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Gone Forever
Some of our infrequent visitors are parents while others might be destined to have kids. So in this thread, we talk about parenting.

To start off a parenting email I saw
I recently got engaged to a man who has two children from his prior marriage. The children are 7 and 9 and my fiancé has them part of the time, but they spend the majority of their time with their mother. At the beginning of our relationship, my fiancé set clear expectations: he wouldn’t introduce me to the children unless our relationship became serious; if it did, he would be making all parenting decisions. He said he’d had difficulties with his ex-wife around the issue of parental decision-making, and the conditions he set for us seemed reasonable to me.

It’s only now—when we are engaged and I have moved in with him, and he and I have spent time with his children—that something has come up that troubles me. When his kids stay with us, he buys separate, lower quality food items specifically for them. For example, we’ll have brand-name cookies for the two of us, and he’ll buy a box of store-brand cookies of the same type for the kids. If the kids get into the brand-name cookies, he’ll take them away and redirect them to the lower quality items he has on hand for them. Even when we get takeout, he’ll get something more expensive for us and a much cheaper option for them. I’ve asked him why (neither of us are financially struggling; we can certainly afford to feed the children well), and he says that since kids don’t have developed palates yet, there’s no point buying the more expensive stuff for them. But I see them looking at what we’re eating, and it makes me feel awful. I’ve told him how I feel and he dismisses it, although he says if I don’t want to do this with our own future children, he won’t. (I am not entirely convinced of this. I think there is a chance he will treat them too like second-class citizens just because they are children.) He has been very clear about boundaries: I am to stay out of all choices he makes about his own kids.

But I want to insist that he stop doing this. I don’t want his children to grow resentful of us and not want to spend time with us and their future siblings. Now I find that I am seriously questioning our future together—I’m filled with doubt over what I see as a serious character flaw. Is this normal behavior that I just haven’t come across before? Am I overreacting? I think about my own childhood, when my mother—a single, working-poor woman—made sure her kids had the best she could afford even if it meant that she had to go without.
Is this child abuse? I have an aunt who was a bit of a food Nazi. She wouldn't let her kids have any junk food. 2 out of 3 of them turned out fine. Is this parent teaching self control and thrift or is he abusing his children?

It sounds petty and weird, not at all disciplinary. I think this chick probably shouldn't have kids with the guy. "They haven't developed their palates yet," the heck. I feel bad for the kids that have to visit them. A little humiliating being given crap while your dad and his girlfriend dine like kings. Do they have to sit at a smaller, dumpy table in the dining room? Will the treatment continue after they get stepsiblings? Will their dad treat the stepsiblings the same?

I think his ex is being "punished" through their kids.

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