Meet the Kids
September 28, 2006 3:11 PM   Subscribe

So this person I love wants to see my children. Does he get to?

I had the boring problem of being in unrequited love with my best friend. I told him all, and had thought to just walk away, but in the end I decided the friendship was too important to me. So I see him pretty often, and have been trying to just get past it.

Now he seems to be moving in my direction.

I don't know what he is thinking or what he is doing, but then, probably, neither does he. I get ogled and complimented, get told about his sexual practices and views, he stares into my eyes for an uncomfortable long minute -- things that really haven't been part of our friendship the last ten years -- and I sit there bemusedly drinking my beer. OK, my pal here is staring at my tits. Whatever. I've said everything I have to say. If he ever wants something else from me, I imagine he will let me know, and in the meantime I do enjoy his company.

Well, last night as he dropped me off at my apartment, he tells me that he would like to come over to my apartment and see my kids again, this weekend maybe? He hasn't seen them in so long, and would like to see them.

Um, what?

He hasn't seen them in five years or so -- partly because we go out, rather than hang around at each other's houses, but also partly because I did not want my kids to be sizing him up as a stepdad, when that was not at all on the cards. They are 13 and 14 now, and they are pretty astute, so they know what the deal is with him -- which is, more or less, that if I had my way he would be some sort of stepdad to them. They have heard about where he has been and what he has done over the years, just in conversation, so they seem to think of him as a fairly glamorous figure. My son teases me continually about my "dates" with this guy -- he thinks it is hilarious, I think, that his mom could have a date. My son invited himself along the last time I went to meet this guy, in fact, but laughed it off when I showed myself to be somewhat consternated by this proposal.

My kids know my other friends. But this feels different. And none of my dates have been introduced to my kids, ever -- not since my divorce. Maybe this guy's little push-me-pull-you weirdness is alright with me -- but I don't want my kids weirded out. I don't want them to have expectations, I don't want them to feel like they are auditioning, I don't want them to fantasize about what it would be like to have two parents -- when this glamorous guy and I are pals, and nothing more.

I want to just say no.
But am I making a big deal out of nothing?
How weird is it that my best friend and my kids don't know each other?
Do your dates get to meet your kids?
How do you decide when the time is right?
How would you set it up for minimum awkwardness?
posted by Methylviolet to Human Relations (28 answers total)
If the point in not introducing people to the kids is for them not to build hope and expectations and get attached.... you say they already know the score. So the question is, will they get attached?

As a non-parent and therefor completely free of any credibility here, I'd say they're old enough at this point to have people come in and out of their life and understand that in fact, people come in and out of your life. If they meet with him and interact with him and then he completely fucks off then what's the harm?

I think the only reason to say no is that a completely contrived situation would just be odd. I'm curious about the family members of various friends of mine sometimes but it would be strange to say "I'd like to meet your brother Jim" just for the sake of meeting him. Having some sort of an event where I have an opportunity to meet and interact with Jim would be one thing, but a pure meet&greet? Weird.

So if there's something you already do with the kids that it wouldn't be weird to have a friend along for, why not? If you have to really massage something together... weird. Not for what it means, just because of normal human interaction.
posted by phearlez at 3:19 PM on September 28, 2006

I think it's not whether or not you should say no, it's how. The idea makes you uncomfortable, and it might confuse the kids, and those are important reasons to refuse. The only question is how you let him know the answer is "no."
posted by christinetheslp at 3:20 PM on September 28, 2006

I think you're making a big deal of it, personally, to say nothing of overcompartmentalizing your life. 13 and 14 year old kids have a ton of savvy they might not have had at 8 and 9, so what once was perhaps understandable reserve on your part, is less necessary now. And if you're going to start having to deal with teenaged dating rules and behavior soon, you might want to demonstrate some responsible adult dating behavior to them first. Re-introduce everybody, all around.
posted by paulsc at 3:23 PM on September 28, 2006

You need to ask him what's up. I can't tell you whether you should let him see your kids, but it's clear from your description of the situation that in your mind, the answer to that question is dependent on whether he intends to get into a romantic relationship with long-term prospects with you. So you need to find out what his intentions towards you are in order to get the information you need to make this decision. Ask him what's going on with him, ask him how he feels about you, ask him where - if anywhere - he sees this going, and then decide based on his answers.

