My Boyfriend Does Not Want To Spend Time With My Kids

Mother spending time with her kids

I’m a 38-year old single mom with an 11yr old daughter and 5yr old son. I’ve been dating a 47-year old bachelor (has no children) for a year. We see each other when we can as we are both busy with 2 jobs.

When I’m with him it’s always fun and wonderful. I get along with all of his friends…they actually make me feel special. I have met his brother and his family and love them. However, he still has not invited me to meet his parents (they live 30 min away) which seems strange to me…he met mine after 3 months of dating and really get along well.

Everything is perfect until it is my weekend with my kiddies! I’m not possessive, quite the opposite, and would never suggest he spend all of his time with me! But I am wondering whether he will ever get more involved with the two most precious people to me…my children! Little encounters here and there but nothing to get excited about. I invite him to spend time with us every other weekend…never pushing as I’d like him to want to spend time with my children! I keep giving it more time to improve, but so far, none. He always has an excuse why he can’t be with us so I tell my children, who adore him that he has to work or has a previous commitment. Lying to them is not a good feeling.

If he wants to be your boyfriend without spending any time with your kids, well, that’s what he’s gonna do.

Is there hope that he will step up to the plate and be a part of my children’s lives or will he continue to ignore what means most to me in the world, my children? Should I have a one-on-one with him about this or keep doing what I’m doing and hope things will change?   Am I wasting my time?

Thank you,


Men do what they want.

I wrote this in “Why He Disappeared” and nothing I’ve heard since has convinced me otherwise.

If he wants to call you, he’ll call you.

If he wants to sleep with you, he’ll sleep with you.

If he wants to commit to you, he’ll commit to you.

And if he wants to be your boyfriend without spending any time with your kids, well, that’s what he’s gonna do.

You’ve got yourself a 47-year-old bachelor. If he wanted to get married or have kids, he’d probably have done so by now, right? This should, in no way, diminish the fact that you seem to be very happy with him as a boyfriend. It just means that it’s entirely possible that this is the only role he wants in your life — the one where he really doesn’t have to compromise all that much.

Just as there are great guys who make shitty boyfriends…and great boyfriends who turn into shitty husbands, there are also great boyfriends who DON’T WANT TO BE great husbands.

Point is: you have to figure out what your endgame is.

You need to have a come-to-Jesus meeting with your bachelor boyfriend and let him know your vision of the future.

Do you want to be married again one day?
Do you want the man you’re with to take on some stepfather duties, or at least integrate himself into your family more readily?

If that’s the case, then, yes, it sounds to me like you need to have a come-to-Jesus meeting with your bachelor boyfriend and let him know your vision of the future.

While there’s a possibility that he loves you enough to reconsider how he’s lived his entire life, the most likely answer you’re going to get is what you already know from his actions:

“I love you. I like your kids. I don’t want to be tied down to a family. I prefer my freedom. If you can keep doing this, I’d love to, but if you can’t, I completely understand.”

And you have to have the strength to walk away from a fun and wonderful short-term relationship because it has no potential to be the long-term relationship of your dreams.

Join our conversation (190 Comments).
Click Here To Leave Your Comment Below.


  1. 1

    If I was the OP I would start dating others as soon as I had the “come to Jesus” talk with my boyfriend and it didn’t look like we were on the same page. I would still date him if I wanted to, but I would start dating others that had more potential of what I wanted  for my long term plans.
    When I was in my 30’s, newly divorced and dating, I noticed how every man I dated treated my son. Most of them didn’t pay him too much attention to him.   When my husband came along, the first nite he came over to my house he brought handmade blocks that he had made and sat on the floor and played with my 4 year old son with them. A man will let you know how much interest  he has in your children. I agree with Evan.

      1. 1.1.1

        So u cant do things together? I love this post string. Im a single mom and older! I had no idea my bf thot my kids as things. Its all about kids . gee date someone without kids. Irs not responsibility it love and life!


        1. Stacie G

          I found I had to divide my attention separately- kid things and then boyfriend things…… I see how wrong o was to let that happen now! He got asked to leave and now he “needs to think!” Haha…. guess what….. Buh Byeeeee!!

    1. 1.2

      While I love Evan’s ‘come to Jesus talk’ advice, 🙂 and agree with it, I think there are many strange parts of Natalie’s letter that make me think she’s not telling the full story:

      1. They’ve ‘dated’ for a year? After a year, there is no more serious commitment than that? He should at least be a ‘boyfriend’ at that point. If they still rarely see each other, then there is no reason to think that he is giving her a serious commitment of any sort.

      2. That is compounded by the fact that he is not seeing her on the weekends when she has her children. So is he only seeing her every other weekend? All the more reason to think this is nothing serious – think about it: that amounts to seeing someone twice a month.

      3. Or is he also seeing her in the middle of the week, in which case he must be seeing her kids once in a while? In which case, she can’t claim that he never sees them. This is so confusing.

      4. And on top of that, her kids adore him? How can they adore him if they never see him?

      Something really doesn’t add up in this story, but the bottom line is that it doesn’t sound like a serious commitment at all. The come to Jesus talk should be about whether to take it to the next level. I’m not even sure this is about the kids just yet, although the kids may be the reason the man isn’t committing more.

  2. 2

    I would skip the Come To Jesus discussion.   This relationship has shown that it’s going as far as it will go.   She hasn’t met mom and dad and he doesn’t want to get involved with the kids.   Let it go and move on, or accept it for what it is and enjoy it but ask for no more.

    1. 2.1

      Agreed. Like my shrink used to tell me: look at behavior. He’s already shown her where he is.

  3. 3

    If after a year together he won’t introduce you to his parents and doesn’t want to spend weekends with you when you have your kids…does seem he’s not planning any kind of family future.
    Two things in this letter seem contradictory to me though:
    But I am wondering whether he will ever get more involved with the two most precious people to me…my children! Little encounters here and there but nothing to get excited about. I invite him to spend time with us every other weekend…never pushing as I’d like him to want to spend time with my children! I keep giving it more time to improve, but so far, none. He always has an excuse why he can’t be with us so I tell my children, who adore him that he has to work or has a previous commitment. Lying to them is not a good feeling.
    How did your kids get so attached to someone they’ve only had little encounters with here and there over the past year?  

    1. 3.1
      Jerry Gamble

      I found that an odd statement As well. Typically I like my son but someone else’s kid is exactly that. If the dude wants to be around,the kids sense the bullshit he provides right away.,they also sense the good’s very tough. My ex told my son if her boyfriend was a real man he would ask her to marry her. this was meant for me to hear of course.   a seven year old can’t keep secrets yet. i took my son to our favorite   college football game. As he was telling her and the new boyfriend, she chimed in, So and so likes college football! How pitiful. My,son doesn’t give A crap,about her newest boyfriend. Not one bit. He wants to spend time with his dad. She is pissing against the wind on   this one. I say let her get wet!

    2. 3.2

      Because children love easily… My son fell in love with my boyfriend only after meeting him twice. It happens. Children have hearts of gold before the world ruins us

  4. 4

    I have dated several men without children.   It’s always the same story.   They don’t want children for their own reason….selfish , immature, or simply made that decision a long time ago,   if this is something short term for you….do it.   If you are looking for long term, a relationship, marriage, whatever , then it won’t work.   Kids are a deal breaker for many men.   It s their problem , not yours.   Leave now. Kids are usually a commitment phobe’s crutch as they get older,   it’s easier to explain to people that it didn’t work out because of “the kids” than because he simply didn’t want to be a step-Dad.

    1. 4.1

      Laurie. Why is it that if a man does not want children he must be selfish or immature, but if a woman does not want children she must be empowered to make her own choices ?

      1. 4.1.1

        In fairness, Laurie’s comment does offer the third reason that he simply “made that decision a long time ago.”   As I read it, she’s not saying he must be selfish or immature, merely that those are two possible reasons.    The third reason given is exactly what you mentioned… choice.  

      2. 4.1.2

        That was a very good question!!!

      3. 4.1.3

        What bothers me is that if you’ve been honest with a man about what your future hopes are and they date you knowing they don’t want someone with children…. It’s cruel for them to get involved and start a relationship with you in the first place… That’s what has just happened to me, after four months the truth came out….

        1. Doug

          I agree that the man shouldn’t get involved if he doesn’t want children or doesn’t want to be with someone who has them.   Personally, I don’t think men should date women with children. Most research and articles I’ve read says that these relationships are not good for the male partners, because they’re put in an impossible position. It’s not good for anybody except maybe the woman. Most of these relationships don’t work. So, if the man bonds with the children, then the kids will get hurt. And generally it’s the woman who initiates break ups. So, the man will probably get hurt as well. In addition, what about the father?   My own thoughts are that if you want children, you better be very, very sure about the father. If you’re not, then you shouldn’t have kids. Because in general, children don’t do that well coming from single parent households. There’s a lot of research that supports the causal link between children without a dad and later problems in life. So, be sure of the guy. And make sure he’s sure of you.   No easy answers here.

