Is My Boyfriend A Deadbeat Dad?

5 years ago

Dear Mouthy Housewives,

My partner and I have been together for 3 1/2 years, and he has a 5-year-old daughter from his previous marriage. Things are still positively arctic between him and the ex, so communication is not always easy. My issue lies with the fact that he does not see his child very often at all (I'm talking less than once a month), and it bothers me.

I know that this is not really my place to wade in, but we have built a home together and plan to get married in the future, so this sweet girl will be part of my life too. How do I tactfully and sensitively suggest he sorts things out and spends some time with his kid? He works very long and unpredictable hours, and I know this plays a large part in his inability to plan time to see her, but still, it's his DAUGHTER. Please help this British broad!


Send Gin


Dad and daughter

Dear Send Gin,

First, let me just lay this out on the table: I don't think you're stepping out of place in any manner here. Not only are you looking out for his daughter (and even him, really), but you're also focusing your radar on an issue that could potentially cause problems within your own relationship. I, for one, already see a few red flags. What is it about this man that is preventing him from stepping up and being a responsible person in his daughter's life? And is this a sign of some fundamental issues? Character flaw? And why is he unable to work things out with his ex? Is he an avoider?


Now, since you've requested some tact and sensitivity, I suppose I can't suggest that you smack the guy upside his head with this bottle of gin I'm sending your way. (Right after all the Housewives taste test it, of course. It's house policy.) But there are a few things I think you could try that might be just as effective.

1. Have a serious conversation about the issue. You can tell him all about your concerns and wishes in a manner that is supportive rather than confrontational. This will make it more likely for him to open up, and less likely to steal your gin. If he's giving excuses, find a way to challenge those. The conversation may need more than one sitting to work through, so be patient. (Gin helps.)

2. If talking with him doesn't seem productive, then maybe you can try something more direct. If you find yourself with a free evening or weekend, suggest picking up his daughter for some dinner or a trip to the park. Of course, if communication with the ex is "positively arctic," then last-minute visitation may create friction. This is something he'll need to discuss with his ex prior to any drop-ins.

3. Finally, talk to your partner about his time spent at work. We all have jobs and many of us struggle with how that work interferes with family time. If his ex is not flexible, he may need to make some sacrifices for the sake of his daughter. It's what being a parent is all about. (That, and the tax deduction.) I think if you try any or all of these things, you should certainly make some progress, all while strengthening your own relationship. If things falter, however, I'd say you have some serious reassessing to do with this man.

The gin is on its way,

Kristine, TMH

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Photo Credit: werkman.

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