Dear Avi and Adele: I have been dating this guy for six months and things seem to be going really well. I’ve expressed interest in meeting his two kids, but he seems reluctant. Should I take this as a sign that he’s not interested in the relationship going further, or that he’s not ready for me to meet them?
Like Him Lots
Dear Like: So you think you should take up a career as a psychic? No? Then why are you trying to predict the future? Good for you indicating that you’re interested in meeting his little bubelehs (dear children). After all, you knew when you began dating him that these little munchkins were part of the package. You’ve probably already been flexible in scheduling your time with him around his kid time so your current query is just another aspect of your relationship that requires flexibility–on your part especially. Our experience has shown that dating a parent has some intricacies that are worth noting. There are probably two things running through your Schlomo’s mind given his hesitation. First, many parents are leery of introducing the kids to a new love interest because they are concerned about the kids’ reaction. The kids may become overly attached or not attached at all as children can be spiteful and jealous little creatures. Who knows? They may be unruly or prone to embarrassing your menchy (decent) man, or he may be trying to prevent a future sense of loss. A second, and highly likely, factor in his hesitation has to do solely with him: he may not be ready yet for you to see him as a “Daddy.” We have a friend who says that she dies a little death each time a date hears her daughter call her “Mommy” for the first time. He has been under your lens of scrutiny as a suitor for six months; seeing him as a parent adds additional pressure to impress. He’s probably thinking, “What if I yell too much? What if I’m not able to give my lovely Leah enough attention? What if she hates me around my kids?” When dating a single parent, it’s not enough to say “I love kids” or “I think my niece is the greatest thing ever.” Single parents, even in the most peaceful of co-parenting arrangements, have the stress of raising a kid single-handedly. Your comments about your love of children likely carry the same meaning as your love of whales: they are nice to look at, kind of fun to spot in the wild, but you aren’t the one putting that whale to bed. Take it slow, and let him know that when he’s ready, you’re ready. He’ll appreciate the leeway, even if you don’t entirely understand his perspective.
Livin’ and Lovin’,
Avi and Adele