If he can't or won't give you a straight answer, I wouldn't let him get involved with the kids, not just because it might confuse them, but because it's pretty clear that it confuses you, and letting him into your life further without knowing what's up will only cause more confusion for everyone.
posted by decathecting at 3:27 PM on September 28, 2006

Your hesitation for him to meet your children is a reflection of you certainty of your relationship. I have been there, I was the guy. Your kids come first. No, you come first, then your kids, then ... well, him. If he really loves you, he will understand that. It is almost the acid test - him respecting your relationship with your kids.

It could also be that he wants to see what he is in for in the long run. But that only counts if you are in it for the long run.

If you are not comfortable, do not let it happen.

posted by bright77blue at 3:46 PM on September 28, 2006

Does he get to meet your kids? Sure, why not? Friends can meet kids. Potential boyfriends can meet kids. They're old enough to know what's what.

Does he get to meet your kids on his terms in some weird "I just to reingrain myself in your life" sort of way? Um, wtf?

How many times have you ever said, "Hey, I'm going to X to meet Y" Unless you're hooking up with an online friend, typically you do something together - go out to eat, hit a movie, whatever. It's like saying, "I'd like to go on a date with you." The other person saying, "Ok" and then the sound of crickets.

If he's trying to get into your world, he can go minigolfing with you guys (or whatever you're going to do for fun anyway). If he's looking them over to see if they're kids worthy of getting involved with, well, kids aren't zoo animals, but they'll act like them if they think they're on display. Go about your life, and if he wants to partake in what you're doing, great. If he wants to change your plans or make plans to "just hang out", it'll be weird.

in my freaky new-age opinion (a rarity for me) You have mama vibes. You know when something doesn't sit right with you as a mom. If it's just about the "I like this guy so much and I have hope" of you as a woman vs. the "Oh man, this isn't right" as a mom, I'd go with the mom. I've never regretted trusting my mo

When my now-husband and I were dating, he went to the zoo with my daughter and I and ended up playing Clue with her while I had to take an emergency business call. The way he talked to her with adult-level respect and intelligence basically cemented the deal for me. But we never did a formal "meet the child" meeting, it just came naturally. If it didn't, I would have been wary of the whole situation.
posted by Gucky at 3:51 PM on September 28, 2006

Er, mo=mom instincts
posted by Gucky at 3:52 PM on September 28, 2006

I would think it weird if one of my girl friends or girlfriends didn't want me to meet or communicate with their kids.
posted by solid-one-love at 3:54 PM on September 28, 2006

I'd be worried about exposing younger children to this guy, but you've got teenagers on your hands. Like you said: They know the score.

Your relationship problems are a whole other issue, though - good luck!
posted by chrisamiller at 4:00 PM on September 28, 2006

Tell him "some other time" and see how the relationship goes in the meantime. You two might still remain friends, but if he's to meet your kids, it should be on your terms, when you're comfortable with it.

Waiting a month or so wouldn't kill him.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:05 PM on September 28, 2006

This is so not about your kids. The guy changed his mind about you, and he's trying to let you know, and asking to see your kids is just one way (another is staring at your tits, as you pointed out). He's embarassed by his past rejection of you, and so he's afraid to come out and say he changed his mind...he just wants you to get it.

My advice (as a guy) is: don't let him off the hook so easy (in either sense). Confront him: 'Why are you looking at me like that? Is there something you want to say? Why do you want to meet my kids all of a sudden? What's going on here?'

If he says he changed his mind, etc. and you're still interested, then wait and see how that goes. There is no need to complicate an already complicated situation by letting him see your kids. He probably has a whole bag of tricks ready for them too; don't let him get to that point, keep things simple until all the cards are on the table.

