I read this today ...

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-07-2006
I read this today ...
Mon, 04-04-2011 - 12:24pm

This is what I read today - and I want to ask some questions about it!!!

"The belief that you can change a partner in a relationship is troublesome enough; if you think you can eventually move into the number one spot in your partner's life if you “put up with” your partner's children, think again; once a parent, always a parent. If you are determined to be number one, you should not be a stepparent."

First of all - I am 35 years old, divorced, and not a parent. I LOVE kids - but do not want any of my own. I am an aunt and a Sunday School teacher - and I don't want to be portrayed as if I don't love and enjoy children - but at the same time - I'm very dedicated to my work and I don't really feel like having kids of my own has ever been a priority for me! I got married very young and I was with a person who partied and drank and gambled and I never felt safe enough to have kids with him!

ANYWAYS ... I was dating a person with three kids. They were great kids - a bit unruly and possibly a bit over-indulged (he definitely had disney-land daddy syndrome) ... but they were fun in a lot of ways and I enjoyed my time with him and his kids. I don't want to get back with him - because it will never work - but I wonder if I should even DATE a guy with kids - and will I ever be able to understand this relationship - what it feels like to be a parent. You know?

I DEFINITELY felt like I took a MAJOR back seat to his kids. And the quote above says, "If you're determined to be #1, you should not be a stepparent." With my ex-boyfriend, (after about 6 or 8 months or so) it started to become clear that he just "wasn't that into me." you know? Like ... I couldn't get a hold of him on the phone (I REALLY HATE THIS! Is that so unreasonable?) and he'd cancel dates with me last minute to do stuff with his kids. I TOTALLY understand they come first - but like ... WHERE exactly do I get to fit in???

I think maybe I feel disparaged - like ... now that my first marriage is broken up - MOST guys at 35 have kids by now --- so does this mean I end up always playing #2 from now on and forever? Does this mean I get shirked off for all of the other more important things in his life from now on??? I just really wanted to be important to him, you know? And it was quite clear that I wasn't. Why WOULDN'T I want to be his #1? I think I just don't understand that statement. Feels like I just get the left-overs from now on :-( I get super frustrated to think that my first marriage I came second to alcohol and gambling and - what can I even expect from a second marriage? Seems like a pretty bad deal, and I feel really discouraged about it :-(

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-20-2008
Mon, 04-04-2011 - 12:42pm

To address the statement "if you are determined to be number one, you should not be a stepparent"

Community Leader
Registered: 08-25-2006
Mon, 04-04-2011 - 1:36pm

I am curious who said that???

Like December said, I think it depends how one defines a #1 relationship.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Mon, 04-04-2011 - 3:32pm

I don't think you should automatically rule out someone who has kids.

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-07-2006
Tue, 04-05-2011 - 8:32am

Hello Mrs. December!!! I think that's how I feel ... "feel put aside by him."

We're not even dating right now - but I see him every week at church and I *do* really miss him - but I have to remember he ISN'T THE RIGHT ONE FOR ME! I'm one of those people that try to constantly make things WORK - even when they are so obviously NOT WORKING - and I gotta stop doing that!!!

Even with my ex-husband. He drank constantly, couldn't hold down a job, gambled all of his wages ... and I still miss him and love him. HA! I have a friend - she just broke up with her boyfriend and she is SO GLAD HE IS GONE! I'm completely the opposite. Even with the biggest JERK, I seem to always have a soft spot and room to forgive. I wish I were more like my friend!!!

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-20-2002
Tue, 04-05-2011 - 9:44am
The belief that you can change a partner in a relationship is troublesome enough; if you think you can eventually move into the number one spot in your partner's life if you “put up with” your partner's children, think again; once a parent, always a parent. If you are determined to be number one, you should not be a stepparent."

I didnt see the whole article/context that it's in-----but perhaps it more refers simply to being invoved with someone who is a PARENT (which would --as relationship becomes committed/marriage--make you a step-parent, by default)---

When you're a parent, you've ALWAYS got the responsibiitly----so, you've got plans, then the kids come down with a terrible virus, high fever, vomiting---you dont want to leave them with sitter, so cancel your plans for the evening.

That sort of thing is normal/expected of any caring parent-----so, if you REALLY cant handle your SO *possibly* having to put his/her plans with you aside at some times in order to prioritize kids needs---------then you shouldnt get involved with a parent. (I"m not saying YOU were getting that upset over that type of *reasonable* circumstance, I'm saying perhaps that's what the article was referring to).......... (similarly--if your SO has an OCCUPATION where he's *on call* frequently, and you cant handle his/her personal plans with you frequently being disrupted because his JOB has to come first---again, that would be a reason to re-evaluate getting involved there).

Of course with a job----he/she MIGHT be able to find a different one----but, with being a parent....that's not going to change too much, until/unless: a. child becomes adult and able to care for self, and/or, b. your SO gives up custody/visitation and is no longer involved in childs life (extremely unlikely, and IMO I'd sure hate to see that voluntarily happen).