        2. Grace

          That’s why it’s called dating, boyfriend and girlfriend , so that you can get to know each other real well and study the person before marriage. Then you know within the first few months if your ok living under those circumstances you’ve already discussed earlier. These wants and needs are always going to come out to the surface over and over again no matter how many times you try to keep them hidden and or which terms you have accepted in which have been the opposite of what your heart and soul desire. So be glad the truth came out sooner than later.

        3. Sasha

          try doing it for 3 years 🙁

        4. steph b

          truth came or for me last week after 5 years. i’m destroyed.

      4. 4.1.4

        That was said so perfect.

      5. 4.1.5

        Out of context- we are talking about someone who already has children. I think both men and women should consider whether they would have a long term relationship with someone who already has kids before they start getting involved. If they don’t then I would consider them to be scared, selfish immature and irresponsible, regardless of gender. Mainly because their decisions or actions are not just going to hurt their partner but also the kids that have grown an attachment towards them. Obviously breakups are a possibility in relationships but they should start with good intentions. I think some men take just the good parts of the relationship until those good bits are no longer good. They don’t consider their partners feelings but that’s just from my own personal experience

        1. Jo

          I totally agree Louise with your remark about some men taking the good parts until they’re no longer good – it’s what I’ve discovered this current moment with my bachelor thinking kind of man.

          They ARE selfish, not so much as far as doing type generosity, because over the last almost three years my guy has given and helped me with so much , but as far as relationship depth my guy has been regularly really self centered and selfish . It’s basically like I’m a rag doll he plays with while in person but I’m expected to accept cold harsh no contact at all for sometimes weeks , which to me feels like being given ‘,the silent treatment ‘ that my ex husband use to do after a fight – but with current guy there was no fight! He just saw it as acceptable for him to be allowed to be mia for as long as he wished and come bounding back like a puppy when HE was feeling like it!!! To me that’s a guy wanting to be a bachelor who happens to have the luck of a girls interest!! Taking my goodness until this stuff infuriates me to the point of angry all the time – and poof!!! No use for him anymore = this doll no fun anymore with anger that HE caused!!!!

          I’m in the process of choosing how I should dissolve things in a way that I can walk away with my dignity and not left bitter – big prayers to anyone that’s been stung by false imagery , half created by self , but also the other half inserted by the actions that appeared believable by the great pretender !

        2. lewis kincaid

          i dont see how not wanting to raise another mans kids is in any regard selfish i mean that’s their fathers responsibility not mine. no man or woman is under any obligation to raise another persons kids at all. i dated a few women whom had 1 or 2 kids and it was ok but i had no intention of raising them id see them theyd see me maybe a casual hi or something but nothing serious. one lady i was with didnt tell me she had kids until later on im assuming she thought id run away and i said fuck it and kept dating her she was a nice girl. so anyway about 2 or 3 months more into this and the daughter of this women about 10 or 11 starts to call me daddy and i explained to the little girl without malice that i wasn’t her father and apparently this was an issue with the lady i was dating so to make a long story short i left her because she made it seem as if i was obligated to be her child s father. i am not a selfish guy i just believe the one to take of the children is the ones who created them.


        3. juan

          Men and women are selfish. Come to reality. People suck. Peace.

      6. 4.1.6

        Because: woman=good. Man=bad in today’s society.

      7. 4.1.7

        Dating a mom is selfish if you do not want kids. If both of you state up front that you want a future.. then yea.. selfish.

    2. 4.2

      “Kids are a deal breaker for many men.   It s their problem , not yours”
      Well, from a pragmatic/practical perspective, kids are her “problem”, in that they’re another limiting element from a dating standpoint. She can’t control whether potential suitors will be ok with her kids – and odds are most won’t be. It’s a much smaller pool of men who are ready/willing/interested in taking that on.
      Mind I’m not saying women with children are undateable, but for the men who don’t want kids, her having them is no “problem” whatsoever – she’s not a “keeper” for them (for more than just dating, as with her current BF).
      Unfortunately, her children are a greater limiting factor for her than for potential suitors.

      1. 4.2.1

        It might be limiting for her, but as a single parent, I am good with having those men pass me by.   What would be worse is the man who would date me anyway and resent my kids.   I don’t know too many single dads who will put up with a woman who tries to get in between him and his kids.   

        1. Stacie M. Goldinger

          yes exactly– dating me anyway and causing drama over my kids- and refusing to see my and their perspective– SELFISH!

      2. 4.2.2

        I have Indonesian fiancé who suddenly wanting me to support her kids, where the biological father living in the same village wont help out in any way. I agree with the statement if woman chooses to have kids its HER problem, not the mans; if he chooses not to pay or deal with the stress from someone elses kids. Now my fiancé thinks I don’t love her because I have this attitude. I realize kind of things can happen if someone chooses to get mixed up with the wrong person and have children with them. I was a single father and raised 4 kids so I now what it feels like to be alone and abandoned. I just don’t sympathize for people in these kind of situations and I have good reasons to feel this way.

    3. 4.3

      I’m in the same situation as Natalie. I’ve enjoyed reading everyone’s comments and greatly appreciated Evan Marc Katz’s advice.

    4. 4.4
      Jake tauferner

      The more options a man has the less likely they will put up with other men’s off spring… if a man can only get the left over scraps of attention that a single mother can provide, then he has no other options. A man involve with a mother will always be second in line to the child. Is that the way it should be? Some say yes… just don’t expect an alpha male that is good looking, earns a wage that can support others and is in the prime of his life… expect shrek! Not the Prince you dreamed of before u gave birth to another man’s blood line. Face it, you have to settle or startling the man’s needs above your children. The point is, you can’t have it both ways which is what I think society and feminism has s sold to women. Ultimately doing them a disservice. Take care of your kids and play the violin to someone else. And men, don’t settle for single mothers, unless you are okay with being placed second.

      1. 4.4.1

        Jake, you are probably the most inexperienced person I have ever stumbled across on a forum, who has been allowed to post their opinion (trash).
        Single mothers make excellent partners because generally they are far more mature, and far less selfish that the smut that you seem to enjoy.  
        If you want some bimbo from a bar to have a night or week of fun with, then you are doing the right thing.
        If you want someone with quality, nurturing, and responsibility, then a single mom is a good pick.  
        Just because a girl happened to get drunk one night, make a mistake by sleeping with someone like you, and then have a kid with a lousy guy (like you) doesn’t mean she wouldn’t make someone else a good partner after she has had some time to reflect on her bad decisions, make some changes to be a good mom for her kid, and ditch losers like you for good.  
        Consider that for a moment before you go bar hopping again.  

        1. JakesMom

          Obviously a feminist.   Would be a solid argument if not completely devoid of a knowledge of social psychology.

        2. J

          First of Jake’s dad

          Not all single women make bad decisions, unless you’re saying having a child is?

          Some relationships never seem like they are going to end but do exactly that.


          I don’t expect anything from your gender and yet, I’ve dated someone who couldn’t even say hello when my own son said hello to him..

          He’s called him a bastard to me and how much he hated I’m a mom, and how my decision to have a kid affects him.


          What’s funny about that to me, is he didn’t exist for me until i meet him.

          My son’s father and I had been long broken up by then. We were together when I made the decision to keep my pregnancy and were together for almost ten years.

          How is the relationship ending my bad decision?   How is giving someone I deeply loved with a child a bad decision?

          My son is better for it, not being in a house where I felt like I didn’t matter anymore.

          The guy I was seeing didn’t ever view his constant disrespect of me as a bad decision to have around my son.

          Guess that’s why we aren’t together anymore.


          My son is almost twelve btw.

          Incredibly smart and has no tolerance for stupid people.

        3. Jake's Step-grandpa

          To my son, Jake’s “dad”, I’m sorry I left you and your mom son I’m so so sorry. You now look up to only your mother which is good because she raised you but it has caused a delusion and affinity towards being with and protecting the “virtue” of single mother. Which is way you you got with Jake’s mom. I know you love jake and you want him as your step son to do well in live but you advice is pure garbage. Getting with a single mother could cause more harm than good and you know this. Jake doesn’t even call you dad and doesn’t let you sleep in the same bed as his mom. You have to sleep on the couch cause jake’s real dad told jake to make sure you stay there. Sorry son that you pay all the bills and get no respect as a father. Sorry that you put all your efforts into raising another man’s child and get nothing but a kiss on the cheek from his mom in return. You have no legacy of your own. I’m sorry cause this is all my fault. If I stayed with your mom. Then you would know what family is supposed to be like and would have had love and support from a man and woman that had and bond before you and were able to put each other first then bring you into the world. That way son, you would see who to parents could show love to one each other and lead the family together. Instead of seeing a mom that controls everything and her kids come second and you last. I’m sorry, I’m so sorry. You feel resent when you that Jake’s mom’s baby daddy is the real father and jake is part of his legacy.

        4. Jesse Smart

          Jakesdad: Please go do your “milk-sopping” somewhere else because your shaming-tactics won’t work here.

