Morning friends,

This blog is about domestic abuse and the abuse of power. But that abuse of power and privilege isn’t just in marriage. It’s in organizations as well. My heart breaks for our country, and I’m praying for us to be able to sit together and have compassionate conversations. There is a lot of pain and anger over another instance of the abuse of power by a police officer towards an unarmed, unresisting, African American man that led to his death. This is a chronic problem, and history shows that the problem has not been addressed systemically or justly.  

Do police need better training? Yes. But having a relative who is a police officer, I know most want to do the right thing and daily put themselves in harm’s way to keep our streets and cities safe. And, I also have an African American relative who is profiled, who has been unjustly stopped and questioned because of his skin color. A good man who worries about his safety, not because he’s doing anything wrong, but because he’s judged by the color of his skin. This is wrong. We all need to learn that whatever color our skin is, we all bleed red. God created us human beings first, and we must never forget that. Click To Tweet

Question: I recently asked my husband to leave our home because he wouldn’t allow my 13-year-old daughter from my first marriage to live in our home. There was even a point where he wouldn’t even let me see her. He said she was like food coloring dropped into clear water. 

She was bad, and she contaminated our home and family she was 8 or 9 at the time. I don’t know what to do. I want my daughter to thrive and have a stable home with me. We have two children together now. Am I doing the right thing? He makes me feel like I’m in the wrong, that I’m crazy for wanting my daughter in my life.

Answer: I want your daughter to thrive, and so does God. Your second husband knew you had a daughter when he married you. Was he accepting of her then? Did the two of you discuss her, and was he okay with your relationship with her as her mother? Or, was he clear from the beginning that he only wanted you, but not your daughter? And if it was the former and he accepted her, what happened to change that? Did she do something that changed his mind towards her? The fact that he thinks you’re crazy for wanting her in your life makes me concerned that she had done something pretty serious and perhaps dangerous. 

Even if she did, she’s a child, and children sometimes do foolish and stupid things, but rejecting them makes it even worse. But if she’s done something dangerous or harmful to the household or to the other children in the family, it may explain why he doesn’t want her living there. But why wouldn’t he allow you to even see her? And why would you allow him to decide that for you?

If there is no rational reason for his feelings for your daughter, it could be he’s jealous of her relationship with you and your love for her. He may also be threatened by her relationship with her own father and feels insecure in the stepfather role. Maybe he wants you to be content with him and your new children and hates that you were married before. Who knows, but Biblically you have every right and responsibility to mother your child and have her in your life. Your second husband doesn’t get to decide that she’s a throw-away child, even if she has done something harmful. However, if she has, it’s important you not close your eyes and that you get her help so she grows up to be a strong, healthy, and stable person.

Biblically you also made vows and promises to your second husband, but in those vows, you didn’t promise to forsake your child. You’re in a terrible dilemma, and I imagine this is one of the reasons that God designed marriage ideally to be a life-long relationship. Children from a previous relationship or marriage aren’t thrown away just because you get remarried and have more children. Most individuals who marry someone with a child, embrace them too. 

You asked, are you doing the right thing? From what you’ve told me I believe you are, but there is a lot about this situation you haven’t told me. For example, what effect does your daughter have on the household (you, and the other children) that your husband opposes her living there? Sometimes one child can create a lot of chaos or even danger for the others in the household. If there is a history of this, are you addressing this now so that you’re all safe?

Also, it seems you have given your second husband a lot of decision-making power in your life. He makes the decision that you are not allowed to see your own child. To not allow her to live in your home with you. And to question your love for her and even your own sanity for wanting to have her in your life. I’d encourage you during this season of separation that you get some expert help from a licensed counselor to help you process some of these issues – so that you get healthier and stronger so when the time comes to discuss your marriage with your husband, you don’t get as easily intimidated or controlled into doing something that you later regret. All your children need a healthy, stable, and strong mother.

Friends, what words of wisdom can you share with this anxious mother? 

11 Comments

  1. JoAnn on June 3, 2020 at 12:03 pm

    Although the writer did not give us any information about what kinds of behavior the girl was exhibiting that the step father objected to, I can sympathize with this situation. We had an adopted son who was later diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder. He brought a lot of frustration and trouble into our family, with two other children by birth. Though we had therapy for him, it didn’t help much and we had to send him on his way when he was about 22. So, the writer has a 13 year old who is acting out in some way, probably due to issues related to the divorce of her parents among other things. My first thought would be to get her into therapy, as Leslie suggested, and ASAP. Also, it would seem that this mother and her current husband need to be able to talk about these things in the presence of a qualified therapist. From the questions that Leslie asked, I have to wonder if this woman knows what is motivating her husband to take this position. Yes, any 13 year old will bring issues into even a good, loving family. That’s the nature of adolescence. It’s the fact that she is not his daughter that makes him want to send her away. What will happen when his children by birth go through the adolescent challenges? So, while I do sympathize with the dilemma this woman is dealing with, I strongly encourage her to get professional help for the girl (a counselor who is trained to work with teens) and for the marriage. She is a troubled child, and her behavior is begging for help. Get it for her.

    • Annie Grace on June 9, 2020 at 8:21 pm

      Autumn: I hesitate to post this, as I often feel the same way about people I disagree with, but calling someone a jerk, which I have done many times, and regrettably so, is still a form of verbal abuse. Perhaps this husband has some legitimate concerns that need to be addressed in this difficult situation.

      • Autumn on June 10, 2020 at 3:59 am

        Yes, after I quickly wrote my response and then read the other replies, I thought I better reread the post again to see what I missing. I am so immersed in abusive relationships that I forgot some people write with concerns about difficult relationships rather than destructive ones. In the case of a destructive relationship, sometimes we need the reality check of another woman’s gut response to get out of denial. I don’t think using the term “jerk” is verbal abuse. I, for one needed to be told that and other true, yet I’m flattering terms, to stop defending and making excuses for my destructive, criminal like, spouse.

        I can see both sides of this discussion now and agree professional counsel would be a great help to everyone in the situation and that we need more information.

        • Autumn on June 10, 2020 at 4:01 am

          Should read…unflattering terms

          • Annie Grace on June 10, 2020 at 12:23 pm

            Thank you for your kind and honest reply, Autumn. I appreciate your honest and integrity.



          • Annie Grace on June 10, 2020 at 12:26 pm

            It must be catching, Autumn 😉

            My reply should read ‘honesty’ and integrity.



  2. Autumn on June 3, 2020 at 7:11 pm

    Yes, stand up for your daughter. Obviously you second husband is a jerk. She needs you. He has already determined who he wants to be. There is still time to save her.

    Is her father a good man?

  3. Jill K. on June 3, 2020 at 11:46 pm

    I can relate to this dilemma and sympathize with this mother. Leslie is correct in saying that there is a lot of important details left out of this scenario. She is right in asking more questions. There is much left unsaid, that would help to explain the husband’s position.
    I can relate because when I was a child I was badly affected by the actions of a step-sibling, and the seriously bad behavior was not stopped and I was not protected. So, it would be critical for this mother to get professional help for both her daughter and her marriage.
    If her husband feels that he needs to protect his children for some valid reason, then it would seem to me that it is unreasonable for this mother to ask him to move out. If she needs to help her daughter and be an active part of her daughter’s life, then it would need to happen at a location other than where the 2nd husband and children reside.
    It does seem unreasonable that her husband would demand no contact with this daughter. But again, we don’t know what the circumstances are.
    This mother is surely in a tough position. Praying for her to have clarity and guidance and timely help with all of this. I’m sorry for the difficulties she and her daughter are facing.

  4. Moonbeam on June 10, 2020 at 4:17 am

    Does anyone think that remarrying leads a child from the first marriage to feel abandoned and devalued? I have written that I struggle with the morality of marrying more than once. Might the first child think that Mom wanted to please herself with a new man and a new family, over them? Might the child have grown up feeling unwanted and mistrust Mom and other adults because of such actions? Wouldn’t this lead to feelings of unworthiness and shame in the child? The poor child is left torn between two, now likely four adults who inconsistently parent them. What a sad, sad, mess for all.

    I just struggle with the validity of remarriage when children are involved. Although living as a single parent to escape mistreatmenr is necessary, I just don’t see why seeking romance and love is worth creating a situation like we have read upon a vulnerable child.

    • JoAnn on June 10, 2020 at 2:51 pm

      Moonbeam, I think much depends on how both the divorce and the remarriage are handled by the parents. Too many variables to make generalizations, so of course, what you suggested as possibilities can happen, but it really depends a lot on the circumstances. My nephew said that when he was a boy, he felt that he really didn’t have his own home; he was floating between two places, neither of which were his own. So, yes, kids will interpret the situation in their own way, which is why parents need tp pay attention to how the kids are managing, and speak the truth to them.

    • Leslie Vernick on June 10, 2020 at 9:12 pm

      Moonbeam you’re not alone in recommending that single parents not remarry until their children are grown. Lots of complications with blended family troubles. It takes a special kind of person to be a great step parent. Not impossible, but often problematic.

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