Ok, I have been married for six years now. My wife went out on me and we now have a new daughter. I am now a stepdad and I have always wanted kids. He is a dead beat dad. He has no job no car and mental problems. How do I deal with this? I love this little girl. Should I act like this little girl’s father or should I just sit back and play stepdad with no other roles then just a friend? I have tried to be the good guy in all of this but he is making things very hard by wanting to be a full dad without having to do much of anything. My wife is messed up over all of this but she tells me she still wants to be with me. She is seeing help but what do I do? –Damon
Damon, Damon, Damon…
You’ve got to help me out here. Why do so many men tolerate this kind of disrespectful behavior from their wives? She cheated on you and made a child with another man. Now you’ve bonded with a child but you have no legal rights as a parent. The baby’s father may be an unemployed deadbeat with no car and no redeeming qualities –but in the eyes of the law he’s the father. He has all the rights of a parent and you have none!
Do you realize that you lost a ton of power in your marriage and home? If your wife were to dump you tomorrow you’d have no legal rights to visitation or custody of this little girl. Your wife’s selfish act has made you a second class citizen in your own home.
Did you know Stepdads can be compelled to pay child support in 20 US states? Maybe you’re in one of those states. Because of the custody laws and the child support laws you’re taking a big gamble if you choose to stay with her. You take on an emotional and financial risk. For a full list of the states that can compel child support from Stepdads, check out chapter five of Stepdad 101.
If you stay together you have no legal power and no assurance you’d ever be able to see the little girl if the marriage fails. If you break up she may go after you for child support and you probably won’t even get visitation.
She says she wants to make it work. But you’re counting on the honesty of a woman who cheated on you. You’re handing her a great deal of power. Am I missing something? Are there no other women in the town where you live? Surely you can find a better one than this.
The only way you should even consider staying is if you can get some control in this situation. The only way to do that is to gain full custody as an adoptive parent. In order to do that, the baby’s father has to allow you to adopt the child. Only then will you have the same legal status of a parent that your wife does.
Consider what’s driving your behavior. What makes you need to make it work with someone who disrespects you enough to treat you this way? Is it a pattern in your life to accept broken women? By tolerating her behavior she’s learned to respect you less –not more. If a close friend were in this situation I’d advise him to leave this woman and never look back. Remember, it’s a wedding ring, not handcuffs. You have an opportunity to leave before it gets worse. If you stay and make another child with her you’ll have to make it work. There will be turmoil and the kids will suffer.