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Daddy’s Little Girl

Last May, my beautiful goddaughter, Sally, turned 1 and I was blessed to be included in this event. I have known said goddaughter’s mom ,Barb, since high school and we are the best of friends. One year prior to this event I was in the delivery room as Sally was born and stayed overnight until Sally and Barb were released from the hospital. Ever since I have been supportive of Barb and Sally in every way possible causing most of Barb’s family members to refer to me as the Baby Daddy (and yes I am female!)

Sally’s real dad, Mike, lives two states away but has (for the most part) been present for the special occasions including Sally’s first birthday. The day started nicely with lots of sunshine and family members on their best behavior. I had come early to help set up and volunteered to help Barb’s sister collect a few last minute items at the store. Mike spent most of the pre-party day in the basement putting together a really cute wagon/tricycle. The day moved on and it came time for cake cutting. Barb’s dad asked who would like to cut the cake as Barb was busy with Sally (still nursing).  I said I would as I have much experience doing so as my grandmother has worked in the catering business for 60 years and has taught me how to cut cake swiftly. Suddenly Mike says that he wants to do it as it is his daughter’s cake. I said okay would you like some help.

Now just a small tangent. Mike and I are not friends. He has annoyed me in the past and I was putting on my friendly face to deal with him. He has made several small comments in the past (and present) about my relationship with Sally and Barb. Barb and I are very close and have been mistaken for a couple on many occasions. We aren’t a couple but have been friends for many years and the fact that I watched her give birth has made us even closer. (I often joke that I watched her give birth and she didnt!) Sally and I are very close as well and I spend a great deal of time with her including her spending the night at my house.

Now back to the story at hand. Earlier in the day, Sally refused to come to Mike and screamed when he tried to pick her up. She ran to me and would not let me put her down. (This has happened before.) Now I don’t know if this had something to do with his attitude but he responded with a firm, “No.” I left it alone and since Sally was not interested in cake we began opening her gifts. I looked over to Mike cutting the cake to see him using his fingers to place the cake on plates. I approached Mike and said, “Hey, you shouldn’t touch other people’s cake. Its unsanitary.” Mike replied, “Stop being a germaphobe. My hands are clean. I just washed them.” My reply was, ” Its still unsanitary. Use a fork.”  Mike then shouted, ” Look I got this. Its my daughter’s cake.” At that point I threw up my hands and went to help with the gifts. As gift unwrapping ended Barb mentioned that it was late and I needed to get going. ( I had just finished graduate school and was going to a party held in my honor) As I got up Mike stated, “You not staying to help clean up?”  I replied (curtly), “No, I have a party.” Mike, “Well I see where your priorities are.” I did not reply and simply walked upstairs to exit the house.

Now I had already cleared my early departure with Barb and her parents. This party was being held in mine and 4 other girls’ honors but they had stated they were not going to start the festivity until I arrived. As I exited,  Barb’s mom asked where I was going and before I could answer her husband stated, “Her graduation party.”   I stated (to them only), “And plus I need to leave before I commit murder and get blood on your newly painted walls.” (Barb’s dad is a cop) They both giggled and said have fun at the party.

The holidays are fast approaching and I am worried that Mike will get the best of me and my friendly face will disappear. So I need some advice on how to handle a P.I.T.A barely there father who gets pissed at me because his daughter does not know him? Thanks! 1209-11

I’m afraid you won’t like my answer one bit.     By your own admission, Mike has made the effort to travel from two states away to be there for important milestones in Sally’s life.  We can deduce from your story that Mike is not persona non grata or some nefarious influence but is being invited into Sally’s mother and grandparents’ home to participate in his daughter’s life.  The fact that you mention there will be future functions where Mike, Sally and Barb will be in attendance indicates that Barb and her parents are extending invitations to Mike and apparently will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

You further mention that everyone in the family is “on their best behavior”.  Everyone but you, it appears.  You are the one who initiates the conflict.  When Barb’s dad asked who would cut the cake, and Mike stepped up to take on that task and Barb’s dad delegates that task to him.  Mike declines your offer of help yet you can’t help interfering with criticism on how he is cutting and serving the cake.   Neither the host or hostess appears to have a problem with how Mike is executing this so why would you think you had the authority to assume oversight as if you were the host of this party?   If you don’t want Mike’s fingers touching your cake, simply wait til he’s done cutting the majority of the cake and cut your own piece later or decline to eat any.   A piece of cake isn’t worth the angst you created.    And Barb’s parents’ giggles may have been nervous titters one does when confronted with a comment that was quite inappropriate.    You appear to have been contributing to the tension in the party.

When Sally refused to go to Mike, you should have kindly told him that this is a common phase in small children to have stranger anxiety and then worked to encourage Sally to get  more comfortable with Mike.   I view it as a positive that Mike was upset that his daughter did not want to come to him.   I don’t view it as positive that you seem to relish this.

If you love Sally, you will do nothing whatsoever to undermine her relationship with her father.   She will need her father and you are not her father.   You should have a common goal with Mike, Barb and Barb’s parents to pursue what is in the best interests of Sally.  Being contentious with Mike in Barb’s parents’ home is not in Sally’s best interests since it has the potential effect of discouraging Mike from attending future events in which it is quite likely you will also be invited.   If you love Sally, you will not only not undermine her relationship with her father but should be encouraging it as best you can.

{ 165 comments… add one }
  • Cami December 15, 2011, 3:12 pm

    From the moment the OP put herself on a pedestal built by self-congratulations about being the titular “Baby Daddy”, I was betting that the letter was going to be about the real “baby daddy” daring to interfere.

    I also have to admit that I have never in my life heard anyone refer to a female as a “baby daddy” — never, no matter how close the relationship between the mother and her female friend or sister. So I have to admit that I have a degree of skepticism about the entirety of the story and the relationships portrayed therein.

