Your Relationship With Your Kids Is Why I Won't Date You
I am brand-new to dating. I say "brand-new" because I was married for a long time and for years, I read the online laments of single people in this new era of dating and thanked my lucky stars I didn't have to be out there looking for a lover.
Alas, the Universe had other plans for me! Last fall, I kicked my husband out because of a wicked drug addiction and dangerous mental illness; I've only been officially divorced since April 2015. I haven't even "put myself out there" (I am not ready to date yet), but I'm getting plenty of offers that bother more than excite me.
In this series, I'll be sharing my apprehensions with returning to the dating pool. First installment? The way you're dealing with your kids makes it impossible to date you.
I don't care if your kids are badly behaved. I'm naturally empathetic and believe me: My kids test me, too. My kids can be rebellious and mouthy and annoying. No one knows this better than I do.
I will probably like your kids. If your kids act up, I will express my displeasure with their behavior just like I do with my own kids. The only difference is that I know my kids better, so I can anticipate meltdowns and stop problems before they go nuclear. Give me time to get to know your kids and everything will be swell.
But you will never date me if you - not your kids, but you - do any of the following:
- Complain about your daughter's period. I'm assuming that you know where babies come from. And since you frequently disparage your ex, I'm assuming you made this little girl with a woman, not a turkey baster. So if you fought for sole custody of your 13-year-old daughter, don't complain about having to go to the store to buy maxi pads for her. How do you think she would feel, knowing you were talking about it with strangers outside her little brother's grade school? She'll have to live through it every month for the next few decades, so believe me, she has it worse off than you.
- Tell me that your world revolves around your children. I get it. A grown-up woman hurt you. I get that you focused on your kids to numb the pain of a bad break-up. What I don't want to hear, though, is that your kids have taken the place of adult hobbies and interests. I don't care if your passion in life is sculpting mythical creatures out of jello, just be passionate about something besides the children you seem to be trying to live through. I have my own kids and all their friends, what I'm looking for is adult interaction.
- Make me be the bad guy. I understand that it's hard to say "No" to your kid. Maybe you don't like doing it because they'll have a meltdown; maybe it's because you can't handle that look of disappointment they get when you won't let them play with that pack of rabid dogs. Either way, don't make me do it for you. If your kid is having trouble with his asthma and can't come to our house for a sleepover, then tell him that. I'll be the bad guy and tell them, "Sorry! We're busy with something else that night," if you ask me to. But know that you just lost any respect I had for you and any chance of ever dating me. I won't date a coward who will put all the burden of delivering bad news on my shoulders. I have enough to carry as it is.
- Our kids being best friends doesn't mean we're dating. I was so thankful when my kids grew out of the toddler stage. It meant I could just drop them off at a birthday party or a friend's house for the afternoon and not have to sit and make awkward small talk with people I didn't really like. Sometimes it was nice to sit and talk with other moms, but just because our kids were best friends didn't mean we were going to be best friends. Are you making the leap here? If I didn't even want to have casual girlfriends because of my kids, why would I date you, just because our sons like to build forts in my backyard?
- You think the only way that I'll watch your kid for free is if you date me. I'm sorry that you're divorced. I'm sorry that you have a difficult work schedule that isn't good for your kids. I'm sorry that you're struggling with being a single parent. But I've been a stay-at-home mom for the past 14 years and believe me, I know when someone befriends me so I'll watch their kids for free. Guess what? When your kids come over, my kids quit bugging me about there being "nothing to do," so it works out well for everyone. The minimal stress I feel when there are 5 extra kids in the house is so much better than the extraordinary stress of maintaining a boyfriend I don't like. So just FYI: I'm not looking for an Insta-Dad and I'm certainly not going to marry you just because you need affordable childcare.
- Don't acknowledge that your kid is "crying for help." Divorce stresses kids out, and they act out when they're upset. Maybe you're not spending enough time with your kids. Maybe they're having trouble in school. I've seen kids make up lies out of jealousy to hurt other children and break things to get your attention. Kids are pretty simple creatures and if you make the effort to talk to them, they'll usually tell you what's wrong. It might be stupid to you and 99% of the rest of the world, but if it's important to them, you need to listen without judgement. You also need to listen to my concerns. If I'm telling you that your kid just cut the heads off 20 stuffed animals, don't say "that's kid stuff." If I tell you that your kid just threatened my kid with a knife over a toy, you don't get to pretend it didn't happen. If your kid is showing signs of troubled behavior and you seem like you're unable to cope, I will still be there for your kid. But if you had any desire to date me, your inability to be an adult and an advocate for your own child removed that option from the table.