Friday, May 6, 2011
MEET THE CHILDREN
Who hasn’t endured the ordeal of meeting the parents. If you’re a guy you’re being stared down by some man who is reminiscent of Robert DeNiro in Meet the Parents. The mother might serve as a softer, gentler investigator who manages to pry out details you hadn’t revealed yet to your sweetie. Wham, you’re in hot water big time. The one good thing about growing older is meeting the parents doesn’t matter so much.
As an adult you’ve been on your own for a number of years so the parental approval goes by the wayside, mostly. I’ve also discovered the boyfriends my mother liked I did not. In the end, it is my opinion that matters. Although, I will admit my mother doesn’t make her disapproval known until the guy is out of the picture stating emphatically that she never trusted him. As difficult as parents can be, children are worse.
Anyone who doubts this has never had children, worked with children or dated someone with children. In the beginning of a dating relationship, you don’t want to meet the children. If your date insists on you meeting the children then he or she is looking more for a step-parent than a date. If the kids decide they like you then it’s all good. If they don’t it is almost a Disney movie. Normally healthy children become sick when Dad tries to leave for a date. The little darlings develop an extreme dislike for your very likable self. Keep in mind, most kids do want their parents to get back together even though there is a better chance of devils ice skating. It doesn’t even matter if their mother has remarried in their fantasy world. Smart people put off meeting the children until the relationship shows some signs of becoming long term.
Many things can happen when you meet the children or when his children meet your children. His children can like you and you might like them and suddenly you’re doing things with them as if you’re a big happy family. One day you wake up and realize you don’t really care for the Dad that much, but you do like the kids. Now you’re in a quandary…an unethical man will play the child card to keep you in the relationship. Women without children often long for the romanticized version of kids which you often get on your picnic with your date’s family. Most children can be decent when you aren’t making them clean their room or do their homework. In fact, you probably cause Dad to go easier on them. Be warned this is the honeymoon period for children.
Many women want to move in with a guy and his kids to set up house immediately. This is so wrong in so many ways. This was illustrated to me while I listened to a teen explain to me all the various “daddies” she lived with growing up. There was no type of stability in her life and her mother demonstrated how to leech off men. What type of life do you think she’ll have? Keep in mind, kids get attached fast. They want a relationship too. If you’re nice and show interest in them than you’ve done more than previous dates have. Kids get hurt in relationships when they fall apart that’s why you try to keep them out until you’re absolutely sure.
What if you’re pretty sure and decide to set up household? You might be in for a big surprise since both sets of kids seemed to get along so well at the Children’s Museum. It’s the equivalent of introducing a new dog into the household. While they won’t pee on the furniture to mark their territory, they will upset household harmony and routine. Surprisingly the well behaved children of your sweetie become crazed imps delving into your emergency chocolate and smearing paint on the carpet. What happened?
They reverted back to their normal behavior since there was no longer a reason to be on their good behavior. Often your children may feel threatened by the presence of the new children and will act up too. It could be the new kids are a pain and your children are reacting the way you wish you could. Be prepared not to be allowed to discipline the darlings. Why you didn’t talk about this before co-inhabiting? Big, big mistake, one often made when marrying a man with children.
If your kids are almost grown, do you want to raise someone else’s children? Because I wasn’t a child bride and my children are grown, I suspected men my age would have grown children too. Surprise, men often marry younger women and in turn have children younger than mine. It was hard deciding that I didn’t want to raise another group of children. Mommy time was officially over. I felt selfish thinking these thoughts at first until I dated a man with a young child. No matter what plans we made, it would all be dropped if his son wanted to do something that weekend. I am not talking about medical emergency, school play or birthday party. I was smart enough to see this would be the norm for a number of years.
Most people marry people with children and expect them to magically change. The Father will suddenly have time to spend with you holding hands in front of a roaring fire. Think again, your workload has just doubled. Which reminds me of the old tale where the scorpion convinces the boy to pick him up and carry him over the stream. The end result was the scorpion stung him and then chided the boy because he knew the scorpion was dangerous when he picked him up. If things are not working out well now they will not get better if you decide to be a couple. Au contraire, they will get worse. Not all blended families are destined to be battlegrounds, but do be aware many are.
Meeting the children is much easier if they are grown because the children don’t exert as much influence over the parents. Grown children have their own lives and expect Dad to have his. Often grown children want their father to be happy so they don’t have to worry about him being alone. As the girl friend, you take some of the responsibility off the kids’ shoulders. Dad never put it there, but most decent kids do worry about their single parent’s general happiness. If there is someone in his life then part of their work is done.
Not all adult children care about their father’s happiness. No some care about their inheritance. A friend of mine married a man twenty-five years her senior. No, she wasn’t a bottle blonde bimbo instead she was a soft-spoken fortyish woman. I had seen her with her man and they seemed genuinely in love. The children were enraged they hadn’t been consulted before the wedding. After constant harping, they managed to break up the couple on the surface. They still dated secretively without the brats’ knowledge. My feeling would be that I wouldn’t want a man who didn’t stand up for me, but she felt otherwise.
“They are his children,” she explained, “you have to make concessions for children.” I guess sometimes when you meet the children you need to have in your mind what concessions you are willing to make. I remember my mentor teacher telling me when I entered the classroom for the first time, “Start as you intend to go.” I didn’t understand that then, but I do now. When you give up too much ground in the beginning you’ll never get it back. Something to think about when you meet his children.