Ex running the show
July 30, 2007 2:59 PM   Subscribe

How do you deal with a bf's son?

This is my friends situation. She has a boyfriend who has a 13 year old son from the first marriage. Boyfriend's ex live in the same town. The ex has the custody. When my friend and bf first were dating, son goes visit every other weekend. Now, that they are seriously dating, ex suddenly has to work 6 to 7 nights a week(she is a nurse) and the son needs to be at boyfriends house every night the ex is working. I checked with child services and i was told that you can leave a 13 years old alone. Son is a member of boy scouts so I'm sure, he knows how to survive and take care of himself at night. We are thinking the ex is using the son so that my friend and bf cant leave town or go out. Ex has NO SET schedule or set day offs. Ex gives her schedule a week ahead and mostly for the past year, its been irregular. My friend stays at bf's house every night since thats their set up from the very beginning. She has her own apartment but she'd rather stay at bf's house every night. Son is spoiled in the sense that he decides what show to watch on TV, gets his dad's attention every chance he gets, doesnt give his dad privacy. Son leaves his glasses, plates wherever he wants instead of putting them in the dishwasher. Little things that piles up coz my friend is the one ending up cleaning after him. Dad thinks there is no problem with his son and he is just being a kid. this situation is taking its toll on their relationship much more now that we found out its PERFECTLY LEGAL to leave a 13 year old alone at home. Any input? Anyone who is in the same situation?
posted by confused1965 to Human Relations (41 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Dad thinks there is no problem with his son and he is just being a kid

Sorry, this is between the Dad and his son. If it were her place I'd say she was allowed to set house rules etc., but in this case she has nothing to say about it. She needn't clean up after him though.
posted by MiffyCLB at 3:06 PM on July 30, 2007

While it's *legal* to leave a 13 year old alone, that doesn't make it a good idea.

Lots of 13 year olds are mature enough, but many are not. This would be the parents' judgement call.
posted by mazienh at 3:08 PM on July 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

I think you have no business deciding whether it's a good idea to leave that particular 13-year-old alone at night. That decision rests with his parents -- not your friend, and definitely not you.

Your friend should make sure her boyfriend knows what she needs and thinks is best for their relationship, but it's on him to negotiate with his ex a visitation schedule that works for everyone. And if push comes to shove, the interests of the child should come first.

You and your friend getting all wound up about this and deciding together that the ex is acting in bad faith is not helpful. Butt out and let the bf handle it.
posted by ottereroticist at 3:09 PM on July 30, 2007 [3 favorites]

Trust me, my husband, who has teen sons from a previous marriage, would much rather have the boys here than staying home alone. And I would agree. Just because a 13 year old CAN stay alone doesn't mean he should, especially as he has a perfectly capable parent nearby. If the bf and the ex were still married they probably wouldn't be out 6-7 nights a week leaving the son home alone.
Your friend needs to understand that this guy was a dad before he was her bf. When there are kids in the picture, even in intact families, situations change rapidly. Sure, the ex could be changing her schedule in order to "punish" the bf, but does the bf really consider being with his son a punishment? If your friend is serious about the guy and thinks she might want to have kids with him, she should be happy he is a responsible parent. If she doesn't want to have kids, well, that's a problem, because this guy is a dad.
If the kid's been used to spending every other weekend at dad's, he's probably been treated more like a guest than a member of the household. If he's spending more consistent time at dad's, yes, he should be expected to take a bigger role in cleaning up etc. But your friend isn't the one to insist upon this. It's not her apartment, it's not her son. She is a guest in the man's apartment and has no right to tell him how his son should behave or how the household should function. What she can do is tell him how she feels about the changes in his situation and how she misses the way things used to be. Instead of insisting that the kid should stay home alone every night, she could suggest that on Friday nights they can get a sitter or leave the boy and a buddy alone with a pizza and a movie for a few hours while they go on a date or back to her apartment for private time.
It's a tricky situation, and I feel for her, but I don't think leaving the kid home alone 6 nights a week is what's best for the kid or the dad.
posted by Biblio at 3:27 PM on July 30, 2007 [5 favorites]

