Dating men with children
September 25, 2013 4:58 AM   Subscribe

Dating someone for 8 months, knew he had a 16 year old (he's 35) from a previous marriage. Just found out he has a 5 year old from a different woman. He didn't come out and tell me about second child, and that is what is making me feel indifferent. Should I be okay with this?

I was completely fine with him having a teenage daughter from a previous marriage, I know things happen, there was no judgement or questions and I love children. Just recently I came across a picture of a young girl which did not resemble the daughter I know of, and something in my gut just told me- so I asked who it was he kind of skirted around the topic and then admitted while stationed overseas 5 years ago he was in a relationship and before he left he found out she was pregnant. He said she claimed she was on birth control, but it seems as though she may have "become desperate" and intentionally became pregnant with his child without him knowing she was not taking her BC. He said that for a while he didn't think it was his, hasn't taken a paternity test, but the baby looks like him and they have come to accept that it has to be his. He said it was a hard year of his life, I know he doesn't have much contact if any other than occasional e-mails. They speak diff. languages and neither of them are fluent in each others language so he said he is hard to communicate with the mother and that he doesn't speak to her because she is "loopy" always e-mailing him telling him how in love with him she still is. I guess he didn't tell his family for a while because he was upset with himself, so she went ahead and told them without speaking to him so it was a big family thing.

It's an intimate detail of his life that he clearly didn't share with me for a reason, and being with someone for 8 months is kind of a short period so I'm rationalizing it because he probably doesn't even share this information with his friends, if he didn't even want to tell his family. I'm trying to be understanding but I feel he would have never told me, and I guess it is a big deal to me to know this becuase his past is littered with remnents of marriage, engagement, serious committments, two children- it makes me wonder, so maybe that is where my uncertainty is coming from. Not to go to deep but there have been times of him questioning our relationship and kind of pushing me away, just to come back and say how much he cares about me. Now all this past I am learning about is freaking me out.

The other thing is, it sort of bothers me he doesn't seem to want to be a part of her life, but then again-- they are in different countries, speak different languages, etc. He speaks to his teenage daughter a lot, she lives across the US so again he doesn't see her much but pays child support. He probably goes to see her once every year or two, but says everytime he goes he is treated like a piece of shit so he just doesn't think he deserves it.

It just feels like a tough pill to swollow, having two children different mothers and not having much contact with the children or seeming like he is too invested in them. Everyone has baggage and at my age I know a lot of men will have children/ex spouses, etc. I guess it's a personal preference. If you have children, or have been in a situation like this- if you are ashamed about a decision you have made, do you think it is okay to not discuss it with someone you want to have a future with?
posted by BrandNewMe to Human Relations (31 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
1. Hiding the kid is bad
2. Accusing the mother of said kid of sabotaging her BC to get pregnant is bad
3. Is he paying child support for the hidden kid?
4. Calling the mother of your child 'loopy' is a dick move, as is #2.

I'd run.
posted by angrycat at 5:02 AM on September 25, 2013 [51 favorites]


Agreeing with angrycat. This is not a small lie. It is not excusable, certainly not at eight months in. And the way he talks about the mother smacks of resentful self-centered anger. Get out, this guy is no good.
posted by Scientist at 5:06 AM on September 25, 2013


Run like hell. This is only the beginning of finding out who this guy really is.
posted by playertobenamedlater at 5:07 AM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Response by poster: Touche.... thank you!
posted by BrandNewMe at 5:08 AM on September 25, 2013


This all spells GET OUT to me. Imagine that, due to a manufacturing error or something, you accidentally got pregnant tomorrow; would you feel comfortable telling the man described above that information? Do you think he would handle it appropriately or in a way that would be constructive?

If not, get out. Plenty of guys will have exes and children and baggage, and plenty of them will be more honest and have a better emotional handle on it.
posted by itsonreserve at 5:09 AM on September 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


Hoo boy. The 'more inside' on this one is just--just--no. No. DTMFA. Not because he has a kid he didn't tell you about, but because he has a kid he didn't tell you about with a woman who he's happy to accuse of doing all kinds of insane things that real people generally do not do, and that he's trashing her excessively to try to get you to be okay with this instead of trying to prove that he's a decent person.
posted by Sequence at 5:10 AM on September 25, 2013 [6 favorites]


Not telling you about the 5-year-old is not okay when you've been dating that long. I also think its a bad sign that he doesn't seem to take much responsibility for either child. I agree with itsonreserve. What if you got pregnant and had the kid? Is this someone you could trust to do his part?
posted by Area Man at 5:10 AM on September 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


8 months is almost a 1/5 of the child's life. Run.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 5:17 AM on September 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


Dude, I'm all for making allowances for youthful indiscretion and stupidity, but from your report it seems like your boyfriend is 35 years old and STILL a crappy dad. He doesn't deal with his five year old because the mom is loopy? He doesn't visit his teen often because people are mean to him?