If he pussies out and won't actually say what he's trying to indicate...well, to heck with him. That's not a good sign.
posted by bingo at 4:20 PM on September 28, 2006 [1 favorite]

I second bingo. I think you're kids already know how you feel about him and will probably support you. I would imagine as a mother, your instincts will tell you if its acceptable for him to spend time with your children. Based on your description it sounds like he is trying to deepen his relationship with you. Put him in a position where he has to take a clear position or make a decision. It sounds like you have known him long enough to do this. This may be all he needs to move forward in your direction.
posted by p8r1ck at 4:43 PM on September 28, 2006

When I was 15, my parents got divorced and my mom started seeing someone. She wouldn't let him meet me, and I honestly found it pretty upsetting. I don't think she had any concerns about me becoming attached, since I have a close relationship with my father. I began wondering if she was trying to hide me from him. And the more secretive she became about it, the more secretive I became about pretty much everything.

Maybe you should ask your kids about it. If they know what's going on, and it seems that they do, find out what their feelings and expectations are about meeting him. I think it's only natural for them to be curious about who Mom is hanging out with.
posted by makonan at 4:43 PM on September 28, 2006

I want to just say no.

Trust your gut, trust your gut, trust your gut.

You're their mom - and if you genuinely don't feel comfortable with something, don't let anyone convince you it's okay against your better judgment.
posted by eleyna at 5:03 PM on September 28, 2006

If he was entertaining any thoughts of a relationship which went beyond friendship, he would certainly see your children as part of the deal. Asking him to declare his intentions prior to meeting the kids and seeing how the group dynamics worked would be like asking him to buy a car with the wheels and engine removed.

As others have stated, a contrived meeting will not satisfy anyone, since the group dynamics will be totally unnatural. Find some group activity, on neutral territory, that will be conducive to relaxation and fun for everyone. See how it all unfolds, then go from there. The kids apparently have expressed a desire to meet him, and he wants to meet them, so no one will be dragged kicking and screaming to the event. Just let it all unfold naturally. If it doesn't gel, everyone will understand and no one will question it. If it does gel, then you will all have crossed a big hurdle together.
posted by RMALCOLM at 6:08 PM on September 28, 2006

"Maybe later." "But I like our grown-ups only evenings." "Sure, one of these days. But they're teen-agers... they aren't much interested hanging out with my friends" "It's just not something our family usually does." "Naw, they tease me mercilessly as it is."

Wait till he brings it up again. Make whatever excuse you want, and you can always change your mind. I don't recommend telling him you feel uncomfortable about it, since it's a vague feeling.

Or get everybody together in whatever way sounds okay to you. If it's weird, it's weird. You don't have to do it again.

But if you feel uncomfortable, either do it on terms that allow you to feel comfortable, or hold off.
posted by wryly at 6:09 PM on September 28, 2006

God, I'm so torn here. On one hand, my instinct says "he loves and cares about you, regardless of whether or not it's romantic or platonic, so he wants to know about you and your life - your kids are a HUGE part of your life, so there ya go."

On the other hand, I also hear "Mama's instincts are always right - go with your gut." From this post, your gut seems to say "no"....

Unless, of course, it's really your head that's saying that because you fear what it might mean, or it's what you think you SHOULD do.

I held off introducing my boyfriend to my "kids" (my best friends' kids, my godchildren) because I thought it was what I should do, when my heart told me otherwise. I did know what I wanted, I just didn't want to be perceived a certain way, or perceive myself as such (impulsive, dramatic, uncaring, Auntie-Tristeza-and-her-cavalcade-of-"Uncles", whatever). I'm glad I finally did it - he is in love with them and it's made me more in love with him.
posted by tristeza at 7:06 PM on September 28, 2006

You have what's called the paralysis of analysis. You want him to be wanting you, and you're finding evidence for this, yet you're wondering if you're just finding it through wishful thinking, but maybe it's real.....


