Tuesday, October 11, 2011

What Scares Men The Most...

A woman with a child scares off the average man. A woman with more than one child sends him running. Women tend to mumble about the man being a jerk when he avoids dating a mother with young children. Let’s look at things from his side for a moment.

When I was expecting, I read several books about what to expect when I was expecting. I knew all about water weight, midnight cravings, and false labor pain, but nothing about how the marital relationship would change.

The various books emphasized it would change, not for the better for the man. Instead of being the lover and the hero, he’s shoved to the side while the baby receives all the attention. Everyone fusses over the mother and the baby. Of course, most of you are saying the baby needs the attention. Newsflash: the man needs attention too. Suddenly, everything is about the child from sleeping patterns to social activities. The mother finds herself cuddling and kissing the baby so much that she actually fulfills her need for physical touch that she has little need to caress her husband. When he wants affection, she’s tired.

The man becomes the breadwinner and the shared caregiver to the child. He gets to squire the child around to various functions with little praise from the child or mother. When the parents finally divorce because there is no connection and affection between the two of them, the mother is angry, while often the father is relieved. Maybe this time he thinks, I’ll find someone who has time for me; someone who will appreciate me for who I really am as opposed to some unpaid servant to the child or children. He also harbors tremendous guilt over leaving his children EVEN if the mother pushed him out.

What the divorced father sees when he meets a woman with children is the scenario he just left. He is well aware of what is like to have three children in three different activities and only one car to get them there. As Americans, we seldom tell our children no and allow them to drive the marriage by default. Most people do not have marriages, they entered into a relationship, then have children and become slaves to those children, fulfilling their every want and creating ones they never even had.

I witness this when I go to my spin class and watch parents mill around for their pre-school karate students. Karate class meets three times a week and is quite pricey. The parents instead of doing something useful like working out instead wait two hours leaning against a wall. They probably don’t have money left for a gym membership after paying for karate. They give up any leisure time waiting and almost all their discretionary funds to the child. This is what the man sees when a woman mentions she has a child. Keep in mind, the man has children he is already supporting and occasionally driving around.

If a man is honest, he’ll also realize it will be a long time before they are a couple, if ever. A mother’s first responsibility is to her children, especially very young children. Teenagers can manage on their own enough to let mom date or enter into a relationship. A few will throw a nasty fit worthy of any Lifetime movie character that mom might reconsider dating for a while. With mothers, everything is about the children. A romantic weekend getaway suffers cancelation due to junior having the sniffles or his Little League team making it to regionals. If a woman doesn’t cancel then she criticized by other women for being a bad mother.

Men will enter into relationships with mothers because there are very few single women without kids. It may not be what he wants, but the woman seems eager at first, welcoming, even affectionate. Of course, while she may see an attractive, amusing man, she also sees help. What single mom doesn’t need a hand? It would be great to have someone to lean on and pick up the kids from daycare. An extra income would help too. These things tend to color how a woman reacts to the man, but it isn’t love, and it definitely isn’t a relationship. You can call it a relationship, even marriage, but it is only a name, not a fact.

What usually happens is the man enters the relationship with doubt, but figures it’s the best he is going to do. He soon finds himself driving the mini-van and spending more time with the kids than the mother. Mom is so relieved to have help that she’s anxious to do all the things she couldn’t do with kids and takes advantage of the newest member of the family. She’ll even indulge in nights out with the girls because it has been so long, she explains to her bewildered man who thought a relationship meant they spent time together.

The man falls into the child cycle where everything revolves around the child or children. His sporty car doesn’t allow two car seats into the backseat, so it is sacrificed. His golf day or poker night interferes with the children’s activities. The romantic getaways for two, morph into theme parks visits with sunburned, whining children. This is not the life, he expected. Often, he’ll probably imagine that he could have stayed married to the mother of his children and had the same life. In fact, the staying married might start to look good, at least he would be raising his own children, not someone else’s.

To pile even more abuse on the beleaguered man the children will tell him how great the absentee father is. If the woman has a cruel streak, which some often do, she might mention that her ex-husband or ex-boyfriends were good at everything from fixing cars, cooking, to being amazing in the bedroom. She probably thinks throwing out these remarks will inspire the man to greater efforts. In the end, he realizes he doesn’t matter in the relationship.

A man may find himself shelved after the kids grow up. He was a good deal when the kids were small, but not the type of guy the mother wanted with the kids grown. In other words, he was a good daddy, but not a lover. He may have felt the relationship go south soon after he said, “I do,” but he stayed because he felt an obligation to her children. He served his purpose and now she’s done with him. He feels just the same as before his initial divorce.

I can understand why a man would avoid the women with children. Their affection is merely a lure to bring them into the family and it fades away under the challenges of childcare. Suddenly he goes from a hero to a doofus who doesn’t remember to buy milk and diapers on the way home. The obvious solution to all of this is to date an older woman whose children are grown. This woman is who she is going to be and will not change once the children leave since they already have. Instead of a three-ring circus with half a T-ball team and a mini-van, romantic getaways are possibilities. Adult conversations are another perk. It’s all out there on the table. No secret desire to have more children is waiting in the wings.

Next time you bash a man for not wanting to date a woman with children, think about his point of view for a change.

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