I started dating my wife when her son was 1 year old. My understanding is that the bio dad was abusive to my wife and had not been in the child’s life that much during pregnancy or in the in the year that followed. I have managed to develop a very good relationship with my stepson and I love him just as much as I love my own. The bio dad has not been in the boy’s life since, and occasionally sent an item or two through his sister. I have been taking physical, financial and emotional care of my son. The boy is now five and the bio dad called my wife a few days ago asking to see his son in three days. He says he is ready to be in the boy’s life now. My wife has asked me what I think about it and I don’t know what to say to her. I worry most about how this is going to affect my stepson. I need advice on how to handle this and also how to keep my emotions in check as I have confusing emotions about this matter. –Nyasha
Your story is a good reminder of what many biological fathers go through. It can be agonizing, thinking of the effect of another father-figure in our child’s life. In this case, it’s a reasonable concern. He’s got a history of being abusive and he essentially abandoned his child. As much as we should look for the good in people; we shouldn’t ignore the bad.
I recommend slowing down the process if you can. It’s surprising he’s pushing this to happen with so little notice. It’s understandable that you’re a little shaken up about this. It’s happening quickly. Like many Stepdads who marry single moms where the father isn’t in the picture, you probably haven’t put much thought into the father returning.
In most countries the bio-dad’s rights are fairly solid. If he didn’t have such a bad track record this introduction wouldn’t be as much of a concern. Kids benefit from good role models in their lives. Having several good father figures can be positive for kids –as long as the parents are willing to work together. When the child becomes a point of argument it can be emotionally damaging to him. So avoid that at all cost. Legally your options may be limited, though.
Check the laws locally to see what your options are. His abandonment of the child and former abuse charges may give you an advantage. It’s good to have a backup plan in case he turns out to be a bad guy. If there are legal means to separate him from the child, you may need to play that card if things go badly. The local laws will help you determine how much you can block his access.
Unfortunately, the sudden appearance of a new father figure will probably be confusing to the child. Try to manage the situation the best you can, to limit the negative effect. Meet in a busy, public place. This may help limit their interaction. He will be able to officially meet the child and the child is less-likely to be overwhelmed by the meeting.
You’re thinking is spot-on. This is ultimately about your child’s well-being. As parent we have to keep that at the center of our decisions. In situations like this it’s easy to let our emotional attachment do our thinking for us. Don’t allow that to happen. This should be about the child, his safety and his happiness.
Do whatever you can do build a working relationship with the bio-dad. It’s vital to get off on the right foot. The first meeting usually sets the tone of relationships. There’s a possibility he may be in your life for many years. You’ll need to know how to work together.