I was reading an agony aunt column (called Ask Debby) in one of our local papers and this particular problem got my attention and I just want to hear your opinion on this matter.
"I have been with my girlfriend for the last two years. I'm previously divorced and have two daughters. In the beginning everything was great but suddenly everything has just gone upside down. My teenage daughter never really warmed up to my girlfriend but it was manageable as she is a lovely sweet and caring lady. My youngest daughter was crazy about her in the beginning but ever since their mother remarried, things have drastically changed. Suddenly my two girls resent my girlfriend so much and at first she tried to handle it by being mature about it but now she has crumbled. She now hates my girls and my girls hate her too. Our relationship has now gone very sour as every time the girls are with me, she is so unhappy and we constantly argue about this matter. She hates the fact that I pay a lot of attention to my kids and she feels that I don't pay much attention to her anymore. We've decided to end our relationship because of this but I love her very much and don't want to loose her. I have tried everything to keep the balance but in the end I'm in the middle and torn. I have given up on them ever getting along and I told her that my kids are my priority and cannot abandon them. I guess maybe because she has no children so its difficult to get her to understand that. She says she doesn't want to be second to my kids and she's put me in the position where I have to choose between them and I told her that my kids are not an option. I really love her and if it was not for the kids, our relationship is just great. How can I make this work? Please help me Debbie."
This is not all that uncommon. I have personally dated women who had children from a previous marriage. Generally speaking it's accepted that the single parent will make his or her children their #1 priority. Those who do (not) have children need to be mature enough to know what they are "signing up for" by dating single parents.
Having said that I believe single mothers have an easier time dating men who are accepted by their children than single fathers do especially when the children are girls. Little girls want to be the center of their dad's universe. Any woman he dates is a "threat" in their eyes. Another factor here is their mom has "permanently" added a new person into their lives and they may not want to be "stuck" with another person. Most single women are happier dating single fathers (who do not) have a "major role" in their children's lives.
In all honesty children don't get to (choose) who their parents date or fall in love with. However the person the parent is dating also does not get to demand that they be the number one priority. Matt has two options. He can let the relationship go or continue to date this woman only when the kids are staying with their mother. Odds are this woman long-term will not want a boyfriend she sees every other weekend. He may do better dating a woman who also has children. Sometimes the two sets of children form a friendship bond which distracts their focus from what their parents are up to. There are niche groups such as "Parents without partners" that cater to single parents looking to date.
Matt, the number one problem with second marriages is that the partners do not bring the kids into the relationship before they move in together. It generally takes children 2 years to begin to open up to step parents. That is why partners should date and find something else for the kids to do when they go out.
Your children will never love this new woman. They've have made a pact between them that they hate her. This might have something to do with you ignoring the kids during your relationship with their mother.
And by the why, do you just have the kids part time?
If they are with their mother half the week, that is when to date.
Do you think the kids feel they've lost their mother to her new husband and don't want to lose you too?
Right now, however, the kids should be your priority, unless you want them to hate you too.
This is the reality of what broken families are like , I too being divorced and having step children completely understand the pitfalls of behavior ! Seldom does the formula of family perform perfectly , even in "real families " there are issues . Jealousy , resentments , money issues ! We've created a society of lost children really , when we weaken the natural family unit through divorce . Better off to remain single anyway than trying to reinvent another family out of the remains of a broken one , Oh yes , it can work . But not without problems .
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