QUESTION: My girlfriend got engaged to a guy about five months ago and moved him into her home three months ago. She also has a nine year old son by a man who lives in another state and doesn't see his son. She is allowing her fiance' to make dramatic changes to her household and the way her and her son live. This man pretends to be very religious and constantly tells her that he can make a man out of her son. She lets him come between her and her son and she lets him over rule her decisions when it comes to her son. Tayvon used to always play outside and he had a lot of friends from his school and he used to be very active. Now, he's always in the house, or playing exclusively with the fiance' and his nephew. The whole thing is very strange. I've tried to warn her, her family and other friends have tried to warn her that this man may not be good for her or her son. But she ignores all of us. We think that she's just desperate to have a man's influence in her son's life. As men, how do you all feel about this situation and what do you think will open her eyes?
GARLAND: How do I feel? I feel a little pissed and a little worried. Personally, I've seen situations like this before and while two are still unfolding, the others have already run their courses.
I think with guys like this they are trying one of two things - to be the man their father was or the man their father wasn't. Now, with most real fathers, there is a happy medium between the two, [BTW - good step-fathers DO count as real fathers] but with guys like your friend's fiance' - these guys can sometimes be a little screwed up in the head. First of all, they most likely know nothing about being a father, second - they know that some single moms will be so happy to have a man that is willing to spend time with their child they'll allow these men to do just about anything and third - they have probably seen one too many war movies and figure the best way to make a boy into a man is with an extreme 'boot-camp' style structure in the kids life.
It's not good that she's letting this guy make household type decisions before they even get married. If I had a dollar for every couple I know that was engaged and never got married or just stayed "engaged" for five or six years - I'd have a lot of money! I wouldn't be rich, but I'd be well-to-do! It's also not good that she's allowing him to come between her and her son. I'll bet you $100 that he's told her, "Tayvon is a momma's boy! He needs to spend time with me to toughen up!" That sounds like a typical line from a typical psycopathic, controlling scrub.
So, I'm not saying anything new. This guy sounds shady and controlling. And, your girlfriend sounds dim-witted and desperate. What would get through to her? Maybe a group intervention where you all sit down with her and talk to her about this new guy might open her eyes. Maybe she's so blinded that when you all come to her one at time she can fend you off with plain old stupidity. But a group assault will work.
Then again, maybe you all need to try and open her eyes to her foolishness by making her defend this guy over and over. Maybe you all should ask her if you could have her son over for a visit or overnight. Each person should ask her about three days apart for a couple of weeks. When she finds herself telling all of you a bunch of nonsense reasons why her son can't leave the house, maybe her eyes will start to open.
Unfortunately, I'm really not sure if any of these will work, I certainly hope one of them will, especially if you all really think this guy's presence is damaging to Tayvon's development, I think your instincts are on point. This guy sounds weird. Good luck!
CHUCK: I feel that while it's generally accepted knowledge that a male child will benefit from exposure to a male authority figure (and what, female children won't?), it is questionable whether exposure to just ANY kind of male authority figure is helpful. A potential stepfather that is smothering and restrictive may ultimately do as much harm as good.
Your friend has obviously bought into the hype concerning the supposed inadequacy of women to raise men alone. And now that she has found Stepdad, she seems to have given over almost all of her parental authority to him. You've known Tayvon before this guy's influence, and the changes being forced on him are unsettling to you. I understand you feeling how you do.
HOWEVER... You are standing on the outside of your friend's relationship. Can you really say that you know everything that is taking place here? First of all, should we give the guy the benefit of the doubt and assume he has the best interest of the child in mind? Do you think he's just misguided, or do you think think there's some kind of cultish thing at work here? What do you know about the discussions your friend may have had with this man about raising her son?
The answers to these questions are things that you may never know. And I think that although you and I may not agree to how Stepdad is running Tayvon's life, there is very little you can do about it. Especially if you do not want to risk losing her friend. You and her family have spoken to her about it. She's unreceptive. Barring any more evidence of Stepdad's bad influence, I think that an intervention might do more harm than good. At this point, the best thing to hope for might be that this guy moves on before he gets married to your friend, and the brainwashing starts for real.