Question: Dear Luise: I am a 30 year-old mother of four. I have been dating a young man of 24 for 8 months. After 6 months of dating we decided to live together. I have my children every other week (shared parenting). Things went really well for the first month and a half. One day he came home and said he couldn’t deal with the kids, but he loved me very much and wants to see me part time…(when the kids are @ their fathers.) I want a full time relationship but I love him so much. Being with him was the best time I’ve ever had in a relationship. This was the happiest I’ve been. What do I do though if he can’t deal with my kids, they are my LIFE!? “C”
Answer: Dear “C”: Well, I guess every honest parent would be willing to say that there were times when they couldn’t “deal” with their kids. That said, it would probably be pretty hard to adapt to an instant family for most of us. (I know it would be for me.)
You have to give the guy points for trying, and some more for honestly because if he had tried to fake it, the kids would have known in a New York minute. On the other side of the coin are the dynamics that your kids have to face with a new adult factored into their lives, even half time. (And I’ll bet the four of them make up a formidable coalition.)
It’s so hard to ever get this, but kids come and kids go. The job of parenting looks like it reaches out into infinity and yet from another point of view they are gone before you know it. For instance, my children have been gone for over thirty-five years.
What I’m asking you to do is to look at how much longer a really good relationship can last as compared to your years of active parenting. From there on, you just need to see how that information feels to you. If you have found “the guy”…don’t assume that there are a string of them out there. Not necessarily so!
Look for compromise and point out that his love for you can’t be an either or thing and still be a working premise. For instance, “what if” you have the kids on holidays and birthdays sometimes? Is he willing to be a part of that? If he absolutely never appears on the scene then your relationship won’t be real to your kids, and it is. His total absence would also send a strong negative message.
You are on the right track. You are talking and you are problem solving. There are people who marry and only are together for two weeks out of four for other reasons. It could work. Blessings, Luise