    What I do believe is that OP WANTS to be the “baby daddy” and is doing everything in her power to make sure she is and that Mike is punished for any reason she can find.

  • aka Cat December 15, 2011, 3:27 pm

    Like Jena, I agree with all of admin’s reply except the bit about “stranger anxiety.” At most I’d say “it’s a phase” — the guy probably already knows his child thinks of him as a stranger, don’t rub it in his face.

    The best response would be to simply encourage the child to go to her father, saying things like “he’s your daddy”. If it’s not working then hand the child off to her mother and get out of the way.

  • Andie December 15, 2011, 3:39 pm

    Definitely agree with the Admin. This letter certainly gives off a Jealous Step-parent vibe, and I cannot imagine that when Sally grows up that she’ll be at all appreciative of the fact that the OP tried to drive away her father.

  • gramma dishes December 15, 2011, 3:47 pm

    MidoriBird ~~ I felt so sad for you when I read your post. Please understand that what happened was definitely not your fault. I sincerely hope it has not altered the way you feel about your nephew (or your niece).

    I suspect strongly that one of two things (or a combination of both) happened there.

    1. Your sister may have requested your presence without really discussing it with her husband first. Since she was the one actually giving birth, he may have felt that he honestly had no choice in the matter and that if she wanted you there he was delegated to kind of the third wheel position.

    I know (and hope you know) that that was not your sister’s intention at all. She just wanted to include you. But she wanted him there being an active participant too. But the birth of his child may have been something he’d really been looking forward to sharing with just her and her alone. He may have not really quite understood her motives in asking you (and at times at least seeming to prefer you) and he may have subsequently felt useless, hurt and left out.

    2. The other possibility is that he actually was a little squeamish about watching he birth and didn’t want to admit that to anyone because it would make him look “weak”. “I could have, if I’d been allowed to!” kind of attitude. After he had witnessed it, and after he saw how much help you had been to her, he may have felt a little embarrassed about his reluctance and gone off on the fact that you were there and “ruined” it for him as an act of belated bravado and an excuse for his being less actively involved as a participant.

    Please don’t allow this to alter your relationships with any of them. They all need you. You are still and will always be your sister’s sister and the children’s aunt. Nothing can change that. Enjoy them and don’t let anyone else take away from you the joy and happiness you felt at the time.

  • Xtina December 15, 2011, 3:58 pm

    I really do feel for the OP here; she is obviously a close friend of the family and cares deeply for Barb and Sally, and I am sure that it means a lot to them that the OP is so involved and interested in their lives. However, agree with everyone else that the OP needs to step back where Mike is involved. Really, I don’t understand why the OP’s relationship with Barb and Mike should even be this uncomfortable since, in the OP’s own words, they are not a couple. OP’s role is godmother/close friend; Mike’s is father–they may not get along, but the lines shouldn’t be crossing even if the OP is jokingly called “baby daddy”, unless someone is pushing it to be that way.

    Very young children cling to those they see often, it’s just the way they are, and they’ll outgrow it. OP should try to encourage Sally to spend time with her father and get used to him. As Sally gets older, she will have a better relationship with Mike (providing he still tries to be part of Sally’s life) and the OP should not do anything to sully that, be it in comment or action.

  • Margo December 15, 2011, 4:02 pm

    I agree with admin. Mike may not be able to be there all of the time, but he makes the effort to travel from 2 states away to be with his daughter, he spent the morning of the party putting together a gift for her, he has obviously managed to retain a civil relatiohsip with his ex and her parents. If Sally was shy of him, it would have been appropriate to encourage her to go to him, or to talk / playu with him while you were there for moral support, if she felt shy.

    The cake-cutting – it does sound as though you jumped in before Mike had a chance to – when Barb’s dad asked about it, why not have suggested Mike do it? He’s Sally’s dad. And as he was doing it, don’t interfere.
    whatever your feelings about (freshly washed) fingers on the cake, it isn’t your place to interfere. yMike’s an adault, You’re not his mother, or wife. If you feel it’s insanitary, don’t eat the cake.
    (and why distract Sally with present opening instead of encourraging her to watch her dad cut her cake, and perhaps let him give her a taste?)

    Mike’s final comments? yes, a little bit of retaliatory rudeness, but you hadn’t behaved like a guest. You behaved as if you were a (not very polite) host, or a member of the family. Hosts and close family members uysually help clear up after their parties.

    So, for Christmas – remember that Mike is Sally’s dad, and that Sally has a mother who can decide IF and when Dad needs advice or comments about his parenting. Being a godmother, or an honourary auntie is a great relationship to have wioth a child, but don’t ever confuse it with being a parent.

    And remember, if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.

  • AnnaJ December 15, 2011, 4:27 pm

    Agree that the OP has overstepped some boundaries here, but my question is: where’s mom? Barb is the one who controls the OP’s relationship with Sally and presumably recognizes that the OP is less than fond of Mike, so why isn’t she (Barb) stepping in here?

    When I’ve seen similar situations in the past, the reality is that the parent/parents are getting something from the involved friend or family member – free babysitting, often gifts or other financial help, and sometimes a willing listener for bashing the other partner.

    This situation exists because Barb allows it to exist. If I were the OP I’d back off for my own sake – at some point Barb will likely find a ‘baby daddy’, either Mike or another, and the OP will be outside looking in, in the same way she thinks Mike is doing now.

  • AS December 15, 2011, 5:01 pm

    @S – no where in the story does it say that Mike is Barb’s ex. Maybe they are still together (married or not), but just that they have to live in separate states.

  • Huh December 15, 2011, 5:18 pm

    What a difference your own perceptions/preconceived notions make, I guess. I agree with admin, if you love Sally, you cannot damage her relationship with her father, she will resent whoever does that, be it LW or someone else. No matter what Mike has done to Barb, you cannot bad mouth her father and be openly hostile like that. Be politely civil.

