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My Boyfriend Has No Interest in My Son


Published January 11, 2017 at 10:00 a.m.
Updated January 17, 2017 at 5:45 p.m.

Dear Athena,

I have a boyfriend whom I have been with for a bit over six months. And I have a toddler from my last relationship. I really, really like this guy, and I want to be with him in a totally committed relationship. He and I are sort of serious at this point. But he has no interest in my child. He never asks about him, he doesn't play with him and he barely talks to him. My son doesn't seem to care since he's such a mama's boy, but I would love it if my boyfriend wanted to be with my son more. How can I get him interested in my kid?


I Want to Be a Family

Dear Want to Be,

To be blunt: Kids aren't everyone's cup of tea. The assumption that everyone wants to settle down and have children is outdated. Yet folks who don't feel drawn to the pitter-patter of tiny feet still deal with societal stigma. IMO, wanting children or not wanting them is nobody's business but your own.

If a person doesn't want or — dare I say it? — doesn't like kids, it's probably not a good idea to date somebody who has one. Since you two have been together for half a year, perhaps we can assume that he's not totally anti-children. Or he might be completely clueless. Either way, it's time you had a chat.

You need to tell the boyfriend that you want to become a family. Be straightforward about how you'd like him to bond with your son. Having this discussion is the only way to learn what he wants from your future together.

Before you dive in, consider that he might just be trying to give you space. The child is yours, after all. Maybe your boyfriend doesn't feel it's his place to participate in your son's life — especially if the father is in the picture. There's also the possibility that he doesn't want to get close to your son because he's not looking for a long-term relationship with you. Then again, perhaps he's interested but doesn't have experience with young children and needs your guidance.

There is also the possibility that he wants to be with you and doesn't want to get to know your kid. That kind of compartmentalized arrangement can work just fine for some, but you clearly want a family — so that's that.

All of this can be uncovered through an open dialogue and some clear expectations from you. But you'll have to be open to hearing his perspective. I hope you get what you want.