Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Dear Carolyn: I’m nine weeks pregnant. The pregnancy was planned as I’m in my 30s and feeling like I did not want to miss my opportunity to have kids. I have a good job and can provide well for a baby on my own.
The baby’s father is, for all intents and purposes, my boyfriend, though he resists that label. We hang out a couple of times per week, still sleep together, and plan to move in together once the baby’s born. He has expressed his intention to be involved throughout the child’s life. I see this situation as preferable to using a sperm donor even though I don’t think we will be together forever.
BUT, his resistance to the boyfriend label stings. When he told his father I was pregnant he asked if we were seeing each other. Baby Daddy said no. I told him that hurt my feelings. Does he not want to sleep with me, hang out, be all lovey-dovey like we are? No, he wants it to continue as long as I’m OK with it and he does not plan to pursue other relationships. I think I can let go of semantics here and enjoy this time with him and what we have for now. Am I being foolish?
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Baby Daddy Drama
If you’re OK with someone who dabbles with you versus committing, then that’s your choice, one you’re old enough and independent enough to make.
You’re handing your child a dilettante where a father should be, however, and the baby will not bring 30-plus years of maturity to his or her understanding of this situation. So while Babby Daddy (ugh) “intends” to be “involved,” does he mean involved as he wants, or as his child needs?
And, how is one of the child’s emotional pillars going to treat the other? The baby will be watching and learning, so what will you two be teaching?
The stakes are huge. Your feelings are hurt now, right? Now imagine that same uncertainty as the entire emotional foundation of who you are. That’s what parents are to kids.
In whatever configuration, you want stability, warmth, and a pattern you wouldn’t be afraid for your child to repeat a few decades from now. Imagine a child growing up to act like you here. Imagine one acting like him.
You can’t make the father be someone he isn’t, but you can make sure the part you control is solid. You can also not pass any of this off as “semantics.” Not here.
He really is a very dependable person and says we’re family now, and we acknowledge we will both be part of each other’s lives forever.
I guess my question more is, should I give up on our romantic relationship? Would I present more stability as a parent if I settled in now to what is more likely to be a long-term arrangement (amicable, loving friendship with shared purpose)?
He’s dependable, yet refuses to admit he’s seeing you even though you’re “lovey-dovey,” steadily involved and now parents?
One of you is deluding yourself. You have seven months, plus arguably the baby’s first couple of years, to identify which reality you can build on. Please don’t drag your feet.
Email Carolyn at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her on Facebook at facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at noon Eastern time each Friday at washingtonpost.com.