Am I trying to rationalize a relationship that doesn't work
August 20, 2012 2:00 AM   Subscribe

A man is in love with a woman but admits to disliking and resenting her children. Am I trying to rationalize a relationship that doesn't (and will never) work?

I am a divorced 36y.o mother of two children 13 & 5. I am in a relationship with a wonderful single, childless man of 42. I love him. We met not long after my divorce and, wow, it was great, we were very happy together. At the time there was a living arrangement in place and my children lived with my ex-husband for 9 months. About 7 months of that time I was living with my boyfriend. We both knew that my children would be moving to live with me full time because of my ex’s planned move overseas.
We did not discuss commitment in traditional sense (marriage or De-facto) because it made sense to wait till my children arrived and settled. His flat is small so I knew I would be renting a place of my own. I chose a place nearby so my boyfriend’s place is a minute away.
I was aware of the fact that my children’s presence would change the dynamic of our relationship. I was positive that we both were ready for the challenge and my optimism was shared by my boyfriend, he was looking forward to meeting them.
Well, my kids have been living with me for more than a year now, my boyfriend is very supportive, loving and affectionate towards me but struggles to accept or bond with my children. It’s a very subtle type of attitude, resentment, dismissal even. It’s hard to pinpoint or describe. We talked about it numerous times, he admits to it and gives reasons such as - they are too excitable, -they focus on the wrong things, -they do not follow the routine, -they are not appreciative, -they always want attention, etc. My daughter is 5, she has been dancing since she was 3 and she loves it. It is part of who she is. When in good mood she dances around the room and I love it, but my boyfriend thinks it is a show-off!
Well, at first I was trying to be objective because sometimes you are raising brats without realizing that your own kids display behaviors that are difficult for others to accept. I became really mindful of their language attitudes and routines. I suggested he got involved and he agreed. He was helping with homework and playing board games with us after dinner. He is really great, he is patient and very smart. These activities have to be on his terms though, when they play, how they play and so on, it seems to be very conditional as opposed to having fun. At times I feel he’d rather be somewhere else, where there are no kids, no distraction. It was like a task to complete and he perhaps expected particular results, I am not sure. It gradually stopped and I started noticing that he most of the time comes around when kids are not home.
Yesterday he dropped by on his way from the shops to see how I was going with my research paper and my little girl ran to greet him and he gave her this cold stare, he just said, “hello” and that’s it. She was full of her little stories from school, but sensed that it was not a good time. He did not see her for 5 days. She obviously wanted to share her stories with him. Witnessing it broke my heart! First time his attitude was that obvious, first time in a year.
He kisses the ground I walk on and he helps me a lot, he is very introverted and educated (PhD), I like it that he is well read and he supports me in my postgraduate studies. He fixes things around my place, is ready to help me financially if needed, he is lovely to me. He is all I have in this city, I do not have close friends or relatives here.
I talked to him today –here is a part of it (one of his responses):
“I love you, I care for you but I struggle with your children, it is stressful and depressing, their personalities are too full on…. I want to be in your life and help you, and care for you but….”
Big pause and I could not help it by saying:
“But not for my kids? Is that what you mean?”
There was no reply….. I thought I’d throw up
He does not want to end the relationship, he said he would always be there for me, he loved me whatever that meant in the context of our conversation. He mentioned that living together or getting married is not in the picture for some time because he questions his ability to have any positive influence on my kids or be a good role model.
According to him my daughter is a show-off, attention seeker and is insecure, if she doesn’t change she would be a trouble. And my son is too clever for his age; he thinks he knows it all without any proper education and reading. My boyfriend has a PhD in Economics and he questions and analyses everything my son says with sarcasm.
Surprisingly, my kids like him coming around, they’d participate in anything (games, walks, beach) and they get along for most part. It is not long before they pick up on his vibe and resentment. It feels like he resists their mere existence. It feels like I have two pet cats and he is a dog person.
I am so desperate for some clarity. At this stage I do not know what to do. I want to break it off completely, but then I start rationalizing coming up with excuses and reasons. My gut feeling is that it is over, I lack conviction to act on it, it seems. I will give it a couple of weeks.
I do love him and he has been more or less honest about his attitude. Please share your thoughts, maybe someone went through similar situation.
P.S. I forgot to mention that he hates my ex-husband. He knows of him (they were in the same university years ago). I suspect he might project some of his “dislike” of my ex onto the kids.
posted by passing.by to Human Relations (74 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
Not every man is going to be OK raising another man's children no matter how much he loves their mother. Right now this guy is not there, he's told you and I think you should listen. Your kids need you to protect then.
posted by fshgrl at 2:07 AM on August 20, 2012 [31 favorites]


My boyfriend has a PhD in Economics and he questions and analyses everything my son says with sarcasm.

This man is not good for your children. Not if you want your son to continue talking about what he's thinking, or your daughter to continue being chatty and enjoying her dancing. Some people are just awkward around kids and can learn not to be, but if he not only dislikes being around kids but also justifies that with reasons why it's the kids' fault - for being 'show-off's, for being 'attention seekers', for 'not following the routine' - he doesn't seem likely to change.

If you want to stick to your conviction that it's, picture to yourself what your kids are going to be like after ten years with this kind of influence in their lives.
posted by Catseye at 2:10 AM on August 20, 2012 [72 favorites]


*that it's over
posted by Catseye at 2:10 AM on August 20, 2012


I think it's best to shut it down romantically now as he's made it explicitly clear he's not going to be a proper influence on your children. I don't think that means that you can't be friends as you seem compatible on an intellectual level, but he doesn't sound like partnership material and is certainly, in my view, a very poor influence on your children.

It is a bad idea to reinforce the notion that you should run around trying to win the affections of someone who has no respect or time for you - by continuing to have a relationship with him, that is essentially what's happening - they will continue to try to win him over (it sounds like your daughter is trying to make him happy or at the very least she wants to involve him in her life and your son might be trying to impress him - they also want to make you happy by trying to embrace him as much as possible) and he will never change. This is something that can cause them both considerable difficulties later on if it continues.
posted by heyjude at 2:18 AM on August 20, 2012 [10 favorites]


Always listen to and believe what someone is telling you about themselves. If it is important that you have a partner (regardless of marital status, etc.) who supports and cares for your children, and your current partner has clearly expressed that he does not want to take on that role, then yes, this sounds like dealbreaker territory.
posted by catch as catch can at 2:18 AM on August 20, 2012 [9 favorites]


little girl ran to greet him and he gave her this cold stare, he just said, “hello” and that’s it. She was full of her little stories from school, but sensed that it was not a good time. He did not see her for 5 days. She obviously wanted to share her stories with him. Witnessing it broke my heart!