      2. 4.4.2

        Are you from the stoneage? Seriously, ‘another man’s blood line’? Who are you to tell anyone to settle? No one should ever settle. If they want their prince charming, their alpha male, their whatever, then they should go out and get it. And what is an alpha male anyway? For me it’s a kind hearted loving soul who knows how to make the people around him feel special. He can be the richest hottest man alive, but if he’s an a** he’s no alpha. If he looks down on anyone and thinks they aren’t as deserving of happiness as he is, he’s no alpha. I’m not saying you are wrong not to want to date single mothers or fathers, but you do not need to be so full of hate. You have no right to tell anyone to settle or to ask then to put anyone who isn’t worthy’s needs over those of their children. To all you single moms and dads out there, don’t settle. You can have it all, with or without a partner. I know I will never settle. I am happy enough by myself and will not ever let anyone in my life make me second guess my worth. I’d rather be single and happy then attached and made to feel worthless.

      3. 4.4.3

        Very well said.

      4. 4.4.4

        I am a single mother with two teens and with a man that fully supports my kids and wants to make us a family. I have never felt like he settled. He puts me above other ‘happily single’ women, and admires my strength to have had kids during my medical degree, make a decent living and bring up two stable, intelligent, well – rounded kids. he and I stand united when it comes to raising the kids, in conjunction with their biological father. My man is gorgeous,   successful, caring and highly ethical. I admire, adore him and appreciate him to pieces. Single men dont ‘settle’ for single moms, they CHOOSE them because they are the best fit for them and make them incredibly happy. Feminism is what you make of it.

        Best of luck finding your kidless lady

      5. 4.4.5

        Omg u r full.of yourself. A kid is a kid. If the woman is a stupid baby mama then u equate. Offspring what the hell is that..a cat?

      6. 4.4.6

        I’m a lady with no kids and feel the same way. All I get is a bunch of dads wanting to date me. Leave me alone date women with children. Super irritating. That’s mean but damn it’s annoying meet a nice guy then boom I have 3 kids. Thanks but no thanks. Just like men don’t want to be stepdads I don’t want to be a stepmom.
        Good thing about single moms is they usually can’t or don’t hide it but men do all the time. I ask start out now with do you have kids? You’d be surprised how many lie or avoid to still try. What I will say is Men get super pissed when you do this so cut the single moms a break for being upset because they can’t find a real commitment. Male egos get super scarred when I say no kids please But I have a friend that has two kids you want her number. I suggest people date in their pool and they will have a better outcome. Single childless people men or women are looking for each other and settling most other times. Trust my I know I’ve tried so many times but the truth is I don’t want to marry you and your kids. If a sensitive woman feels that way bet your bottom dollar most men do. It’s just the truth. Dump him and move on to someone else he wants a single women without children and he is waiting for her passing time with you plus he is a coward and dishonest. He should tell women start out no kids and do what I do be single and wait. Love your kids more and yourself more because he loves himself more than all of you. Stop being afraid to be alone everyone included parents nonparents men women.

        1. Bob

          Im a single dad, and I totally get why a woman with no kids would want to keep her freedom. She didn’t create the kids so why the heck would she want the responsibility of raising them, they already have a mom, thye don’t need another.

    5. 4.5

      Just because someone doesn’t want to be bothered with YOUR kids doesn’t make them selfish.   It’s actually selfish to expect someone to jump for joy about sharing your chosen responsibilities.   Kids being a deal breaker is YOUR problem not theirs lol. This is the problem with so many single parents.   Always expecting everybody to be excited about sharing the burden of your baggage.   No man in his right mind  ever aspires to be a parent to some other man’s spawn.   Ever.   Get real.

      1. 4.5.1

        I agree so much with you!     I am a woman with no children and I am always invited by men who has children.     Of course for them, I am the ideal woman as I don’t want children and most of them don’t want to have children again.     But they don’t seem to understand that their children can be a turn off for a woman who chose not to have any children.     And their schedule too!   I have to fit in their custody schedule!   That is so annoying.       People with children should date people with children.

        1. Al

          This article is about single moms dating childless men. Dont hijack.

      2. 4.5.2

        Funny, I’ve known plenty of people with stepkids they love. I know I love my stepkids and would do anything for them. They are great people and I am so fortunate to have them in my life. You don’t have to want kids, but you are making baseless generalizations that do nothing more than make people feel bad about themselves probably because you feel bad about yourself. Here’s a little lesson. If you have nothing nice or constructive to say, don’t say anything at all. My stepdad taught me that. He was the best. Thanfully he didn’t look down me as another man’s spawn, but rather a person worthy of his love and admiration. My dad is great too. I’m one of those lucky ones who grew up with two wonderful men in my life.

        1. Jake's Step-grandpa

          Awww… bingo… you had a step dad now you feel you have to carry on the family tradition. Honestly, I respect you Decision I really do. But people are sick and tired of single moms and people raised by them shaming them into and calling them selfish if they don’t want in on the step family party. Sorry but some people actual took steps not to become a parent and though about how they want to raise their own kids some day. Not gain them out of nowhere in and be placed in a situation where you are in last place and have to play along to the beat of the kids and the baby momma/daddy for the rest of your life. Sorry but want to be honest and tell the truth and illuminate the minds of others that might be considering going to a relationship like that or becoming a single parent then let them. Cause sugar coating is not going to do nothing to actually help some one. Just feel good. And most people that just worry about feeling good in life make a lot of mistakes just like a lot of people who have kids they didn’t plan on and are now single parents and struggling. Not all single parents. I know I have to say not all cause people don’t understand gernalizations. I actually care about people not just how they feel.

        2. SQ

          so nice to hear this and thank you so much for sharing! breath of fresh air amongst bitter single men on here that felt they got ‘screwed’ over by their girlfriend that has kids. Maybe they should think before even getting involved with a woman with kids in the first place. The big difference between these men, and men like your Dad, step dad is strength and self confidence and some would say: ‘big cojanas’. Your Dad and step Dad clearly had heaps of this. Cheers to them and all the best!!!

        3. Lea

          I have kids and i figure i make every effort to see my bf. There is a sched but not cause bf isnt important

          I want every time he can. . The bf has obligations like work sports family. I fit in to his sched

      3. 4.5.3

        I couldn’t agree with your statement more Robert.

      4. 4.5.4

        couldn’t agree more . I’m happy to be in support but ultimately they are not my kids.

  5. 5

    I  am on the other side of the equation.   I am a 44-year old bachelorette (never married, no children).   I am dating a divorced man with a 12-year old son.   I have never been around kids (except for when I was a kid myself!), so I feel a bit awkward around the boy.   We get along fine but sometimes I don’t know what to talk with him about or how  to interact with him in a way that is “fun”  and “friendly” but still maintains my authority as an adult.    My boyfriend  also has his son every other weekend, and I  don’t want to intrude  on the limited time they have together.   That said, I do want to get married, and I think that  my boyfriend is a good candidate.   I realize that if my boyfriend and I do get married,  this boy will be a  part of my life. If I want to marry this man, I have to step up and spend time with his son, even if I am out of my comfort zone.  
    I agree  with EMK that you should have a talk with your boyfriend, explain that you would like him to  be more integrated into your  life (including the time you spend with your kids),  discuss his goals for the future, and find out why he doesn’t want to spend time as a “family.”   He may  have feelings about your children like the ones I have had toward my boyfriend’s son.      

    1. 5.1

      Like Almita, I’m a woman with no kids and I was in a 3+ year relationship with a man who has a son (his son was 10 when we started dating).   Very similar to Almita’s story, I liked and cared for his son, but I sometimes felt awkward around him and didn’t really know how to relate to or bond with him.   On top of that, just as Nathan pointed out (below), I often didn’t agree with my boyfriend’s parenting choices or style, and the situation was exacerbated by the fact that my boyfriend and his ex-wife had a very contentious relationship – which made me want to keep some distance from the whole thing.   

      The result of all this was that, as time went on, I found while I was happy to spend time with my partner and his son some of the time, there was a definite limit to how involved I wanted to become – especially since I enjoyed my independent life and my time with my friends, almost all of whom also don’t have kids.   My boyfriend naturally wanted me to have a good, close relationship with his son, and he was unhappy with what he perceived to be a lack of interest on my part and the limited role that I was playing.   The more he pushed me to get more involved with his kid, the more I resented it.   

      All of these dynamics obviously put a huge amount of strain on our relationship, and I’m sure also (unfortunately) on his son.   After more than 3 painful years of arguing, couples therapy, and on-again/off-again, we finally broke up for good a few months ago.   He is a wonderful guy and we really loved each other a lot, but ultimately we just couldn’t reconcile these differences.   It completely broke both our hearts.   

      What I finally had to realize and accept is that there’s a limit to my desire and interest in parenting children that aren’t my own.   I’m sure that some people reading this will call me immature or selfish, but the reality is, just because you fall in love with someone doesn’t mean you’re going to fall equally in love with their kids.   And what’s more, this doesn’t make you a bad person.   Just as Evan’s response suggests – a person may love his/her partner, but have reservations about taking on the responsibility or making the sacrifices that come along with that person’s children.   