I have a friend who is a nurse whose schedule changes radically. Are you absolutely certain this is the ex's doing? As far as the kid not cleaning up, that's a separate issue that says more to me about the Dad than the ex. And apparently Dad has no problem having his son during the week, or presumably he would have worked something else out. I'm kind of surprised that your friend would think it's perfectly OK for the son to stay at home alone every night so that she can have private time with the boyfriend. If someone felt that way about my (hypothetical) child, I'd seriously think twice about letting that person into my life.
posted by oneirodynia at 3:27 PM on July 30, 2007

Sorry but in my mind the relationship between the parent and child is primary, not the relationship between the parent and girlfriend. Leaving a 13 year old at home alone at night because it's legal and makes the girlfriend happier is really kinda shitty logic. I'm wondering if the girlfriend would complain just as much if the ex worked a different shift for less money and then needed more financial support from the father.

Some fathers are more involved with their children's lives than others. Your girlfriend needs to decide if she can live with and be happy with that kind of man or if she needs to find another guy.
posted by hollygoheavy at 3:31 PM on July 30, 2007

Legality has nothing to do with it.

The boyfriend's first responsibility is to his son. Any new person to the situation is _always_ going be second the needs of the child.

If your girlfriend has concerns, she needs to address them with the boyfriend openly and immediately. The son will always be in the father's life and if the girlfriend can't deal with it now, it's unlikely that things will get better.
posted by Argyle at 3:32 PM on July 30, 2007

I was a Boy Scout when I was 13. If somebody had left me in the house alone for a whole night, there's a decent chance that I'd've (accidentally) burnt it down.
posted by box at 3:33 PM on July 30, 2007 [2 favorites]

Another thing (and I'm not trying to slam you or your friend, just point out some things you may not be considering) - the BF might *enjoy* having his son around.

I know many non-custodial parents who welcome any time they can get with their kids, and don't view spending time with their child to be a chore or unwelcome even if other arrangements can potentially be made.
posted by mazienh at 3:33 PM on July 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

I think that fundamentally one has no business dating someone with kids unless one is willing to acknowledge that a parents' relationship with kids come before his or her relationship with an SO. Your friend either needs to deal with that or she needs to get out of the relationship. Furthermore, she must not create tension between her boyfriend and the mother of his child. If she can't stop doing that, she needs to end the relationship. And you're egging your friend on. Unless you have a really good reason to think that the ex is fiddling with her schedule to hurt your friend's relationship, you need to shut your fucking trap. Really, I'm not sure why you're involved in this situation at all.

Your friend definitely shouldn't be cleaning up after the kid, though, and she really needs to talk to her boyfriend about that. It's his house, and he needs to establish some ground rules.
posted by craichead at 3:37 PM on July 30, 2007

There's a world of difference between leaving a child alone for a few hours and leaving the kid alone 6 nights a week.

Perhaps your friend can take this opportunity to get to know the kid, and to help her boyfriend learn to set boundaries, but in any case it's certainly not her place to suggest that someone leave a kid alone every night.
posted by stefanie at 3:38 PM on July 30, 2007

It's certainly possible that the ex- is purposely setting her schedule to interfere with the Dad's new girlfriend. Evening shifts also tend to pay more. The Dad's 1st priority is being a Dad. That means that not only does the kid stay with Dad, but Dad rearranges his time to be an active parent, overseeing homework, watching appropriate teevee, building models, etc.

Your friend must understand that the needs of the child come 1st. If she accepts that, and makes a place for herself, then maybe they'll be happy. If she doesn't accept it, she'll end up unhappy, and maybe screw up a kid's relationship with his Dad.