    But everyone saying, “Oh, he came from several states away, he’s trying.” Yeah, I don’t immediately jump to that conclusion. I notice that LW was present at the birth, not Mike (or at least LW didn’t mention it.) Sally doesn’t know who Mike is when she sees him and cries. LW calls him a P.I.T.A. barely there father. Granted, we are getting all of this from LW, but just because Mike showed up for Sally’s birthday, doesn’t mean he’s a parent for the other 364 days of the year. Unfortunately, I have friends in similar situations with their own fathers or with their kids’ fathers – the fathers come for birthdays and Christmas, and that’s the only time the kids ever hear from them, they never even bother to call. They don’t pay child support. They don’t show up for visitation after telling the child they are going to. I can go on, but the point is, my friends have extended the olive branch to their childrens’ fathers because they are just that. Maybe he’ll show, maybe he won’t. And if he does, they are polite for the sake of the kids. Which is what LW should have been.

    Sorry, I don’t mean to hijack the thread, and no one really knows what’s going on in the situation other than Mike and Barb. He may or may not be trying to be a real father. But no matter what in that kind of situation, the only way to really help the kids is to be polite to both of their parents. Hostility only hurts the kids.

  • whatever December 15, 2011, 5:34 pm

    The OP was unnecessarily rude to Mike. That said, I don’t understand why all the commenters are saying things like, “He’s trying to be the best dad he can.” If he were trying to be the best dad he could, he would be doing his best to live near the kid and taking care of her on a day-to-day basis, and the child wouldn’t be treating him like a stranger. (Yes, I understand that there can be extraordinary mitigating circumstances, but none were mentioned.) Right now, he gets all of the fun- seeing her at parties and other happy occasions and giving her presents- and none of the hard work that goes into child-rearing. Why do you all have such low expectations for fathers?

  • ciotog December 15, 2011, 5:41 pm

    OP, as a recovering codependent I want to suggest CODA, a 12 step program. What you did sounds exactly like something I would do, before I got help for my issues.

  • Smiling Charmer December 15, 2011, 6:51 pm

    Dear Admin, your post was absolute perfection in my humble opinion 🙂

    OP, You need therapy… URGENTLY…. good luck!

  • alli_wan December 15, 2011, 7:05 pm

    I agree with Admin here.

    As for the OP, frankly, being called the ‘baby daddy’ is NOT a compliment. Back off.

  • Merry Mrs December 15, 2011, 7:14 pm

    I too agree with Admin 90% ……The “she runs from strangers” phrase would of likely enflamed things further. Just saying “it’s a phase” would be fine and I’d add that would have been a great time for LW to need the restroom for 5 minutes or so.( leave the room so not to be in competition with the father. The child had her mother , an aunt and 2 grandparents to make her(the child) feel safe who perhaps may have be able to hand off child easier) Allowing the child to decide not to be put down reinforced the idea her father was someone to run from.

    @ As While it is possible ,I think it’s much more likely that Barb and Mike are not or have never been married. If they are still married then I believe LW is behaving even worse,who wants to hear about their “wife girlfriend” being your child’s “baby daddy”. IT doesn’t matter that LW is female no one wants to hear about their spouse having an affair. If they are married then we can assume they will live together at some point , LW supplanting the child father is bad in any circumstance but if he will be the child’s full-time father eventuality it’s even worse. Imagine a military person coming back from deployment to a child that runs away from him/her to their spouses best friend and then best friend does not do everything in their power to hand the child to their parent.

    To the poster who asked about Godparent is not a legal designation. Different families think about it differently to some godparent only means the person who stands up at the ceremony , to others godparent takes a more active role of mentor. Sometimes it does mean “this is the person I want to raise my child if I die” but that would not be assumed just because someone is a godparent.

  • missminute December 15, 2011, 7:17 pm

    Oh dear OP, did you not read that letter back and think, ‘actually, it was me who caused all these problems ?’ It’s clear you see yourself as more of a parent to the child than her father. It will hurt you to hear this but as much as you care for these people they are not your family. You cannot replace a father and if you truly loved this child you would stop antaognising her father, as she will be deeply scarred by lacking a relationship with this man. It seems to me that you do not have your own family or relationships and have created a surrogate family with your friends, and while that is a lovely relationship to have, you must understand your place in it does not come before the child’s father. I am also not entirely sure you aren’t in love with your friend, or at least possesive of her and her child in a manner which is not healthly. I mean, you are going to pains to exclude the child’s father out of what seems to me, jealousy.

  • June December 15, 2011, 7:26 pm

    Wow, OP. I think you should take Barb out for coffee and apologize for bringing the drama to that birthday party. Then set up a schedule and some boundaries for your visits, so you’re not “supportive in every way possible”. It’s nice that you’re helping Barb, but make sure you’re not usurping other family positions.

  • grumpy_otter December 15, 2011, 7:27 pm

    OP, I am going to take your side in this a little bit. For whatever reason, Barb and Mike are not together. You have stepped up to be a second parent to little Sally–you are concerned for her welfare and want all the best for her. Barb trusts you and wants you close, and Sally looks on you as a mom-type person. You are a valued and special part of her life.

    I think there is much that has not been stated in your letter, and I think you only want to do what is right–while maybe sticking Mike a little bit for not being in his daughter’s life more.

    But–Sally’s not your child. You need to be guided by the directives of the mom and dad. If you notice that Sally is bruised excessively or losing weight quickly, then of course you would step in and take proper action (with the authorities–don’t try to handle something like that on your own). But if Sally is happy and healthy, then you need to step back and realize that all is well, and you will always have a special place in her life.

    Mike can’t cut cake–but he is Sally’s father and if he tries to maintain a presence in her life then you should respect that and try to remember that Sally is the most important person here. If she’s happy, then all is well. I predict she’ll warm up to her Dad in time.

