Dad on kids: "I want to take my son on a trip, not my spouse's child; not spending anything on my stepson"

Amy Christie

*This article is a work of nonfiction based on actual events recounted to me by a friend who witnessed them firsthand; used with permission

Getting married to a partner who had kids without being willing to contribute to the costs needed for them and your own kids can cause tension and plenty of arguments as you try to raise a family where siblings are not treated the same way by the two spouses.

Is it acceptable to avoid costs related to your stepkids, or should you face the fact that once you're married, they also become your responsibility, at least partly?

My friend Ryan has been married to his wife Margaret for eight years. They have a son together, and Margaret also had one son from a previous marriage who was just a toddler when they tied the knot.

"Mason was so little when I got married the second time that I thought Ryan would have no issues with being his dad too. And they got along great. They played together from their first meeting, and Ryan is very patient and considerate; he listens to the questions he has and never tells him he's bothering him," Margaret said.

Mason's dad is not involved in his son's life, but he does send money every month.

"That's all he's ever done, even when we were married. He made money and thought that covered everything else. Mason won't have him close, and maybe that's not such a bad thing because he never was fond of kids. I wish there was some way to explain it to him without making him feel he wasn't important to his dad," the mom said.

In their third year of marriage, she found out she was pregnant again, and the couple got excited about welcoming another child into their family.

"It was amazing to learn I would be a mom a second time. And Mason was going to have a sibling, so he didn't have to grow up on his own, watching other kids have fun with their brothers and sisters," the mom said.

Ryan was happy to be a dad, and as soon as they welcomed their son, he prepared his room and did all he could so Margaret could stay home and look after both kids.

"There was no way she would work when we already had two boys. And she didn't need to. I earned enough for her to be a full-time mom and be close to our son and Mason. It was actually a relief not to come back from work at the same time as her, both tired and just done for the day," Ryan said.

While he had no issues with his wife staying home, and she was happy to look after the kids and their home, Ryan did start drawing comparisons between the two boys, particularly when looking at costs.

"Before, he was ok with buying toys and supplies for Mason. After Dan was born, he only wanted to buy Mason things that would last long enough so Dan could use them too. And if it was something just for him, he usually got it used or borrowed it from one of his friends who had kids," Margaret said.

While this seemed like a good way to save some money, Dan was still getting only new toys, and his clothes sometimes cost too much, in Margaret's opinion.

"I told him many times he was spending too much on Dan's clothes; he grows so fast, and there's no need to buy all those things. But he wouldn't listen; he has no limits for costs for him compared to my other son," the mom said.

And when it was time to go on a family vacation, Ryan didn't even consider having Mason with them.

"I want to take my son on a trip, not my spouse's child, not spending anything on my stepson. My wife can come, and her mom can watch Mason. I think that's better for us. I can't be paying for him all my life. I'm not his dad," Ryan said.

Margaret was surprised by his reaction since he didn't avoid taking Mason anywhere until then.

"We only went on day trips until now, but I never thought he would want to just leave him home. How could we enjoy ourselves if he couldn't be a part of it? We're all a family, and Ryan should know better," she said.

She's talked to him several times, thinking he might be confused or didn't mean what he said, but Ryan hasn't changed his mind. He doesn't want Mason on any of their family trips. Margaret won't go without him, and she is against Ryan going somewhere just with his son, Dan.

Things are tense for now as none of them wants to compromise, and Mason will stay with his grandparents for a few days until the couple decides what their next vacation will be like.

What do you think about this situation? Should Ryan take his stepson on every family trip and pay for it without complaining? Is it fair for the stepdad to only want a vacation with his son and leave Mason home with his grandparents?

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Amy Christie is a passionate writer and journalist, always striving to bring out the positive and create meaningful connections.

Dallas, TX

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