Son is spoiled in the sense that he decides what show to watch on TV, gets his dad's attention every chance he gets, doesn't give his dad privacy. Son leaves his glasses, plates wherever he wants instead of putting them in the dishwasher.

It's appropriate for a kid, especially a child with divorced parents, to want his Dad's attention, and to get it. When the kid feels secure, that will ease off. Most kids don't really respect their parent's privacy. TV choices? If the kid is up and the teevee is on, it should be child-appropriate. Better yet, turn off the teevee and read, listen to music together, make stuff, go for a walk, etc. Picking stuff up? Dad should teach his son to clean up after himself.

Your friend's best move is to be a fantastic StepMom. If she doesn't want to do that, now's the time to move on. My son's stepmother helped ruin my son's relationship with his Dad. It's tragic.
posted by theora55 at 3:59 PM on July 30, 2007

If the kid can't pick up after himself, how do you expect him to be mature enough to stay at home alone for a night? Everyone above is right, the son is the priority, not the girlfriend. What if the mother suddenly was completely unable to take care of the son and sole custody went to the father? What would she do then? Your friend needs to look at the son as a permanent part of the house, and see if that changes her thoughts about what to do with him.
posted by nursegracer at 4:24 PM on July 30, 2007

Your friend is remarkably immature. Sounds like she's looking for a daddy rather than a boyfriend, if she expects a 13-yr. old to stay home alone while Dad plays house with her.

Thirteen year olds are rarely, if ever, mature enough to stay home alone by themselves. A child who might already have abandonment issues because of the divorce does not need to actually BE abandoned.

Tell your friend to grow up.
posted by clarkstonian at 4:28 PM on July 30, 2007 [5 favorites]

So wow he wants his dad's attention, leaves his stuff around the house, and doesn't clean up after himself. Sounds almost like he's a 13 year old boy. Except for your friend, the set up sounds great. Mom can work irregular hours without worrying where her son is and the kid gets to spend some quality time with the dad he previously only saw every other weekend. Your friend sounds horribly immature and jealous of a 13 year old.

Also, I wouldn't say that the ex is abusing the situation if she took care of the son all the time except every other weekend for a long period of time and now needs her child's other parent to pick up some slack that's pretty fair. Parenting is supposed to be 50/50 regardless of what their divorce decree might say.

From the tone of your question, it sounds like you think your friend's bf should be able to live like he's free and single, but uh... he's not, he has a 13 year old son. That's another 5 years of hard core commitment and a lifetime of still being there to support his son.

I can understand your friend's unhappiness with the situation, I don't think I could date someone with kids. I'm not at that point in my life where I'd want to be tied down like that, but if she wants to stay in this relationship she needs to accept that the kid comes first.
posted by whoaali at 4:33 PM on July 30, 2007

Being the child of divorce.. And then a second divorce.. And then a third divorce, this is a very sore subject for me. But maybe I can give your friend some perspective..

The kid is in trouble, to some extent or another. And if your friend doesn't like having the kid around, he can probably tell. It is very likely making him feel guilty, in the way, and unwanted. My mother's second husband clearly didn't want me around--he didn't like me and did almost nothing to be a father to me. He lived in our house, he would occasionally come into the same room as I was in, but he otherwise was neglectful. At the time, I didn't realize the full extent of this. It was just normal for "Dad" to say nothing to me, do nothing with me, have no contact with me. That was the worst era of my life. It was like living a dull throbbing pain.

But, that guy didn't stay around for too long, and my mom started dating my "step-father," from whom I took my last name. They were married when I was 14. It was clear, from day one, that he wanted to be a part of my life. At first, it was weird--he was going out of his way to like me, to be a parent to me. And he has been the best influence in my life. I owe him everything. Without him, I would be a dysfunctional, bitter, socially awkward woman who did not really know what a good person is. It's almost impossible to accurately describe how much he has done for me. The best I can do is point out that I do not call him "dad" or "father" because other men have ruined that word for me and he deserves far greater praise than that word holds.

