Scarlett Letters: I'm Worried About Parenting Someone Else's Kids | Scarlett Letters | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Scarlett Letters: I'm Worried About Parenting Someone Else's Kids

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Dear Scarlett,

I have been dating a wonderful woman for about six months. We have great chemistry, and I can feel it getting serious. Problem is, she has two young kids. Her ex is in the picture, but he's with someone else. I'm not worried about him. I'm worried about parenting someone else's kids. I don't want to lose her, but I'm not sure I'm ready for a ready-made family.

Signed,

Who's Your Daddy?

(male, age 40)

Dear Daddy,

Before you jump to conclusions, give her a chance to weigh in. She may not be ready for it, either. Ask her about her short- and long-term plans and how you fit in.

Your girlfriend is going to be a mother for the rest of her life. So, if you decide you're in it for the long haul, you will have some kind of relationship with her kids. The nature of that relationship, however, is up to you, as well as your girlfriend, her children and maybe their father.

Let her take the lead and allow those relationships to develop organically. Be very flexible. Kids are unpredictable, and their needs come first. Inevitably, she will have to cancel dates last minute if a kid gets sick or the babysitter bails. Don't make this into a competition between her children and you. You will lose.

Remember that her time is extremely limited. If you want to see more of her, plan kid-friendly dates to a park or a mini golf course. You may even discover the kid in you.

Regarding her ex: If he's committed to his kids, he'll always be in the picture. He may be with someone else now, but has he really moved on? Try to suss that out. And be prepared that if you're spending time with his children, he may want to meet you.

When you spend time with the kids, just be yourself. They may fall in love with you. But if not, don't take it personally. Remind yourself that they're just kids. If you're nervous, imagine how they must feel.

If you decide that a ready-made family is not for you, be honest. Your girlfriend is in a vulnerable situation, and it's tough to meet the demands of both dating and parenting. I'm sorry to say, but if you're on the fence, she may be better off without you.

Love,

Scarlett

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