      There’s a whole spectrum of attitudes and agreements that could be made between the two partners – what I hoped for a long time was that my boyfriend could relax his expectations a bit, acknowledge and accept my independence and the fact that I am not a parent, and appreciate the time that I did spend and the efforts I did make with his son, instead of criticizing me for not giving or being enough.    Sadly, in the end, neither of us was able to compromise or shift our position enough to meet the other in the middle.    It hurt a lot, but at least I learned a lot about what works for me and what doesn’t.   I know now that in future relationships, I’d prefer to be with someone who doesn’t already have kids.  

      1. 5.1.1

        “there’s a limit to my desire and interest in parenting children that aren’t my own” Oh my I can fully identify with that! My situation is I have grown kids that continue to mean the world to me –   but they are independent now… I met the most wonderful man whose kids are 12 and 14 – which he only gets every other weekend & when they are here (we have lived together for the past year) – I still have no desire to be with them at all – I guess I thought that would change that I would all of a sudden want to be closer to them in actuality finding out that I am now like this has been depressing makes me feel like I’m cold hearted which I know I’m not and it’s a very depressing situation because I’m absolutely crazy about their father but to this day I think maybe I should leave him so he can find a woman who wants to really be involved with his kids although in truth they have a fabulous mother and he says I’m fine as long as I’m polite towards them which of course I am then everything is fine but it doesn’t feel fine because I feel guilty and ashamed that this is the way I feel, which I only feel when they’re here otherwise when they’re not here I’m perfectly happy so I don’t know what to do.

      2. 5.1.2

        Wow, I can so relate.   I’m in the same situation that you were in.   We’ve been dating a year, he’s got 2 kids (8 &9)…they are good kids, the mother is cool and even overly supports me, referring to me as her kid’s second baby momma….. well, my stance is that, yes, I knew you had kids and I knew there would be sacrifice on my end.   And HE knew I lived very independently and traveled a lot.   Here we are now, I’m expected to watch cartoons on Saturday mornings while he goes to gym, but I get a guilt trip if I want to take a 3 or 4 day vaca.   He’s always welcomed to come, but can’t, so he says.

        I never wanted kids, but I was open to playing the supportive role, such as of a big sister or aunt.   I don’t want to raise these kids….I don’t want to give up my identity…..why am I expected to compromise but he can’t accept me being who I was before?

        I’m very kind to the kids, I sacrifice all the time…but this feels very one sided and although I truly love him deeply….I think I need to end things for the sake of all involved


      3. 5.1.3

        Same boat   35. Single. No kids. Never wanted them. I was upfront and honest with my boyfriend of 3 years now. He has 2 kids from a previous marriage. He   has mentioned my lack of involvement several times. He’s well within his rights because I don’t spend time with them very much.   I’m polite and respecctful.   There is no drama and that is more important to me than anything else. I wanted things to evolve naturally but they didn’t. If I wanted a family I would have made my own. His kids visit every weekend and I give them the space to bond.   I lack certain understanding due to being child less.   He has daddy time, boyfriend time and his personal time. I don’t see the issue. He said he couldn’t marry me under these circumstances. I’m OK with that because it’s not a necessity to me right now. I slightly feel bad because I don’t like being distant.   The noise and the mess and their mom . I just don’t want to deal with it.   I probably should have dated a child less man.


    2. 5.2
      Elizabeth Baker

      Where have all the good men gone? Where have all the kind loving men gone? If a man does not want to spend time at the weekend with you and your kids get rid of him straight away. The full package is you and the kids. Don’t let him get away with just half of the deal it’s you and your children. If he can’t manage it tell him bye bye. If he can’t sit down with some home made blocks and play with the kids for three hours on a Saturday, kiss him good bye. The most important thing to you is children not your feelings of loneliness. He’said right if   wants you he’ll run you down. Never chase a man, know your self worth your a strong independent single woman broaden your shoulders tighten your boot straps because life needs you to get tougher to face the challenges ahead.

      1. 5.2.1

        Ah please , I dont want to be a father to YOUR kids and now I’m a bad man . lol you must be kidding , I don’t want to be a father to your kids because they are your kids , simple ! Package or not they are   your responsibility not mine .       Raise your own kids !



        1. SQ

          You need to relax…………Part of all these situations is that emotions get so high, each partner is forgetting to empathize with the other. Rather than being bitter, mad and ranting: they are not my kids…..What about putting the shoes on the other person…..if you were the single parent, how would you feel? If you were the childless partner, how would you feel? Then, express your feelings to each other. If it doesnt work out, it doesnt work out. You tried. But for some reason, people get involved with others that have kids, not remembering that the parent HAS to put time and effort into raising kids! Its part of life! If you want all the attention, than dont even think about partnering with a person that has kids. Stop it before you get too involved. Relax………..there are other fish in the sea…..

        2. Lea

          So u cant do things together like wtf

        3. rickter59

          I am not obligated to be financially responsible for another mans kids who wont support them and lives in the same village with them. Because he dumps my fiancé and hooks up with a younger woman, has a new baby with her is very scenario common in Indonesia. I cant feel sorry because she cant take care of her kids because she picks some loser for a father. I broke up my engagement to a really good Indonesian woman who at the last minute changed her mind and tried to force her 2 kids on me. When we first met, the kids were not in the picture at all, but as a year passed, she started seeing how good she had it with me. Then, to my shock and disbelief she suddenly entered her kids in the picture saying they are now included in a “package deal.” The kids and her all together. It took me awhile to catch my breath after hearing this, but the reality of the situation seemed to hit full force. I hated the idea! My instincts told me to run away as fast as I could, especially her always asking for money and putting this all on me because she was married and decided to have kids with some loser. But now all i was hearing was how her kids were hungry or need money for school. I was very annoyed and frustrated to be thrown into this mess. She should never of expected me to accept this “package deal.” Because she was wrong. I choose to not marry here now. Now she thinks I don’t love her because cant accept the kids. I have 4 grown kids of my own, so I know what it feels like to be alone and needing a partner. But for some strange reason, I have no sympathy for her. That’s what she did to herself. As much as I love her, something in my subconscious is reluctant to start K1 visa process because I know if I do, she will refuse to agree unless I bring over her 2 kids and this would be very costly and stressful. It is obvious this relationship is doomed. But who’s fault is this really? Am I the bad guy now? Especially when she was dishonest after we first met and told me she would not be including her kids coming to the US after i gave ring and proposed. Everything was wonderful, no kids in the picture and we were traveling around having fun enjoying life together. But then, as time passes she becomes dependent on my financial support thinking I am so “in-love” with her the kids would not be a problem. But wow, was she wrong about that! I feel bad and hurt all my time was wasted, not to mention all the financial help and cost of overseas travel because I was stupid enough to get mixed up with a single mother who suddenly changed her mind and decided to weasel her kids in the picture. I really like the 2 girls they are very nice but they are not my kids, they have a father already that is there to take care of them. If he can’t do it them its not my problem. I my instincts warning me to let my fiancé go.

      2. 5.2.2
        Nick H

        The problem is the ‘full package’ is a horrible deal compared to a single woman with no kids. You’re literally throwing your baggage at someone right away and saying deal with that or you’re not a good man.

        You’re giving him a horrible deal, then just saying deal with it. You’re like a shop giving half thew goods for twice the price and then blaming the customers when nobody buys your stuff.

        A good man, with options, will look at the alternatives and quietly exit.

        And what is this obsession with home made blocks? Honestly it would take some creepy dude to turn up to a first date with those. Or a desperately insecure man looking to win the woman through the kids.

        Also, if he wants you he’ll run you down is kind of 1980s advice. if you ‘run women down’ these days, you will probably face charges.

        Either way, it’s not advice to give out…

  6. 6
    Peter 51

    In my case, I regard a parenting role as an absolute requirement for the relationship with a single mother that I have.   In fact, I wouldn’t see the point of planning marriage without it. The boy is 14 but still decent (one reason I like his mother – strict bondaries for the child).   I’ve known him since he was 9.   I dread the next three years of erupting hormones.   as this is otherwise, perhaps marriage time.   I could get blamed for any divergence in the relationsip between them.   On the other hand, I already have my own relationship with him and his maternal grandparents and aunts so I am almost family.   There is a half uncle who lives as a hermit on a farm somewhere who might not be a great male role model but Grandad is great.   Dad hasn’t been seen since he was 6 months old.   The previous long term boyfriend turned out to be married, after 5 years of reguler lengthy visits from another city.   As far as Evan’s situation for discussion is concerned, she should walk quickly.    We are not isolated beings.   We are part of each other.   She is not just a single woman she is a mother.   if he can’t accept the package then he should move on.   This is clearly not the American zeitgeist but then I think this whole individualism thing is a tremendous mistake.

    1. 6.1
      Dina Strange

      “This is clearly not the American zeitgeist but then I think this whole individualism thing is a tremendous mistake.”
      Wholeheartedly agree!