If your friend is thinking of the teenager as that other person's child, that relic of a dead relationship, then she can be hurting the child quite dearly. If she wants to stay in this relationship, then I beg her to see herself as having a duty to that child. She needs to either see herself as being responsible for her part in that teen's upbringing, or she needs to get out. Even if the kid is a brat, just as I was a quiet, boring brat when I met my step-father, she needs to think of him as her brat.
posted by Ms. Saint at 4:41 PM on July 30, 2007 [8 favorites]

Your friend is perceiving that this is the kid's house more than it is the girlfriend's. That's accurate, and it's how it should be. He's the #1 priority, and if he needs to stay there weeknights temporarily or every night until he's 18, that needs to be fine with her. That's how being a parent works.
posted by lemuria at 4:51 PM on July 30, 2007

Hey, maybe you could offer to hang out with the kid every once in a while and watch a movie or play chess or something so your friend and her bf could get a night off? Wouldn't that help everyone? And you may begin to think of the kid as a person instead of a problem and may be able to help your friend through her issues with the kid. I agree w/Ms. Saint that she appears to be thinking of him as some residue of the previous marriage, instead of someone in her life who needs her.
posted by eve harrington at 4:52 PM on July 30, 2007

It sounds like your friend wants the kid to simply go away. In that case, why is she dating a man with a child?
posted by caitlinb at 4:56 PM on July 30, 2007

A lot of separate issues here.

1. The mom is relying on the dad to take care of their son overnight a lot more often than she used to, and this might be a move to sour his new relationship;

2. The dad is allowing his son to do what he wants instead of imposing rules and discipline;

3. The new girlfriend doesn't like the way the dad's son behaves around the house, believes the mom is punishing her, and bases that idea on the law allowing 13 year old boys to stay alone.

That's a lot of stuff going on, and the only part that matters for your friend is this: she needs to decide if she can accept the situation, the dad, and the child as they are now. If now, she can (and should) speak her peace, but she'd better be prepared to walk away -- this is what's meant by the term "baggage", and no matter how much she might be annoyed by this whole thing, she's got the least amount of skin in the game by far.
posted by davejay at 4:57 PM on July 30, 2007

Almost forgot: as a father, I can imagine hating my wife and being divorced. However, I can also imagine not wanting my 13-year-old children to stay home alone seven nights a week, no matter what the law says. If the mom is intentionally scheduling herself to inconvenience the dad, then they'll need to work out that issue themselves -- but not leaving the kids alone is a GOOD thing, not a bad thing.
posted by davejay at 4:58 PM on July 30, 2007

(I disagree, by the way, that she should think of herself as having a "duty" to take an active part in bringing up the child. Both parents are in the picture. The parents have a duty; she, strictly speaking, does not. But she does have a duty as a human being to be a friendly presence in the life of her significant other's children - if indeed she wishes to be in a relationship with a person who already has children.)
posted by caitlinb at 4:59 PM on July 30, 2007

I've just read a lot of other answers above, and just want to support the view that the kid is the victim here, not the girlfriend.
posted by davejay at 5:00 PM on July 30, 2007

It's hard to be a single mom.
It's hard to be a 13 year old kid.
It's hard to be a dad without full custody.

Girlfriend needs to STFU, be less critical of the kid's mother, more supportive of her boyfriend's situation, and most importantly: gain some empathy for a 13 year old kid from a broken home, going through puberty, has to deal with school stress and probably doesn't get to spend much time with his mother.

She has her own apartment but she'd rather stay at bf's house every night.

Maybe she needs to spend some more time at her apartment behaving like an adult, and less time making a difficult situation worse. She is only the girlfriend, if she has her own place to go to, she has no right to be behaving like this is some infringement on her personal space.

