DEAR ABBY: I am a single mother of three girls, ages 12, 5 and 3. Yes, they all have the same father -- which is part of my dilemma.
When my oldest daughter was 2, her father and I broke up and were apart for seven years. He has always been a good father, so we never lost contact with each other. Well, a couple of years later he became engaged, and in 2002 he got married. The problem is I was seven months' pregnant with our second child when he married. Two years after he was married, I gave birth to our third child.
Despite my family's urging, I firmly believe that I should not be the one to tell his wife about his two "other" children. The girls are getting older and want to spend more time with their father -- not to mention that sometimes I just need a break!
After five years, he still cannot bring himself to tell his wife. The younger two kids have never been to his house, and when he does come around to see them or take them somewhere, it's only for a few hours at a time -- maybe a couple of days out of the month.
I definitely do not want to break up their marriage -- if it comes to that -- but I need help with these kids. She should definitely know, right? -- NOT THE INNOCENT VICTIM IN OHIO
DEAR NOT THE VICTIM: This man sees his children "a few hours at a time -- maybe a couple of days out of the month," and you call him a good father? He doesn't sound like Father of the Year to me. He sounds irresponsible. You did not mention whether he's supporting your three children, but if he's not, he should be.
Of course his wife should know what her husband has been up to. However, whether you're the one to tell her is debatable. Give him a deadline to own up, and tell him if he doesn't tell his wife, you will. But if you do, be prepared for her to be irate. She may forbid her husband from seeing you -- and who could blame her? After all, you have been having unprotected sex with her spouse.
Because you need respite from caring for your daughters, explore whether this man's parents or siblings would be open to baby-sitting. But don't count on his stepping up to the plate any more than he has -- unless you have a court order in your hand.