  7. 7

    Laurie’s comments #4 represent the flip side issue here. Namely, that single parents seem to forget, or never realize how challenging it can and often is for the new partner to step in and develop an appropriate relationship with the children. I say this from experience. There are all sorts of potential issues. Everything from the “you’re not my father/mother” dynamic between child/children and new partner, to major disagreements about parenting between bio parent and the person they’re dating, to interference of various kinds from the Ex (the other bio parent). It’s not just a matter of wanting to become a “family” together. Even when I think of my own history with my step mother, it took many months of regular interaction before I saw her as someone who both cared for me, and also was “worthy” of being listed to in terms of authority. And furthermore, wasn’t some kind of competition to my mother. Kids get all kinds of wild ideas and scary emotions around this stuff. Sometimes, they get over it all fairly quickly, and sometimes not. The last thing I’ll say in general is that people with children dating people sometimes project all sorts of biases on those of us who haven’t had children. Including the idea that we have no clue about children, and thus our opinions when it comes to anything children are irrelevant.
    As such, I think some important information missing from the letter is as follows. First off, how does Natalie feel about at least somewhat sharing the actual parenting role with her boyfriend when he and her are with the children (as opposed to him being just the “fun, friendly guy mom’s dating)? And has she talked with him about how they might do this? Secondly, in regards to his parents, what’s the nature of his relationship with them? Does HE regularly visit them and enjoy his visits? And finally, I’m wondering if he feels like he’s in competition with the kids for your love and attention. Obviously, this isn’t a good place to be, but if he feels this way – as opposed to simply opting out or not caring when it comes to the kids – perhaps things can change.
    It’s entirely possible that Evan’s right and this guy isn’t interested in being in a family and a step dad over the long haul. However, it seems to me that the 9 month to year point in a relationship is when a ton of the challenges with trying to build a blended family really begin. Because the new partner needs to become more than the “fun person” in the parent’s life, and the trust levels between the children and new person, as well as the parent and partner need to grow and expand in order to allow for some role shifting and new patterns to develop.
    Until this point (9 months to a year or so), it makes sense that the bio parent would be more protective of the kids and make them his/her main priority. But there comes a time when all sides have to change some in order for a new family unit to develop and function well. It’s not all on the incoming new partner, and so it would help to know more from the letter writer in my opinion.

    1. 7.1

      Very insightful, Nathan.   I am a single parent and agree with most all of what you’ve written.   The development of the relationships makes a lot of sense to me, though it might follow a slightly different timeline for different people.  

  8. 8

    I am a divorced mom and I have two adorable kids who are with me 50% of the time.   My children mean the world to me.   Even though my divorce is “fresh”, my older daughter is very interested in me meeting someone special and remarrying as her father is a cold fish (where I am the complete opposite). When I am ready to become super serious with someone, he will know that I want all of us to share the same life as I have more than enough love and attention for all of them.
    For the woman in the letter, Evan is spot on.   He does what he wants to do. He probably thinks you are wonderful but also wants his own space so the weekends you are with your children are “his weekends.”   This is not to say he doesn’t care about you.   However, if you are looking for a family unit (like me), this may not be the man with whom you can have your dream.   You are awesome.   There are tons of fish in the sea.   Search for a man who shares all you hopes, goals and dreams.   You will not regret it.   Waste too much time with the wrong guy, and you will 🙂

  9. 9

    I’m not 100% convinced this guy is leading her on.   For one thing, he may not be bringing her home to mom and dad because of the intense *pressure* they may apply once they find out he is seriously dating someone.   He may also come from a dysfunctional family (which could explain why he’s still single) and may want to put off that meeting as long as possible.   Finally, as one of the other posters mentioned, he may not know what role to play with you and your kids and may need guidance.   There really aren’t any public role models or education courses on how to be a good step-parent.   It’s really trial and error.   I agree with Evan:   it’s time for the Come-To-Jesus talk (delivered in a sweet, yet self-assured manner) and see where this guy wants to take things.

  10. 10

    Evan said:
    And you have to have the strength to walk away from a fun and wonderful short-term relationship because it has no potential to be the long-term relationship of your dreams.
    OK so maybe it wont be the relationship of her dreams. But it can still be a successful long term relationship. Just because a guy doesn’t want to wife up a woman with kids, doesn’t mean they still cant have a future together. She will have to weigh the options of just having half a loaf (LT relationship without marriage) or giving that up to go for the whole loaf (marriage).   But the risk is that she will dump the current guy and still not find anyone to marry her and then she wont have either.   Its a tough choice.
    From a guys point of view, I am dating a girl with a 5 year old. I cant see myself marrying her since I don’t want kids. But I can see a LTR with her. The lifestyle of living with a kid is just so drastically different than living without one. It doesn’t make me a bad guy. Just someone who doesn’t want to look at Elmo dolls and Barbie dolls in the shower with me. Or someone who doesn’t want to have to be the one who picks up the kid at school when Mom has to work late (currently done by the babysitter when that happens).
    The tone I get from these comments and from Evan’s reply is that the guy should be dumped just because he doesn’t want that lifestyle, while completely ignoring the fact that she is in an otherwise good relationship.      

    1. 10.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      You’re missing it, John. No one said you (or the man in question) is “bad” for not wanting kids. But if a woman HAS kids or a woman WANTS marriage and she’s with a guy who DOESN’T want kids or marriage, that man is a waste of her time.

      1. 10.1.1

        I get your point. But I think it is rather shortsighted.   A woman with kids who wants another guy to marry her is playing a long shot. I understand she wants what she wants. But do you give up an otherwise good relationship for something that has low odds of happening? The number of men in their 40s willing to wife up a divorced woman with kids is extremely low.
        For her it may be worth taking the chance. But that is something that you should point out may not ever come to fruition. Saying he is a waste of her time makes it sound like her decision should be a no brainer. Maybe she should rethink her stance and accept that half a loaf may the best she can do.

        1. julia

          So did I miss the part where no dirty woman burdened with children has ever married before? Cause I seem to know plenty of blended families.

        2. Marymary

            It may be a long shot but the best odds are to look for someone who wants the same thing rather than sinking months or years into a relationship that isn’t progressing and never will.   In most cases it’s not being bad that scuppers relationships, it’s the irreconcilable goals.   It’s denial to just motor along assuming too much.  

        3. Karmic Equation

          If this conversation hasn’t come up already, you should probably tell your gf that you never intend to marry her.
          Then let her make the decision of whether what she has with you is better than trying to go it alone and finding someone else.
          I’m thinking she’s quite milf-y. She’ll be able get the whole loaf.
          OP is only 38, she can still find someone to marry her. Probably a single dad. Particularly if she’s milf-y.

        4. Ruby

          Does your girlfriend know how you feel about divorced women her age who have kids? That they are damaged goods whom virtually no one else wants? I wonder how she’d feel if she knew that not only do you not want to marry her, but you see her as someone with so few options. Doesn’t sound so great to me.

        5. SparklingEmerald

          John @ said ” A woman with kids who wants another guy to marry her is playing a long shot.”
          It may be a long shot, but if that’s what she wants she should go for it, and not settle for “half a loaf”, because that will decrease her odds of getting the “full loaf” even more.
          In fact, I think a big problem with we women is that we settle for CRUMBS, and tell ourselves that the crumbs are fine, or that the crumbs will eventually add up to a full loaf, or that the crumbs will do in the interim while we are looking for the full loaf.
          I think EMK does women a great service telling us not to settle for less than we want and waste our time.   He is right.
          And John, and to most women, a half loaf is really not better than the full loaf.   It’s like those song lyrics,   “a taste of honey is worse than none at all”.

        6. Clare

          John said “Maybe she should rethink her stance and accept that half a loaf may the best she can do.”
          Is this what you think of your esteemed girlfriend? That the “half a loaf” you are offering her is the “best she can do?”
          Au contraire, my friend, though it would be rather convenient for you and your ilk – you could clean up on all the attractive milf’s and give them whatever you feel like giving them because their self-esteem must be so low that they think it’s the best they can do.
          Neither the OP, nor your girlfriend, are obliged to settle for “half a loaf” if that’s not what they want. There are plenty, PLENTY, of wonderful guys who would love to “wife up” a  fantastic woman with children – particularly an attractive one in her 30’s. You need only look around you for evidence that this is true.

        7. Joe

          @ julia:
          “Blended families” indicates that there are discrete families to be blended, not the same thing as a childless man/woman marrying a woman/man with children.

        8. sunflower

          Wow John!   From your comments, I’m  guessing you’re on  the young side.   A woman with kids is a package deal.   If a man knowingly does not want kids in his life, he has no business dating a single mother WITH kids.   It’s basic etiquette and makes the man involved look like a fool.    The kids come first….period.   There are plenty of other datable women.  

