When children get stuck in the middle of adult messes, it truly sucks. They’ve done nothing wrong, and they have to try and negotiate their position when they can’t even articulate what they feel.
One Redditor is unfortunately dealing with being turned into the default mother for a baby her ex-husband had during an affair.
She has nothing against this baby, she just doesn’t want to be her mother. However, the ex-husband keeps guilting her. What should she do?
“My ex-husband and I divorced four years ago because he cheated. He had an affair baby (Juniper, 3yoF) with the other woman but Juniper’s mom passed away when she was 1yo. Aside from my ex-husband and his family, she doesn’t have anyone else because her mom grew in the system.”
“He and I have 4 kids (Joshua 20M, Cassidy16F, Nate 11M and Jacob 8M). When we divorced Joshua cut him off and Cassidy followed him soon after, they don’t visit him anymore and has never met Juniper, he has always blamed me for that because ‘I kept his children away’, he might be an awful husband and partner, but he’s an awesome dad, I’ll give him that much,” the OP writes.
“Nate and Jacob still visits him and are close with his baby, I tried once to take the three of them out when she was younger but it wasn’t for me. I know she’s blameless but I can’t separate her from my ex’s betrayal, so know every time I pick Nate and Jacob up I try not to engage much. If she says hi, I say hi back, if she waves, I do too, but nothing more.”
“Now, every time I pick them up, she starts to mumble ‘mama, mama,’ I’ve tell her things like ‘No Juniper, I’m not your mom,’ ‘Call me [my name], I’m fine with that,’ last time she actually ran at me calling me mama and began to cry when I didn’t pick her up and took her with me. Listen, I don’t think my ex is telling her to call me mom, but that’s how Nate and Jacob acts (specially Jacob, he runs at me saying ‘mom! mom!’ and hugs me, so I guess she’s copying his behavior). Yesterday my sons spent Easter with my ex’s family, and Juniper ran at me again, I said hi and my ex asked for a second which I said yes.”
“He basically told me that seeing me picking the boys up, being affectionate and loving with them is confusing and hurting Juniper, she’s a baby and she doesn’t understand what’s happening, so he asked me if I could just take her with me for a few days like I do with the boys and maybe, over the time, let her call me mom. I said absolutely no, that I’m sorry for Juniper, but that I won’t be playing mom with her and that I’m only keeping a relationship with both of them because of our son’s. He called me heartless and pointed out how she cries when I leave without her but I said that it wasn’t my problem and that he should deal with that. He later sent a video of Juniper crying by the door and said ‘I hope you’re happy’ so.. AITA? I mean I know it’s not her fault, but isn’t mine either.”
No one wins when the kids hurt. Still, it’s definitely not this woman’s fault — and the guilt-tripping needs to stop.
“Like my sisters and I have said, having kids with someone links you together MUCH more strongly than marriage ever does. NTA btw. A motherless toddler attaching themselves to a woman who is NOT a mother figure to her is NOT healthy. She needs therapy, not validation of her understandable but incorrect idea. Kids acting overly affectionate to or having an inappropriate fixation on an acquaintance is not cute, it’s a sign of trauma, and encouraging it won’t help her heal. In fact, far from showing her mercy, you need to make sure NOT to reinforce her false image of your relationship. You’re not a doctor – you can’t help her. Side note: what kind of father records his kid crying instead of comforting her?! Nobody he sends that video to could be crueler than he is! Dude, I’m sorry you lost your mistress, but parents lose partners all the time – you have to step up and be a parent, not foist the job on the nearest female,” said JuliaX1984.
“NTA. I think I’ve seen your ex’s balls outside of a Target. I’m so sorry this baby is hurting. She’s of the age where I’m sure she’s trying to figure out her little world. Part of that is copying her big brothers, and I commend you for shutting her down kindly. But your ex is a piece of work. He cannot ask you to support him. And he definitely cannot ask you to take this kid off his hands. He had a supportive parenting partner and he threw it all away when he cheated on you,” said mdsnbelle.
“He needs to tell Juniper about her mommy & differentiate that her brothers have a different mommy. Juniper is innocent in all this but OP is not obligated to parent her as she is not her mom or step-mom. I can’t believe the ex is trying to guilt trip her with a video of Juniper crying. Such manipulative behavior. He f’ed up by having an affair & one that resulted in a child. He needs to parent Juniper & not force his ex to play mom because juniper’s mother passed away,” explained FoldNtheCheese.
“NTA. Your ex has his own special seat in hell for his manipulation of this situation. Yes, the child is blameless but your ex made his bed, now he gets to lay in it. And I’ll bet 100 Reddit dollars that he doesn’t actually GAF about ‘how sad Juniper is,’ he just wants a break from being a full time parent and is trying to weasel that break from you,” said Lacroix24601.