Just reading this broke my heart.

To put credit where it's due, at least he's been upfront with you. But I don't think this kind of attitude changes easily. It sounds like your kids are making a big effort to forge a relationship with him and I agree with previous posters that many years of this sort of relationship could be very detrimental towards the future emotional health and happiness of your kids. And imagine how stressful it will be for you, always to be worrying about whether your partner is being irritated by your kids, always having to keep an eye on them to make sure they're not being annoying.
posted by Ziggy500 at 2:34 AM on August 20, 2012 [9 favorites]


Please stop seeing this man before your children begin internalising his disdain, resentment, and overt criticisms of their very beings, as well your tacit acceptance of his behaviour. They probably already have to some extent, but you can reverse it by showing them now that you put them first.

I can't search and link right now, but there are TONS of threads on askme in which people recount the difficulties and horrors of growing up with step-parents who actively resented or even abused them, while their parents stood by in order to protect their own relationship. I am close to people who went through this. Please don't add your children to that list.
posted by sundaydriver at 2:41 AM on August 20, 2012 [77 favorites]


He loves you when it's convenient for him and his preferred life. I've seen people happily re-partner with kids, and in those relationships, the new partner made a big big effort to be friends with the children and forge a role as a step-parent. It was crucial. I've seen where the kids are "additional" because they want the marriage, and those kids came to resent not just the step-parent but their own parent who brought this person into their lives.

He sounds like someone you could have had a great and loving relationship with if you'd met him pre-kids. But the reality is that he will only take them on his terms, that he thinks poorly of them (a five year old who dances and a 13 year old who wants to talk? That's lovely!) and that he would prefer they weren't around. What will happen when you hit a rough patch, parenting-wise? If one of the kids got sick? If your ex contested custody? Would he have your back?

One woman I know dates seriously but without introducing those relationships into her child's life. She compartmentalizes very carefully. She's now thinking about introducing her very serious boyfriend because it's a deal breaker over whether they will get married/move-in - will he and her kid accept each other?

The only possible outcome that might work is if you switch to only seeing him outside your home or his place, and had has almost no contact with your kids. He could be your boyfriend, but he doesn't want to be your partner.
posted by viggorlijah at 2:49 AM on August 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


First of all, both of your children sound straight-up delightful.

Your boyfriend sounds like a very rigid person who doesn't much like children in general. The reasons he cites for disliking your children in particular sound pretty ridiculous. A 42-year-old man resenting a 5-year-old girl for being too exuberant, and for enjoying such rabble-rousing activities as dancing and telling people about her day? Your 13-year-old son is intellectually curious and is confident expressing his opinions/ideas to adults? The things he finds so grating about your children are traits that a worthy potential step-parent would see as absolute gifts.
posted by arianell at 2:53 AM on August 20, 2012 [46 favorites]


...but my boyfriend thinks it is a show-off...'their personalities are too full on.'

I seriously doubt that 'rationalizing' about this will help you any further, but to make a stab at it, I believe that he's not ready for kids, period. It's not about your kids, if that makes you feel any better. He just hasn't got a clue.

Don't make it last. Sorry.
posted by Namlit at 2:56 AM on August 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


Would your boyfriend consider couples counselling to figure out whether he could work towards changing his attitude and growing to love and accept your children? If so, it might be worth a shot. Otherwise, I agree with the DTMFA answers, which is sad as the two of you really sound like you love each other.
posted by hazyjane at 2:59 AM on August 20, 2012


Your kids are as much a part of you as your personality, and they deserve a better partner than one who is unready or unwilling to make room emotionally, intellectually, logistically, for them - and so, therefore, do you.

It's been a while, and it's not like he's tried, and you've tried, but I personally could never let someone like this be around kids as a primary carer; those kind of attitudes are like battery acid on their little souls, and hearing about your daughter makes me sad.

I guess you need to ask if you're a parent or a partner first. No shame in picking one or the other, but after my parent's got divorced, they decided that they were people and partners first, not parents, and the attendant effects of that choice still rattle and echo through me and my siblings in both positive and some very negative ways nearly twenty years after.
posted by smoke at 3:03 AM on August 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


"those kind of attitudes are like battery acid on their little souls".

Indeed. Unfortunately, I have some personal experience with this one, and all I can say is -- let him go. Please -- for your children's sake.
posted by litlnemo at 3:07 AM on August 20, 2012 [22 favorites]


Imagine you went into a relationship with someone and things were going swimmingly and then six months in you shack up and realise s/he has some pretty foul habits or smashes the place up in fits of temper and threatens you or likes to host meetings of the local racist party or whatever. This would potentially change the timbre of the relationship; the revealing of the additional factors changes the whole way you interact and places a strain on the relationship which may make it intolerable for one or other of you. It seems to me that the relationship with the two of you in it is not the same at all as the relationship with you and your kids in it. The intellectual knowlege of your children's imminent arrival was not the same as the actuality of having them in his life for your partner.

My first guess is that he resents the intercession of the children into your romantic idyll, but in many ways finding the reason is besides the point. Their arrival has changed things and since their presence is not really negotiable then you have to approach the relationship on the terms along which it will continue, ie, with them involved. The initial period where the relationship worked offers potential but in many ways may act a prism to distort the current situation, you have to try and see it clearly within the context of its changed nature and to work out whether there is a way forward, accepting that there might not be.
posted by biffa at 3:32 AM on August 20, 2012


Is your boyfriend's hostility toward your kids due to some kind of trauma or childhood issues (i.e. he could be incredibly jealous of how happy your children are or simply be jealous about how loving you are toward them)? If he really and truly isn't willing to work on how he feelings about your kids, then yes, I'd say it's a deal breaker.

I had some concerns with a partner when I knew he wasn't really crazy about kids, but he is super wonderful with my son, and really to me that's all that matters.
posted by Wuggie Norple at 3:40 AM on August 20, 2012


I started reading your question thinking I could offer some insight into your boyfriend. I'm (a woman but) his age with no children and have dated people who had custody of children about your children's ages.