        9. craig

          Totally with you John, unfortunately women just don’t seem to get it, it, they always want the ‘full loaf’ unfortunately,   they just can’t seem to settle for the half loaf like men can, as I feel sure you will know. They see it as progress,   to where I don’t know. Children may be the apple of your eye but to a non bio man it doesn’t,   why women can’t understand this I never know, take a look at ‘the cinderella effect ‘ ladies and see how men differ, also step ‘blended’ families have a 70% failure, hardly encouraging for a man to take on, especially a childfree bachelor.  

        10. GoWithTheFlow

          No one has mentioned the affect this has on the kids.   A woman with kids I knew had a LTR with a 40s/50s bachelor   He did not want to be a part of the kids’ life and the kids knew it.    Kids will take this personally and will wonder what is so wrong with them that mom or dad’s SO rejects them without even getting to know them.   By accepting “half a loaf”  this mom did terrible damage to her relationship with her kids.   They  felt the rejection by the BF and resent their mother for it.   The hurt the kids were suffering also  damaged the mom’s relationship with her own parents, siblings, and friends, who could not figure out why in the world this woman would continue in a relationship with a man who didn’t truly accept all of her.

          Single parents with kids are a package deal.   If you know upfront you will never want the whole deal, walk away, don’t get involved with them.

          There are more single dads who or in their 40s or 50s than there are childless bachelors.   Go for them single moms!

          Three quick  examples for single moms out there.

          A gorgeous, successful, alpha male physician I am friends with (and have known since we were in our early 20s) married a single mom with a 4 year old daughter when he was 42.   They went on to have another daughter and twin boys.

          Another friend, again a handsome, ripped (7% body fat!), divorced with kids physician, married a single mother of two in his 40s.   He told me when he started looking for a serious relationship, he only dated single moms because he wanted someone who would understand his life and  how his kids were a priority.

          My son married a single mom, and I now have a beautiful, sassy granddaughter.   Bio dad was essentially just a sperm donor, so my son adopted her.   he is the only dad she knows, and she is a huge daddy’s girl.

          If you are a single mom, be careful  of older bachelors without kids.   Find out early, before you get involved, if he can handle a package deal.   If he can’t, walk away.   You are better off alone than with a relationship that will make your kids feel unlovable and rejected.


        11. Jack66

          First , thank you for all your answers above , I guess with this discussion there is mostly no right and wrong , only circumstances and choices . I’m in my late forties , with 2 kids , older one lives with me and the the younger one with his mother . Just worked out that way . Have met a great woman ,with 2 kids but the boy who is 9 has behavorial issues , generally speaking makes everyone life a misery .   After months of trying to make things work , today I finally told my GF that on weekends the kids are around , I wont be here . I dont want want to take on the responsibility of educating her kids , its really the ex’s responsibility and my GF’s – they need to step up. I dont want to be the Dad to her kids , imposing discipline   and so on .

          Been there done that , but given the ongoing discussions I assume most of you think this is fundamentally wrong , and cruel ?

      2. 10.1.2

        John is a walking talking contradiction, he doesn’t want to “wife” up and have any kids or the responsibility that goes with raising kids, yet is currently going out with a girl who has a five year old child.  
        What the what?  
        It’s all about him, I wonder if he tells his girlfriend that’s she’s lucky he’s around …  

        1. starthrower68

          If you don’t want kids, don’t date a woman with kids. Nobody is holding a gun to your head forcing you to be involved with her and aceept her kids.   I get the sense you expect her to put the kids on the backburner for your sake.

        2. M

          Everyone is different. For those of you who do not want to be step parents…do not date single parents. If you date a single parent expect that eventually you will need to take some sort of supporting role in the child’s life. If you want to date someone childless tgen do that. If you are a single parent and expect a new partner to show interest in or eventually love towards your children then tell them so and do not date someone who refues to meet your needs. For those of yoy who are generalizing saying single parents are bottom of the barrel, that is wrong. Everyone deserves to be happy and loved and everyone has their positives and complications.

          I ama single mother with two kids dating a man who is handsome kind generous beautiful inside and out and love him with all my heart…and he is amazing with my children and loves spending time with them and teaching them new things. Dont tell others to settle. They dont have to if they want something more. Live and let live.

      3. 10.1.3

        Totally agree. If you chose to be with a woman that has kids, chances are she has deep down feelings about getting married again. Just a fact of life. So, if you have no interest in Elmo or Barbie or Tonka trucks, go find a woman who has none of this in your life. If you truly love this woman, you love all of her and that includes the fact that she has kids and NEEDS to raise them. You dont have to love her kids, but you sure as heck should enjoy being with them and that includes good and bad times. Again, a fact of life with kids. Wasting your time and hers if you stay with her

    2. 10.2

      Obviously John if the guy not having a relationship with her kids wasn’t important she wouldn’t be bringing it up. She has made multiple attempts to include him in all of their lives but he is not willing to develop a relationship with the kids which for a mother is not good since her kids are a vital part of her life. You can’t take one and leave the other. It doesn’t work like that.


  11. 11

    Dear Natalie
    As a woman without children who tried dating men with children (expanding my dating pool, as Evan advises!) I would like to draw attention to two phrases in your post which I think may be part of the problem.  
    “….the two most precious people to me…my children!”     “….. what means most to me in the world, my children…..”
    Whilst these sort of phrases seem to trip naturally off the tongue of all parents, they never seem to stop to think of the impact these sort of comments have on their new partner. When someone – man or woman – doesn’t have children, their partner is the most important person in the world to them. To then have to cope with the fact that your partner doesn’t feel the same way about you…its a lot to have to deal with. It creates an imbalance.
    You are not giving your partner priority….yet you wonder why he may be cautious about becoming more deeply involved with you. Of course, everyone is free to set their own priorities, and if for you that is your children then of course that is fine, but you shouldn’t be surprised that he may feel cautious about things if he sees he’s not, and never will be, your number one. You also  seem to automatically assume that he should wish to adopt your “family” lifestyle, and if he’s not too keen  he is behaving  wrongly     – not “stepping up to the plate…”   not “….improving.”   I have noticed that where one partner has children and the other doesn’t, it is the childless partner who is expected to adapt their lifestyle – fit in around the kids schedules, participate in family style activities, etc…etc… If you choose to date someone who is childless you have to respect the fact that they have their own – equally valid   – lifestyle…. one that does not involve going to water parks or watching Disney films.
    Clearly your partner has some interaction with your children -and in a positive way – as you say they adore him. Why is that not enough for you? Why must he change to be good enough for you? he is dating you, not your children. If you marry he is marrying you, not your children. Even parents themselves have been known to say they find all children unbearable except their own – in that respect it seems you may be   placing unreasonable expectations on someone who has actually chosen to live child-free.

    1. 11.1

      As a woman who doesn’t have children, I wouldn’t want to date a man with children who DIDN’T put his children first.   I grew up without a father so I know what’s it’s like to feel like one of my parents didn’t care about me.    I feel that until children   become adults, parents should put the care and needs of their children first.      Fortunately,   parents putting their children first doesn’t mean that a girlfriend or boyfriend will be neglected.   Indeed, the OP doesn’t feel that her boyfriend is neglecting her, she feels that he isn’t paying enough attention to her children.     
      I did date a man who had two children and I never felt bad that they came first.    I was glad that he cared about them so much.    I also didn’t push to meet them because I don’t think kids should be exposed to every single woman a guy is dating.     If   he is getting serious and believes he might want to get married, then I think he should introduce his girlfriend to his kids.
      Finally, when a woman marries a man with kids who live with him, she is in fact marrying his kids too.   If a woman believes otherwise, she is setting herself   up for a rude awakening.

    2. 11.2

      I have no children, don’t particularly like them, am not really interested in having any and if I were single, I wouldn’t want to date men with children.   I should also say that parents who expect everyone else’s lives to revolve around their children annoy me to no end.   Parents who think their lives are more important just because they are parents also really annoy me.   Having said all of that however, if   someone like me chooses to date a person who already has a child, those feelings, by necessity, become somewhat secondary.   Any kind of   relationship with a parent will have to include his/her children.   If this man is avoiding the OP’s children, it is likely he does not see anything permanent with her.   Nothing wrong with that but unless she is okay with a short term/casual arrangement, he is the wrong man for her.   Changing her priorities to fit his needs is not the answer.   In any case, it doesn’t sound like he is asking her to change.   He just wants very little contact with her kids.
      >>  If you marry he is marrying you, not your children.
      Come on…you know that’s not true.   Parents and children are a packaged deal.

