I’m not ready to be a stepmother

Dear Counsellor,

I met a man and fell in love but later discovered he has a son. We moved in together and the child has been living with his sister. Problem is, he now wants to bring him to live with us because he does not want the mother to see him. He says she abandoned the boy when he was a baby and he has never forgiven her. But now, she is back and wants to be with her son. I do not want any contact between my boyfriend and his ex which will definitely exist if he brings the child. Also, I have heard she gets really dramatic so I would rather not deal with her. I don’t want to come off like I don’t care about the child, because I do. But I do not think I’m ready for all this. What should I do?

Apo

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Dear Apo,

If you agree to marry a man with children, it means you accept to take the ‘whole package’ — including his kid(s). True love means supporting each other and being able to look into the same direction on multiple fronts including co-parenting. This man has seen the significance of staying with his son and the child too needs a dad, an actual figure in life. Remember, a father’s role in a child’s life is more than merely paying the bills. It cuts across the social interaction, emotional attachment and training on moral conduct of the child. Fathers provide both physical and psychological support and this can make the kid resilient, develop good morals as well as enhance his emotional and intellectual development.
 
If you do not want the child stay with his father, or the mother to have access to her son due to your unjustified fears, you’re simply depriving this child of his natural rights and he’ll definitely feel isolated. First of all, your fears are groundless because your man doesn’t seem interested in his ex at all, yet you want to prevent the two from re-connecting if they wish to. Your husband is trapped in the middle of trying to do the right thing and not upsetting you. He needs your support and pushing him to decide between you and the child will be fair and may in the long run destroy your relationship. 
 
Remember, this is his biological child and your husband has a legal right to live with his son. You’re the common denominator in this situation and your role should aim at embracing this boy as your own son, allowing him to grow up in his father’s home, but set boundaries on when, where and how much time he spends with his mother when she comes over. 
 
It was unreasonable for a mother to abandon her son at such a tender age but if she wants to be close to her son, you need to let her, because ‘a wrong will not correct a wrong’. 
 
Growing up without the mother’s involvement in his life will make this boy angry when he grows up; the idea of not knowing his biological mother will make him resentful. Let your husband bring this boy but he should make it clear that the interaction with the mother is about the child and that their affair is over. 
 
You’ll need to take this child under your wing because the child is innocent and had nothing to do with any of this. Don’t keep the child at arm’s length, instead, meet your parenting obligations collectively, as a couple. That way, there’ll be transparency and trust in the co-parenting task. The key is to give your man unconditional love and support.
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Your feedback

He is your responsibility too

The fact that you knew your boyfriend had a child before moving in with him shows that you were ready for anything. Ignore the woman and take in the child because you live with his father.

Josette Isimbi, Parent
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Let the boy stay with his aunt

Talk to your boyfriend about letting the child stay at his sister’s house as he continues to support him. Allowing him to stay with you will bring more trouble, which will threaten your relationship.

Elvis Sibomana, Kigali resident
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Ignore the child’s mother

I suggest you ignore her and concentrate on your life; the more you think about her and her drama, the more you torture yourself psychologically. She will get tired and leave you all in peace.

Patricia Mbabazi, Vendor
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She has a right to see her son

Tell him to let her see her son, the fact remains that she had a child with him and there is nothing he can do about that. This will also prevent the issues that will definitely come with the restrictions.

Alphonse Kazungu, Bus driver
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You knew what you were getting into

Getting involved with someone who has a child is not easy, you should have thought it through before moving in with him. Now that you are already there, just bear with everything that comes along. Or, you can leave if you think you are not ready for the baby mama drama.

Diana Nawatte, Head teacher
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