Carolyn Hax: New mom doesn’t want her boyfriend’s ex to meet her baby

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Dear Caroline: I very recently had a baby with my boyfriend of several years. We were both married when we met, but after developing feelings for each other, we got divorced and committed to each other. Neither marriage was fulfilling, but I’m on great terms with my ex as we co-parent our children as a united team.

My boyfriend’s ex-wife, however, continued to be manipulative and controlling. For example, she told my boyfriend that their church pastor expected him to apologize to church leaders for divorcing his wife. When my boyfriend sought to clarify this with the pastor, the pastor was stunned and assured him that she had never had a conversation like this with the ex-wife.

Her 16-year-old, “Sam,” also refuses to meet the baby without her mother present. And JUST his mother present. My boyfriend is desperate to reconnect with his son (whose estrangement is made possible by the ex) and thinks meeting the baby will soften his son’s heart. I am incredibly uncomfortable with the conditions. For context: I learned that his ex-wife repeatedly made fun of the name we chose for our daughter. She also demanded to know all sorts of intimate details about me, such as my breastfeeding plans.

His ex-wife was very insistent on meeting the baby. My boyfriend says she and Sam are a forfeit. But my instincts as a mom are screaming at me that my baby is not safe with this woman. She recently made it clear that she expects to meet the baby soon, whether Sam does or not.

I’m obviously sleep deprived and hormones are crashing, but am I being unreasonable? I know she will meet her one day, but I don’t see why it is necessary for her to have this experience with my newborn.

Mama Bear: There’s not enough hell for that no. Oh my God.

I would not agree to discuss accept this plan. Certainly not. The only drop-down discussion right now is with your husband about why he’s even willing to consider giving in to this request – which is technically his son’s but to some extent also his ex’s, because she could have easily told Sam (surely not.

As heartbreaking and terrible as it is, your boyfriend’s estrangement from Sam still can’t make “Here, take our baby” sound sane. You don’t trade one child for another in a hostage situation. Not even if it would work, which it won’t; your husband’s trip with Sam is more like mine clearance, requiring years of constant and patient good faith.

(It’s also wise not to create hostage situations in the first place, no matter how crazy the divorce drives you – which, if her ex ever writes me about it, I’ll be sure to include in my answer.)

Do I really think the ex would hurt your baby? I don’t know… it seems far-fetched. But his insistence plus the completely fucked up suggestion of leaving us alone with your baby amounts to something so unhinged that the possibility needs to be taken seriously – along with your discomfort and screaming maternal instincts. Skipping those just to appease your clearly confused co-parent is a bad habit to get into as soon as you start this journey.

The best reason to say no, however, is just on the surface and much less dramatic: her ex is demanding something she’s not even allowed to ask. His request could be a bite out of your cookie and the answer should be no, just to keep the lines of rational authority clear.

There is clearly a lot of pain in your family’s origin story. To your ex’s credit in particular, you and he handled it productively.

Your boyfriend and his ex didn’t, for whatever reason — and the unresolved pain is a threat to the two families he helped create. If you haven’t gotten counseling yet, start looking for a therapist who works with families, even if that means multiple calls and time on a provider’s waiting list. Saying “no” to the ex, in addition to being imperative, is exactly putting out a bushfire. Please prepare now for the rest.

Dear Caroline: My cousin, “Lauren”, is a beautiful, very intelligent, sophisticated and professional woman in her thirties who is called “Lala” – a childhood nickname – by everyone, including all of our family members. She also uses it on social media.

It’s goofy, it feels like an insult, and it sounds like fingernails on a blackboard to me, so I call it nothing, which is embarrassing to say the least. If I call her Lauren, my family’s judgment will begin, if not in front of me, definitely behind my back.

So tell Lauren how I feel? Ask him if I can call him Lauren? Keep calling her with nothing? Accept that there’s no good reason not to call her Lala?

Anonymous: That’s all — the last.

She is Lala. Becoming superior won’t change that and won’t bring you closer to her.

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