The "disney dad" thing is certainly unfortunate for all--in the long run. It's too bad more of the "custodial" parents dont see that, and work harder towards making transistion to each home easier, so that is lessened. I guess there's too much personal hurt, on the part of the parents, and the (hurt) parent wanting NOT to give up time with their child (understandable, of any parent)----so , if child is "unhappy" at other parent's house, how good--it means child will want to spend more time with me!------or, as in "disney dad"---if I can make visits to my place MORE desireable, kids will want to spend more time with me.

I was so fortunate that my exH and I did NOT fall into those patterns.

I am so sorry that others DO have to deal with this-------and even more sorry for the kids who have emotional problems as a result.

I can see in my SO's kids---they have *learned* to use him as an ATM machine----------honestly, "under" it all----I know, and truly believe they DO love him with all of their heart-----but, know what? They've been socialized by (full custody mom) that it's completely *OK* to NOT call /respond to dad's phone calls/emails/invitations to get together UNTIL/unless they want/need $something from him......

it's hurtful to him, although he doesnt like to think about it.....and it's really hurtful to them (IMO)---even on a level they dont really think about/comprehend either----that they dont need to have a two way relationship with him----just call for cash..........

And, yes, .........I agree with Musiclover's comment to CostumeDesigner--having read CD's saga at the time.........I DO think her exBF's situation is a bit "more" than most----------he truly is 100% focused on those kids.------and that's not the *norm* of men with kids.

Also----(((((((((((CD)))))))))) at age 35----many men you meet will have teenagers by now------definitely more of a challenge in other ways-----but, in some ways/situations---MUCH easier. FROM MY EXPERIENCE----when dating/getting involved with man with teenagers---what works best is they see you as "dad's girlfriend"-----you're not "step mom"---you're "dad's girlfriend" (or wife). You and dad have your OWN place, and they visit dad there.

CD---I think the biggest "red flag" I've found, from my own experience dating mid-life...is --> look for men who have been divorced for AWHILE........they should be kind of "settled in" to living alone------so then there's not this scenario re: exw/mom bending the kids ear re: CD "breaking up" child's happy home/marriage with mom----> they are already old enough to see mom and dad separated, and....while they might not like the idea..............you're really not that much "in their face" re: affecting their life........................you're simply dad's girlfriend.

I know for some, like "green eyes" on here, that situation has been more challenging........but, in general, I dont think that is exactly "the norm", either.

Teens are pretty "self" focused, and as long as their day to day life hasnt changed that much, .......they really dont care that much that dad has a GF to hang out with and go places with----cause, eh.....these teens dont want to be hanging out with dad saturday night, either, ....KWIM? lol.

Oh well,...just my 2 cents....

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-12-2007
Tue, 04-05-2011 - 10:17am

When DH and I became involved, my children were young.


The choices we make in thought word and deed inevitably return to us in kind.

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-15-2005
Tue, 04-05-2011 - 12:12pm

This is just my two cents. Coming from a woman who doesn't have kids and who doesn't want kids in my life at all. No, I don't want to say "at all". More like I don't want the responsibility that comes with kids, so I'll be an Aunt, but never a mom of any sort.

With that said, I have seen people with wonderful fulfilling r'ships and they are steps. I honestly believe it's all about what you want out of a r'ship (let's assume the guy has kids), and what he's going to put as a priority. I have seen divorced (or just not together) parents co-parent wonderfully. I have seen those same people put their "new" spouses first and foremost. That doesn't mean push the kid away when they're sick or not take the child when there's an emergency, but what that DOES mean is that the guy puts you first. He doesn't play games with the xw (it takes two to tango). He's emotionally healthy and isn't a Disney Dad.

I would think any parent will at some point absolutely have to put their spouse/friends/family on the backburner for their child. That's just the nature of children and the responsibility that comes with kids. I know myself well enough that I don't want that responsibility, nor do I want the man I'm with to have that responsibility, hence, no kids for me.

I will say this CD, the guy you were with, is NOT the man I described above. There ARE men out there, but they have to be emotionally healthy and balanced. If they're not, I'd suggest you run the other way, don't even bother putting time into a r'ship with a man like that again. If you want to be #1, you can be, but you have to find the right guy who'll make you #1. If he doesn't even try to put you first or his life is so drama-filled with the X and kids, then walk away.

As I always told the women on my divorce board. Just because they are wonderful men doesn't mean they are 1) the right guy for you, 2) a great dad or 3) a great husband. And that's okay. It just means they're not the one for you. I truly believe there are men out there who can and do balance it out.

But that's my thought. I have friends who seem to balance it out well, but then again, they're just friends, I'm not dating them.

Community Leader
Registered: 08-25-2006
Tue, 04-05-2011 - 4:07pm

Pam, it is good do 'see' you!

I am just really visual.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Tue, 04-05-2011 - 4:10pm

I think you can forgive someone but not want them back.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Tue, 04-05-2011 - 4:16pm

I definitely agree w/ what you said about teens.