Or, on the other hand, if she wants to positively influence the situation, get the kid out from in front of the TV, help him with homework, spend some time with him to forge a relationship so that she can earn the ability to be listened to. Then she can start gently teaching him how to pick up after himself, setting a mature example/rules that can be followed, and discuss with her boyfriend as to the consequences if they are broken . If she cares about her boyfriend, she would automatically care about the welfare of his child. I don't really see that happening here.
posted by saturnine at 5:02 PM on July 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

While I agree completely with what people are saying her, that it's the boy's house not the girlfriend's, there is one part of what you said that stuck out. The ex is the one with custody. I assume this is court-ordered? The reason I ask is because it makes a big difference whether the bf is watching the son as some sort of odd "favor" to the ex or if they have a new custody arrangement that means the son stays at the boyfriend's house now when he didn't before.

So, in short, if the ex has a new job schedule that means that she works 6-7 nights a week and they are legally divorced then at some level it's her responsibility (the ex's) to arrange for childcare for the son. If she's suddenly working all the time, that doesn't make the legal custody arrangement change unless they both agree to change it.

As I said before, I think the set-up is more something your friend needs to deal with than bitch about [the kid is a boy scout so he should be okay staying alone at night? that's an appaling thing to say, imo] BUT if this is a concern between her and her boyfriend about the ex's behavior and assumptions, that is what custody arrangements are designed to prevent. If things need to change, they should be changing legally and that way no one has to wonder whether the ex is doing it for her own nefarious reasons or not.

It should be totally decent for the bf to say "I'm sleeping over my girlfriend's house/going out of town/having a romantic getaway next week because I want to, since you have legal custody you may need to find a place for our son to stay while you are at work" especially if he's not the one with legal custody. That said, your friend in this case needs to separate the things that are important [making sure everyone has a clear idea of responsibilities towards the son that everyone agrees to] from the things that aren't [son is a slob, son watches whatever TV shows he wants] and remember that it's his home too, she has her own place to go to if she doesn't like the way her bf runs his household.
posted by jessamyn at 5:06 PM on July 30, 2007

One other thing: the kid is 13. In 5 years, he's gone. Poof! Gone. He'll never need a dad to be there with him, toss a football, watch him at school, ever again. Then the girlfriend can have Dad all to herself. If 5 years is too long for her to wait, then she should get out now. The boy will be the dad's son forever, but she sounds like yesterday's news. Which do you think is more important?
posted by clarkstonian at 5:26 PM on July 30, 2007

+1 to stoofoo for the girlfriend. Dad's #1 priority is his child, as simple as that, and period. She needs to get over herself, and quickly.
posted by TomMelee at 6:03 PM on July 30, 2007

My fiance grew up in a household where his stepmother resented his very presence. He had been living with his mother until he was 12, and for various reasons, moved in with his father and stepmother at that time. She had been used to having the father all to herself, and was very cold towards this teenaged boy.

Her attitude had a dramatic effect on his life and still affects his relationship with his father.

If your friend resents the boy's presence, she should get out now.
posted by desjardins at 6:16 PM on July 30, 2007

btw kids can sense when they're not wanted, even if she never utters a word.
posted by desjardins at 6:18 PM on July 30, 2007 [3 favorites]

One other thing: the kid is 13. In 5 years, he's gone.
Not true. Your kids are your kids forever. I don't even have kids and I know that. If this guy cares enough about his kid to want to have the child around, he is a good enough dad that this will be true.

The kid should always be the boyfriend's first priority. If your friend can't deal with that she should move on. And yes, thinking that a thirteen year old should be home alone by himself is pretty appalling and selfish. Thirteen year olds might be able to stay alone, but that doesn't mean it's a good plan.
posted by winna at 6:34 PM on July 30, 2007


Going out with someone who has children can be hard. Random changes to the schedule happening last minute, not ever knowing what the schedule may be like from one day to another. Especially when it suddenly changes on you, and you feel left in the lurch.

