I am thirty and have three daughters. Five years ago, I got together with my current boyfriend, and we had my youngest daughter. My first two daughters are not his biologically, and I have noticed that he doesn’t love them. He fights with them all the time. They stay in their room because he treats them so badly.

He has never wanted to get married and, even worse, we fight all the time because he drinks alcohol. I have talked to him many times about his need to change, but everything stays the same. I feel badly for my daughters. I need help. I’m confused and don’t know what to do. I am afraid to leave him and leave my youngest daughter without her father.

Dear Friend,

We are very glad that you have asked for our advice because we believe that your two oldest daughters are at risk. You are seeing them being mistreated, yet you stay with their abuser. If you do not change their living circumstances immediately, you will always be guilty of having abandoned them emotionally.

When you had those two little girls, you became responsible for their physical, mental, and emotional health. Because you were not married, they became your first responsibility. When you moved in with a man who didn’t love them, you sacrificed their well-being for your own happiness. You put the man first, and your innocent daughters last. No matter what your reasons were at the time, you can’t change the past, but it’s not too late to protect them in the future.

As for your third daughter, he has the right to spend time with her so long as he refrains from drinking while with her. And if he doesn’t voluntarily contribute financially to her support, we encourage you to pursue legal action so that the court can require him to help with her expenses.

It is not easy to provide for three children by yourself. If the father of your first two daughters does not contribute to their support, we encourage you to pursue legal action against him as well.

God’s plan is for a man and a woman to be joined together in marriage before they have sexual relations. When couples follow God’s plan, their relationship comes first. They become one, as it is prescribed in Genesis, the very first book of the Bible.(1) However, when a man or woman already has a child due to divorce, separation, or the death of the spouse, then the child’s needs come before any future romantic relationship. This is why we so often advise that single parents wait until their children are adults before considering future marriage.

We beg you to put your daughters’ needs first and to separate from this man immediately. Then, put any ideas of future romance out of your mind and concentrate on loving your daughters as they deserve. Save any potential romance for a future marriage, after your daughters are adults.

We wish you the best,

1 Ge 2:24