  • OP December 15, 2011, 9:05 pm

    OP Here! I have read every single comment and have agreed that I should never interfere with Sally and Mike’s relationship. I never have and I never will. Barb asked me if she should say yes when Mike asked if he could come for Christmas. I told her “Of course! He is her father and needs to be here.” She reluctantly invited him. My “annoyance” stems from Mike not being present during Barb’s pregnancy or during the first 7 months of Sally’s life. I am annoyed because Barb comes to me crying and pissed off because she does not have help from him. He has seen her a total of 5 times 2 of which were initiated by me.

    Ok Barb and Mike were never married. They had a very short relationship and he broke up with her when he learned she was pregnant. He has since seen his daughter only a handful of times, pays no child support and thinks that the story of Sally’s conception is an appropriate bed time story. He is by no means a good Dad (Barb’s words, not mine). I too had a semi-absent Dad and understand the importance of the father-daughter relationship. Which is why I encourage Barb to invite Mike and his family.

    As far as the cake is concerned; Where Im from it is rude to use bare hands on other people’s food. Other people mentioned that they were waiting until he stepped away from the cake to cut their piece. And yes I was acting as hostess because I was a hostess. Barb asked me to help to alleviate the work and costs from her parents because she knew she could not count on Mike. And my “murder” comment was made to her parents (they dont like him either) and her parents only. They were upstairs because Mike pissed them off by smoking in their house. And I did not publicly correct him. He was the only person who heard me.

    My being called Barb’s “Baby Daddy” is because I was there from the beginning of her pregnancy driving her to doctor’s appointments, child-birth education classes, picking her up from work (so she wouldn’t be pregnant and on public transportation), buying baby clothes, diapers, bottles, wipes and any other baby paraphernalia. I am in no way complaining about this because Barb has been there for me just as much. I broke down in tears when Barb asked me to be her birthing coach and Sally’s godmother. So it hurts me when people say I am too close and need to step away. I have thought about how I am so hands on with Barb and Sally. I have also though about how Barb is always telling me how she appreciates what I do for her and Sally. She has always told me what she feels, even when she knows it may be upsetting. And I have always told her to tell me if she feels I am overstepping my bounds and she has and I stepped back.

    I don’t “relish” with amusement when Sally comes to me but not to Mike. I encourage her to go to her father but you cant reason with a screaming toddler. I am truly sorry for the “real dad” statement and have never said it aloud. He is her father and I know that I am not. I don’t want to be. I want to be supportive to Barb and Sally in every way which includes driving twice to Mike’s home state so he could visit with her.

    So I am sorry for seeming like an interfering and insensitive boundary over-stepper and will make sure that during this holiday season I am truly nice to Mike. I cannot avoid seeing him as one of the conditions for Barb’s approval of his visit was my being at her house during some of time that he is there. And yes, she can deny the visit as she has sole legal and physical custody of Sally. Any further comments are appreciated.

  • Janos December 15, 2011, 10:30 pm

    Yeah I’m not understanding the “Be the best father he can be” comments.. he lives two states away and is a stranger to his daughter, not even being there for the birth…I don’t see how that’s trying at all. None the less the OP needs to take a step back and try to let him be a dad when he has the chance to.

    Though I bet it’s a blow to the ego finding out your former girlfriend/wife’s best friend whom is a woman is doing so much that people call her the “Baby Daddy”

  • Gracie C. December 16, 2011, 12:22 am

    We have no idea why Mike lives two states away. Perhaps Barb did too, and then moved away from him and he has not secured a job nearby. Perhaps he is in the military and is stationed away. Who knows. Of course we don’t know, because the OP hasn’t bothered to tell us, but my guess is if it were for some truly bad reason, she would have been sure to point it out as one of Mike’s “many” failings. The fact that it went unmentioned indicates to me that it’s a legitimate reason.

  • Felisd December 16, 2011, 12:39 am

    To those who slag the dad for living two states away as a sign of “not trying”, there are a lot of possibilities you have to think about before tar and feathering the dad, especially if you don’t know the circumstances of the situation:
    a) The fact that he’s trying to get back to his daughter to spend special times and milestones with her is a commendable, considering the distance he has to travel and considering the kid is too young to fly to spend more time with him at this point . Could he be doing more? Certainly. Considering the price of airline tickets, should he be expected to bankrupt himself to do so? Debatable.
    b) Sometimes you have to go where the work is. If he can’t get employment in the state where mom is living with the kid but needs to pay child support, he has to go where he can earn enough to do so.
    c) We don’t know the reason why he lives so far away. While he could have moved away, the fact is that the mother could also have moved back home to be with her family.

    Yes, there are some dads out there who are deadbeats who don’t want to be part of their kids’ lives. That’s shameful and that’s horrible. But by the same token, there are a lot of dads out there whose only crime is choosing the wrong woman to have children with. A good many of those men become vilified from the moment the relationship breaks up. I’ve seen cases with false accusations of abuse, brainwashing of the kids to hate/be scared of their fathers, moving across the country to minimize visitation, refusing to let the kids go with their dads when they come for their visitation days, and the deliberate bankrupting of the dad through vexatious litigation. (Goes for both sexes. I’ve seen cases where the dad does that to the mom as well).

    Either way, studies have shown that kids that don’t grow up with good, healthy relationships with BOTH parents usually end up with psychological issues. Unless the man (or woman!) is abusive in any way, shape or form, the child has a right to be encouraged to have a good relationship with both parents, regardless of what the other adults think of that parent.

    In this case, Mike does live far away, and as far as the LW is concerned, that is his biggest crime. There is no other indication that he is a deadbeat dad. Further, the mother and her family go to lengths to ensure that he is included in whatever milestones and special occasions he can spend with his kid. That is really awesome, and I think they should be commended for that. Finally, he makes the effort to show up when he can, and that does give some indication that he cares as well.