And then you don't really know how involved you should be with the child, especially in the early stages of a relationship when you're not sure how well it may even work out. Should she try to get close to the (13-year-old -- that's not the cheeriest happiest age for any boy I've known) son or will it be weird if she just ends up breaking up with his father in some short time, just because it doesn't work out for some reason or other? Does the boy like her or resent her for being there? It is awkward, not knowing.

I think it would take a saint not to be jealous of someone suddenly taking over and intruding on your relationship with someone else. Even though the boy is her boyfriend's son, I think she is just human for wanting some time with him for herself, especially now that she has found herself in the position of having lost it.

She should bring it up with the boyfriend. Maybe suggest options, like trying to have some set night out for just them, and ask the mother to get a baby sitter for those nights. Leaving the boy alone for a few hours on an occasional evening is probably okay, but leaving the kid with no parental supervision most nights of the week is probably pushing it (understatement). But ultimately, it just ends up being . . . difficult. If he thinks his son comes first, that is the way it will end up being, and there won't be much that she can do to convince him otherwise without developing some amount of guilt and animosity.

Honestly, I think she's a good person for not balking at the fact that he has a son in the first place. I think very few people can be happy merely through generosity to others, without having someone out there showing love and generosity towards them. If it gets too difficult, she'll have to make the choice to not be with him any longer, and find someone who does make her feel important.

Discipline . . . is an entirely different can of beans. I am one to believe that discipline is important, but people have different ideas as to how to deal with children, and that is one of those things which is like trying to saw through a tree with a cocktail sword. You might make it eventually, but you'll probably go crazy while trying.
posted by that girl at 7:15 PM on July 30, 2007

You asked for "any input," so here's mine: I'm not sure it's really a positive thing for you to be doing a lot of legwork to help a man be less involved in his son's life.
posted by jayder at 7:29 PM on July 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

There's only one person in this situation who's free to leave if she doesn't like it and isn't willing to work with it. It ain't the kid.
posted by padraigin at 9:24 PM on July 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

I am the stepfather of two boys roughly the same age as the son in this scenario. So I can sympathize, in at least some small way, with your friend. I know it can get extremely frustrating and annoying when plans are changed at the last minute due to visitation conflicts with the former spouse or when it seems like you can't get a second of alone time with your partner because of the constant presence of children who can seem to overtake the whole house at times.

It would be silly for me to complain about this though, because I was aware my wife was a mother when we met, so it was only logical to expect that if I were to continue a relationship with her it would involve having the children she brought into the world along for the journey.

I can't tell from the original post if it is you suggesting that the boy should just stay at his mother's house, alone, every night of the week or if that is coming from your friend. Either way, that is what lost me here. The very idea of even suggesting such a scenario comes off as so beyond selfish and narcissistic as to actually border on sociopathic.

Seriously, why would your friend even want to be with the type of person who is of such weak moral character as to intentionally neglect his son and put him in a possibly harmful (albeit technically legal) situation, all for a piece of ass?
posted by The Gooch at 10:11 PM on July 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

This is one of the most selfish things I've ever heard. So the 13-year-old should, what, get his ass a motel room so your friend can have Daddy aaaaalll to herself?!?

Being a father is part of who he is. A decent girl would look at a man who puts his son first and think that's a big plus, not a huge minus.

posted by thehmsbeagle at 10:34 PM on July 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

I want to give your friend a bit of a break, as I also had a friend who dated a man who had kids and she ended up living with him but had no say over the kids. In her case, she was very eager to be a stepmom, but he constantly undermined her in front of the kids and they ended up having no respect for her.

Look, if she wants to be this guy for the long haul, ultimately they need to be come a family. And while the wellbeing of the children in the family is the priority, spoiling kids is not seeing to their wellbeing. She should sit down with her boyfriend and have a conversation about the situation. If they are moving towards living together, then how she and the child interact is important, and there should be rules and structure - all done in a loving way. But she will have obligations too. Remember, it takes a village to raise a child, and by the fact she is one of the adults in his village, she in now engaged in raising him. If she is cleaning up after him, and teaching him to be inconsiderate then she and the father are doing a crap job and they need to have an explicit conversation about how their little family should interact given recent changes.

