Savage Love Letter of the Day: Her Ex's Very Bad Baby Mama & Ted Cruz's Very Bad Day


"Praying for Ted Cruz" might be a good euphemism for masturbation, but it is a little long-winded.
The sad thing about this is that there are few people in this world who look like they need (regular, long and satisfying) masturbation more then Ted Cruz. And now he's going to get all self-conscious about it and stop doing it. Watch out, his sexual-control laws are going to get even more radical.
Step dad and wife- If you haven't already then save all correspondence with bio mom, especially her requests, pics, calling you names, etc.
It will be helpful in case you're hiring a lawyer, or may come handy regardless at some future point.
Good point CMD. What a tragic story. Agree with Dan, cut this cycle and do it thru the law.
Ricardo @ 3
Despite the ongoing demonization conservative lawmakers in the US know very well the two things their constituencies will never forget nor forgive if taken away: internet porn and marijuana.
Not that liberals don’t do any of the two, but by now many are capable of engaging in those activities without feeling guilty.
Guiltless fun is always a major threat for religiously-driven.
It's probably illegal for me to express the things that I wish would happen to Ted Cruz, so I'm going to move right along to the LW... I've been in a similar situation though not as a step parent but as an aunt.

First off, save every single email and phone conversation (there are apps to record the conversation) and make sure that you keep in your mind the following rule of thumb: "How will what I say right now sound in a court of law?" This means sometimes you are silent and sometimes you say things that are incomplete of what you actually mean to say and sometimes you say things just because they might be defensive against proposed slurs in the future. I'm serious here- do not have any interactions with this mother that are not under these guidelines.

Second, assuming your husband already has years worth of interactions that are not under that level of caution, you might want to talk to a lawyer about both your options in the future and any way that you might've already opened yourself up to damage. Also talking to a lawyer will let you know about your legal options, if any.

Third, really this is hard because it's your husband and not you, but you are not required to continue to engage. You can shut the door on the situation if it is a threat to the future of your own life together or if the situation is unmanageable. The child will eventually come to an age where she has more say in the situation and that could go either way, and what you do right now may or may not be beneficial to the child in the long run. This is tricky, I know. The point is, you don't know what sort of semi-autonomous teenager you are dealing with until you get there, and there really isn't that much you can do right now to create the sort of semi-autonomous teenager who you can help and love rather than the one who will be too brainwashed to not be manipulative. (And you'll constantly be revisiting these dynamics in later teens and early adulthood). What I found was that being present but not pushing in the early years was the best. If you push too hard, you get caught up in drama and the kid's memories are manipulated. So it's best to be stable and available but not pushing- you are a safe place to go not an interference that causes destabilization with mom in the kid's memory.

Fourth, stop giving money right now. I know that is hard. It's probably the main way the mother uses you though, so just stop. Don't do it at all. If the kid is with you and you want to buy her something directly, that's different. But don't do things like give the mom money to pay for things, etc. Obviously if you come to an agreement with mom and things normalize, then you start paying as normal. But so long as it is a bargaining tool, just stop.

Fifth- this shit is in your husband's life. I'd suggest thinking long term about what sorts of resentments you might have over it if it continues and also long term about what sorts of resentments and/or blame the husband might have for you if/when he loses contact with his step-daughter and anticipate and discuss those things accordingly. Also maybe make sure you really are dealing with a case of a husband who is totally sane and ethical and managing an insane ex wife. Usually there are two sides of every story, and since this man once chose this woman as his partner, I'd be wary of his judgement. It's possible that she was a wonderful woman that went insane, but it's also possible that he's the sort of guy that gets wrapped up in things quickly and never reflects - after all it sounds like from your description that he left this situation and very quickly entered into a new relationship and got married to you all in a matter of months which sounds rather rash to me. It was trying on my own marriage and we'd been together for years and the situation was neither of our creation as it was a dispute with siblings and in-laws. We were able to come together as a united front with the interests of children in mind, but if this had been my husband's ex (a choice in his past), I think I would have resented both of them and simply removed myself from having this level of insanity touch my life. It's easy to say that though when Im not in that situation, but still, Im serious that you might want to reflect on your husband's role in all this, even if it's a passive role. It is easier to leave now than later if you decide this isn't what you signed up for.

Finally, think long and hard about what it is to have troubled teenagers and adults in your life. It's easy to say the mom is crazy and that you will not allow yourself to be manipulated by her, an adult that should know better. It's harder when that child that you see being mistreated and manipulated right now becomes a conflicted and confused teenager and adult- you have more sympathy and you are more emotionally invested. Yet you will one day be dealing with an older teen and then an adult who might very well be every bit as crazy as the mother is right now. People aren't born that way, and you are watching one be made. It's emotionally and financially exhausting, and if you have never worked with troubled teens, you might want to start reading about it right now. If your husband stays in her life at any level as a child, she is more than likely to eventually come to you as a teen, and the mother at that point will either have less control over her or else be less interested in spending time with her. My experience is that the teen's problems will be handed over to you, and you should think long and hard about what that means and if you are willing to do it.

My own response is that it depends on the strength of the marriage and the relationship with the child plus the skills as the couple. So if that's the boat you are in, best of luck to you.

Also, statistically since he is a step-father, he will probably just lose touch with the child over the next year or two and then this will be out of your life altogether. So there is always that option too.

According to Dan "...a lawyer is a lot less likely to send nudes at 3 am." I'm dubious. Hey, Savage Love-reading Lawyers, what say you?
"a lawyer is a lot less likely to send nudes at 3 am."

It's an interesting composition. I suppose he's implying "... than an exwife" but without the disclaimer it sounds like 3AM is just the hour at which a lawyer is less likely to send nudes, and on that front, I'd disagree. Assuming a lawyer is going to send nudes, 3AM is probably the very time they'd send them.

