking something huge and permanent from kids who are just entering adolescence. Their feelings about their father are incredibly complex and will change again and again over time. Please let them be *their* feelings and not yours.

All that being said, those boys are very lucky to have you in their lives. The more adults in a child's life, the better. That there's another man out there who loves them and wants to be in their lives is a good thing, but you & their mom are raising them and they will always know you as their dad even if a legal adoption doesn't happen. On behalf of two boys w/and absent dad, thank you.
posted by headnsouth at 6:12 AM on March 5, 2011 [4 favorites]

The stupid stuff I tried to pull with my family and visitation as a preteen was stupid. You don't get to choose your parents - not because of some universal law but because kids are fantastically poor at long-term thinking. These boys will, very soon, be 22 and 23, and awesome stepdads don't let the feelings of 12-year-olds mess things up for the 22-year-olds they will become.

- they have to have a relationship with their dad, but
- you don't have to present it to them that way.

Tell their father that they're reluctant. Give him some evidence ("Tim has been suggesting summer camps in Minnesota that he could go to instead," "we always have a meltdown when the subject comes up") and some strategies ("it'd be great if you'd come to school events and meetings even though you don't have primary custody," "family therapy might not be a bad idea.") Tell him you're willing to help him in any way you can.

And it is totally appropriate for you to do this instead of your wife, if that's how it works generally in your family. Custody coordination for me always involved a grandma or stepparent, because it would go badly if my parents spoke to each other directly (I don't remember them ever doing it until I was in my twenties.)

Tread cautiously on the adoption thing. It would have killed my dad for us to suggest it, even with free college on the table. It depends too much on the specifics of your situation to give more concrete advice.
posted by SMPA at 6:26 AM on March 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Are you sure you need to adopt the kids for them to qualify as your dependents? Chiming in as another step family, in our case my kids will get all the tuition perks of their step-dad's college employment affiliation--it's no different from him being able to put them on his insurance plan.

I've got a couple anecdota on the topic. The first is my husband, who was adopted by his step-dad around the age of 14 (as was his younger brother, who was 12). He's always felt a little weird and uncomfortable about this. I don't wish to discount Meese's experience, but my husband would argue that he could have been loved and protected all the same if the relationship had remained at step-dad. He views the legal side of it as being really more about serving his step-dad/adoptive dad's emotional need to feel validated in his parental sacrifice, if that makes any sense. So I would very carefully examine your motives in wanting to adopt, whose benefit it is for, and whether or not the benefits for the children can be accomplished by some other means.

To come back to our story, things have come full circle now and my husband is step-dad to my two kids, who have had a tenuous relationship with their bio-dad for most of their lives. There have been periods where they haven't seen him at all, and periods where we've been able to work out once- or twice-a-year visits (for the past 9 years he has lived half-way or all of the way across the U.S.).

Right now my 13-yo daughter is going through a period of not wanting to see her bio-dad, and I don't force it. A lot of my not pushing harder, though, is because she's pretty emotionally fragile (years of therapy, meds, up to and including hospitalizations and special-ed placement). Dare I say it, I would push harder if she were a "regular" kid. And even though I don't force her, I still encourage her relationship with her dad, talk him up to her, and try to be her dad's ally in bringing her around to the point where she's able to resume the relationship.

Here's the deal: in the absence of abuse or neglect, building a stronger relationship with bio-dad is going to be good for your kids in the long run, and I think that the sooner it happens, the more "whole" they will feel as they become adult persons. Of course, at 12 and 13 they don't really get that, so you need to balance their feelings against the bigger picture that you, as an adult, are able to appreciate. They're going through a stage where they will struggle to break away from the adults in their lives, then suddenly and surprisingly reconnect into the relationship in new and more mature ways. They will be well served by having more touchpoints to reconnect to over the coming years.
posted by SomeTrickPony at 6:33 AM on March 5, 2011 [4 favorites]

I forgot to mention in my long-winded post that unlike his sister, my 16-yo son has continued visitation once or twice a year for the past several years. Things have vacillated between visits being kind of dull and dutiful, and being eagerly anticipated. As he gets closer to adulthood, his relationship with his bio-dad--because it's not as emotionally charged as his relationship with me--has helped him appreciate how parents are really just regular, flawed human beings struggling to do the right thing.

Last year my son took a 1-month trip with his bio-dad back to bio-dad's country of origin to travel around and see that side of his roots, meet relatives he's never met, and even precipitated the re-establishment of contact between bio-dad and bio-grandpa, ties that had been severed since bio-dad was 20 (and now my son knows where he gets his curly sideburns and hair-trigger temper from!)