I thought I would tell you about how it is hard at first, with all the noise and mess and never-ending needs that must be tended to. I thought I'd explain that it would take a month or more to fall into the program, to find the energy to always be "on" with the kids. I thought I'd say that after a few months, never fear because that's when you really start to fall in love with the kids to a point that seeing them is the highlight of your day and your biggest fear becomes that the relationship won't work because then you won't get to see these wonderful children again, you won't get to pick them up from school and help them with their homework and watch them play and show them some of the wonders of this world and have them look at you like you are the Most Amazing Person Ever.

But then I saw that he's been struggling for months. And he's avoiding the kids instead of trying. It's not that he's not good at it yet, it's that he doesn't want to do it. I don't think that can be fixed. Maybe he's lost his inner childhood, maybe his parents treated him the way he treats your kids, maybe blah blah whatever. You shouldn't let your kids be around someone like this, because it will slowly whittle away their confidence and self-esteem. Kids are pretty perceptive and they have this terrible way of taking ownership of any problem -- they always think it's their fault. It's not their fault he's the way he is, but they will believe it is.

There are people out there who maybe aren't good with kids due to inexperience but not due to dislike. You could find one of those people, if you weren't with him.
posted by Houstonian at 3:44 AM on August 20, 2012 [22 favorites]


This kind of influence crushes a kid's spirit so fast. I watched it happen with my step-nephew and the man his mom married (and that guy has a kid of his own) and now my nephew struggles so much with confidence, in spite of getting him counseling once he moved in with his dad and my sister. Please don't let this happen to your own kids. They deserve a loving, nurturing, safe environment in which to grow up, not one where they're constantly walking on eggshells trying to please someone who's clearly never going to be pleased.

I'm sure it's painful to let go of a relationship you thought was wonderful, but clearly it was only wonderful in a vacuum.
posted by carolinecrane at 3:45 AM on August 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Wow. Yes, you are rationalizing. Please put your kids first.

According to him my daughter is a show-off, attention seeker and is insecure, if she doesn’t change she would be a trouble. And my son is too clever for his age; he thinks he knows it all without any proper education and reading. My boyfriend has a PhD in Economics and he questions and analyses everything my son says with sarcasm.

Your children need adults around them who build them up, not tear them down. Please put them first.

He is all I have in this city, I do not have close friends or relatives here.

Make some friends! Your kids need you to have a full, well-rounded social life. You are teaching them by example.

Consider this: he hates your ex, he doesn't like your kids ... that means that he rejects anything about you that isn't about him. I don't think this guy holds you in the high regard he professes to.

DTMFA (I never say that, but really, these are your children), make some real friends who expand your world rather than contract it, and live a happy life. Your kids will benefit from that.
posted by headnsouth at 4:01 AM on August 20, 2012 [28 favorites]


You guys are not a match.

Your kids need you. And they don't need someone who is a negative in their lives.

According to him my daughter is a show-off, attention seeker

My own parents expressed this about me when I was a tiny child. It damaged me quite a lot. Don't allow it to happen to your children, I am begging you.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:55 AM on August 20, 2012 [6 favorites]


I know a fair number of children whose parents partnered up with people who disliked-to-hated them. This is a bad, bad idea. It will hurt your children. It has the potential to destroy your relationship with your children. He was optimistic. Maybe he really tried. But he doesn't like them, and you need to not be with someone who is that hard on your children.
posted by jeather at 5:02 AM on August 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


There are millions of moms around the world that act as the main source of warmth and attention on behalf of easily irritated, arrogant, cold biological dads - what you are dealing is not uncommon.

He has been upfront with you, and not been abusive to the kids. He has been supportive in different ways. Kids at that age change tremendously in personalities, and there is a reasonable chance that he will find them more comfortable to interact with in the next couple of years.

No need to totally break off this relationship.
posted by Kruger5 at 5:05 AM on August 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am so desperate for some clarity. At this stage I do not know what to do. I want to break it off completely, but then I start rationalizing coming up with excuses and reasons. My gut feeling is that it is over, I lack conviction to act on it, it seems. I will give it a couple of weeks.
I do love him and he has been more or less honest about his attitude.


Being honest about his attitude doesn't get him brownie points in my eyes. He still has an incompatible attitude to being the potential stepfather of two kids.

And I think you know exactly what to do, you just need to do it and, because you don't know anyone else in the city, you're afraid. I understand that. But you have to do right by your children and not have people who feel contempt for them in their lives. The world is harsh enough. They don't need to come home to that.
posted by inturnaround at 5:23 AM on August 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


I had a stepdad who didn't love me - I was one of those "additional" children, who is accepted as a package deal because my stepdad really wanted the marriage. It's a little sad because now I love him even though it's not reciprocated. The most that can be said is that after twenty years, he has developed a certain respect for me and is not as distant as he used to be. Is that what you want for your kids?

That said, my stepdad is still light-years better as a parent than my biological dad would have been, and he did a good job helping my mom raise me, even if it stemmed from obligation rather than inclination. As Kruger5 said, you could do much worse.

If you stick with this guy, I think that you need to reframe your perception of him. It sounds like you're trying to think of this as a "family" and fit him into the "father" role, and that's unfair. Instead, you need to think of yourself as a single mom with a loving and supportive boyfriend. If you can be satisfied with that, I think you can make this work.

Assuming you want to stick this out, don't force to be a surrogate father to the kids, and make sure you hire a babysitter so that you two can still have your alone time. If you instead make your boyfriend spend tons of time with your children in the hopes that it establishes an emotional bond, he'll only end up resenting them more. My mom made her relationship with my stepdad work by leaving me alone on alternating weekends, which made everybody happy - myself included.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 5:30 AM on August 20, 2012 [7 favorites]


You don't have to break it off, but this is never going to be a serious relationship as long as your kids live with you. He doesn't want to be a stepfather; this in of itself is not a character fault, but it does mean forcing it will be bad for your kids, bad for him and bad for you.

This can be a casual dating thing, but most relationships won't survive taking a step back. If your ultimate goal is getting into a long-term marriage or marriage-like situation, you need to end this and find someone who likes your kids.

that means that he rejects anything about you that isn't about him. I don't think this guy holds you in the high regard he professes to.

