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Some backstory

The father of my child - I'll call him Bob - and I met when I was a freshman in college. We dated for 4 years and in that time he never got along with my parents. They were either "demeaning" or "disrespectful" and I had quite a few fights with them for my independence during that time. After we had been dating about 3 years, I got pregnant and that caused all sorts of issues. My parents, who are traditional Catholics, were appalled and angry and insisted that we get married. "Bob" was furious at them for their reaction. We never got married (thank God) and ended up splitting up a year later for a variety of reasons.

My parents and I have had our set of issues over the years, as I fought for my independence, and after I got pregnant, we went almost a full year not talking. Now (two years after my daughter was born), our relationship has finally started to mend and I have been speaking to them more and more frequently.

Bob and I get along now, and he has begun taking on a lot more responsibility as a parent since we broke up (he never did anything while we were together). I am pleased with this, because I would love to see my daughter grow up with a loving father. We have a pretty civil relationship and don't fight about anything really. My daughter spends half the week with him and half the week with me and we split costs 50/50 on everything.

The Problem

Bob still hates my parents. He hates them so much, he gets mad just talking about them. He insists that he never wants to see them again, and he doesn't want our daughter to spend any time with them. After he found out that my parents and I were mending our relationship, he was pretty upset because it meant that our daughter would be around them.

He finally agreed that it was okay for her to be around them, as long as I was there to constantly supervise. However, according to him, I'm not allowed to ever leave her alone with them, and they definitely can't babysit.

This seems unfair since his mother gets to watch our daughter all the time. I have an excellent relationship with Bob's mother and I talk to her even more frequently Bob. I would never let her out of my daughter's life, because they are both so happy when they spend time together. I still don't find it fair that she should be allowed to watch my daughter, while my parents are essentially banned from this.

My parents have begged for the opportunity to watch my daughter since our relationship has healed and I would love to let them do this. Sure, there are things they overreacted about when I was younger, but they've been working on this, and they are good people with good hearts. However, I'm scared of shifting the balance so that Bob and I can't be civil anymore.

I feel like his anger is completely irrational an I don't know how to deal with this. Does anyone have any advice?


NOTE: I can't give exact reasons why Bob hates my parents so much, because I've never fully understood the hate. I know that while we were dating my parents disliked him in the typical "no boy will ever be good enough for my daughter" way, and I think he may have taken this personally. They also always wanted me to visit them (once a week while I was in college), and Bob thought they were unreasonable and overbearing. He hated how they would send me on guilt trips whenever I would tell them I couldn't visit because I was doing things with friends instead. He also hated that they never helped me with money even though they were very well off, and I was forced to work full time to pay for tuition, rent, and other living expenses while I was in school. I understood some of the reasons he was mad at the time, but the fact that he still holds these grudges just doesn't make any sense to me.

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    Did Bob mention WHY he doesn't want your daughter to be alone with your parents? And where is the hate coming from anyway? Understanding that seems like the key to this whole thing. – Erik Jan 12 '17 at 18:47
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    You can keep editing. You might take out stuff as you add things, but unless you are describing the situation in great detail, you'll probably be okay. – WRX Jan 12 '17 at 19:12
  • Can you be sure that your parents won't talk badly about Bob when they are alone with your daughter? And how could you convince him that they won't? – daraos Jan 14 '17 at 18:02
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Plainly and simply, at the present point in time Bob is using your fear of him not being in your daughter's life to control the situation. If Bob cannot keep his personal beef with your parents separate from his parenting, and remain civil (we're really talking the most basic of the basics here) in his co-parenting with you, I strongly doubt he has much motivation to be the loving father you'd like for your daughter.

If Bob cannot reasonably explain why your parents are dangerous to your daughter's well-being (and I do not consider his criticism of your character a reasonable explanation), in the most neutral terms possible, Bob is acting out of his own need for control, and not in the best interests of your daughter. However, it is precisely the best interests of your daughter that are the only important factor here.

Do you, at the present time, have a set visitation schedule/custody agreement? Do you foresee any particularly unpleasant difficulties on this front, should you not comply with Bob's demands? If such worries are not a factor in your situation, it seems the best course of action is to prioritize your daughter's well-being. Should you, a competent parent, judge that your daughter's well-being is not being harmed, then act accordingly. Bob's opinions about who your daughter gets to see or not are valid to a certain degree - for the time he has her in his custody.

It is my honest belief that when a parent uses the quality of their parenting as a bargaining chip, they are holding their relationship with their own child hostage to satisfy their own interests, which goes against the very essence of being a decent parent. Make your own informed decisions about what you think is good/bad for your daughter. There is no reasoning with unreasonable people.

