Should My Fiancé Meet His Child from a Past Affair?

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Reader’s Question

My fiancé had a brief (3-week) relationship with a woman a few years ago. The woman found out she was pregnant and decided to have the child, even after my fiancé was truthful with her that he had accepted a job out of state, that he was not ready to have a child, and that he did not want to be in a long term relationship with her. He is very successful financially and feels that perhaps he was taken advantage of by this woman or that maybe she got pregnant intentionally.

He has been paying child support ever since the boy was born but has not yet met his child. His reasons for not ever having direct contact with the child are mostly that he is unsure of how to get over his anger, resentment, and fear regarding the mother so that he could even begin to consider a relationship with his son. I have been supportive of him in this decision, since he is paying very high child support and not leaving the child and mother in a desperate position. But lately as we consider children of our own, and because I see this situation looming over him and causing him to be depressed often, I have begun to think he will be happier once he has a relationship with the child.

I told him how I have been thinking about the matter, and he is open to beginning a relationship and is also open to the idea that such a relationship will give him peace and allow him to let go of some of the anger he has toward the mother.

But how do I help him get over his anger? Sometimes I wonder if he should just rip off the band-aid and meet the boy and the rest will not seem so horrible. I am sure the mother would want her child to meet his father. But she has been difficult, sending hateful emails and lately using aliases to post horrible messages about him on public forums. This just makes it more difficult for my fiancé to see how this situation could end up working out.

Thank you so much for your help.

Psychologist’s Reply

It’s fairly impossible to assess the full nature of your situation so remotely and quite difficult to provide accurate feedback. However, there are some things you probably should consider.

First, the last time I checked, it takes two people to conceive a child. Although your fiancé might have felt “taken advantage of,” he is responsible for his actions and their consequences.

Second, the child deserves parenting from individuals not consumed with unproductive anger, resentment, bitterness, or any of the other negative emotions and attitudes that toxic relationships are based upon. So, if your fiancé wishes to take an active role in the parenting of this child, he’ll need to work through his issues. You can certainly support him in that effort, but there’s really nothing you can do to remove his anger.

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Third, there is something incongruent about your statement that the mother of this child would “certainly want” your fiancé to meet and be involved with his son yet has been sending “hateful” emails and posting “horrible” things about him on message boards. So, it appears that there is much to be worked out not only between this woman and your fiancé but also with you — because if this child becomes a bigger part of your lives, you will all have dealings with one another, and it’s important to the child that your relationships be cordial and supportive.

Remember, this is ultimately not about you, your fiancé, his anger, or this woman’s feelings. It’s about a child who didn’t do anything wrong and needs parents to love, nurture, and guide him.

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