What is my relationship to this child?

My daughter married her husband “Fred” last summer. Fred is a Sargent in the US Army and is currently deployed in Iraq. Prior to dating my daughter, Fred had a girlfriend “Betty”, whom he casually dated for a few months. While Fred was fighting overseas, Betty, who is still unmarried, posted on Facebook that she had just had a baby. She contacted Fred privately to let him know that she believed the child was his. While Fred was skeptical that he was the father, he acknowledged that it was possible that he was the father.

Once my daughter became aware of the situation she pushed for both parties to have blood tests to determine whether Fred was or wasn’t the father. Since Fred was still in Iraq this made it logistically challenging, but blood was drawn and sent to a lab for testing. My daughter learned this week that Fred was in fact the father. Fred has stepped up and agreed to take responsibility, including paying child support, which will be mandated by the state. He also wants to be part of the child’s life, as does my daughter, since they don’t have any children of their own yet. My daughter is contacting a lawyer to find out what rights and obligations they have in regard to this child.

While I applaud that everyone seems to be comfortable with this arrangement, the question comes up what is my relationship to this child? I suppose to my daughter this child is like a stepchild, even though Fred and Betty were never married. And I realize, of course, that Fred’s parents, my daughter’s in-laws, are now grandparents, but I don’t feel like a grandparent myself. While I have no blood relationship to this child, someone might say that I now have a step-grandchild. In fairness to the child and my daughter, should I treat this child as a grandchild? It somehow doesn’t seem quite right given the circumstances.

What say the teeming masses?

No relation by blood, so it’s really up to you what you are comfortable with. While you are not the grandparent, there isn’t any reason not to at least be nice to the kid, as long as your daughter is involved.

I think you’re a grandad, unless you seriously don’t want to be the grandad. But if your daughter embraces the child as her own (1/2 of the time, on visitation days) then she would look to you to be the grandad during that time.

FWIW, my aunt (blood uncle’s wife) insists that her son’s kids be considered my grandpa’s great-grandchildren. Even tho my her son was about 20 when she married my uncle, my grandpa has only met the son a handful of times, and has never met some of these “great grandchildren” as they live in AZ and he lives in OH.

Nonetheless, there were DAGGERS coming from my aunt’s eyes when my niece was born and my grandpa said that “now I have two great grandchildren.” Poor grandpa, he probably can’t even name the names of his “other” great grandchildren.

Anyway moral of that story is…you’re a grandpa if someone assigns it to ya.

Legally I think you and the child are complete strangers (ie, you have no support obligation or right to seek custody/visitation). But socially I think you can have whatever relationship you and everyone else want you to have (from “never talk to/about the kid” to “the kid visits every weekend and dolphinboy pays for college”).

Since your daughter is his* stepmother (I don’t think there’s a distinction to be made about whether or not his parents were married, just that she’s his father’s wife), wouldn’t that make you a step-grandparent? Sort of like my grandfather’s second wife was to me.

As for how to treat him, take a cue from your daughter. If this kid is treated as if he’s hers, much like how she’ll treat her own children, then you treat him like your grandchild too. If she barely sees him, you’re not under any obligation to keep him in your thoughts when he’s out of sight. Unless the father asks for joint custody, I doubt you’ll see the baby much - the type of woman who posts a birth announcement to facebook before contacting the dad probably isn’t going to be very reliable about allowing Dad access without a court agreement.

  • forgive me for not doing his/her but people hate that.

As others have posted, you have no legal relationship to the child. You could be considereda stepgrandfather.

I would take my clues from your daughter and her husband as to how to act towards the child. If they don’t want you to have a relationship with it, you’ll only hurt them by trying to establish one.

Thanks everyone.

My daughter seems anxious to bring this child into their lives. Whether she is doing this for the father’s benefit, or because she longs to have a child of her own, I can’t really say, but I will take my cue from her. Given that my daughter lives 2 hours away from the child, and that she and her husband will likely be relocated to some other part of the country, and that my wife and I live 26 hours away from the child by car, it is unlikely I will ever meet the child… although I suppose it’s possible.