This is a weirdly hostile, uncharitable response, and there is no reason to believe that is so. It sounds like he really does love you, and that you love him. The problem is that he doesn't love your kids. He's not a monster, but your responsibility has to be to your children until they are adults.
posted by spaltavian at 5:34 AM on August 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Some people just aren't capable of enjoying the presence of young children in their life. It's not a character indictment; it's just the way things are.

It sucks, because it sounds like you have a wonderful relationship outside of this one context. Unfortunately, this one context is an enormous part of your life that he doesn't wish to share.

I'm just adding a voice to the choir here, but I think you would be best served to end the relationship.
posted by DWRoelands at 6:14 AM on August 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


My 3 year old son will sometimes hear some music and start dancing, which consists of bouncing up and down, waving his arms wildly, spinning and laughing and sometimes falling down in giggles. It might be in our house, in a restaurant or on the street. And we always laugh and dance and clap so as to encourage such joyous behavior.

It makes me really sad to realize that one day he will stop doing this. And I would rid any influence in his life that would expedite the end of such joyousness. My heart broke for your little ones (who sound great).
posted by murrey at 6:29 AM on August 20, 2012 [14 favorites]


He's inflexible and selfish. He loves you on your own, maybe, but not enough to embrace the whole package that is you and your two children.

The bottom line is, this man dislikes and resents your children. For that reason he is a poor partner for you, and you and your family need and deserve better. I'm sure he's great in a lot of ways, but this is a deal breaker and you know it.
posted by J. Wilson at 6:32 AM on August 20, 2012 [8 favorites]


If you have kids, you should not be in a relationship with a man who doesn't like kids and, worse, treats them badly. Period. You are their mother and are responsible for protecting them. Don't put your loneliness and neediness above your kids' needs to have adults in their lives who respect them. It doesn't matter what a catch he is for an adult. Your kids have to come first. You can choose your partner. They can't choose their stepfather or mom's boyfriend.

And for those who say that "plenty of children" do just fine with "cold, arrogant biological dads" because mom is a buffer - no, they do not "do just fine." Knowing your dad doesn't love you does plenty of damage to a child. Read back through questions and answers on AskMeFi if you don't believe me.

If you can't be altruistic and protective, look at things from a selfish perspective: If you keep this man in your life and he continues to tear down your kids' self-regard, it will spill over onto their relationship with you, their mom. Guess what is likely to happen? When they are adults, they'll be angry at you for not protecting them from their toxic stepfather, and decide that they have to cut themselves off from you, or at least distance themselves from you, for their own sakes. (Again, read back through old AskMeFi questions and answers to see how many people decide that Mom can't be in their lives, or they have to keep a distance from her, for their own sanity and well-being.) Think of your adult children not liking you very much, calling you maybe twice a year and seeing you hardly ever? Adults have a choice as to whether they will have a relationship with their parents, and yours might choose to have a distant or no relationship with you because you picked a man who didn't like them much.

The bottom line is that if you want a good relationship with your adult children (and access to potential grandchildren) you either have to 1) treat them decently or 2) tie them to you with bonds of co-dependency and/or guilt and/or duty, and you don't want to do that.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 6:36 AM on August 20, 2012 [8 favorites]


I was a single mother for many years, and I broke off more than one relationship when it became clear that they were not kid people. One guy was always hinting that I should get a babysitter when we saw each other (even when he was visiting me at my apartment!) so I went out to a local fast food eatery with him, away from my daughter and said,

"Hey, I don't think it's working out, how about if we just move on and be friends?"

He agreed, as he had also been wanting to do the same, but was afraid of confrontation. We didn't remain friends, of course, as we traveled in different social circles and he lived about an hour away.

In this case however, I would both break it off and not remain friends with this man. I would find it hard to maintain love for anyone who treated my children with contempt (and what does that say about you? A grown man with no children of his own, criticizing your parenting skills? Excuse me?).

Join a single parenting group, take your kids to family-oriented places like Fall festivals and fairs, the zoo, whatever. But don't let this man psychologically abuse your children. Would you let a stranger walk into your home and treat them that way? Then why an intimate partner?

Another rule of thumb is, if you do break it off and date again, keep them away from your kids the first few dates if possible. You are vetting them for your kids, and then your kids will also have to vet them, as you're a package deal, otherwise, forget it. Don't settle than less than the best for yourself and especially for your children.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 6:39 AM on August 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


That millions of moms shield their kids from cold, distant dads is not a great reason to stay in a relationship (it's a terrible reason). The kids always know, and it's a mindfuck. Is that the role you want to play - in your relationship with him and your relationship with the kids? Do you want to spend the next umpteen years explaining to your kids that stepdad doesn't really mean it that way, or that he's just trying to help them, or he doesn't understand children and he misspoke? Because your kids will see you choosing him over them; they will see you deciding that his feelings are more important than theirs. Is that what you want?
posted by rtha at 6:41 AM on August 20, 2012 [10 favorites]


Yeah, I'm sorry, he's not ready for kids, and you have some, pretty much end of story. It's less about you, and more about you can't do this to your kids. It's tough enough for little ones to go through a divorce, though they'll be fine if they've got love & support from both parents, but it's going to start to feel strange to them if this guy is there for you & not them. They're people -- they'll figure out what's up pretty quickly.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:04 AM on August 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Anyone you end up with has to love your kids like you do. They have to want to hang out with your children even if you're not there. They have to have their individual relationship with the guy, and it has to be a good one.

Nobody wants to have a new family member that lives in their home that really doesn't like them, or flat out hates them. We have all of these "evil stepparent" stories because of situations like that. It's kind of a betrayal of your children to force them to have a stepfather who doesn't care about them and is irritated that they exist and are acting like children.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:25 AM on August 20, 2012


A few points:

--He doesn't like your kids. That is not going to change with time. He might not like anyone's kids. He just doesn't seem like a kid person. It's not cool to have kids who are already dealing with divorce and the absence of their father spend around someone who doesn't like them. Likewise, they deserve to spend a lot of quality time with you where you're relaxed and not worried that their every behavior will irritate a third party. This is something you deserve, too. It's hard enough being a parent without someone critical looking over your shoulder!

--Your kids are not going away. I see that you have this part covered, and good for you. Your willingness to put their best interests first is important.

--There are relationship models that work that do not include cohabitation or him spending lots of time with your kids. He can just have a relationship with you, and not with your kids. It would mean spending less time with him, of course, but when the children's father is back in the country you'll have more time to be alone with him. Getting a babysitter one night a week when the kids are pretty much in bed and seeing him, or having lunch with him while they're at school--this is a valid way to have a relationship.

