Keeping a relationship with stepchild after relationship ends

techigirl78October 10, 2011

I don't know if this is the right place to post, but here it goes.

I was with my ex for the past 11 years. Two months after we met his ex gave birth to a beautiful baby girl on my birtday. They broke up when she was 2 months pregnant, so I thought it was over (it was). A few months later, we moved in together and when she was 4 months old he got full placement of her. Since that time, she has lived with me all but one year of her life when he moved out for a year while we still dated (yes - we had issues).

We had a bunch of problems over the years, but for the last 4 or so I guess you could say we were in a comfort zone. He started drinking more and more and would only have fun when he drank and I didn't drink. We became distant over the years and didn't talk like we use to and what is needed to make a relationship work. He proposed 4 times and I said we would get married at some point, but some things needed to change (he was bad with his money and drinking more with each passing year). About 2 months ago he started working out of town spending all of his time at the bar when he wasn't working. I guess he rediscovered himself and is a new person now. In mid september we got in a arguement, he told me he didn't love me, didn't want a house, a family, pets, marriage, to save money, to get out of debt, he is done having children (we talked for years about having a child together and were planning to next year), he wanted to purchase a motorcycle, get lots of tattoos and that he was leaving. He told his daughter he would get an apartment in our town so she could go to the same school and she would stay with her grandma until he came back from working out of town.

A few days later I found out that at the end of August he met a bartender and was in a relationship with her and she had posted on her facebook a few days before he broke up with me that he was with her. A week after moving out of my house and taking his daughter to his mom's house, he stopped in to tell his daughter they were moving in with his new girlfriend and he introduced his daugther to his new gf. Then, a week ago (two weeks after he left) he picked most of their stuff up from my house, picked his child up from his mothers, pulled his daughter out of the school she has attended since kindergarten, moved in with the gf in a town 2 hours away, and put her in a new school.

Come to find out the gf is a drunk. She is a bartender and spends all her time in the bar. He is spending a lot of time in the bar too. I have also talked to his daughter's mother and we found out the gf was arrested and charged with DUI and child endangerment for picking up her kids drunk from school 2 years ago. His family and his daughter's mother have met the new gf and all she talks about is drinking and partying. Mind you, I don't drink and I am a homebody type person, so this is not the life the child is accustomed to. When we were together, he went to the bar at most once per week and I think his daughter picked up on my idea that the bar wasn't the place parents should spend all their time particularly when the kids are still awake. I believe in family dinners.

Anyways, I now talk to her almost every day. It is so hard cause I know what happened to her is wrong. You can't pull a kid out of one family and toss them into a new one in 2 weeks. I don't tell her this as I know it will not help her feel better. Her mother is asking me for help to get her taken away from her father (my ex). Her father (my ex) told me that if I talk to his mother or his daughter's mother he will make sure I never see her again. I'm so worried for her safety at this point as it seems he is having a mid-life crisis.

Should I stay out of it and just be supportive for my stepdaughter when we text, chat, or e-mail (we weren't married, but she calls me her stepmom)? He had worked out of town for about 1 year of the past 3 while I stayed at home taking care of her (she only visits mom 2 weekends a month). It feels like I have lost my own child and that she is being thrown into a world that is very bad. What is worse, the new gf has a 12 year old who is very bad and into boys and all types of things. She is being left at home alone most of the time with this 12 year old. I'm so scared my stepdaughter will follow in her footsteps (she's 11).

Has anyone dealt with something similar? Any thoughts on how I should deal with staying out of it or getting involved?

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"Her mother is asking me for help to get her taken away from her father (my ex)."
I'm not sure what help you could possibly give the BM in order to get the daughter away from your ex.

I would stay out of the custody/court issues, that is the BM's battle, but you can be a source of comfort and support to the daughter, and bravo to you for continuing to do so even though this is not your child. The two of you have spent 11 years together and obviously she looks up to you. Continue being there for her.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2011 at 11:31AM
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I've got to agree with Amber. Unless you feel that you have a very strong case for custody yourself, it's probably better to stay out of it if you can. Your SD needs continuing contact with a stable adult, and that is you. Don't choose a side and risk losing that.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2011 at 12:30PM
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I would not get involved in any custody issues. Is he allowing you to see her? If he isn't I would ask if you could have her over on some week ends.As you care for her and she does you.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2011 at 1:34PM
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He knows that I was spending time with her while she was at her grandma's for two weeks. He didn't have a issue. I also believe he knows I have been talking with her via e-mail, text, and phone. He has not said anything to me about it and when I talk to her I say nothing bad about her dad or his new gf. Your all right, I just need to stay out of the custody issues and be good to everyone. I want to a positive person in her life. Maybe in a month or two when we are all settled in our new lives I'll contact him about picking her up for a day or two and see where it goes from that point.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2011 at 5:03PM
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Techigirl, it would be really great if maybe SD could spend some time with you over the summers. I've met many people whose home life was less than ideal, but who spent the summer with relatives, friend's parents, or some other caring adult, and who tell me what a huge difference even those relatively short visits made in their lives.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2011 at 9:12AM
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You can be a friend to this young girl since you have established a trusting relationship w her. But don't go beyond just an adult friend into the mom's stuffs. that is not your place and your responsibilities. It will lead to more misunderstanding from your xbf and even the laws.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2011 at 3:54PM
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First, I don't know how successful the BM would be in getting custody if she lost or gave up a baby girl at 2 months old to the father. Not knowing her issues/problems, that could get very ugly. In that instance, I agree with the others. Stay out of that hornets nest.

That being said, if you are prepared to take over full time parenting duties, you might considering a petition for legal guardianship. You have been in this child's life as a primary caregiver the majority of her life. You are a positive female role model & have bonded with her. If you can get the BM to lend her support to make you the guardian, she would know her child is in a safe & stable home plus her visitation would not be impacted if you agree to give her liberal visitation. It sounds as if you and she are more of a team than the father... so that would be my advice. If you are not in a position or willing to take on the child full time, or if the BM would fight you... then I'd back off & maintain the best relationship you can with the child until she is an adult & can see you as she wishes.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2011 at 10:12PM
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I agree that both her BF and BM have issues. However, I really don't see their issues being bad enough to justify purusing it in the court. If it does get worse over the next few months or years, then that will be something I consider pursuing in court. I would need her to tell me that is what she wants versus me bringing up that option and confusing her more.

My ex knows that I'm talking to his daughter now via her cell phone and has not said anything about it. I think he is at least trying to do right by her. Although she tells me he goes to the bar almost everynight, I just indicate if someone is there with her, then it is fine. Once things with us is more in the past, then I hope he will let me visit with her regularly and we'll be able to speak civilly to each other. She already indicated she would like to stay a few days at my house over the winter break. In the summertime, maybe I can get her for a week or two as suggested and then I'll be able to take some time off and we go on a trip together.

In the meantime, I'm going to focus on myself and having positive conversations with her about the good things going on in both of our lives instead of all the drama. During my relationship, I unfortunately lost sight of myself and now I have the time to refocus and find myself. I intend to quit smoking, start exercising, and eating right. These are my biggest flaws. Removing them will help ensure I'm the best I can be for myself and allow be to be the best role model possible for her.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2011 at 11:24AM
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