One thing at a time. Nothing's going to be weird unless you make it so. If he wants to come hang out, they there's nothing strange about that. Where you're getting tripped up is in making a bright line between dates and friends, when this guy is clearly both. Or neither. You know what, you don't have to have a label for it. Just go with it. Be yourself and let him be himself, not what you've labeled him as.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 8:15 PM on September 28, 2006 [1 favorite]

Don't say "no".

Are your kids part of your life? Yes. Is Guy part of your life? It sounds like a very determined Yes even though it's been difficult. It's way past time to let these two parts of your life get together.

Look at saying "no"from his point of view: This friend and woman I'm interested in doesn't want me to meet her kids?!? What the hell? Does she think I'm a bad influence or a NAMBLA member? Does she think the kids will scare me off? It's not like they're a secret, I've met them before and it was never an issue before. And they're teenagers. They get it. They're not five and wondering who this new weekly daddy is. Hmm. But she said "no" so there's something wrong here. Guess I was wrong about where she wanted this relationship was going. I should probably put my efforts into something else.

(A bit of an exaggeration, but still.)

From the kids point of view, I think makonan hit the nail on the head.

Don't go with your gut. Please. The only one making this weird is you. Everyone else is ready and willing to go! Please, go with his and your kids wishes on this. The more you resist, the more awkward the whole thing is going to be.
posted by Ookseer at 10:32 PM on September 28, 2006

1. I can understand you wanting to protect your kids from unrealistic expectations, but I think you're probably being a bit too cautious. Group activities sound like a good way to go about it -- and all the better if he's not the only other person there. Get together with a bunch of your friends, including others who have kids, and ask this fellow to come along. Less awkward that way.

2. Ask him to clarify his intentions towards you. There's a good chance he never really saw you as a romantic interest until you raised the subject. He said no, but then couldn't help looking t you in a different light, and maybe he kind of likes the idea now. Maybe not. Either way, you have a right to know, especially if he's making you feel uncomfortable by staring at your tits on a regular basis.
posted by robcorr at 12:33 AM on September 29, 2006

I recently reconnected with a good female friend that I hadn't seen in a decade. Way back in the day, I wanted a relationship - she didn't. I swallowed my disappointment as best I could and we became quite close, until we lost track of each other.

Shortly after our reunion, she indicated that she was interested in exploring a relationship...or at least resuming our friendship. And she told me that she wanted me to meet her children.

I'm not weirded out by this. Why wouldn't I meet them? If she and I going to be friends, we're going to be spending time together. And if we're going to be more than friends, we'll really be spending a lot of time together! Am I stepfather material? I don't think it matters at this juncture.

People accept and reject others for superficial reasons all the time. I've received interest from women that I didn't follow up on because there was somebody else I was focused on. Or maybe I didn't feel emotionally available at the time...or maybe it was my finances.

If you love this man...then quit playing games! If you're going to punish this guy because he once turned you down, why do you still hang out with him? Also, asking him to declare his intent would be fine...for 1860. Maybe that's what held him back from going out with you in the first place.

"Protecting your kids from unrealistic expectations" is a cop out. You don't think they never ever be disappointed in life? What happens when they start dating?
posted by black8 at 3:46 AM on September 29, 2006

Let him meet the kids. Don't amp it all out of proportion like they are meeting the President or their future father or anything. It's a guy you like, don't over hype it.

Never trust your instincts. Instead, think as clearly as you can about where the "instinct" comes from. Fear of being hurt? Fear of confusing your kids? I got a news flash for you: you aren't going to get over relationship fear after he meets them, and they are already confused.

Take a deep breath. Fake normality. Take life as it happens. Don't imagine you can control or predict the outcome. Life isn't about avoiding fear.
posted by ewkpates at 4:38 AM on September 29, 2006

1) I think you should listen to makonan. Great points there.