Also as has been stated above, setting aside time for the adults is a good thing so that they don't get totally burned out. But 13 year old kids can't stay at night by themselves and that is a neglectful and unkind way to raise a child.
posted by zia at 10:36 PM on July 30, 2007


If she wants to be with this guy for the long haul...
posted by zia at 10:37 PM on July 30, 2007

A few things about becoming a potential Stepmom, from being in the position of the 13-year-old (twice) when I was his age.

-Whatever you do, make sure she doesn't try to set or enforce any of his rules. Even if dad backs her up, it's not her place (especially in the kid's mind) to be doing this. It will only create power struggle and conflict.

-Have your friend be FUCKING ABSOLUTELY POSITIVE that she can (and wants to) deal with having a teenage son that WILL NOT respect her as an authority figure (because she's not one in his eyes, even if she wants to be.). If she's a good person, and she doesn't ruin it early on by making the mistake outlined in point one, he will probably respect her, and even accept requests like "hey bud, missed that glass" BUT NOT AS A TRUE AUTHORITY FIGURE he's already too old for that. He will respect her as a person, and treat her very similarly to how he would his dad's best friend. Respect in a young teenager's eyes is hard to earn, and easy to lose. And you don't want to lose it. Ask my Stepdad. But if she realizes her role in the relationship, and doesn't overstep into the bitchy mom mode (or only does it very rarely), he will be a dream to her. Ask my dad's ex.

My (not very creative) theory about the fact that a parent can totally bitch you out and actually get results (and not just hard feelings) from the exchange is that is only works that way because they already have all of that parental love and respect going for them. It isn't easy step-parent achieve the "effective bitchout" (read: functionally a parent) status in their step-child's mind without a very very long positive track record. (and it's damn near impossible when the kid's still a teen.)
posted by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew at 2:26 AM on July 31, 2007

Also: I STRONGLY agree with what jayder, desjardins, Ms. Saint, and whoaali have to say. Also, with what Biblio said about the weekend dad to full time dad transition (I experienced exactly this, and that comment describes exactly the dynamic of the situation, in my experience)

Also also: How do you deal with a bf's son? and Ex running the show make me think that you're already firmly in the camp that your friend's ex and son are the problem. They're not. Your friend's attitude (which, I'm guessing, closely mirrors yours, unless you're one of those friends who takes up causes on your friend's behalf, and gets way too involved, and that whole mess) towards the whole situation is the real issue here. And it's a big-un. My two largest constructive suggestions are show this thread to the boyfriend (it will spark the long-overdue conversation that MUST occur for this to get resolved, whatever the outcome may be), and make sure you don't get over-involved in this situation. It truly boils down to an issue between a boyfriend and a girlfriend. You are neither, and the boyfriend almost surely will not exactly appreciate you sticking up for your gal. He will most likely, at best, think of it as a little intrusive.

(My nonconstructive comment is dump him. He deserves a lot better.)
posted by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew at 3:02 AM on July 31, 2007

Relating to what Jessamyn asked about the custody arrangements changing, many couples have a "right of first refusal" clause in the custody arrangement, meaning that the parent with physical custody asks the other parent to watch the kid before making other arrangements. I am pretty sure my husband does NOT have this in his agreement, because the ex objected to it. I know that we often find out after the fact that the boys have spent a night alone when we were around and perfectly willing to have them with us. As a parent and step-parent, I'd much rather be in the situation described in the OP. I do think the dad has a case to reduce his child support payments if the kid is now at his house more often, though.
posted by Biblio at 5:00 AM on July 31, 2007

The ex is a working, single mother who's making an eminently reasonable demand that the FATHER OF HER CHILD take an equal role in raising the child. I don't see what the possible objection is here. The girlfriend needs to grow up.
posted by footnote at 6:38 AM on July 31, 2007

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