Posted: Wednesday, July 18, 2012 8:00 pm
Dear Annie: I have been married to an amazing woman for two years. I work away from home, and she manages to take care of everything and work full time. She also is a caregiver for her mother, and for this reason, we have decided to put off having children.
I have a 4-year-old son with my ex. I pay regular child support, but until recently, I haven’t been able to see much of him because of my schedule. Also, my ex is uncooperative. I recently found out some disturbing things about my son’s home environment, and my family has suggested I ask for full custody. The problem is that there always has been speculation about whether the boy is really my biological child. My wife says she prefers to know he’s mine before she undertakes such a huge responsibility. She will be raising the boy by herself while I am working out of state for months at a time.
But, Annie, I’m not sure I really want to know whether this is my child. I love him regardless, and if tests prove he isn’t my son, I will never see him again. Is it fair of me to ask my wife to raise the boy anyway? — Still His Dad
Dear Still: This is your son, legally if not biologically. While it is asking a lot of your wife to take on this responsibility, we hope she will do so not only for your sake, but for the boy’s. He needs a stable mother. Please look into getting some child care assistance for her so she isn’t overwhelmed and resentful. But you should also get a paternity test. If this child is not yours, he should have his full medical history.
Dear Annie: My husband’s 35-year-old daughter, “Effie,” has a college degree, but has never held a job. My husband sends Effie most of his Social Security check each month and also pays her credit card bills, which means he is now in debt to the tune of $10,000.
When Effie visits, she makes a mess of the house and is disrespectful to me. She somehow manages to take several vacations a year. Now she wants my husband to foot the bill for an expensive wedding, and he’s agreed. He also agreed to continue supporting her after she marries. Because the wedding is in our state, Effie wants to stay in our house for several weeks before the wedding. I don’t think I can take it.
My husband is entirely in her corner and believes his relationship with her is perfectly normal. He’s been unwell, and I hate making things worse for him, but I can’t hold in this anger and disappointment much longer. I keep asking myself whether I’d be better off without him, but I don’t know the answer. — Torn in Tallahassee
Dear Torn: Many parents find it difficult to cut the financial apron strings, and divorced parents often are particularly indulgent in an attempt to compensate. This hurts the kids in the long run, creating dependence and prolonged adolescence. Nonetheless, if your husband refuses to change his tactics with Effie, there is nothing you can do about her. Counseling is often helpful, but you also might consider taking your own vacation while Effie is in your house.
Dear Annie: I was surprised that “Single” wrote in saying he has trouble meeting women who don’t have a lot of baggage.
I am a single parent with two amazing children, and I have the same problem. Men on Internet dating sites all seem to be infatuated with the physical side of the relationship, which is secondary to me. I want a decent guy who is willing to be my friend first.
In five years, my children will be out of the house, and I would love to have an established relationship going into the empty nest syndrome. — Patient in Arizona
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 Third St., Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.
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Published in The Messenger 7.18.12