I don't know how old you are but if you are looking for a life partner to even potentially parent with, what you know about this guy on that score is that when the circumstances are hard, this guy fails. And the circumstances are always hard with kids.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:24 AM on September 25, 2013 [12 favorites]


No way. No, no, no, no no. For all the reasons already given.
posted by Salamander at 5:24 AM on September 25, 2013


Best answer: I'm usually in the "You need to talk and see if you can resolve this" camp, instead of the often predominant default-DTMFA camp, on AskMe relationship questions.

However, in this case...

"... and being with someone for 8 months is kind of a short period so I'm rationalizing it because he probably doesn't even share this information with his friends ..."

(a) 8 months, 2/3 of a year, is not a short period
(b) he's not dating his friends; he's dating you

You shouldn't need to drag this kind of information out of someone that you want to share your life with. In your situation, I would be wondering "So ... how do I know there isn't a third?"

I am sorry/reluctant to recommend it, but in this case it would be very difficult to trust the other person with major life things, and for your own peace of mind think you do need to make an exit, explaining to him why on the way out of this relationship.
posted by Wordshore at 5:28 AM on September 25, 2013 [6 favorites]


Best answer: ...just came back to say - his excuses make my head hurt.

This guy missed the memo about how once you have kids, it's not all about you anymore.
posted by Salamander at 5:29 AM on September 25, 2013 [8 favorites]


I have an 8 year old daughter and I have a hard time not mentioning that for more than a few minutes after meeting anyone, much less a potential romantic partner. I'm quite proud of her and couldn't imagine hiding her existence as if she were something to be ashamed of.

I also try not to bad-mouth my ex-wife because it's tacky and no one likes a complainer. (And she's not a bad person, we just couldn't stay married).
posted by TedW at 5:35 AM on September 25, 2013 [8 favorites]


Best answer: Everyone seems to be having a knee jerk reaction to this.

Let me ask.. how much do you care for this guy? I ask because, to me, it seems his reasons are acceptable.

This wouldn't be a dealbreaker for me. I'd be confused and upset about him not telling me.. but from the way you're written this? It sounds to me like he's ashamed.

Sit down and have a serious conversation with him. Use I language instead of you language. Tell him how this makes you feel, ask him how it makes him feel, and work together on understanding each other.

Metafilter is very quick to tell you to DTMFA for even small slights, but please take a bigger picture at things before you take that advice. This isn't a small slight, but there's more to your relationship then what you've told us.
posted by royalsong at 5:37 AM on September 25, 2013 [8 favorites]


The problem I'm seeing here is that even if one would cut that guy some slack and believe that his reasons are acceptable, he's still pretty immature for someone who's 35 when it comes to the self-confrontation department.
The question, then, is: would one want to date a person with this type of issues?
posted by Namlit at 6:31 AM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


He's got a past, we all do. The question is, when he recounts things from his past that didn't go so well, does he accept any culpability for what happened, or is it always someone else's fault? What you wrote above makes it sound like he doesn't believe himself accountable for past actions, even really big ones that, in my view, people should own. Ask yourself, "can he accept responsibility for anything he does that doesn't go so well?" If not, I would not want to continue in a relationship.
posted by u2604ab at 6:31 AM on September 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


Best answer: Accusing the mother of said kid of sabotaging her BC to get pregnant is bad

And it may also be true. And, she may also be "loopy".

That said, I am not getting a great picture of this guy. I tend to be of royalsong's line of reasoning. I think that omitting mention of a child is kind of a big deal, but I think it is mitigated by the fact that the mother and child are in another country and he appears to have little if any relationship with them. On the other hand, I don't understand people having a string of different children with different parents, but that's what serial monogamy gets you.

In the end, he does not sound like a man I would like for my daughter. Take that for what it's worth.
posted by Tanizaki at 6:36 AM on September 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


I am with royalsong here. Though I would say 'his reasons may be understandable'. People do do stupid things, and that may apply as much to her as to him.

But do treat this as a warning as to his relationship qualities.
posted by GeeEmm at 6:50 AM on September 25, 2013


I also try not to bad-mouth my ex-wife because it's tacky and no one likes a complainer. (And she's not a bad person, we just couldn't stay married).

My son's mother tried very hard to get me falsely arrested and was in pretty much all ways a terrible human towards me. The first few years of his life - when I was advised by lawyers to forget about being a parent, forget about the kid and don't be late with the child support - were some of the hardest in my life.

But I rarely talked about it at the time - mostly from a mixture of embarrassment and a desire to not pick at scabs. My son is grown now, I just burned 4 boxes of legal papers, motions, accusations and acrimony. I still don't really like to talk about it. It actually took talking about it on Metafilter to get me to be able to talk about at all to people who are not close to me.