Bio-dad may never have been the dad I would have wanted him to be, in countless ways. But I am grateful, truly grateful, for whatever sense of belonging and connectedness he has to give my kids--it's a valuable gift.
posted by SomeTrickPony at 6:50 AM on March 5, 2011 [2 favorites]

I don't wish to discount Meese's experience, but...

And I don't want to discount anyone else's. This really is the sort of thing that depends on the specific kids, the specific bio-dad, and the specific step-dad.
posted by meese at 7:15 AM on March 5, 2011

I know the adoption issue is bigger than this, but I'll just throw it out as an idea:

When people get married/divorced, they have the option to choose whatever last name they want. In fact, (with a few exceptions) any person can legally change their last name anytime.

In the case of adoption, if it's that important to the boys to keep their last name, can't they keep it and still be legally adopted?
posted by CathyG at 9:39 AM on March 5, 2011

All I have to say is that I wish I had asked for some "step dad help" years ago! I can't thank you folks enough. I feel so much better about this now.

And just to report back a bit, all involved hung out together today and while we didn't hash out any serious business, it does look like we're all on the same page together: kids first.

Thanks again everyone! It's so awesome to have a place where I can throw my stuff out there and have so many responses that are so thoughtful and intelligent. Precisely what I was hoping for!
posted by snsranch at 7:45 PM on March 5, 2011

Well I'm definitely in the minority.

My father abandoned my family when I was two and attempted to make contact again when I was 14 and my mother was remarried. I hated my bio-dad with every inch of my body and had my stepdad or mom insisted he be part of my life I would probably have run away or at the very least held it against them.

My older sister, on the other hand, did want to make contact. She met him and, I believe, everything went fine and she maintained a very loose relationship with him until he died a few years later (she was the executor of his will).

When I was 16, he called me, having gotten my phone number from my sister. I hung up on him as soon as he said "It's your dad," and I have never forgiven my sister for that breach, though it was more than a quarter century ago now. (She was well-aware I didn't want him in my life but thought it would be "good for me".)

My mother had three children, one handicapped and with a heart condition, when my biodad split, making two year old me the "man of the house". People are often surprised when I tell them I've never met my father and that, truly, I had no and have no curiosity whatsoever about him or his life after he left. He was a grown man when he made his decision to leave. My mother had to raise three kids alone in the 70s; we lived in trailer parks and the projects. My mom worked as a janitor, then a teacher, and eventually won "Woman of the Year" from the Toronto Board of Education. She met a decent man after a series of not-so-decent ones, and at 14 he became my father. My biodad doesn't get to re-enter the picture at that point. I don't give a shit about his reason for returning any more than I do his reasons for leaving. Twelve years prior he chose excuses over family. He doesn't get to swap back and forth on whim.

If your kids don't want to be with their biodad, I think it's ridiculous for you and their mother to force them to do it. It's just as ridiculous as if they wanted to be with their biodad and you prevented it. Yes, kids are kids and aren't necessarily the best at making smart decisions, but when it comes to whether they want to spend time with someone who abandoned them? I think they're perfectly capable of knowing what they want.
posted by dobbs at 12:10 AM on March 6, 2011 [3 favorites]

All I have to say is that I wish I had asked for some "step dad help" years ago! I can't thank you folks enough. I feel so much better about this now.

snsranch, I skimmed through your AskMe history and it seems to me you need very little stepdad help. You are doing a great job with your boys.

I hated my bio-dad with every inch of my body and had my stepdad or mom insisted he be part of my life I would probably have run away or at the very least held it against them.

All due respect dobbs, but the the OP's kids' biodad didn't abandon/impoverish them and they don't hate him, he is "someone who we kinda care about but not that much."
posted by headnsouth at 3:25 PM on March 6, 2011

Thanks headnsouth.
posted by snsranch at 7:41 AM on March 7, 2011

All due respect dobbs, but the the OP's kids' biodad didn't abandon/impoverish them and they don't hate him

Sure sounds like he abandoned them to me: "He's not a bad guy but he definitely put his military career ahead of his family/kids and has only seen them once a year for the last 9 years."

Unless you consider seeing your children nine times in almost a decade to not be abandonment.

"How do I let him know that his kids really don't want to talk or spend time with him?"

They may not hate him but they sure don't sound like they like him very much.

"someone who we kinda care about but not that much."

The WE in this instance appear to be the biomom and the stepdad, not the children. At least, that's the way I read it.
posted by dobbs at 11:43 AM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

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