Q: My partner and I have been together for three years. During that time he was estranged from his now 5-year-old daughter. The parents of this child have recently reached an agreement on visitation and custody, but I’m 36 weeks pregnant and the father is afraid to tell the mother for fear she will stop the visitation. They have agreed to introduce Dad slowly, with a day visit every other weekend. She has had two visits. My concern is that she is just getting acquainted with Dad again and there will be a new child, plus Mom may not be supportive.
A: Here are the red flags I see: First, Dad is “afraid.” Starting from a place of fear establishes negative interaction right from the beginning. Better to be honest and straightforward, using the welfare of the child as the criteria for all decisions. The truth is, he has a partner who is pregnant. His 5-year-old will interact with that partner. Rather than keep you a secret, I weigh in on the side of introducing you to Mom. After all, you will be interacting with this child and have a huge influence on her.
Second, your child: This is a reality. If Dad is trying to “normalize” his relationship with his daughter, why not act “normal”? One-on-one time with Dad is important, but you have to get to know her, as well. Dad’s child is not “just visiting,” nor is the unborn child — they will be siblings, which brings us to the third red flag, the visitation schedule.