  • I don't know that he would stop being in my daughter's life. I feel like he's more likely to threaten the civility of our relationship if I confront him on this issue. I think he would become hostile and try to get involved in a legal suit (he has threatened restraining orders against my parents before). I try to avoid conflict at all costs, but I feel like this is a situation that I'm am going to be forced to address. We don't have a legal custody agreement right now, but he takes her Sun-Tues and I have her Wed-Sat. – Faulkner Jan 12 '17 at 19:37
  • What relationship do you have now? Friends? If so, you could appeal to him from a position of a neutral friend (I understand you are very much involved, but sometimes, framing the conversation as if it were coming from a third-party friend may help as it takes you out of the equation and focuses on his situation with the parents and your daughter, and then it may be less likely to escalate to open adversity.) If possible, consult a legal expert about what to do to make sure you are protected in that aspect. (Also, consider that avoiding conflict at all costs may make you easier to manipulate) – user25972 Jan 12 '17 at 19:50
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    Forgot to add: there is no particular need for you to confront him. After all, he can hold whatever opinions he wants. Simply continue doing what you were doing according to your own decisions. He is entitled to think whatever he wants, but you are under no obligation to engage him in any discussion of your parenting. It is not necessary for you to justify your personal parenting decisions simply because he disagrees with them. That is what co-parenting is. You may have entirely different styles, opinions and worldviews. One parent does not get to dictate anything. – user25972 Jan 12 '17 at 19:58
  • Unless he makes life difficult, and that seems to be the fear. However, I agree. Carry on! – WRX Jan 12 '17 at 21:02
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    he has threatened restraining orders against my parents before. No court would stop grandparents looking after a child because the father doesn't like them. That isn't how restraining orders works. He is being manipulative and unreasonable. Act reasonably, talk to reasonable mutual acquaintances (e.g. his mother). Make sure that if he kicks up a fuss that he is clearly in the wrong. – Mark Perryman Jan 13 '17 at 15:40
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The only ideas I have would be to

  • go to family counselling with Bob and add in your parents if you can. I do this all the time with families and having a safe environment to discuss differences can honestly make a huge difference. This gives them a safe place to say "You screwed up."

  • sit down with Bob, your parents, and perhaps his mother to help Bob feel supported, and try hashing it out -- without a mediator.

Bob has some good reasons to be angry and hurt. So do your parents. There is no one who is 100% right or 100% wrong. It sounds to me that Bob feels he should get an apology. I imagine your parents might feel the same. Someone has to be the 'bigger' person. I'm betting it will be your parents -- they are the most mature and the best able to swallow stuff in order to get the best outcome.

I missed the part about Bob thinking they did a poor job of raising you. Do you agree?

As you add more to your post I start to think different things. There was a time when Bob did not share responsibility for your child? Did your parents ever do anything worse than that? Did they abandon you?

Yes, go get legal advice. You need wills and so on regardless.

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    +1 - but I don't think Bob will agree to even being in the same room with the parents. – anongoodnurse Jan 13 '17 at 15:30
  • In the present, it's more likely Bob would use this venue as a springboard for hurtful comments towards the parents. – Stu W Jan 31 '17 at 14:35
  • @StuW As a person who does a fair amount of family counselling, I think even if Bob uses it as a springboard, the information is shared and the opportunity to find answers is made. Sometimes we don't get what we want, but as it is, the OP is unhappy with the situation. It might be time to try and fix the problem. – WRX Jan 31 '17 at 15:38
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What a terrible situation you find yourself in. You have my sympathy.

You stated in one of your comments, "I try to avoid conflict at all costs...". That's not surprising. You moved from controlling parents to a volatile, controlling boyfriend, who is still actually threatening your well-being and that of your child.

As others have said, you need to figure out what's best for your daughter, but that's no easy task when you're between a rock and a hard place.

You have done well for yourself, and you've obviously grown. But maybe you can benefit from some professional guidance in this situation. Bob treats you badly every time he rants about your parents. His threats can be interpreted many ways, including as a form of emotional abuse, though not many might see it this way.

Conflict is a part of everyday life and is normal, not something to be feared or avoided, but dealt with (which sometimes means ignoring stuff.) Knowing your own mind and having the strength to act on your convictions takes you out of the realm of others controlling situations you find yourself in.

You asked, "Does anyone have any advice?" I'm going to take this broadly. Please forgive me if I'm taking liberties.

I would suggest counseling, both for you alone, and for Bob (with or without you.) Bob sounds like he has both anger and control issues that really need work. You can use a sounding board to help you find your own voice, and to be confident in using it.

Other than that, good advice has been given. I would insist at minimum that no hostility be expressed by any party towards the other in the presence of the child. Also, though a child needs two parents, some parents are actively damaging to the child; only you can determine if you are in such a situation. Bob's getting counseling would be a great help to your future daughter.

Good luck. I think you're doing great things already.

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I'd like to know it all those discussions, problems and so on are only from Bob to your parents, or are reciprocal.

Perhaps he is anger with them until today because things that were said and done, and so one possible solution could be your parents taking some time talking with him and lowering that anger.

Of course, it won't help if Bob somehow gets aggressive (verbal) against your parents and they just don't lower the temperature, everybody will just keep their impressions and nothing good will come out.

If your parents are reasonable and Bob is really out of his bonds, perhaps your parents could do some good gestures to show Bob that things don't need to go that way.

  • My parents don't hate Bob, but while we were dating they had the typical idea that no man, not even Bob, was good enough for their daughter. I think he took this personally. – Faulkner Jan 12 '17 at 19:02
  • Yes, that's how I was thinking about it. Because sometimes it's easy to go on the line that Bob should be mature, grown-up, etc., and disregard the impact that the past had on him. If you were asking "who should take the blame", it was one thing. But you're trying to fix it up. And fixing up sometimes requires that someone make a friendly move or two, even when they aren't the bad guys in the situation. You focus on how to solve it, not on how to judge it. – woliveirajr Jan 13 '17 at 12:44
  • And now I saw the note that you added. I won't say that I agree a 100% with Bob, but I understand somethings that he felt and still feels. And I also saw that one answer goes in the same line that mine, perhaps better phrased :) – woliveirajr Jan 13 '17 at 12:47

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