So, I dunno. I agree that this guy could have handled this more gracefully. But, then, women can be bad people, too, and things are complicated and having been somewhat in his shoes I think I can see where he's coming from.

My advice - I'd have a long talk with him about this and your feelings. It may be that the right advice is to DTMFA. If you like the guy and he seems otherwise standup then, well, maybe you can get through this. Hiding a kid like this isn't nothing, but there are reasons and context that may apply and I think you should get the whole story on that.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 6:52 AM on September 25, 2013 [10 favorites]


I'm just throwing out there that you can talk through these concerns and issues with a counselor before deciding whether or not there is a permanent pattern of deception, and whether the fact that "his past is littered with remnents of marriage, engagement, serious committments, two children" is something that will play out negatively in your current relationship. We all have histories that we bring with us, but the thing to know if if he is engaging his history head on, or playing at the edges with a lot of hidden behavior. I think you are right to ask the questions.

Counseling can change people, it can help them see the light at times, and it can help them know you are serious about your stated concerns, while giving tools for the change they agree that they need, but don't know how to do. Whether or not you can communicate honestly is the thing to probably suss out, and you are right to have your concerns at this point. But I also wouldn't assume it's deal breaking territory until you get to the bottom of what this means, exactly, for your relationship, and if he's willing to engage fully, or has adopted deception as a permanent life pattern.
posted by SpacemanStix at 7:12 AM on September 25, 2013


I wouldn't care if the mother is completely unhinged and deserved to be committed in a mental hospital. The father should still be telling any romantic partners, "I have a second child who is 8. I'm not in contact with the mom. It's complicated." Not telling is rarely a good sign.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 8:53 AM on September 25, 2013 [7 favorites]


There are so many layers of this which are bad news that I personally would be out of the door already. I really value responsibility as a character trait and this guy sound unforgivably irresponsible. Children are not spare socks to be casually discarded around the globe if they no longer fit properly. If this woman is so awful how could he countenance leaving his child with her unprotected?

Plus even 'loopy' people deserve child support if they are bringing up your kid and I'd be loopy too if I'd been left unsupported with a baby. The ignoring the other daughter because people there are mean is more of the same. Just sounds very irresponsible, selfish and immature to me. The honesty issue, hiding things he knows you won't like, is another red flag but I'd be so bowled over by the child abandonment that I'd probably not even make it that far.

Sorry he's not who you wanted him to be. Don't wait until you're the loopy one being ignored as you try to make him clean up the mess he left in his wake. End it cleanly now.
posted by Dorothia at 9:29 AM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


This dude lied (by omission, but it's still a lie) for eight solid months about the existance of the 5-year-old; that's one heck of a big lie, especially since you knew about & were okay with him being a father to the 16-year-old..... or wait a minute: did he tell you from the start about the 16-year-old, or was that merely harder for him to hide/lie about?

Either way, I'd run. You know zero about the 5-year-old's mother other than what he tells you, and what he's telling you is:
1. He is totally not responsible for the existance of that child: it was all her fault, she tried to trap him. Yeah, right. She was desparate, she lied about her birth control, she intentionally became pregnant by a man who could barely talk to her and who left pretty much immediatly upon finding out about that pregnancy.
2. He is so wonderful & memorable that six years later the mother --- with whom he has massive language differences, please note! --- is constantly exchanging emails with him declaring her undying love. Uh-huh. So she's writing in her language and he's writing in English and somehow or other every word either one writes is clear to the other?
3. He tried to lie (again, by ommission) to his family, exactly as he has lied to you for the last eight months: just as he tried to never let you know about this child, he tried to never let his family know, either.... kind of a theme there, isn't it?
4. As others say, is he supporting this child? And 'support' doesn't mean simply admitting she is his daughter or replying to emails; it involves manning up and being the kid's dad, as well as, yeah, financial support.
5. He has no problems whatsoever with badmouthing his exs to anyone.
posted by easily confused at 10:24 AM on September 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


Look, this guy sounds like he was no prize before this second child came to light (the whole push and pull thing you described) -- so even if I wanted to rationalise or justify the omission, I would then be hard-pressed to be gung-ho about him after.
posted by sm1tten at 11:12 AM on September 25, 2013


When you say that every time he goes to meet his 16 year old daughter he is treated like shit... this is what he is telling you, but that doesn't mean it is true. It's very common for people to smear the blame for their own bad actions on others, he knows not visiting his own kid looks bad so he needs to make it somehow not his fault.

And then he also blames the second mother for everything that reflects poorly on him. She tricked him. She's loopy. He can't understand her.

Have you seen any instances where he has taken full responsibility for anything that shows him in a bad light? Or does he always try to shift the blame?