      1. 11.2.1

        Skaramouche @11.2 –
        I have no children, don’t particularly like them, am not really interested in having any and if I were single, I wouldn’t want to date men with children.
        Then you shouldn’t date anyone with children and they shouldn’t date you.
          I should also say that parents who expect everyone else’s lives to revolve around their children annoy me to no end.
        You are reading into things based on your own dislike of children.   No one expects “everyone else’s lives” to revolve around their children, but children, by necessity need to have the people in their lives care for them and make them a priority.   Parents who neglect their children for a selfish/disinterested adult annoy me to no end.   Think Susan Smith – – extreme example I know, but   if my ex had left me when my son was young, I doubt that I would have dated at all until he was grown, because there is NO WAY IN HELL that I would have neglected my son’s physical or emotional needs for something as fleeting as a boyfriend candidate and/or boyfriend.
          Parents who think their lives are more important just because they are parents also really annoy me.
        Again, your dislike of children is coloring your perception of what parents think.   It’s not their lives are more or less important than anyone else’s, but parenthood, by it’s very nature demands that a person be unselfish enough to put their children first.   That’s going to affect everything from job choice, where to live,   who you date & your recreation (really, the constant   all night partying with alcohol & drugs seriously is not compatible with parenthood)         A single parent, if they love and are responsible for their children will not choose a job that puts them out of town for weeks on end, live somewhere that is not child friendly, party like a college kid, nor date someone who dislikes children and expects the person they are dating to ignore their own flesh and blood.
          Having said all of that however, if   someone like me chooses to date a person who already has a child, those feelings, by necessity, become somewhat secondary.
        Any single parent who would choose to date someone like you who dislikes children so much should have their head examined.   You are entitled to your feelings, but please don’t even consider dating a single parent of young children.   And I hope no single parent of young children would ever consider dating you.   Your resentment of children oozes out of every pore in your body.   Children need the love, care and protection of their family, more than a single parent needs a relationship.   Single parents are right to put the needs of their dependent children ahead of the wants of any adult.
          Any kind of   relationship with a parent will have to include his/her children.   If this man is avoiding the OP’s children, it is likely he does not see anything permanent with her.
        BINGO !
          Nothing wrong with that but unless she is okay with a short term/casual arrangement, he is the wrong man for her.
        Actually, there is a lot wrong with that.   He is wrong for her AND her children.   Just because a single parent is “ok” with short term/casual arrangements doesn’t mean the children are “ok” with it.  
          Changing her priorities to fit his needs is not the answer.
        You are right about her not changing her priorities, but I would say it is about his WANTS, not his needs.   Sorry, but the needs of young children should always come first over the WANTS of a temporary boyfriend.
          In any case, it doesn’t sound like he is asking her to change.   He just wants very little contact with her kids.
        Then she should move on, or limit all of her contact with him to times when her children are with her ex and her casual relationships should be invisible to her children.   I witnessed a neighbor girl who was eight years old play second fiddle to her mom’s casual boyfriend.   It was heartbreaking to see this innocent child relegated to the emotional dustbin because her mother thought pleasing her boyfriend of the week was more important than loving her own flesh and blood, who was likely the by product of some past boyfriend of the week.   Society is better off if we raise healthy, whole children, rather than trying to repair broken adults.

        1. starthrower68

          SE, once again you win the Internet. 😉

        2. Jake's Step-grandpa

          You just don’t get it lol it’s not all about the kids. It’s about the parents as well and how they interact with the kids and raise them out of guilt which leads to spoiled and overly needy children. Why can’t you guys understand that. And the partner feels like they are just there for monetary or emotional support for when the partner with kids needs it. You don’t feel like a partner with a real relationship were you are Turely valued and respected because it all revolves around who the kids feel and everyone needs to feel sorry for the kids. Kids this kids that and you don’t even get proper respect from them cause you aren’t their parent and they wind up resenting you most of the time. So it’s all nonsense and hetic for the childless partner and if you complain one bit you are looked at as a jerk. In a Necluar family things don’t revolve around kids things are don’t for them. There is difference. Single parents just don’t understand this concept and they are so sensitive that they   don’t want to grow to comprehend it. Then you have to deal with the baby momma/ daddy nonsense and the families looking at you like “you arent the mom or dad” you are always being watched. Even by your partners parents and siblings cause you are the parent. Especially if you are a man.

        3. Economist

          Good Grief SE! You’re overdoing it with extra-long post and angry, bolded typeface. Too much drama-mama. Somebody struck a nerve! Why can’t she just enjoy the companionship w/out looking beyond that? I’m in the same situation. Sorry but I cannot have my dinner time and vacations and weekends and business life/trips governed by somebody’s kids. I personally am uninterested in his kids but enjoy the friendship and company and intellectual relationship we have. I like the relationship as it is and do not want to parent his boys. We get along, play poker together, with no expectations. They understand more than you think they do and will not be irreparably harmed because Dad’s globe-trotting girlfriend (Tierra del Fuego next) is one interesting personality and has a fascinating life.

        4. Clare

          Children are not made of glass.

          And while yes, when they are little, their needs need to come first, their mental and emotional health is not contingent upon them being made the centre of everyone’s world.

          Children need to be loved, cared for, supported, to have their needs met. They do not *need* to be doted on, to be the focus of every area of their parents’ lives or of their parents’ every waking thought, nor do they need to be the only thing that their parents spend love, time and resources on.

          As a previous commenter rightly pointed out, it is not like that in a traditional nuclear family. In such a family, resources are distributed fairly between all members of the family, and the marriage relationship between the parents is at the top. There is no reason why, in a single parent household, children should have a more exalted position. It’s overkill to say you “wouldn’t date” if your ex had left you when your child was small. This is your choice, of course, but it’s certainly not necessary to produce a healthy child.

          Of course there are negative effects which come from neglecting your child. But there is a lot of room between neglect and the kind of doting you are suggesting. Although neglect certainly produces negative mental health effects on people later on, and I am by no means advocating it in any way, overly focusing on your children produces negative effects as well. Personality problems such as a lack of independence, self-absorption and lack of proper boundaries spring to mind.

          Personally, I think it should be about balance. My parents divorced when I was little, and both of them went on to date extensively and remarry. I was neglected quite a bit as a result, and I would certainly not advocate what my parents did. But I and my brothers turned out fine (better than fine), and I certainly would not have wanted them to put their lives on hold for me. That would have been quite unnecessary and too much attention.

          Children are precious and wonderful and deserve love and care. But they are also resilient and tougher than they look. And I think if we remember that and equip them with the tools they need to navigate life (and the many things which will not go their way), rather than acting as if one wrong move will break them irreparably, society would be better off.

      2. 11.2.2

        I am eternally grateful my stepmom, who loves and raised me as her own, did not have such an attitude.

    3. 11.3

      Helene, You obviously don’t understand what the word “marriage” means in a relationship with children.   If you are “marrying” a partner with children, it comes as a “package deal”. You can’t separate the two. For the “marriage” to be successful you have to all blend together to the best of your ability, or basically have a failed marriage where there is so much tension that it is not enjoyable for anyone.

    4. 11.4

      Thank you Helene so much for sharing your point of view. Wish you could start a support group for new step parents

      1. 11.4.1

        Helene, I also appreciated your point of view. There are single fathers in the world who love their children, and are looking for love and a ltr, but are not looking for a partner to be second mommy to their kids. Some people want a partner that will be present without interfering in the parenting realm.  
        I resent the attitude of people who believe there is a “one size fits all” approach to raising kids or to dating when you have kids.
        yes, children need their parents. But parents don’t all need or want the same things. And they do not all have to raise their kids in the same way. How stepford to think they do.  

    5. 11.5

      I also agree strongly with Helene’s comments.   It’s disconcerting to me that so many people seem to have an attitude that when a person with kids dates or marries a person without kids, it has to be an “all or nothing” proposition.   Helene hit the nail right on the head with her observation that someone who doesn’t have children of their own has “their own – equally valid – lifestyle.”   I also think this is not a gender issue – it’s an issue of personality and human nature.   If a person with kids chooses to get involved with a person who doesn’t have kids, the parent-partner has to realize that it’s a BIG lifestyle change – and very possibly a difficult one – for the childless partner.   Are there some men/women out there who will love and embrace their new partner’s kids as if they were there own kids?   Sure, of course – and if you happen to be one of the single parents who finds one of those people, then you and your kids are very lucky!! But that shouldn’t be where the bar is set.   Speaking on behalf of adults, both male and female, who don’t have children – we are whole individuals who have complete and fulfilling lifestyles.   The needs, priorities and life goals of people who have children are not more important than those of us who don’t.    In many cases, a person without kids may be kind and friendly with his/her partner’s children, and may be happy to have some involvement, but may not want to “step up” to the extent of giving up their freedom or prioritizing time with the kids over other things they want to do.   I don’t think that a single parent should have to settle for “crumbs” or “half a loaf,” but I do think it’s unfair for a single parent to expect 100% buy-in or commitment with their kids from a partner who doesn’t have any.   You may have to adjust your expectations and realize that your partner might only want to give 70%, because he/she needs to have that other 30% for his/her own priorities and needs.   There are two sides to this coin, and if people with children can’t understand that, for many of us, it’s a big adjustment and compromise to date someone with kids, and if you aren’t prepared to accept and respect your partner’s freedom and individuality – then you have no business dating someone who doesn’t have kids.   

      1. 11.5.1
        daniel fife

        also why do people admonish 30 something year olds who dont want a woman with kids. For me I Am 33 and my objective is to just have a woman, not inherit a family. and that is too much to get done with work at 5 and go to her kids sports and get home w barley enough time to get home and go to bed.