Your daughter sounds like a very nice person who is trying hard to do the right thing. If you meet the child be nice and enjoy being around it. You get to play grandpa. That should be fun.

When my brother got married (first marriage for both), his wife had an 18 yr-old son whom she had as a teenager herself and raised with her parents’ help. Although the son was pretty much an adult already, my parents call him their “grandson” and treat him as a regular member of the family (as we all do). Although the situation is a bit different because the biological father is not involved.

I agree with this. The only danger is that if you form an emotional attachment with the child but you don’t have a legal connection to the child, so that if something unfortunate happens, you could be denied permission to see him or her. But for the child’s sake, I can’t see how having another loving person in his or her life could be a bad thing.

One thing to keep in mind – how will you treat your grandchildren if your daughter eventually has children? Your grandchildren will have an older sibling feeling left out in the cold if you are fawning over your grandchildren and never paid any attention to him.

Does Dolphingirl have any take on this? What does she think?

Yeppers. This was my opinion as well. Besides, Betty (from what little you wrote here) sounds like she could be kind of a flake, for precisely the reason elfkin described - Facebook before contacting the biological father? Well, who knows - maybe she genuinely didn’t know how to get in touch with him, maybe they had a big fight, etc. But still, sounds like this kid gets his own village, even if some of them are far away, and that’s never a bad thing!

Great question. My wife is pretty much ‘meh’ at this point, as is the rest of my family. Everyone feels this will greatly complicate things for my daughter and her husband. My daughter is quite naive and doesn’t think things through, although her heart is in the right place. They hardly know each other and now they have to deal with an out-of-wedlock child.

Assuming the birth mother is okay with us having at least some kind of relationship with the child I think my wife will come around, but at this point it’s hard to imagine how we will fit in. As has been said previously, having an extra set of grandparents can’t be a bad thing. We just need to get used to the idea I guess.

BTW, I don’t really know anything about ‘Betty’ and the fact that she reached out to ‘Fred’ via FB doesn’t strike me as odd, or necessarily means that she is a flake. Perhaps it was the only way she had of getting hold on him. Once lawyers get involved things are bound to get intersting.

Who will be the kids godparents?

Be polite and respectful, but before jumping in with both feet be aware that your daughter’s enthusiasm for being heavily involved may dim considerably based on the limits the baby mama chooses to set, especially with how the old GF regards the woman who replaced her. The fact that she is a young woman who chose to carry this baby to term as a single mother suggests that her desire to be connected (in some fashion) with your daughter’s husband may still be very strong. If it’s the other way and she’s just looking for child support she may not really want your son in law and your daughter getting too involved in her life.

There is also the issue of what happens when your daughter becomes pregnant, and I suspect this will also change her take on the desirability of her husband’s time and money being devoted to this child.

Be nice, but until some time passes and things settle be aware this could all be yanked away.

Congratulations, grandpa!

Shit happens and it is a complicated world. What children need are people who will un-complicate it for them and make them feel welcome.

The child has done nothing wrong. Indeed the parents involved have done nothing wrong. It’s just an awkward situtation that time should help smooth out. Don’t let too much time pass before you embrace the idea in a positive way.

I met my daugther last year, and my grand-daughter, for the first time. It seems that there was some awkward moments 30 years ago that her mother didn’t want to bother me with. We hardly knew each other, after all.

It was 30 years wasted and still it is new and wonderful.

My husband and I have two children - one is adopted (just to complicate the biological relationships going on here) and one bio.

My husbands mother had - when our children arrived - a long term live in boyfriend. We talked about it and he really didn’t want too much to do with our kids. He never had any of his own, he wasn’t comfortable with kids, he wasn’t related.

The kids arrived and he has been “Grandpa” since. Adores them. (And eventually he did make an honest woman out of my mother in law)

Now, our situation is different - he isn’t biologically their grandfather, but his wife’s son is the custodial parent. And we live close.

Your role is determined by what you want it to be and what its allowed to be. Chances are good that it won’t be much of a role due to distance.

Thanks everyone. Great answers!

In the US godparent does not equal grandparent. Godparents are roles chosen by the parents and it’s a religious thing. You don’t have to be religious to be a grandparent.