2) He's your best friend and has been so for more than ten years. Even if your relationship never goes any further, I don't think it can hurt anything for him to participate in some group activity with you and your family. I'm not a single mom, but I do have many great lifelong friends who are men. I can't, frankly, imagine my son growing up and not knowing these people. Friends are the family we make for ourselves.
posted by anastasiav at 5:23 AM on September 29, 2006

The kids thing seems like just a smokescreen with your larger concerns with his intentions. You love this man, but do you trust him? It doesn't sound like he knows his own feelings or, at least, is telling you anything about them. I don't want to be a naysayer but I've seen in a lot of these situations that when the love-er (the one who's in love with the friend) starts backing off that's when the love-ee starts expressing "interest." But it's not really interest, it's that they miss being the center of the universe. Maybe that's what you're feeling--that he's more interested in being important or central, rather than being your boyfriend. Because he's not your boyfriend, and if he wanted to be, why wouldn't he say so?
posted by miss tea at 5:28 AM on September 29, 2006 [1 favorite]

I agree that he should meet your kids, go to the zoo or whatever. I also think you need to clarify this relationship with this man. It's good that you're so concerned about your kids' emotional health, but I agree with the others who've said you might be taking this too far. Your kids are old enough to understand that not every person they like is going to be their new dad, and I definitely agree that you're over-compartmentalizing and over-analyzing this. I can't help but think that maybe you're feeling like you've got a bit of the upper hand in this relationship (you had an unrequited crush for so long, you felt rejected and considered calling the whole friendship off, now he might be interested), and you may well have it, but be very cautious about abusing it. There's a fine line between justifiable caution (just being a good parent) and being overly cautious or even controlling. What's the worst thing that can possibly happen?
posted by biscotti at 5:32 AM on September 29, 2006

The push-me-pull-you stuff you so eloquently cite also sounds weird to me. If you don't feel like it, go with your instincts.

You have a right to up-front communication from this man, no matter how long you've been friends. He's acting cage-y. Do what you are comfortable with and think is appropriate. You can always change your mind later if things clear up and you're feeling more secure about his behavior and your relationship with him (friend or more, whichever).

I'm sure your kids are intelligent and resilient enough to get over whatever you're anxious about, but if YOU feel weird about it, why put yourself through that just because he's suddenly feeling like he wants to meet your kids? You control access to your kids, not him. You don't owe him anything and your kids probably don't care. It'll be fine either way, but why not spare yourself some angst and assert some rights in your friendship?
posted by Marnie at 6:42 AM on September 29, 2006

I don't want them to have expectations, I don't want them to feel like they are auditioning, I don't want them to fantasize about what it would be like to have two parents -- when this glamorous guy and I are pals, and nothing more.

I might be way off base, but here's my read of this:

I think you're projecting this stuff onto your kids. This is how you're worried you will feel if they meet. It makes you uncomfortable, and you're using "the kids might be uncomfortable" as a cover for your own feelings. You've worked hard at trying to convince yourself he's in the 'friends only' category, and now you feel thrown off by this seemingly contradictory thing he's suggesting. It's sending you the "I might want to be in a relationship" signals and you don't know how to deal with that.

He might not be meaning to send that signal, maybe he just thinks it's odd that he hasn't seen his plas kids in so long, since you talk about them so much and all. Or maybe this is his way of trying to feel out the possibilities, there's no way for us here to know. I support the suggestions of asking him straight up what his inentions are, so you're less confused on that front. Then I think you'll be clearer headed in order to sort out your own feelings versus your concerns about the kids.

If and when you do decide to have them meet, don't make it into a big deal. Don't try and get your kids to dress to impress or act in some way other than being their lovely selves. If there's no big announcement that they're going to meet Pal, then everything can flow more naturally and they're less likely to think they're auditioning or that he's their new step-dad or whatever.
posted by raedyn at 7:53 AM on September 29, 2006

I get the feeling he wants a different kind of love than you do. He wants romance and sex and you just want a great pal. Either that or one or both of you have a case of Groucho Marx Syndrome.
posted by zaebiz at 9:05 AM on September 29, 2006

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