Baby making
December 22, 2011 7:50 AM   Subscribe

Baby making with a man who was previously married and has young children of his own.

He's divorced with children of his own with no baby mama drama. We both work and can provide for the family. What are the positives and negatives of this family arrangement for the future?
posted by i_wear_boots to Human Relations (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Is he a good father to those kids? Is he involved with them? Do you like those kids? Does he have a good functional relationship with his ex? Do you get along with his ex? The more you can say "yes" to these things the better.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 8:19 AM on December 22, 2011 [5 favorites]

If all you have in common is the ability to procreate, I'd say keep looking.
posted by mochapickle at 8:19 AM on December 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

There's a financial impact, in that he's going to be responsible for them until they're 18.

There's a geographic impact, because I'm guessing that he'll want to stay close to his other kids, so any moves you make will have to take that into consideration.

There's a family dynamics impact, because your children and his other children will be half-siblings, which can be a tricky relationship.

There's a future-planning impact, because he'll have to decide about heirs among two separate family units.
posted by xingcat at 8:20 AM on December 22, 2011 [3 favorites]

You don't mention whether he lives with his kids. Does he have full custody? Part time? Visitation only?
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:22 AM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Positives are a father figure and siblings, and a family structure. Negatives are that sometimes people suck.

There really isn't enough to go on here. Are you two married? Planning to be? There are legal implications around unmarried couples having children, obviously. Likewise, how is the relationship, and how well aligned are you both in the long term? How long have you been together?
posted by ellF at 8:24 AM on December 22, 2011 [4 favorites]

As their father, he should help pay for their college tuition or whatever post-secondary training they'll need.

Does he have a stable job? How much money does he have? Is he good with child support payments?
posted by anniecat at 8:27 AM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

> As their father, he should help pay for their college tuition or whatever post-secondary training they'll need.

That's not a given, IMO. There's an argument to be had around children paying for their own higher education. He should certainly support their goals, but parental decisions around paying for long-term education can be other than "we will pay for it all, kiddo!"
posted by ellF at 8:30 AM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: To answer your questions: We love eachother dearly, are compatible in all the ways necessary to be life-long partners, and marriage is on the table for the future. Custody is 50% and relationships are all civil and healthy. This why I am reaching out and gathering perspectives on having a child with him. Thank you for the questions I should be asking myself.
posted by i_wear_boots at 8:41 AM on December 22, 2011

i_wear_boots: "We love eachother dearly, are compatible in all the ways necessary to be life-long partners, and marriage is on the table for the future."

I think it needs to be more than "on the table" in this situation. Consider what happens if you split in 5 years- he's got some kids that are legally his but not yours, and another kid that is legally both of yours. Legally, as well as psychologically for these kids who will be basically growing up together, splitting them up could be messy.

Additionally, are you planning on taking any kind of legal custodianship of his current kids (e.g. adopting them) in the long term? How are your finances going to work? I think you both need to be on really solid ground for the long haul. For most couples that means marriage. If you're not "the marrying type", at least make sure you're both in agreement about this commitment.
posted by mkultra at 8:48 AM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

mkultra, the kids have a mother who has them 50% of the time. I'm not sure where adoption comes in.

Another question for you to ask yourself: Do you agree with the way your guy and his ex are raising their kids? Are your partner's values and expectations of his kids compatible with how you want your child raised? Are the two of you on the same page when it comes to your level of authority with his kids? (See the AskMe from other day on that hot topic!)
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 8:58 AM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I suggest you find a message board for stepmoms / second wives - there are a lot of potential problems that can come up in this scenario, and the more prepared you are the better. "No baby mama drama," for example, is not something you can count on as a given - major lifestyle changes, especially having more children, can often precipitate drama where there wasn't any before. Drama can be financial as well as emotional - kids are expensive and you may have to make sacrifices for your child(ren) so that the pre-existing kids can have better lives even than your own does, because that's what the court system ordered. A lot of stepmoms I know had no problems with the interfamily dynamics, but have a real hard time dealing with the financial issues - when a nondivorced family has more kids, they can say to everyone, "we're going to have to cut back on some things so there will be enough for everyone." Not all family courts accept that - they are far more likely to put the first kids' needs ahead of any new children, because the man knew what his financial resources were when he chose to have them.

Also, eliF's comment "There's an argument to be had around children paying for their own higher education. He should certainly support their goals, but parental decisions around paying for long-term education can be other than "we will pay for it all, kiddo!"", while reasonable in a non-divorce situation, is not a viable alternative in some U.S. states. Family courts can (and often do) demand that a parent partially or even fully pay for college tuition.

Other than that, I'm not sure I understand the question. Men with young children have children with other partners all the time. Sometimes it's a great thing (new siblings can help bind a relationship with the new partner and family structure), sometimes it's terrible (especially if the new partner shows favoritism or any of the existing kids' parents alienates them from their father's affections). Does he even want more children? A lot of divorced men with kids go into new relationships with the assumption that they already have kids and don't want to have more.

From the positive perspective, a father who's already been through parenthood is a great resource to a new mom who's still questioning everything. You can see how well he parents through watching his interactions with his kids - and through paying attention to how he prioritizes their needs around yours (if he's always putting you first, that's not a good thing - and if he never puts you first, that's not promising either).