--You need friends! You deserve friends. Are you religious at all? A church can be a great family support, with activities for kids and support for you as well.

Good luck with everything. I know this is hard.
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:26 AM on August 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


You need to choose now, before it's too late. Your children or this relationship. It's that simple. You can always find a new romance, but if your children lose their confidence and self worth, the likelihood is that they will spend the rest of their lives looking for it. This man is not worth that price.
posted by zarah at 7:32 AM on August 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


He's not a bad person. He's just not into kids. And he's not good with them to boot. And he's honest about it.

He's just not the right man for you because of it. I think in the future you need to be very clear about this dealbreaker.

So many people have kids who are not good with them. This shows up way after the fact, when the kids are adults and in therapy, trying to heal their pasts. You have an opportunity to see this from the outside right now, as you KNOW he is not good with your kids, and make the decision to not put your kids into this situation.

Again, he is not a bad person, he's just not going to do right/awesome by your kids, and you need to recognize that and prioritize that.
posted by Vaike at 7:34 AM on August 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think it comes down to who is more important to you, your kids or your boyfriend. He has made it clear that he is not a kid person, and keeping him in your life will be a negative influence on your children. Your kids deserve to have someone around who cares about them.
posted by markblasco at 7:36 AM on August 20, 2012


Would you let a stranger walk into your home and treat them that way? Then why an intimate partner?

Quoted for truth. I try to remind myself of this continually when I find myself in a pattern of feeling resentful. Or overly demanding. We should treat our loved ones the best in our lives. We love them!

Imagine a scenario in which your kids are the kind of kids that he'd fall in love with. How many mental gymnastics do you have to do to imagine that? Yeah. He's not a kid guy. Accept it with love and with love for yourself and your kids. Stop trying to force him into your life.
posted by amanda at 7:39 AM on August 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


Don't do this to your kids. They deserve better.
posted by bananafish at 7:43 AM on August 20, 2012


Getting a babysitter one night a week when the kids are pretty much in bed and seeing him, or having lunch with him while they're at school--this is a valid way to have a relationship.

Agreed, although you might find it difficult to take your relationship "down" to that level when you used to live with the man. If you're looking for someone to live with, marry, share your children with, you at least have to cut this guy out to the point that you feel free enough to date other people.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:45 AM on August 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


You know what you have to do.
posted by LarryC at 7:48 AM on August 20, 2012


Isn't saying that he doesn't like your kids the same as saying he doesn't like you, or at least a part of you?
Can you so easily separate the 5 year old from your personal identity? If you can, that scares me.
To me, children are part of your identity.
posted by Flood at 7:49 AM on August 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you choose to end this relationship, at least in its partnership form, be sensitive to how your children perceive the reasons for the action. "It's him, not you" is potentially reassuring, but it is also in many respects not true. Explaining the subtlety of the distinctions will be difficult.
posted by uncaken at 7:51 AM on August 20, 2012


He seems to have drawn a line in the sand. He does not like your children, he finds spending time with them stressful and depressing, and worse, he blames your children for this and has made you feel like it might be your fault as well. (Well, at first I was trying to be objective because sometimes you are raising brats without realizing that your own kids display behaviors that are difficult for others to accept. I became really mindful of their language attitudes and routines.)

He will not be the kind of partner that will be involved in your kids' lives. By insulting them (for acting like CHILDREN) and saying he finds being around them depressing, instead of ending the relationship, he's telling you that he only wants this relationship on his terms while implying that it is kind of your children's fault. That's pretty shitty.
posted by inertia at 8:03 AM on August 20, 2012 [8 favorites]


I don't feel comfortable going into too much detail here, but I'm another one who had a cold stepfather. We ended up having a good relationship once I was an adult, but my mother's relationship with him when I was a teenager was yet one more blow to my self-esteem. My mother made it clear to me that he wasn't really into children, he wasn't going to be a Dad ... but she accommodated all of his emotional needs and none of mine or my siblings'. They didn't marry until later, but they openly planned a childfree life -- house-shopping, retirement plans, etc -- which all hinged on me turning 18 and moving out of the house promptly so they could start their "real" life.

My mother would tell you how much she loves me and siblings, but her behavior indicated that Her Man was #1. It was very painful to me, even though he and I got along fine during the teen years. I still resent her for it, even though I mostly ignore the hurt.

I think my mom had internalized the idea that a woman with children is less desirable as a partner, and if she wanted to keep him she'd have to minimize the impact of her children on his life. I wonder if perhaps you feel the same way? Do you know that this is, by far, not your only chance for romantic partnership? If you were with your children's father for the past 13 - 15 years, and then moved in with this boyfriend, you may not be aware of how many more dating options there are. There are a lot of men around your age who want kids, who like kids, but aren't necessarily to start making a fresh crop of babies.

It is totally ok to want a partner who also likes kids, and your kids in particular. That's not some outlandish desire.

Also, as others said above, maybe you should prioritize developing a better social network for yourself. Some friends with kids, some friends you share interests with, etc ... don't be so isolated that you need a subpar romantic relationship in order to satisfy your need for friendship.
posted by stowaway at 8:06 AM on August 20, 2012 [12 favorites]


He's asking for your permission to be a crap step-parent. "I told her how I feel, she didn't dump me, it's on her now."

Don't give him permission to be the twit he's being. Dump him.
posted by fatbird at 8:10 AM on August 20, 2012 [12 favorites]


Not every man is going to be OK raising another man's children

Not every man is going to be OK raising children, period.

It feels like I have two pet cats and he is a dog person.

Or a "not ok living with pets" person.

Isn't saying that he doesn't like your kids the same as saying he doesn't like you, or at least a part of you?

No. It's saying he doesn't want kids. This is probably hard to grasp for parents, but to a 42 year old childless man, "no kids" is likely just the way he wants his life to be.
posted by ead at 8:10 AM on August 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


I don't think this is going to work out either. After more than a year he is unable to connect with your children, and your children live with you now and will continue to live with you for years to come. He is telling you that this is not going to change. So either the relationship has to change, or it has to end. I think this guy doesn't want children and

Both my parents dated a few people who was really not into kids and they didn't bother to hid her disdain for us. This made for an unpleasant household in the situations where there was cohabitation, and our mere existence seemed to cause conflicts even when there wasn't, as we might have been out of sight but were never totally out of mind. (And my parents, FWIW, were not particularly interested in their own children.)
posted by sm1tten at 8:26 AM on August 20, 2012


I chose not to have children because I didn't want to parent. I so get not wanting to parent.