If he does, you will be garunteed his scapegoat eventually. Even in best case scenarios, that's still settling for a bum relationship.
posted by Dynex at 11:23 AM on September 25, 2013


Just a data point. I have an old friend. We aren't particularly close any more, but we are in touch on and off. He has a teenaged daughter by an ex girlfriend. He also has a toddler from a shorter term relationship. I don't know what he tells his more recent girlfriends, but he told me that the second kids mother is nuts and claimed she couldn't get pregnant, which he has reason to believe was just her being misinformed.

Sound familiar? Well here is an important difference: I know that he is in close touch with his older daughter and sees her often, even though she is being raised by her mother in another state. Also, he is making a concerted effort to get custody of his other kid because leaving him in primary custody of a messed up mother is by no means a reasonable option.

Which is to say that, yeah, having serious misgivings about this is reasonable.
posted by Good Brain at 11:56 AM on September 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oh, and one more thing: he claims the kid's mother wanted to trap him with a pregnancy --- his decision not to use a condom is apparently irrelevant.
posted by easily confused at 12:07 PM on September 25, 2013 [6 favorites]


When you say that every time he goes to meet his 16 year old daughter he is treated like shit... this is what he is telling you, but that doesn't mean it is true. It's very common for people to smear the blame for their own bad actions on others, he knows not visiting his own kid looks bad so he needs to make it somehow not his fault.

This is a pretty big assumption.

I've personally witnessed, more than a few times, a father who goes to visit their child and gets treated like shit from the mother. Once, I watched as the father left without even seeing the child because of the yelling and berating he got from the mother when he showed up for a scheduled visit. The mother then blamed the father when the child was upset about not seeing him.

I won't even go into the day to day guilt and manipulation I've witnessed from custodial mothers to non-custodial fathers. I'll just say I think its far more common than you realize. Sure, its easy to say "man up" and "be responsible" but how many times can a guy get beat over the head with the same stick before its too much? Before he thinks maybe the kid is just better off if he doesn't even try?

So, he's not proud of the fact that he has a kid in another country that he can't talk to because he doesn't speak her language and her mother makes it even more difficult. If you found a picture, he's obviously not "hiding" it, he's just not celebrating it either. Sometimes, people are not thrilled about being unintentional parents.

And this:
"his decision not to use a condom" - sorry, but this isn't all on him. He believed he was protected. Other than making the decision to trust that she was, in fact, on birth control, he was given no choice in the decision to parent a child. The resentment in this situation has got to be terrible when the kid is on the other side of the world and he can't even communicate affectively with her in email, let alone have a chance to know and love her without uprooting EVERYTHING ELSE in your life to be with her.
posted by CorporateHippy at 12:34 PM on September 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


having two children different mothers and not having much contact with the children or seeming like he is too invested in them

You'll just need to see over time what his attitude is towards this if it matters to you. If he wanted to have more contact with the children, it's not his sole decision, he would need to have the cooperation of the mothers as well. Custody can be very complex across international lines, and the mother of the 5 year old might have her own reasons for not having him come visit, not to mention it's expensive to do so.

No one here knows what sorts of things he usually mentions to you and shares with you, so no one here can tell you if this was a particularity strange thing for him not to mention or not. If you'd rather see someone who is more forthright about disclosing things, you are perfectly free to do that, but you are the one who needs to decide that.
posted by yohko at 2:11 PM on September 25, 2013


I have a different reading on your situation. Frankly, I can see how either a charitable reading (CorporateHippy) or uncharitable reading (easily confused) of his actions is possible.

However, the main issue is that your instinct is telling you that something is wrong. As described here:

...there have been times of him questioning our relationship and kind of pushing me away, just to come back and say how much he cares about me. Now all this past I am learning about is freaking me out.

And here:

...not having much contact with the children or seeming like he is too invested in them.

You don't feel good about this guy. Your gut is telling you that something is wrong and it's causing you to freak out. You describe him as the type of person who abandons people, do you really want to test this? Believe yourself, trust your inner protective measures, don't ignore yourself.
posted by Shouraku at 3:11 PM on September 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


Would he be willing to show you some of the emails his ex has sent, so you can judge for yourself whether or not she's really "loopy", or actually desperate for support? To me, the latter seems more likely considering the fact that she went behind his back to tell his family about his child. That sounds like she was going to great lengths to get him to acknowledge his responsibility. Not a good sign for you or anyone else who might need to depend on him.

As far as being "treated like shit" when he visits his other daughter, could that be partially explained, not excused, by his seemingly casual approach to parenting? There are definitely people who make co-parenting with an ex more difficult or dramatic than it should be. But in a lot of cases, that behavior comes from a build up of anger, bitterness, and helplessness that comes from seeing that your child is not getting enough support from their other parent. I mean a visit every year or couple of years is not enough. It's just not.
posted by sundaydriver at 3:37 AM on September 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


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