Most importantly, what is your relationship with the kids like? If it's not solid, you might want to consider spending as much time as you can with them until they really feel like they could be your own, before considering having a baby. Kids know when someone really cares about them, and if they have any unresolved issues about the divorce (for example, many young kids see their parents separating as a sign that maybe the parent that left doesn't love them anymore either), a new baby can be a cause for a lot of fear and anxiety. If you are in a relationship with their father that is permanent enough to have a child, then you are in a permanent relationship with his kids. You have to be ready to put their needs first - because that's what parents do. If you are already seeing ways in which that won't apply when you have your own child(ren), you should not be considering this yet.
posted by Mchelly at 9:07 AM on December 22, 2011 [3 favorites]

As everyone's hinting at, the positives and the negatives are dependent on the actual people -- you, the guy, his kids, his ex -- rather the situation.

However, here are some of the pros/cons as I've seen them played out:

If the existing kids are over the age of 8~10 and they love putting the baby at the center of attention:
- Available BABYSITTING!
- A kid who will have a huge resource pool and role models - colleges to visit and stay over weekends at when they're in middle school or so
- A "scared straight" lesson to half-siblings as to why they don't want to get pregnant young
- Spoiling of the baby by all the half-siblings, over and above what parents could imagine
- Bonding of the half-siblings around the baby as a plaything/hobby
In general:
- Half-sibs see it as a sign of a stable relationship that stepmom (you) is going to stay around
- Ex-wife develops empathy with you

If the existing kids are younger:
- Jealousy and fear in the half-sibs; resulting in fighting, acting out and reverting behavior (wetting the bed, temper tantrums, etc.)
- Acting out against the baby
- Factions within the half-sibs (pro baby vs. anti baby)
If the kids are older:
- Baby has less in common with its half-sibs, feels like odd man out in its own home

In general:
- Half-sibs realize you're not going anywhere, have their fantasies of a PARENT TRAP-like reunion of their parents shattered (even if they're never brought it up), start being little a-holes in ways you didn't think possible
- Previously fine ex-wife gets super angry/jealous and weird controlling with the half-sibs
- Husband is reminded of his ex: part a - tells you about her pregnancies and childbirth in weird nostalgic ways that piss you off when you're all hormonal
- Husband is reminded of his ex: part b - distances himself emotionally as he sees more similarity between you pregnant and his ex's pregnancy than he'd like to think about, doesn't meet your needs in the way you'd like them met

But really, this is just some of the various, possible pros and cons I've observed. Your mileage, partner, children, stepchildren, situation, hormone level, relationship and everything else may, and will, vary.
posted by Gucky at 9:37 AM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Two of my brother-in-laws have children from other marriages. Unlike your situation, the splits were not civil. However, the new additions are perfectly normal and adjusted, and the family unit works just like any other.

I have a few friends that have mixed families, and they all seem to be working out fine.

So, I'd say the question really shouldn't have anything to do with the fact that he has kids from another marriage, just if you want kids. And you are comfortable dealing with the other mother's children as your own.

Sometimes, because they aren't your own, they end up being closer to you than their father or mother because you're a nuetral third party, sometimes they try and take advantage, and sometimes they are pricks about it.

But that pretty much defines any kid.

So, no positives or negatives outside the normal drama of having kids, in my opinion.
posted by rich at 10:02 AM on December 22, 2011

You can hypothesize this until your hair curls (or straightens) but you can never tell what will happen until you get there. If any of our parents put this much thought into having children, I am sure a lot of us would not be around to read or write back to you.

If you love one another and would like to bring a child into the world and raise the child together, you have great ingredients already.

Do you have respect for your partner's children? Do they have respect for you? Do you have respect for their mother? Does she have respect for you? Do you have respect for the relationship of your partner and his children? Do you have respect for the relationship of your partner and his ex? If you have answered "yes" then I am sure it will continue to be this way. If you have mutual respect amongst all parties involved, regardless of the relationship (love, marriage, business) there will always be conversation, criticism and resolution to any disagreement.

In the worst case scenario, there will be jealousy and arguments but then you can say you will retire to another part of the house with the new baby until everything settles down.

Go for it. You have lots of love (and loss of sleep) to gain with a new baby. Everyone loves a new baby. Especially children. They love to have more children around.

I asked my mother when I was sitting in the hospital about eight hours after I gave birth, "Mom, are you crazy? You had FOUR children?!" She asked me, "What's wrong with that?" I said, "It friggin' HURT!" She said "Don't think so much. You think so much, you never get anything accomplished."
posted by Yellow at 10:32 AM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Gucky makes the same points about the ages that I was going to. If there is a decent gap, there is less room for trouble. "Things are different because they are older" is way easier to understand than "things are different because they aren't my *REAL* siblings".

It sounds to me like there is very little downside.
posted by gjc at 5:51 PM on December 22, 2011

There was a LOT of longstanding resentment in my family among the kids. Be prepared for that possibility, whether you think it's reasonable or not.
posted by thelastcamel at 10:04 PM on December 22, 2011

« Older Dance party USA teeny bopper type ish?   |   Nerdy fun for kids in PDX Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.