    Meanwhile, if the LW wants to advice on how to deal with a “P.I.T.A barely there father” when she has to be in the same room as him, she can do what I do when I have to deal with my fiance’s ex, mother of his child who did her level best to shove him out of his daughter’s life and make the child hate him before she finally got over her insecurities and the fact that he had moved on: You suck it up, and you are polite, if not downright friendly, to him. You take a back seat with the kid when he is around. No matter how much you dislike him, you do NOT let it show to anyone when you are in the same room, least of all the kid. And you never, ever let on to the kid how you feel about her dad. Ever.

    And if the kid is scared of him or shows hesitancy to be around him, you do like I had to do when we were trying to rebuild my fiance’s relationship with his 4-year-old daughter after the worst of the alienation we went through: you make it a game between the three of you. She climbs onto your lap and refuses to get on his? You start rocking your legs all over the place then yell, “LANDSLIDE” and tumble her onto his. Or if that’s not her bag, you encourage her to be comfortable with him. Start with a toy they can interact with together, then build from there.

    If you can’t do any of those things, you stay away from any functions that you know he will be at. Even if it means missing one of the child’s milestones. It may sound unreasonable, but seriously, if I can get along with my fiance’s ex for the sake of his daughter (because of what she did to him and the daughter, I have issues forgiving her, to put it mildly), then LW, you can get along with Mike. If not, you certainly shouldn’t allow yourself to make situations more uncomfortable for all family involved as it is.

  • Brian Katcher December 16, 2011, 1:47 am

    I have to side with the admin on this one.

  • Kimberly December 16, 2011, 1:53 am

    I don’t understand the people jumping on the Dad for living 2 states way. My BIL lived quite a distance from his daughter – because her mom made sure it happened that way. He was excluded from events and she was punished for showing any type of affection to him, her stepmother, or her paternal siblings.

  • Emmers December 16, 2011, 2:41 am

    The sooner you accept you are not the child’s parent, the sooner you can be a better godparent to her and a better friend to her mother.

    It’s sickening how much pleasure you get from this child preferring your company to her fathers, a man of whom no misdeed has been described as committing.

  • Lilya December 16, 2011, 5:11 am

    Maybe he lives two states away because of his job? I don’t know about you guys, but if I had a job in this economy, I’d hang on to it tightly. Doubly so if I had a kid.

    That said, it’s not actually up to us or to the LW to decide if Mike is or isn’t trying hard enough: that’s up to Barb.

  • wolfgirl December 16, 2011, 7:22 am

    I agree with the majority of poster, that the P has an overly involved, borderline obsessive involvement wtith the mother and child, and caused a lot of the issues she complained about. I actually have an acquaintence in a similar siuation, and they were joking calling this girl the exact same thing, “baby dady”. But I think in the event she has been much less involved and just acts as support. Unless its v clearly a joke, its a creepy thing to be proud of!

    But I also have to add my voice to those who don’t think the Dad gets to bask in glory just for turning up to a birthday party. If I have kids I sure as heck would want their father to put in a bit more effort than that, whether we were together or not. Where does this idea come from that turing up to events twice a year from 2 states away is “really trying hard”, and all that can reasonably be expected of the poor man? Would this be acceptible from Sally’s mom? Certainly not, seems to be a bit of gender bias here. Sure, there are a lot of absentee dads who do a heck of a lot worse than Mike does. But thats not a good standard to judge by surely? Otherwise you could justify any sort of poor parenting or even abuse by pointing out someone else who’s doing a worse job?!

  • Anonymous December 16, 2011, 9:36 am

    I agree with the Admin. It sounds like you are trying to push this guy out of his daughters life. Yes, he snapped at you, but it sounded like you were needling him. He’s not the most involved father, but criticizing him when he’s not is not cool.

    I’m not one of those people who says, “A kid needs a father and a mother” but he’s at least trying to be involved to a certain extent (I’m assuming he doesn’t live two states away merely to avoid his kid). How dare you try to take that away from a kid you say you love.

  • Anonymous December 16, 2011, 9:49 am

    By the way, hypothetically, were the OP and the mom married (stepdad), it would STILL be inappropriate. Sure, biology does not a parent make, but unless you show me that Mike is a worse dad than someone who lives two states away and doesn’t know how to cut cake, I’m going to say you still can’t interfere with their relationship. Boy is Sally going to hate you one day if you deprive her of a relationship with her dad over some cake.

  • Claire December 16, 2011, 10:39 am

    It’s always difficult to answer a problem when we only get to see a small snippet of the problem. However, in this case I’m on the side of the OP. I’m familiar with the type of father who only bothers to visit on birthdays and Christmas and then takes umbrage with whomever has stepped up, in a way that he has not, to help his child’s mother out with the difficulties of being a single parent.
    Mike is not to be admired for visiting his daughter and staying in her life, that is his job as her father. It sounds like the OP has gone above and beyond in her efforts for this little girl and her mother and I can fully understand her frustration when the part-time father steps in and demands his daughter’s attention. I sounds to me like his attempts to one up the OP are for his own benefit, perhaps even to sooth his guitly conscience over being a part time father, rather than for the benefit of his little girl. He has a “it’s my ball and you’re not playing” attitude, it’s just a pity that, in this case, the “ball” is his daughter.

  • Jay December 16, 2011, 10:47 am


    You did everything just right. That the father was bitter about it is not your fault.. he’s just flinging blame to cover up his own shortcomings that day.

  • Amanda H. December 16, 2011, 11:05 am

    I’m going to comment specifically on Sally’s “stranger anxiety” reaction, since I have some first-hand experience with that.

