When I (36M) was in college, I dated Margot. In our sophomore year, she transferred to a different university, causing our break up. It was amicable but given our different paths, we lost touch. I’ve now been married to my wife, Cathy, for 10 years. We have 3 children: a 9 year old boy, 8 year old girl and a 2 year old girl.
Last year, I got a friend request on Facebook from Margot. Shortly after accepting, she messaged me and asked if we could talk on the phone. I found it weird but something told me to go through with it. So, I called her and she told me that she had a 16 year old daughter, Paige.
I was in shock and at first almost didn’t believe her. She begged me to at least take a DNA test. After speaking with Cathy, I agreed. Turns out, it’s true, I do have a 16 year old daughter who’s lived just an hour from me her entire life.
Margot says she didn’t tell me as she thought she could be a mother on her own. But now Paige was older and wanted to know me. I agreed to start a relationship with her.
At first things went pretty well. We did a lot of stuff one on one as well as some things with my wife and other children. Initially, Paige wanted to spend a lot of time just us, which made sense as we had a lot of catching up to do.
I see Paige at least once a week. She usually comes down to stay with us every other weekend and I’ll go up to see her on the weeks in between, just me, not the rest of the family. While I love my time with Paige, I do also have to balance time with my other kids. Something she doesn’t seem to understand.
I’ll invite Paige to join family things and she’ll turn it down. Or, she’ll find out I’m doing something with one of the other kids and want to come along or ask me to cancel the plans to spend time with her.
The biggest incident came this past weekend. My son had a basketball game. Paige asked if I could come hang out with her. I explained why I couldn’t but said she was more than welcome.
She got irritated and said no. I offered to come up the following day. She asked why I couldn’t just blow off the basketball game. I told her that it was important to her brother.
She said I had more time with them and they can “do without me for a few years”. I told her that absolutely was not going to happen. I said I love her. I want to spend time with her, but I also have other kids to consider.
She is always welcome to join our activities that aren’t special one on one days, and I’ll always make sure I spend one on one time. She said she never asked for little siblings and while I sympathized, I said they exist and I have to balance everyone.
I said if she doesn’t want to hang out with the other kids and my wife, that’s fine, but expecting me to blow them off isn’t reasonable. Now, she’s very upset with me. I have offered therapy.
She refuses. I’ve asked if there’s anything my wife or other kids did. She says no, she just doesn’t want to share me. She still claims that I should put her above her siblings. I can’t do that. AITA?
NTA. She never asked for siblings but you never asked to have a daughter hidden from you for 16 years (though that's not her fault but her mothers.) You've shown a lot of care and compassion but you are correct that you have to balance everyone. You were correct to tell her that you aren't going to dump your family for her and I agree with you that she could use some therapy.
I would get therapy. Make those appointments, pick her up and the two of you can be in therapy together for your one-on-one time. I think it would help a lot for a neutral third party to assist her in navigating this new relationship and its complications.
Reach out to her when there are family events that you can bring her to. Invite her every single time. Let *her* be the one to decide whether to engage with your family or not but keep offering. She's going through a lot and I think it's really lovely of you to accept her so quickly and try to integrate her into your family, just don't give up.
"though that's not her fault but her mothers."
I agree OP is NTA here. But I don't think the daughter is either. She's a victim to. There is one AH and villian in this story and it's Margot.
I actually don't understand how as a society we even normalize hiding a child from a father to the point where it is even considered an option for a women in any case other than those that involve fleeing domestic violence. At the very least Margot should be a social pariah for what she's done and a part of me even thinks this should be felony crime akin to kidnapping.
They can do without you for a few years?? She didn’t ask for little siblings, well her siblings didn’t ask for an older sister to show up out of nowhere and try to keep their dad away from them. NTA.
You certainly are Not the AH! This other woman really messed her up keeping her away from you. I can understand her wants and this is clearly coming from a jealous place.
She’s thinking she’s entitled because she was born first and missed out on all that time together. Consider too she is 16 and at that age where she is going to act out and be selfish.
I’d talk to her mom about this. Surely she understands but Paige is probably resentful of her too for keeping her away from you all this time. Therapy really is the answer and I would just keep throwing that out there and tell her this won’t get resolved until you can talk it out and understand each other.
Remind her that you didn’t know about her and had you known, you would’ve been there for her the entire time but the other kids don’t deserve to be neglected just because you both missed out on time together. Stick to what you say and don’t let her manipulate you because you feel bad.
Having a standing daughter father date every week is great and if she needs more time than that she can start coming around her siblings and step mom more. I’d really keep bringing up they are excited to have her as their family and want to spend time with her too. They also missed out on time with her. Best of luck! You’re a great dad!
NTA at all, but I can understand why your daughter feels that way. Suddenly she has a dad, and she's missed out on all these years of having a dad. Perhaps seeing you with your younger children / her siblings only reminds her of the time and experiences she's already lost with you. I think therapy is in order, whether or not she thinks she wants it. Perhaps family counseling where you two go together.
Definitely NTA OP, but Margot is a little bit, for not telling you about your daughter sooner. I feel that if you both had the chance to get to know each other when she was younger, this issue of her feeling the need to have you all to herself might not be anywhere near as prevalent as it is now.
You are entirely correct in your thinking and actions - you are being fair and considerate to all parties involved. Paige, unfortunately, cannot have you all to herself - that is a completely unreasonable expectation. Your wife sounds awesome, btw, to be so accommodating and welcoming to Paige.
Nta at all. You do need to balance. I think you're doing a good job. Continue to offer to invite her and continue to spend the 1:1 time. Ditching your family for your long list daughter is not a reasonable ask