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Child Caring

Dad's divorce and access to guns isn't a healthy combo for this 13-year-old boy

[This letter has been condensed. Ed.]
I will be married to the most wonderful man Iíve ever known sometime next year. Iíll call him Mr. C. He has been divorced for 4 years after being married for 10. They had one child one year into their marriage. He tells me now that he knew then it was a mistake to marry ....but he had to stay for his son. He said his marriage became unbearable (her infidelity, drinking, etcÖ).

About 1 year before he filed for divorce, he reached out to me. We started talking on the phone. We used to be lovers over 17 years ago but we were young and dumb and couldnít make a long distance thing work out, so we broke it off. So yes, Iím an ex-girlfriend and I suspect the woman he later married didnít like me much....Once he filed and moved out of the bedroom, we did start to... see each other. Big mistake as we should have waited until the divorce was final Ė which took about 18 months. His ex-wife has used that information, including telling her son lies that we have been seeing each other all through their marriage and THAT is why they are divorced. She has filled this boyís head with all sorts of adult lies regarding our relationship,[and] this boy hates me. The boy is now 13. I really feel bad for him. Iíve tried so many ways to be kind, loving, and attentive. He is an only child and is a real brat so itís hard to be nice. I ask God for strength every time we are going to spend time together. The boy is usually low key, looks at me constantly out of the corner of his eye with disdain. When I leave his fatherís house to go to my house, as I live in another state, the boy has an emotional meltdown; crying and saying I was mean to him, yelled at him, etc... The boy will call his mom and his mom will in turn Mr. C and ream him out for allowing Ďthe whore to abuseí her son. Iím afraid of this kid. My fear is that heíll take one of his dadís guns or crossbow and hurt me. This kid loves guns, ammo, all things weapon.

My question: should I go forward with this marriage? ... I read the horror stories associated with a stepkid who reeks havoc in a family. I have no children of my own, but I will eventually have my mother and disabled sister living with me. I do not want to subject them to this kind of stress. Mr. C is a wonderful father, but I think he lets his brat son get away with a lot of bad behavior. Mr. C excuses his sonís emotional outbursts by saying heís going through a hard time and just needs time and counseling. Well, itís been 4 yrs since their divorce. A lot of kids go through a divorce. Does this boy have other psychological problems?

From: Soon-to-be-Mrs.C, Fort Wayne, IN

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Dear Soon-to-be-Mrs-C,
You write, "I'm afraid of this kid." You're worried about him committing violence "with his dad's guns or crossbow." You write, "This kid loves guns, ammo, all things weapon."
Given your concerns about the boy's mental health, you have a responsibility to know whether Mr. C's weapons are under lock and key and whether Mr. C's son knows where the key is kept. The NRA writes on its website, "it is the parents' responsibility ...[to] absolutely ensure that [weapons are] inaccessible to a child." The boldface is mine.
I can't assess whether this boy has psychological problems, but it sounds like even Mr. C recognizes that these "emotional outbursts" are worthy of counseling. I would not marry Mr. C until he makes good on the promise to get his son into counseling. This so-called wonderful father has his head in the sand. Don't put yours in there with him.