    My children live several states away from both sets of grandparents, who they really only get to see about 3-5 times a year, if that (usually half of it is on video chat). Yes, they showed stranger anxiety with their own relations around the same age as little Sally in this story. When actually visiting said grandparents, they would run to me or my husband and not want to interact with these “strangers” at all, and even refuse to be set down. Did Hubby and I let them cling and keep them away from their grandparents? No. We encouraged them to socialize with their grandparents, letting them know who they were and that they were on the up-and-up and that there was nothing to be afraid of. It took some work, but by the end of the day our children were comfortable with their grandparents, showing them things and playing with them.

    Sure, Hubby and I have a much friendlier relationship with our in-laws than the LW appears to have with Mike, but I’m *sure* for Sally’s sake the LW can bring herself to encourage Sally to be comfortable with her father rather than catering to and thus compounding the stranger anxiety.

  • Carrie December 16, 2011, 11:52 am

    This is probably one of the most irksome stories I’ve read on this site. So irksome, it’s gotten me out of hiding.

    OP, DO NOT, in any way, shape or form, interfere with the relationship between Sally and her father. Kids are perceptive and will pick up on discord; if you keep playing this game, you’re only going to divide Sally’s loyalties, and she will end up resenting you for not encouraging her to form a relationship with her father. It’s commendable that you’re providing a strong support system for Sally, but at the end of the day, you are not her parent. Decisions concerning Sally are not to be made by you.

    As awkward and frustrating as this situation may (probably?) be to Barb and her parents, imagine the damage this can cause for Sally. If Mike is willing to be involved in his child’s life and is clearly taking a step to do so, who are you to criticize and make clear your resentment? Politely interact with Mike as little as possible or stay away from him entirely, or you just might be putting Barb in her own awful place, where she needs to choose which one of you should have a bigger role in her daughter’s life.

    And the murder comment was out of line. I winced when I read it, so I can’t imagine what the impact would have been in person.

  • GroceryGirl December 16, 2011, 12:01 pm

    This sounds like the precursor to another post someday down the line by Barb. All about how she had this dear friend who she made her child’s godmother but over time the dear friend began attempting to take a parenting role and eventually ties were severed. It’s like Admin always says: whose interest is being served here? This party should have been about Sally, not OP and her vendetta against Mike.

  • Abby December 16, 2011, 12:32 pm

    I’m going to give OP the benefit of the doubt and assume, for the sake of argument, that Mike’s transgressions go beyond ‘annoying her in the past’ and that he has commited some wrongs against Barb or Sally (be it a lack of involvement in Sally’s life or being rude to Barb or whatever).

    That being said, it was not OP’s place to strike back at him by picking up Sally and smirking about it, or criticizing his cake cutting methods. His remark to her about having her priorities messed up was out of line, but not really deserving of the ‘joke’ that she was going to murder him. By the OP’s own admission, that was the only rude thing he did.

    Like the other commenters, I pick up a disturbingly smug vibe throughout the story. From the bit about how Sally ran to OP to escape her father and wouldn’t ‘let’ OP put her down, to the part about OP being able to get a laugh out of Barb’s parents by insulting Mike, to the unnecessary explanation that her post birthday party engagement was a congratulations party ‘in her honor’ for completing grad school (Really, OP, all you had to say was you had another obligation and Barb and her parents were aware you’d be leaving the party early and were fine with it).

    I’m willing to believe OP that Mike has done some questionable things in the past that make it hard for her to play nice, but that is something she needs to do if she wants to be in Barb/Sally’s lives, since Mike is permanently involved as well. If OP really doesn’t think she can get through a kid’s birthday party or some similar event without making snide remarks to Mike as a way of exacting some revenge, then she need not attend next time.

  • Anonymous December 16, 2011, 1:38 pm

    OP, based on your second post, do you ever think you are being used? Certainly you want a partner and kids of your own, but by letting yourself get totally drawn into this life it’s interfering with your own life. I don’t spend that much time with my own sister. Barb shouldn’t come to you crying all the time. She’s a single mom, but so are lots of women, and they do it without hijacking their friends’ lives.

    Seriously, take a break from all these people. It’s for everyone’s good.

  • Anonymous December 16, 2011, 1:41 pm

    And it may be rude where you are from to touch food with your hands, but it is ALWAYS ruder to publicly call someone out. For instance, you see someone pick their nose, unless they’re handing yours and someone else’s food, you don’t go “EWWW!! THat was rude!”

    But based on your response, it’s clear you aren’t paying attention to any of us and are still convinced you are right. Ugh.

  • Gracie C. December 16, 2011, 1:57 pm

    wolfgirl – he has a child who thinks of him as a stranger and a bitchy friend of his daughter’s mother instructing him on how to cut cake (cause she has catering background – rme). Where is this “basking” you speak of? Sounds to me like he’s trying to make the best of what is clearly a less than ideal circumstance. And we have no idea why the circumstance (his living so far away) exists. We only have limited knowledge from a clearly biased source, but like I said before – if he was as to blame for the circumstances as some people are believing, she would have pointed that out…gleefully.

    Lilya – I totally agree. My husband worked 3 states away for 6 months a couple years ago because of the crappy economy. He found a job and he took it. We saw each other on weekends only. If we had children that job would have been even MORE important.

  • MellowedOne December 16, 2011, 2:10 pm

    No, occasional visitation by the father does not qualify as adequate parenting, nor should it be considered ‘really trying’.

    But here’s the deal. Whatever involvement this father chooses to make, he has absolute right to do. It should never be hindered in any way by people who think he should be more involved.

    It’s great the OP has been such a caring friend and so involved in this little girl’s life. That said, whatever happens between the child and her father is NONE OF THE OP’S BUSINESS. The OP needs to back off and probably just stay away when the father is visiting.

  • Calli Arcale December 16, 2011, 2:37 pm

    OP — thank you for sharing the backstory. Without that, it comes across as a very strange story. So you do have legitimate grievances against Mike, and perhaps the murder comment wasn’t the sort of thing that would raise eyebrows after all in that very specific group.