        1. MeanPeopleSuck

          Daniel, it is perfectly fine to not want kids. Everyone is entitled to live the life they want. The thing is, single parents have kids. So if you don’t want them, don’t date them. You are fundamentally incompatible.

    6. 11.6

      @ Helene.   Thank you for providing some real perspective.   This article seems to demonize the male  for a decision that was mutual.

  12. 12

    The OP needs to have this conversation with her boyfriend. After a year of going out and having a good relationship meeting friends and other family members she needs to consider where this is going not only for her sake but for the children as well. Children need a stable loving environment to grow and thrive and so far her boyfriend is not providing this.
    After one year together if he hasn’t stepped up to the plate to integrate her children into his life I doubt if he’s going to.   He’s got a great girlfriend who is giving him love and support and he’s quite happy for the status quo to continue without really having a lot to do with her children. He bails on the “family” weekends with the kids for his own reasons and whatever the reasons are, they are valid for him, including not taking the OP to meet his parents. Just because they are going out and having a great time doesn’t mean that their long term goals and aspirations are the same, ie. marriage and perhaps a child or children of their own.  
    The OP is having one relationship and from the information in her letter, her boyfriend is having a different relationship, one that doesn’t include her children to any great extent. That’s not to say that he doesn’t like her children a lot, he probably does and being a “dad” may be beyond him right now.
    Hard as it may be and before any more time is invested in her boyfriend, the OP really needs to find out if he is capable of taking on her children or not. Her children need to come first, they exist and need a happy, loving and stable life. If her boyfriend doesn’t want to take on a ready made family, its up to her what she wants to do. On one hand she has a great boyfriend ,   on the other he doesn’t want to have much to do with children. What’s your priority here, your kids or a guy who wants you but not your kids?  

    1. 12.1

      Pauline,   I’m just being sort of serious.. What do you do with the kids if you choose the guy? Maybe you could put them in “time out”.

      1. 12.1.1

        Kathy, I have a feeling that the OP already knows the answer to her question. This elephant has been sitting in the room for a while and after a year it must be painfully obvious to her and her kids that he’s unwilling to be around full time and Mum is making excuses (telling lies).   How terrible for her to have to lie to her kids and make excuses for another persons lack of care. Once you start making excuses or telling lies to remain invested in a relationship it’s a major red flag and needs to be addressed.  
        Contrary to what some posters are saying about single parents (male or female) being unlikely to ever find another partner, all I can say is its a load of BS. Anyone who is trying to convince you to believe that all you can now expect from a relationship because you are a single parent are crumbs, are liars. They are being very disrespectful and busting your boundaries big time, not to mention trying to drag your self esteem down, and you have to ask yourself … why?  

        1. Kathy

          Pauline,   I agree..   I was a single mother at 33 and at 36 married a good looking man who had never been married and had an MBA from Stanford. He helped raise my son like his own and loved him very much. That was the first thing I looked for in the qualifications of the kind of man I wanted to be with and it worked out great.  
          He has since passed away, but my son has wonderful memories of him and  this can happen for any single mother out there! Don’t let anyone tell you any different!   Don’t EVER settle for crumbs!

  13. 13

    Kathy, may I know how you met your husband?

    1. 13.1

      Hi Dolly,   I made sure I got into a “singles group” as soon as I got divorced. I asked a friend of mine who I knew was invited to a singles Halloween party to please get me an invite. This was not a formal singles group, just a casual one in the area where I live. I met him at that party and saw him at several other parties with this group before he asked me out. It seems that men have to get a little comfortable with you, but you have to get out there, I believe.

      1. 13.1.1

        Thank you!

  14. 14
    From The Ground Up Coaching

    While I applaud you for your efforts here in gaining insight into the situation, the truth is, you already know the answer. You already know that he has crossed the line of what is and is not acceptable and you are seeking justification to keep dating him. If you value your children, which clearly you do, you will get really clear with yourself as to why being with “someone” is important to you and decide whether or not your kids are going to serve as the cost of not having it. It’s your decision. Beware however that should you choose to continue to date a man that refuses to accept your children as part of who you are, you risk making them feel as if they are responsible for the unhappiness you feel as a result of being alone. Many hugs to you for your courage to write this. I know it must not be easy to be vulnerable and ask for guidance.

  15. 15

    I really wish the article and comments had time stamps on them, and that the OP’s would reply to EMK and the comments.
    The OP can have a relationship that’s separate from the kids. She basically has to lead a double life. Only see him when the kids are away until the youngest turns 18.
    Why would a single parent ever date someone without kids?

  16. 16

    I agree with all the folks here that know they don’t want to deal with kids so they don’t date people with kids. That is wisdom, whether we agree with them or not. I would rather be rejected outright for having kids than for a man to try to date me then resent my kids because I had to divide my attention. And if I grew to care for him, the hurt and disappointment would keep me from being emotionally prsent for my kids (one reason why I’ve let go of dating at least for now). While thankfully, things have changed, my children’s step mother said to my son – in front of me – he couldn’t be at their house whenever he wanted. Parent is 24/7, convenient or not. She has since backed way off that attitude, but at the time, my son was at an age where he needed his dad’s attention. He knew I loved him and was there but I wasn’t the same. But I digress.

  17. 17

    I think its time for them to declare what they want and to discern his intentions. While he seems to be a nice guy and is coming through on some levels he’s not on some others. I think a talk is in order before she falls too deeply for him only to find its stopped progressing and will be no more. Not wanting to introduce her to parents and not wanting to do stuff as a family could very well be because he wants to avoid hassles when he walks away. There are alot of obstacles with long long time bachelors. They are a very difficult to progress with as they usually have avoided having a marriage and family for deep seated reasons you may never know. Instead of being a good sport forever she should simply ask him why she hasn’t met his parents or why he turns down her offers of doing things with her kids. Really if you have to be afraid of communicating with someone you’re with well that’s very telling in and of itself. Trust me these days more than ever you have to have your own back and be willing to accept the truth. Trusting a man to   have your best interests at heart rather than doing that for yourself is very risky and dangerous. If she’s satisfied with the status quo then she wouldn’t be asking the question. Men and women have different styles in conducting themselves and that’s what Evan is teaching women. We often make excuses for mens actions or lack there of because we dont understand and are in denial.  

  18. 18

    I’m also a single mum of 2. I’ve been seeing someone for over 12 months now, my kids love him so much and he loves them. He has an older son himself but hasn’t spent much time with him. We decided to move in together, two weeks in it was too much and he ended things saying he didn’t want to be in a relationship with someone with kids. Don’t get me wrong my kids are good but they were playing up but just normal kids stuff. Don’t really understand why these men start dating single mums when if fact they can’t deal with the idea of actually raising the kids together

    1. 18.1
      Jake's Step-grandpa

      It’s because some men really like the girl and want to give it a shot. But see it’s not just the fact you have kids. There are so many dynamics that are involved. Many things that will only be revealed once the situations arise. Like once he moved in for example. See people fail to realize kids arent like tattoos. They are actually people with brains and their own agendas. You can’t foresee how things are going to go with them. Just like you parents have the ability to say my kid doesn’t like this guy or girl I need to dump him. Well same with partner. He/she says “hey I can’t deal with this situation or these kids. I need bounce.” Think about it. If your kids hated you partner and wanted you to get rid of him and you did you wouldn’t p oat about why you keep trying to find partners cause your kids don’t like them. You would accept the decision and remationalize by saying I’m doing what is right for my kids. So why can’t childless partners say “I’m doing what is right for me” People who are not family members see your kids objectively. So the stuff that parents could over look other people can’t. Just like when a man tries to give a kid direction and they says “you ain’t my daddy” they see it as a guy just telling them what to do and don’t get the feeling of this is my dad I should listen to him. Also the fact that people are expected to be nice and giving toward kids but they can’t decipline them. This creates great imbalance in the home and places a demper on both partners taking lead in the house. Also you can’t predict actions of   of baby momma/baby daddy. Also in regular single man single women (no kids) relationships. They may not work out so why do you guest question why people leave single moms as if once you get in a relationship with a single mom you have to stay in it and be absolutely sure or you get shamed or questioned why did oh get in the relationship in the first place, if you leave is ridiculous. See that type of relationship is harder cause it involves more people. I think it just sucks to know that your relationship probably didn’t end because of you. You were mostly fine. It was your kids or baby daddy.

  19. 19

    I’ve been with my partner for over 6 years. My kids live with my parents which is a 3 hour drive I go home once every month to see them for a weekend. I live in his house and for the past 2 years I have not brought the kids to visit me where I live but preferred to go home for weekends, holidays, christmas ect so this means that he has not seen them for over 2 years. I feel sick just typing this out – how ridiculously low are my standards.  

    1. 19.1
      Jake's Step-grandpa

      Not so good for you maybe. But heaven for him. Just think of the situation the other way around

  20. 20

    Men will come and go but your children are your family.  

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *