It takes two people to make a child and they have to work together to raise it. But sometimes exes blur the lines and are involved in more than parenting. They’ve allegedly moved on, but in reality they’re still clinging to the past, to those days when they were in a relationship. And their behavior shows they’re not ready to let go.
If you’re involved with a guy who has a baby with another woman (his baby mama aka his BM) and you suspect he’s concerned about more than his you child, you may be right.
- Excessive co-parenting. Yes, parents need to discuss things: medical decisions, child care arrangements, grades and behavior. And there are some moments they want share with each other: the first step, first word, an award or an upcoming event. But be very aware when every move the baby mama makes requires input from your man. If she’s calling every time the child draws a picture or he has to rush over for every scrape, cut and whimper, there’s a problem. When people aren’t ready to let go they’ll often use children to stay in constant contact.
- She plays the middle man. Once a child reaches a certain age, there’s little for parents to talk about on a daily basis. Sure, your man may need to talk to his BM here and there. But for the most part, school-age children can communicate directly with their fathers, no middle man required. And at some point it becomes ridiculous for all calls to be routed through her. A father who really wants to stay in touch with his child should be willing to invest in a cellphone or landline. If not, you have to wonder: who does he really want to talk to?
- He’s concerned about her dating (or vice versa). The thing about breaking up is you lose the right and any valid reason to have say-so about what your ex does, even when children are involved. You don’t get to say when they date, who they date or how often they can go out. In custody cases, courts don’t even generally allow one parent to dictate who the other associates with, even when the child is around. And you shouldn’t accept your man trying to regulate his baby mama’s private life or him having to justify his to her. And it’s definitely a red flag if they’ve reached an agreement where she forbids you being around “her child” and he’s agreed to respect her wishes. No man should make an agreement to bar the woman he loves from his child’s life.
- Visitation includes her. Unless your man is physically or mentally challenged he can learn to care for his child on his own at every age, including infancy. He doesn’t need his baby mama around monitoring every visit. Don’t accept them playing family because they’re not. They may both need to be present on certain occasions—medical visits, parent-teacher conferences, school plays —but they don’t need to be posing as a couple.
- He doesn’t want you around her. He drops off and picks up the child but you can’t come. He goes to sporting events, performances or to visit his child in the hospital but you can’t go. He says this is because his baby mama is bitter. She’s unpredictable. He tells you she talks smack about you and calls you names and he doesn’t know how she’ll act. He just wants peace and he doesn’t want you to have to deal with her bull–. Don’t buy it. Those are conversations he needs to have with her. If she can’t accept that you’re part of his life, let her smother in bitterness, but don’t let him force you into the shadows.
- He plays by her rules. She can call or pop up with the baby anytime. She decides when he gets visits, what the child can and cannot have or do while visiting and what the child eats. In fact, she decides everything, and he follows her instructions to the letter. Every relationship requires compromise, even relationships between exes who share children. If his BM is playing boss lady, there’s a lack of healthy balance. Your man is supposed to be a man. On top of that, he’s supposed to be a father. And he’s not doing a good job of being either one if another woman dictates his actions.
- He needs privacy to talk to her. How often do children have matters that require strict confidentiality? Not often. If your man constantly has private conversations with his baby mama, they’re talking about more than raising a child.
- She relies on him. Her sink is leaking. Her car’s acting up. She gets child support but still calls when she’s running short on cash. Every time she’s in a bind, she calls her baby daddy and he runs to the rescue. He blows off your concern, telling you he has a child with her. As if you don’t know that already. If your man is playing Captain-Save’em with his baby mama he going above and beyond his call of duty and you should be concerned about his motives.
- When he’s with you, he acts awkward around her people. You two are at the store or the movies when suddenly he encounters someone from her squad. It could be her mother, brother, friend or co-worker, and he gets tense. He wants to avoid contact or suddenly needs to detour to the bathroom or check something on the other side of the building. That’s definitely a red flag. He may try to play it off like you’re being silly. He may tell you his baby mama and everyone else knows about his relationship with you. And they may, but if he’s still acting shady around her people, he’s clearly uncomfortable showing his dedication to you. It could be because he’s being unfaithful or because his loyalty is in the wrong place.