    That said, I do have to point out that if you are the hostess (and you’ve now said you were), you do generally have an obligation to stay to the end of the party. Mike had a point with that one, though if it was okay with the other hosts, it wasn’t any of his business (any more than his cake-cutting skills were yours). I realize the party you were going to was for several people, and so it may not have been possible to move it to a different time, but it is generally frowned-upon to double-book engagements. The only time I have done this was when one of them was a funeral. I’ve never done it when I’ve been a hostess; that would be abandoning my guests.

    So here’s my advice to you:

    Mike’s got issues. Maybe he’ll get his act together and figure out what a father is supposed to be. You can help or you can hinder, but like him or not, he will always be Sally’s biological father. You know this, of course; your question at the end of the post was how to handle a PITA biological father whose daughter barely knows him.

    * First off, practice gracious but noncommittal answers so you are prepared in the event of small-talk; you’ll need a stockpile of things to say so you don’t have to try and think of something while you’re mad. Bean-dip maneuvers may also be helpful, as will convenient excuses to go to another room. If you wear contacts, you can happen to get a speck of dust in one of them, requiring an urgent trip to the bathroom during which you can regain your composure. Or, if have a cell phone, you can keep it on your person, set to “vibrate”, and feign receiving a call.

    * Second, help prepare Sally for meetings with him — show her his picture, tell her who he is. As she gets older, this will get more important, because she’s going to start asking questions. Explain that some daddies are far away, because that’s just how it worked out, but he’s still her daddy and still important and it’s okay to visit with him, but that she’s living with her mommy and everybody loves her. I would leave it to her mother to introduce the whys of all that, at the developmentally-appropriate times. Your most important part will be to keep making sure Sally knows that she is loved, and that she can come to you in times of need. The rest will be up to her. This may also help motivate Mike to be more of a dad; there is no guarantee he won’t get his act together eventually, though I wouldn’t depend on it.

    * Third, remember that this situation is not unique. There are people who can help you deal with this. I’d look for resources (online, books, etc) discussing how people deal with their spouse’s ex for advice, because while you are not a spouse yourself, a lot of the emotional issues are similar. Also look for books about how to introduce these situations to young children. Sally can benefit from the experience of many other children.

  • alex December 16, 2011, 3:10 pm

    OP, your comment to all the posters was still kind of bad, I’m sorry. You don’t say why he lives 2 states away. He may have to live there because of his job and it does seem like he is making some effort to be in her life. I mean, he does want to spend Christmas with them and if he had absolutely no interest in his little girl he would definitely not ask that.

    I also don’t think you should be saying “he is by no means a good dad” as you say yourself those are not your words and you should not be judging anyone else’s parenting. Barb has history with him and has obviously been hurt, which may be some of the reason she says he is not a good dad.

    That is just fine that you were there from the beginning of her pregnancy, driving etc. but that is a best friend, not a Baby Daddy and if I was the Baby Daddy I would be hurt and offended, which may be one of the reasons Mike may not like you. He probably feels threatened. It sounds like you are trying to justify why you are called that.

    You say, ” So it hurts me when people say I am too close and need to step away.” Are other people saying this or just those of us on here after reading the story? If people are in your RL you may want to think about how you come across. It is wonderful to be hands on and love Sally, children need to see that lots of people love them. But then it is another to overstep boundaries and hurt the relationship a father is trying to have with his daughter.

    I wonder though by what you said if Barb thinks you overstep your boundaries some as well.
    “She has always told me what she feels, even when she knows it may be upsetting. And I have always told her to tell me if she feels I am overstepping my bounds and she has and I stepped back.” Has she done this often? You may want to think about it all if it has happened a few times. I would be upset if someone was acting like a parent to my child.

    You say, “I cannot avoid seeing him as one of the conditions for Barb’s approval of his visit was my being at her house during some of time that he is there.” A

    Please OP make sure you don’t OVERSTAY or are there too much. I think it is probably important for Mike to have some time with Sally without you there and please make sure that is able to happen. Yes, Barb may want you there some but I suggest making sure you are not there more than you are.

  • WildIrishRose December 16, 2011, 3:18 pm

    It might have helped if OP had provided a little more information at the beginning. But I still get a sense of smugness about her role in Sally’s life as opposed to Mike’s. If listening to Barb whine about Mike is going to result in this kind of behavior, then maybe OP needs to just tell Barb that she doesn’t want to hear it–perhaps even remind Barb that SHE chose to sleep with Mike, resulting in the pregnancy, so there must have been something to him at some point in the past. As for the “deadbeat” dad showing up only for milestone events, ad nauseam, so what? He lives two states away, and if he can’t afford to show up for everything, how is that OP’s business? It’s up to BARB to determine how much contact Mike has with his daughter–particularly if he’s not paying child support.

  • starstruck December 16, 2011, 3:34 pm

    yeah its good that parents plan ahead in case anything happens to them but godparent doesn’t equal parent. at least not now. i hate to sound harsh but right now you’re really just an insurance policy that hopefully the real parents never have to cash in . sorry iam not one for sugar coating. but its true. i do think its great that you can be there though in case that does happen. but when you say you have to deal with the father, well you don’t. sally is not yours. and don’t forget the roll you play can be taken away quite easily, and if sally’s father wanted to officially protest, legally he could have you removed a godparent all together .

  • Wink-n-Smile December 16, 2011, 3:36 pm

    My nephew was small when his grandparents moved far away. He loved them very much, and actually tried to pack himself into their luggage. So cute!

    Well, a year goes by, and grandma comes for a visit. She tried to keep up the contact with mail and phone calls, but my nephew doesn’t care for the phone, and can’t read, yet. I took him to the airport to meet Grandma, and he was SO EXCITED, bouncing and talking the whole time about Grandma, and how he couldn’t wait to see her.