I would NEVER engage in the kind of character assassination that he did about your kids. It isn't just that he doesn't want to parent, it's that he actively dislikes your children.

As another person whose childhood was marred by a parent dating someone who didn't like us, I beg you to end this relationship. Or at least get it out of your house and into something more like dating him at his house or at restaurants, theaters, dancing, whatever when you have someone else watching your children.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:12 AM on August 20, 2012 [8 favorites]


I just want to say that I don't blame you for wanting to make the relationship work - its hard to move to a new place, leave a partner, parent, go to grad school... find a loving partner.

But this guy isn't it and you know it.

Enjoy you kids, they sound wonderful and happy. You can and will make new friends and be happy yourself.
posted by Heart_on_Sleeve at 9:28 AM on August 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


He has been upfront with you, and not been abusive to the kids.

Please don't ever think this: "Well, he's not abusive, so it's okay!"

His attitude is a painful one for children to be around. Your son is probably old enough that he won't internalize it too much, but your daughter is at risk. Your daughter is young. She isn't fully able to understand the world yet. She's still struggling to figure out who she is, how she fits in with those around her. She needs adults who will help with this.

She goes up to him, happy and excited to see him, and he responds just with a reserved 'hello.' I bet you dollars to donuts she can tell. No, she doesn't understand why he's so distant. She has no clue what's going wrong -- she expected the interaction to be a happy one and suddenly it's not. This is a puzzle she has to solve.

There's a very simple way that kids tend to go about solving a puzzle like that: they figure they're the problem. He is distant to her, she can tell something about the situation is off, she assumes she is the problem. She did something wrong, she made the mistake, she is a failure. That's how little kids make sense of the world around them, they assume that whatever's going on is due to them. So with this emotionally distant, hostile person around, she's going to assume that the distance and hostility is somehow her fault. She's going to assume that there's just something wrong with her. Not from a single interaction, no, but from a continuing pattern of interactions of this sort. "Ma's boyfriend just really doesn't like me -- what's wrong with me?" That's the message a little kid internalizes from this sort of interaction.

Or, at least, it's the sort of message I internalized. It's what led me to have trouble with depression and anxiety. It's what led me to feel, constantly, as though everyone else around me was so much more adept and skilled and valuable than I was, that I was eternally less worthy than everyone else. When I was a kid, there were these hostile and distant adults around me, and I couldn't help but think that hostility and distance were my fault.

This guy doesn't physically abuse your kids, no. But he's emotionally neglectful. His attitude could easily yield flat-out emotional abuse. That doesn't make him a bad person -- it sounds like he just has no clue how children operate and what they need from adults -- but it makes him a harmful influence.

You sound like a great mom. You sound like you've got some really great kids. This guy sounds like he has no interest in helping them grow into fully-formed, self-confident, healthy and happy adult human beings. And that lack of interest, if given the chance, could actively harm them.

I can't tell you whether you should break up with him. But, whether you stay with him or not, please do not let the relationship progress so that he has greater contact with your children. I say this as someone who really, really wishes she could go back 20 years and say it to her own mother.
posted by meese at 9:45 AM on August 20, 2012 [16 favorites]


please choose your children.

How are you going to explain to a sixteen year old girl that her stepfather hating her isn't her fault? Or that it doesn't mean that it's the way important men are supposed to treat her.

How are you going to tell your son that the most important man in your life isn't him, but is the guy who thinks your son is a problem.

Imagin explaining to your adult children why you continued this relationship with a person who activly dislikes them- who shows it. "I know he hated you and ripped everything you did and said to shreds, but i was lonely and he really liked me..."
posted by Blisterlips at 10:03 AM on August 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


> According to him my daughter is a show-off, attention seeker and is insecure, if she doesn’t change she would be a trouble. And my son is too clever for his age; he thinks he knows it all without any proper education and reading. My boyfriend has a PhD in Economics and he questions and analyses everything my son says with sarcasm.

If he doesn't want to be involved in parenting them, or at least acting like a reasonable human adult around them, he doesn't get to make judgments like this. What on earth?

It is possible to be a person who doesn't really like kids without going that extra step of being a jerk to young children for no good reason. Your boyfriend is the one acting like a show-off, attention-seeker, insecure, too clever, etc.

He kisses the ground I walk on and he helps me a lot, he is very introverted and educated (PhD), I like it that he is well read and he supports me in my postgraduate studies. He fixes things around my place, is ready to help me financially if needed, he is lovely to me.

He's contemptuous of your relationship with your own children, and he is petty and immature. He seems to be projecting some sort of fantasy of a person with no other responsibilities or life outside of the agreed-upon bubble. That's not a good sign for a partner, he's not willing to provide any emotional support to you unless it's on his terms. Let him go, consider it a bullet dodged, not just for your children's sake, but for yours as well.
posted by desuetude at 10:57 AM on August 20, 2012 [8 favorites]


What a nasty man, to say such horrible things about your children.

How ungrateful he is to rebuff your daughter's love like that. Reading that made my heart pinch. Imagine her growing up always trying to win the love of cold. contemptuous men. Imagine her writing on the green 15 years from now, one of those posts about some awful bf who treats her like nothing.

Imagine your son watching all this sadness move in and
and make itself at home.

You deserve better. You're a high achiever. You don't have to listen to someone tell you your children are bad because they exist. If he does 't like kids he should leave, then he'll be a great guy, not before.
posted by tel3path at 12:22 PM on August 20, 2012 [14 favorites]


Please, please, please put your children ahead of this guy.

Please.

Your children have no choice in the matter, not at this age - it's up to you to choose who is in their lives when they are in their own home. Someone who is judgmental, petty, sarcastic, and just doesn't like kids (which your kids will read as not liking them as individuals) - if you choose to have that person around them, in their home, what is that telling them? My mother flat-out told us that she was making the choices that she thought were right for her, regardless of what they meant to our lives (and I'm not just talking about romantic partners). Learning that was one of the most painful experiences of my life.

Also, a PhD in anything at all - economics, computer science, physics, whatever - doesn't mean someone is all-knowing. If he flaunts his PhD over a *child*, that's just ridiculous. My husband has a PhD, but can't get his socks in the hamper. And he knows it. So no matter what, I'd nip that in the bud right now.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 12:28 PM on August 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


There are millions of moms around the world that act as the main source of warmth and attention on behalf of easily irritated, arrogant, cold biological dads - what you are dealing is not uncommon.

I promise you, those biological children were severely affected by those dads (and the moms who were the same) and will either grow up damaged or have to do a lot of thinking and even theraputic work until they are happy adults. As much as you love this man, you have the chance to avoid the possibility of this happening with your children. It's hard, but please choose the children. Your kids deserve a stepfather who will love them, not, if they are very lucky, grow to love them at best.
posted by mippy at 12:46 PM on August 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


When a person has children, a relationship with that person involves a relationship with their children, until those children are adults at the very least. Compatibility with you needs to include compatibility with your children, and I think you are indeed rationalizing the issue away. I realize it would be much, much better for you personally if you could have the person you desire without concern for the impact on your kids, but being a good parent doesn't work that way, at least not in my book...in the same way that if you were in a wheelchair, you shouldn't be with a guy who loves you but can't deal with you being in a wheelchair.

There are things in our lives, sometimes wanted and sometimes not, sometimes chosen by us and sometimes chosen for us, that are part of who we are and cannot be separated from us. Our children are one of those things. It is unfortunate that we have to deal with things like divorce, but it is one thing to divorce a person you partnered with before you had kids, and quite another to intentionally choose to be with a person who doesn't want the kids you already have.

It may hurt, but you should really let him go, be glad he was honest with you, and find someone else.
posted by davejay at 12:59 PM on August 20, 2012


Or, in other words, imagine saying this to your kids: "Kids, I love you, but I've decided to be with this man, who does not care for you and does not respect you. Please understand that this isn't your fault, but his and mine; his, for feeling the way he does about children, and mine, because I am too weak and selfish to put your well-being on equal footing with my own."

I assume you wouldn't want to say that, so you really shouldn't do that.
posted by davejay at 1:02 PM on August 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


Just to provide some perspective to counterbalance to what everybody is recommending (and to explain that a happy ending is indeed possible in this scenario), I'm an adult now, and even though my stepdad didn't love me, I'm very glad that my mother married him (they lived in separate houses while I was staying at home, then got married shortly after I moved out). He's been really good for her, and it eases my mind to know that my mother is with somebody who is low-drama and cares about her. And I'm not at all "traumatized", as other people suggested would happen - in fact, it helped me develop a very pragmatic attitude towards relationships. It's true that sometimes I get a little wistful about it, but it's definitely not a huge "thing", you know?

I think that if your kids grow up to be unselfish human beings, in the long run they will be happy that you did what's best for you. Just remember that you need to raise them alone: don't expect your boyfriend to assume a parental role, don't force him into awkward "bonding" scenarios (if anything, me and my stepdad bonded more over our mutual discomfort when my mom tried to engineer artificial scenarios that would build an emotional connection between each other) and above all don't try to cohabitate with this guy and your children at the same time - that would just be stupid.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 1:23 PM on August 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


I am childfree. I am sure your children are delightful, but I probably wouldn't like to spend lots of time with them, like, ever.

I should note that I have never, and will never, be in a relationship with someone which minor children. This is for two reasons:
A) My own selfish desire to keep my life as childfree as humanly possible.
B) Because all children deserve to have the adults in their lives be people who care for them, encourage them, educate them, and be there for them. I find it wrong for people to get involved with children, only to marginalize, ridicule, ignore, neglect, or abuse them. This harms children, and impacts who they turn into, as adults

Dude: I don't even like kids, but I respect your children enough, as complete individuals, to never, ever get involved with you romantically (if I were a dude. or single. but you know what I mean). Because I think kids deserve to have people in their lives who, you know, give a shit.

It seems like your guy hasn't caught on to that fundamental fact.
I think that is a problem. Why don't you?
posted by vivid postcard at 2:02 PM on August 20, 2012 [10 favorites]


I would NEVER engage in the kind of character assassination that he did about your kids. It isn't just that he doesn't want to parent, it's that he actively dislikes your children.

I wouldn't engage in it either, because I like kids, despite not wanting any myself. But that distinction (not-liking kids vs. not-wanting them) which matters in some contexts (say, who to pick for a babysitter) does not matter in the context the OP is facing. Not-liking and not-wanting both point to the same answer for her: not this guy.

(I was really only trying to depersonalize it, since people keep using phrases like "your children", which surely stings some. I don't think it's about her kids, either. I think it's about kids, in general, and this man not liking them.)
posted by ead at 2:12 PM on August 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I didn't mind when my dad dated women who didn't want to be our stepmom or particularly involved in our lives.

Active dislike is something different. Your guy doesn't like your children. He thinks they're jerks. Whether this is "all children" or "your children in particular" doesn't matter. You're not even going to get the "benign neglect" situation some folks in the thread report having experienced from stepparents or parents' partners. He is going to be an asshole to your kids, and they don't deserve that.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:50 PM on August 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


sundaydriver wrote:
Please stop seeing this man before your children begin internalising his disdain, resentment, and overt criticisms of their very beings, as well your tacit acceptance of his behaviour. They probably already have to some extent, but you can reverse it by showing them now that you put them first.

I totally agree, and I want to add, please stop seeing this man before YOU begin internalising his disdain, resentment, and overt criticisms.
posted by Catch at 4:21 PM on August 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Adding to the din of voices here, but I grew up in a very similar situation. I always had the feeling that my mother chose her boyfriends over me and my brother. Every time. And those relationships never lasted, but there she was, over and over again with each new relationship, letting us know we were the lower people on her list of priorities. Please don't do this to your children. It ruined my relationship with my mother.
posted by Brittanie at 5:22 PM on August 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh my God. I almost cried, reading about your little girl. Dump him! Dump him today!

It's not anyone's fault, but having a man who DOESN'T LIKE KIDS and specifically DISLIKES YOUR KIDS in a major role in their life is... awful! He can't be part of a family with you. They need you to have their back! You can get another boyfriend, they can't get another mom!

Speaking of other boyfriends, by the way. I have quite a few male friends who have married women with kids from prior marriages. In some cases they had additional children with the women; in some cases not. In some cases they took on a "dad" role; in some cases not (because the kids had other dads in the picture, etc.) IN NO CASE were they anything but loving, embracing, and accepting of the children.

Those kinds of men are out there! Go get one!
posted by fingersandtoes at 5:43 PM on August 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


this is amazing - I have just finished reading all 64 responses. I want to mark every comment as the best answer. I did mark one response as the best, because it was so true and made me think about the role I played in this situation.
Yesterday, I put kids to bed and logged off from the world -no phone, no TV, no PC- just me and a bottle of wine.
Every response from you guys resonates with my thinking last night. I had to remove the cluster of my excuses and it was the most painful thing to do. My divorce was not as hard, honestly. I cried and cried, thought and thought and well, became angrier and angrier.
My next step would be to try to end it without too many accusations and anger (on my part). I can't help but feel anger and resentment toward him. The reason I think is the fact that I had to initiate and lead every conversation so I could have enough to draw a conclusion of some sort. Last conversation was different though because a penny finally dropped and I was more direct and had a particular example of his disdain.
I hope this anger and resentment is just one of the "first steps to recovery". There is no way I would be able to "tone it down"or "take a step back". It's been too long and I desperately wanted it to work. It cannot become a casual thing now.
Thank you for your input. I am very glad I posted.
posted by passing.by at 9:30 PM on August 20, 2012 [23 favorites]


This was sad to read, and I'm happy the responses went well, and I want to suggest working on being you and enjoying being you and being out in the world with your kids. It sounds like you didn't have much of that between divorce and this idiot. It is pleasant, being a single single parent.

But I wonder if your self-esteem has taken a hit over the events of the past few years. That he led you to start questioning your kids -- not a moment of reflection over their behaviour, but 'can I tone this down' sort of thinking -- is unsettling. Strengthen yourself -- it takes work just like physically strengthening does -- before dating again, so the response to 'heartbreaking' treatment of your kids by a third party is 'fuck you and get out of my house NOW' instead of taking inventory of putative good qualities.

I don't think you need to overthink ending it. "You have many admirable qualities on the surface, but you are not a nice person," fin. He knows it all without any proper education and reading is a good description of this emotionally immature boy, not of a 13yo.

He hates my ex-husband is drama best avoided, too. If there's something unsavoury about Dad, fine to take a dislike to that aspect, but the only sort of man you want to date seriously should want to be your ally in helping your kids maintain a good relationship with Dad.
posted by kmennie at 4:25 AM on August 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


For what it's worth, he doesn't sound like a bad person. He cares about you, has been honest about his expectations, and made a genuine attempt to try to maintain a relationship with you despite his antipathy for children (which sounds intense). As somebody who also (for the most part) is annoyed by children, I can tell you that this is quite a sacrifice on his part. Please go easy on him - he's not his fault that he doesn't meet your "ideal mate" criteria.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 6:32 AM on August 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


And, I feel like the best course is somewhere in the middle. Even good relationships sometimes come to an impasse. This is an impasse (one which people obviously have very strong opinions about). Passing.by, I really applaud you for asking the question and taking what you need from this thread. And I really do wish you the best of luck and happiness for you and your children. I think this is a great opportunity to put yourself out there, into the community, and find your healthy support system. Picture what you want and go for it – your kids will be so impressed.
posted by amanda at 7:46 AM on August 21, 2012


It's o.k. to be angry. You are looking at a situation where one half is lovely and the other half is terrible. The 'could have beens' are always hard. Along with the 'if onlys'. Unfortunately there is no way to take one half and leave the other half behind. It sucks, but it will get better. You can always renegotiate many dealbreakers, but usually not ones that involve your kids.
posted by Vaike at 9:16 AM on August 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I thought your response to these comments was heartfelt and I really sympathize with you. If you are looking for advice on how to break the news to him, I guess I would just say that my kids had to come first and because of that we didn't seem to be a good fit. If he pressed more I would even tell him that it had become more clear to me that he really didn't like them, and that ultimately this dislike would inevitably have a negative effect on them and would make them insecure, resentful, and uncertain of my own love for them, which is unacceptable to me. So I wish him the best and thank him for trying with me, but things would have to end. Good luck to you, OP!
posted by onlyconnect at 12:43 PM on August 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


He has just left and well, it turns out that about 5 years ago he was diagnosed (by a psychiatrist, after 11 month of therapy) with mild Asperger. We are breaking up regardless of this information. He said he never accepted the diagnosis but as time went by and in the light of our relationship (his first relationship in 17 years) he now suspects there is truth to it.

The Asperger was mentioned just so I understand better (I'm more confused though). I did point out to him that perhaps, this is something I should have known from the start.

He admitted that he feels he cannot really cope with "peak times" around my place and he has butterflies in his stomach before coming.

He said that I was the best thing that happened to him and he really tried to make it work, he also said that he does not dislike my kids but feels like they are "aliens"; he does not have a clue how to respond to them. He cried. I gave him a big big hug.

Well, I am off to do some research on Asperger, I do not know a thing about it. Both of us are devastated, of course. We decided not to cut each other off completely at this stage and there will be boundaries. I will talk to kids soon. We'll have lunch couple of times a week. This is until we are ready to move on to "no contact" stage.
posted by passing.by at 4:45 PM on August 21, 2012 [6 favorites]


Aw, that is tough. It's true that knowing this diagnosis could have helped understand what was going on. Good idea to read up on this; not sure whether your kids could handle the effect his Aspergers would have on them or not. You sound like a food person and a good parent and I'm sorry for the pain you're going through. Good luck!
posted by onlyconnect at 5:02 PM on August 21, 2012


I'd say accepting his diagnosis could have helped him understand what was going on.
I would do research now, too, but please don't beat yourself up about it. I still feel that you have done your children (and your relationship to them!) a service.
Good luck.
posted by Namlit at 3:09 AM on August 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


I agree with Namlit that accepting his diagnosis would have been of benefit to him primarily.

You did the right thing breaking up with him. He is not a bad guy, just a poor fit for a woman with kids. There are all kinds of reasons someone could be a poor fit for a particular person. You and your kids are a package deal, and you both deserve to find someone who will love you and the kids, too. A mother's boyfriend doesn't have to be a "second father," but he does have to like the kid and treat them with respect.

Hugs, and please remember that good men are NOT hard to find. Don't buy into the relationship scarcity mentality. There are plenty of great guys out there who will love your kids - many of them have kids themselves.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 4:21 AM on August 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


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