Background: I was in my last relationship for 10 years, and the last 6 he was abusive to me and a drug addict/alcoholic. I was finally able to leave him and moved away, but he found me, and after “hanging out” one night as friends, we had sex one time and got pregnant. Trying to do the best for the child, we attempted to revive our relationship. He was much much better to me, and didn’t physically abuse me at all, but there was just nothing left in the relationship and he still wasn’t a loving partner.
When my son was a baby, I had started a new serious relationship with my now husband. My ex took this as my husband stealing me from him. He still hopes we can be together one day all as a family, or at least that’s what he says. But I have no interest in ever doing that. He wasn’t just physically abusive, he was financially, emotionally, psychologically, and physically abusive. He destroyed my own mental capacity and I spent a long time thinking I was the one that’s crazy. If you understood how long it even took me to refer to what was happening as abuse, you’d know that though I am better, I go in and out of something similar to Stockholm syndrome.
My husband (son’s step father) is by all accounts my son’s father. He’s there every day and loves him with his whole heart. My son’s biological father, is still struggling with his addictions, currently on probation (barely Required to do anything since COVID started), lives in a bad neighborhood with criminal roommates, and is unemployed now (again because of COVID). He does truly love our son though.
When I think about how I would like to raise my son, I would like for him to always have the option to love his real father. I never want him to know about the abuse and when he’s old enough, if it’s still an issue, I want him to know addiction is a sickness and doesn’t mean his father doesn’t love him. I want more than anything for his father to get better and truly co-parent, but I’ve spent many years of my own life waiting for the day that would happen, and I don’t want to pass that pain onto my son.
So here are my questions:
My biggest concern is my son’s feelings. If I teach my son to call his step-father by his first name, will it later hurt him that he isn’t “really” his dad or that somehow he isn’t allowed to refer to his step father in the way that he feels?
If I teach my son to call him dad (or something similar) will it damage the relationship with his biological father in some way?
Will his biological father poison my son against me by saying I broke up the family and just replaced him (he does acknowledge he was abusive, but also thinks that I broke the family up by not staying together)?
Bio-dad makes no active effort to see his son but gaslights me and says I won’t let him see him. I initiate all FaceTime calls with the two of them, offer to drop them off at the park together (he has no car and nowhere for my son to be), offer to let him come to our home (but he refuses to come if my husband is there, and my husband refuses to leave him alone with me). I truly feel I’m giving him every chance to be a father, but he is an addict, and as of right now, has not overcome his selfishness and self serving behavior enough to be a father to our son.
I just don’t want to make the wrong choice. None of this is out of hate for my ex. I truly feel he was abusive because of his addiction that started from a very traumatic incident. I don’t hold hate or anger for him. I do know he loves our son. I don’t know if I can allow myself to believe (or plan) for him to one day get over that addiction. So what do I do? My son is 1.5 now. He calls me mama. But as of right now we don’t refer to my husband as anything that he can repeat. It’s getting closer to the time of making that decision. Any guidance would be greatly appreciated.