I’ve seen the whole step mom, baby mama scene so often...The daughter will one day turn 18.

In the meantime just send her cards, letters and give her a phone when she is old enough. Otherwise you will end up shooting each other.

It’s a no win that I’ve seen over and over.
In honor of Ted Cruz, I offer the following definition:
Definition-To get oneself off by accessing and liking an internet porn site.
Usage: I cruzoffed the other day watching ...
@11, but the definition is supposed to be about getting busted, not getting off.
God I hate it when stupid adults use their kids in spiteful mind games with each other.
When Lyin' Ted claims that an unnamed aide misused his personal Twitter account to accidentally find and then accidentally like the porn site, could we say his statement is a textbook Cruz-i-fiction?
Raindrop @13, couldn't agree with you more. When adults who are parents fail to act like either adults or parents, it's their kids who suffer.
Agreed with Emmaliz @7. Save all the correspondence, especially where BM says the daughter misses him. She's admitting that the child wants you in her life and perhaps that can bolster the case of your husband seeks visitation.

I don't know if it's feasible but I bet that girl is really gonna need a sane, stable adult in her life. BM sounds like a shitty parent. Sad.
With regard to Cruz, the best response, I think, is to kill him with kindness, understanding and sex-positivity. Everyone looks at porn! We all have desires! It's ok, Teddy. You don't have to blame "an aide". You don't have to hide.
Do we have any reason to think Ex is a bad mother when the BUM's husband isn't in the equation?

I'm thinking that legal means could go badly. One way they could go badly is child support without visits with the girl. Another way they could go badly is visits and co-parenting coupled with so much badmouthing that the girl is conflicted and unhappier than ever. Another way visits and co-parenting could go badly is accusations of sexual abuse.

Instead, I recommend radio silence. Girl gets a mother who's not good but at least isn't spending energy on trying to re-engage BUM's husband. Ex eventually has to give up after her manipulative dangling ploys no longer get her the drama she seeks. BUM's husband misses his step-daughter. Maybe he could write letters or put money aside for her for a time when she has independence from her monster-mother.

I'd leave the courts out of this and go straight to ghosting.
Can the stepfather not propose a standing basis on which he gets to see his stepdaughter? Like a long weekend every month? It could be pitched as something that would relieve the pressure on her mother. And it would. Is it out of the question that the LW's ex would be receptive to an idea of this kind?
19- Harriet-- It's out of the question that Monster Mother would be receptive to that sort of idea. I say that with as much certainty as any stranger on the internet can have. I would put money on it. Lots of money.

I know Monster Mother's sort. They thrive on drama. They rebel against schedules of all sorts. They've never found a boundary that they don't immediately start wheedling their way up against. That could be as mild a boundary as eating breakfast at the same time every day. It could be as large a boundary as your ex is married to someone else now. These sorts don't follow court orders, custody schedules or much of anything else.

To me, the shocking part of the original letter wasn't the 3am nude pics. It was the turning an offer of clothes and school supplies into how 'bout a laptop. She sees an offer as a resource that she can negotiate into something else. She doesn't care about her daughter's well-being. She only wants drama and to break rules and to act like her ex's offer of something good for her daughter is fodder for drama or the same as 2 people in a relationship deciding which movie to watch on netflix.

The trouble is that unless she's doing something actionably illegal, the courts can do nothing. Actionably illegal would be criminal neglect, bruises that can be seen on the girl's person, believable sex abuse. The best thing for this kid would be for Monster Mother's legal parenthood to be terminated so Girl can be adopted into a better family, maybe LW's family, but without real proof of abuse, that's not going to happen.

It's a sad situation.

But back to your idea, Harriet. It's so understandably normal for sane people to see chaos and think of how much better it would be for the Chaos People to be turned on to the delights of order. I spent years thinking I could do that for my family. I kept pitching order in a thousand forms: getting places on time, eating breakfast on time, keeping to a healthy diet, keeping promises, keeping jobs, keeping to a budget, not going off on benders, cleaning house, keeping files, keeping calm. It was always presented as good for the Chaos Lovers. It never worked. They drank drama, and my efforts were alternately good for drama or at least good for amusement. They loved making fun of me.

I digress-- but not too much.

Unless Husband can get his step-daughter away from that mess, everything he tries will be worse for her, not better.
Most parents are, in fact, basically children. You know this because you are now an adult and realize that adults don't really exist.

IMO, you might have to let the kid go, LW. Even though the mom is crazy pants, it might be better for her kid to learn how to deal with her than have some decent guy half-in/half-out of her life. If you can't be all-in, I'd recommend being all-out. Speaking as someone who grew up with an... unstable mother.
Adults don't exist, Sportlandia. That's a scary thought. Some children do become adults, and when rearing children, you learn it on the job. Unless like this nasty woman, a child is just a pawn to be used to try and manipulate her ex. She's adult enough to keep her child physically alive.
Dan was onto something in his answer. Why is Mr BUM (?) continuing to act out this story. They need professional help here. A therapist to help him find another way thru this and a lawyer, to see what can be done legally. Cut connection to this woman. Check by spy sources that the child is ok. Hopefully they can regroup with help, and get some love thru to this child.
@14, I was thinking "Cruz-ified".
@20. Fichu. Your whole family was chaotic? This was the family you were born into, not one you made yourself as a parent? It sounds truly wearying--that your family didn't take you seriously.

I guess that to advise the LW in this case, we'd need to know how far away they live from his stepdaughter and how old she is.
Can't we just say "Ted'ding"?
24-- Harriet-- I was describing the family I was born into. I have no children. I wouldn't say that every family member was that bad all the time, but I do have experience with chaos and with fruitlessly trying to convince people that order can be delightful.

I agree that it would help to know how old the little girl is and how far away.