    When he did see her, at last, he got scared and hid behind my legs. Her face just fell, she was so broken-hearted. She thought he didn’t love her. He did. He was just suddenly shy, which is quite common with young children before the age of 5 or 6, especially if it’s been a while since they last saw the person, or if their appearance has changed, in any way.

    The best thing to do is to remind the child that this is the person they knew, and encourage them to say “Hello,” and maybe chat a bit. They can talk, from a physical distance, until they become comfortable getting closer.

  • Huh December 16, 2011, 3:45 pm


    Yeah, I love that just showing up for a birthday party is really trying hard. Especially after reading OP’s follow-up post about how this was one of the few times he’s ever seen Sally in her life and doesn’t pay child support. But hey, he showed up for the party! I think society has set a very low standard for fathers nowdays.

  • Wink-n-Smile December 16, 2011, 3:46 pm

    OP – Since you are godmother, and Mike is mostly absentee, and seems to need to be prodded to forge a connection, I suggest you bring up the subject of a will with Barb.

    That is to say, if Barb, who has sole custody, should die, who will then be Sally’s guardian? Don’t let her leave it to the state to decide. They might decide that Mike should have the custody, and if he doesn’t want it, then you’ll have a battle on your hands. Or, they might decide that Barb’s parents should have custody, and they might decide it’s too much, at their age, and then again, there’s the whole issue of family giving up custody and the state coming in, and Sally possibly going to foster homes.

    If you want custody, in case of Barb’s death, then tell her. If you do NOT want custody, in case of Barb’s death, then tell her that, too. Being a godmother is wonderful, and I’m glad you’re such an attentive one. Just be sure that everyone agrees on what’s best for Sally, and that it is put down in writing, so that SALLY is protected. An unhappy guardian is the last thing she wants. Sure, it makes for a great movie (absentee Dad inherits his own kid, hijinks ensue, and they finally bond, as Dad embraces true fatherhood), but real life doesn’t always go that way.

    It sounds as if you, Barb, and her parents have a good relationship. That’s great. If Mike gets custody of his daughter, after Barb dies, then you will NEED a good relationship with him, just in order to continue your relationship with Sally.

    So, for her sake, and for yours, make sure you know how things will fall, in case the worst happens. Then prepare for that eventuality. Hopefully, your preparations will be unneeded, and Barb will live a long life. But if she doesn’t, you’ll be glad of those preparations.

    Good luck!

  • Bint December 16, 2011, 4:07 pm

    It doesn’t matter if Mike is a good father or not. He is Sally’s father. The OP came across in her own post as inappropriate, behaving badly and handling things very poorly. I agree with everyone who said the ‘baby daddy’ nickname is just creepy. I think ‘baby daddy’ is a pretty horrible, unflattering term anyway.

    However, what struck me from the OP’s reply is what a manipulative user Barb sounds. She cries and is pissed off to the OP about Mike. She lets her friend drive her two states away, to all her appointments, buying so much for Sally as a baby, then Barb makes it a condition of Mike’s visit that the OP is in the house for part of it. Why on earth? She knows they dislike each other. That came off as pretty manipulative.

    I think *Barb* needs to get some boundaries. The OP calls herself ‘hands on’. From both her posts she sounded so incredibly hands on that I would find it suffocating and unhealthy. Both posts read as though she is giving her life up to Barb and Sally, with all the jealousy towards Mike that goes along with this, and Barb is enjoying it.

    The OP would do much better to step away any time Mike is there and leave it up to Barb. Barb chose to have a child with this man; she should be the one to deal with the dynamics of that.

    And slagging Mike to Barb’s parents, whether they hate him or not: not cool. That is their granddaughter’s father you’re being rude about. That is half of Sally’s gene pool. Out of respect for Sally, if nothing else, this is not appropriate.

  • Gracie C. December 16, 2011, 4:40 pm

    Just read the OP’s update (had missed it before somehow). OP – while this may be a workable situation for now, what happens later? When Sally is old enough to go spend a few weeks with dad? When Barb meets another guy and suddenly there is no room for you to be in constant contact. I really think that others are right that you need to start gradually separating for your own good. Not saying you have to not be involved, but you have to appreciate that you being the “baby daddy” is not a life-long scenario. It’ll last only as long as Barb doesn’t have someone else. Also – if you pop back in, I’m still curious why Mike lives two states away? Did he always? Did Barb? Did they meet/hook up on vacation? What’s the deal?

    Wink-n-smile – I think unless Barb has mentioned it before OP bringing up a will would be incredibly awkward. A godmother, in most circumstances is a ceremonial role only. Many god parents are not even related (meaning a godmother and godfather from two separate families). Are they supposed to split the kid if something happens? Not many are actually meant to serve as legal guardians should something happen to the parents. Further, Barb is likely the sole custodial parent due to Mike’s distance, and not because he was deemed unfit by the courts, in which case Barb cannot just declare that he has no rights to his own daughter should she pass away. I think for the OP to bring up to Barb that she should get custody of her kid if she dies would be incredibly creepy. That is definitely a conversation that needs to be initiated from Barb, and again, legally I think she can’t bypass the kid’s dad unless he’s already been declared unfit.

  • Kelly December 16, 2011, 5:32 pm

    OP – You sound very protective of both Barb and Sally. It also sounds like you spend an awful lot of time with them both. From your post, you are graduating college and about to embark on your career and life. You may want to distance yourself some from Sally. She is not going to understand why her “Mr Mom” may be too busy to devote as much time to her life as you are doing right now. For her sake, look to your future and act accordingly.

  • StarSapphire December 16, 2011, 5:40 pm

    I think it is time for the OP to find a boyfriend/girlfriend/SO and get her own life.

  • Kat December 16, 2011, 6:18 pm

    I could repeat a lot of what’s been said, but instead I want to say this –

    It’s not the place of anyone here to tell the OP to get therapy. That’s overstepping and it’s inappropriate.

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