This topic contains 40 replies, has 1 voice, and was last updated by Laura 3 weeks, 4 days ago.
April 26, 2018 at 7:17 pm #699183
I need some advice from parents on this forum. I am dating a man with 2 small kids (ages 3 and 6). I have been dating him for two years and I met his kids one year ago. He introduced me to his kids as his “friend” and I agreed that was best. He has 50% custody of his kids and although I do not technically live with them, I am at his home 6 out of 7 days a week (he asks me to stay). I try to give them their alone time at least one night a week, sometimes two.
I love his kids and they love me. They ask for me all the time and I take care of them as a parent would. His ex has expressed to me just how much her children love me and that she is grateful that I am so good to them.
He and I have talked about getting married and trying for our own child. We are almost 40 years old so I don’t know if it will happen.
My issue is this, his kids routinely bring up that I am not family. They say they love me and I am a “friend”. This hurts me because if I am expected to dive in and take care of the kids as if they are my own (that is what my boyfriend wants), then hearing these words hurt.
My boyfriend thinks the kids are too young to understand the true nature of our relationship and I feel we are misleading them by saying I am his friend and that this is leading to me being categorized as a “friend”.
What are your thoughts? I do not want to cause the children any distress (they have suffered enough) but I don’t want to be thought of as a “friend” only and act like a family member.
What is reasonable here?
April 26, 2018 at 7:25 pm #699184
I should also say that in the past both of the kids have asked if they could call me “mom”. I told them no, that they have a mom who loves them very much and I am an extra adult in their lives who is dedicated to taking care and loving them.
Lastly, his daughter last week told me she wished her parents could be married. I truly think she does not realize I am with her father.April 26, 2018 at 7:39 pm #699187
Until you are ready to move in and tell them you’re getting married and you will be there all the time, chill out. They are very young, your BF is right, they aren’t really old enough to understand the nuances of the relationship you’re having.April 26, 2018 at 7:45 pm #699188
I think (most) all children want their parents to be together…
It doesn’t sound like they are being purposely hurtful, they’re little kids…
You’re working on having a child with this guy?April 26, 2018 at 7:53 pm #699192
Correct, Raven. The kids are wonderful and not being purposely hurtful. I worry we are not being honest with them.
And yes, I would like to try for a kid, only after a commitment though. I won’t move in until then though much of my clothes are there.April 26, 2018 at 8:05 pm #699194
I’m sorry but you are NOT a family member until you legally marry their father, however a step-parent has no legal rights so you would be limited to what your already doing for the children. I would counter them with “your right, I’m your daddy’s GIRLFRIEND (emphasis added) and just keep using that title until you gain another such as fiance or wife. If you do become engaged an/or married what would you like them to call you? They have a “mom” so you really should come up with one that isn’t already taken.April 26, 2018 at 8:08 pm #699196
“I worry we are not being honest”
be honest with yourself- this is not about them.
this is about you and your security. you need to feel validated in your relationship by your boyfriend’s children.
the real question is – why? these kids likely believe santa is real. these kids do NOT need to know that you are boinking their dad. just don’t. they don’t need it until you are married. if (and you have to accept this as well, ok?) something happens and you two break up (let’s say you learn some nasty habit of his you can’t get over and end it) he doesn’t want the kids to go through the same trauma again that they already went through with their parents. capiche?
put that aside. ask yourself why you feel insecure.April 26, 2018 at 8:29 pm #699198
Lane, thanks! You are right, I am not sure what I would be called. My bf does not want me to be referred as a “step parent” because he thinks that has a weird connontation to it.
Mouk, dating someone with kids is fraught with insecurities. It’s hard because I do want to be honest but don’t know what is ok to be not be 100% honest about. “Boinking” is a crass way to describe my relationship though so please refrain from judgement.
This post was an attempt to get insights from parents who could help explain what is normal and what is not when it comes to such dynamics.April 26, 2018 at 8:55 pm #699203
Il not a mom but what i do see is everything going fine. A guy who is commited, 2 young kids that love you, an ex that is supportive and you trip over a word two young kids use. Is there something else going on here? Like youre worried you wont get married or something? If those two kids call you a friend, that doesnt mean they discard you. Thats what they were told you are. But you could start to refer yourself as gfApril 26, 2018 at 9:13 pm #699206
I should have been clearer. I think it’s honest to call me a girlfriend and he thinks things are going so well, why rock it? Am I being unreasonable to want to be honest? Does it matter?April 26, 2018 at 9:20 pm #699208
You can ask for advice and then ignore it, that’s fine. But the bottom line is you are searching for validation, and until you figure out why and what the real issue is, you won’t rise above it, even if the children start calling you Their Father’s Dearest and Sweetest Lover or Girlfriend or Our Lady of the House. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯April 26, 2018 at 9:24 pm #699209
Wait, did you just presume I 1. don’t have children or 2. haven’t seriously dated someone with children?
I think what you need to do is accept *his* parenting decision and chill.April 26, 2018 at 9:33 pm #699212
You also need to realize HIS CHILDREN COME FIRST and if you rock that boat you will soon find yourself overboard.
Have you explored this topic professionally?
ogradywellbeing DOT com/ground-rules-introducing-girlfriend-boyfriend-kids/
While there is no specific info there about age appropriate titles, the takeaway is the kids’ comfort needs to take priority
dadsdivorce DOT com/articles/when-should-divorced-dads-introduce-the-new-girlfriend/
Welch explains that children become attached to new people in their life. If the relationship doesn’t work out, then the bond the children established is broken. Kids begin to expect instability and will lose focus and attention in school work and their own friendships.
According to Dr. Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D. (aka “Dr. Romance”), licensed psychotherapist and author of “The Unofficial Guide to Dating,” children should not have any clue that their parents are dating.
With 30 years of counseling experience, Dr. Tessina says, “Until the relationship is a serious one, children shouldn’t know about dad’s new partner.”
these kids are still grieving and wishing their parents were together…why do you want to complicate their view of stability? it’s not about them. this is NOT ABOUT them for you.April 26, 2018 at 9:52 pm #699215
Unless he is introducing you as his “friend” to other people, say, his ex, or his friends, or his female co-workers, you should seriously chill the f- out. sorry for the tough love, but you obviously have a place in his heart and his life! They are very young and it probably just stuck.
I’ll tell you a funny story– my ex husband’s Dad used to introduce his long term girlfriend (they had been living together over 20 years!) as “my friend”. She’d stand there and laugh. It was completely obvious neither one of them was going anywhere, it was just kind of a jokey thing.
Look– it honestly sounds like you are looking for something to be insecure about! If he’s treating you right, and making time for you and including you in his life (which he surely is if you are there 6/7 days a week) who cares what a 3 year old calls you!April 26, 2018 at 11:22 pm #699219
Hahaha! Ok, ladies! I get it:)
Thank you all for your insights!April 26, 2018 at 11:46 pm #699221
I am not trying to criticise you OP but you are in a tricky situation. You can’t be their mother because they already have one. Even after marriage you will have to be satisfied with the title step-mother with all the baggage it brings.* Perhaps you could say to them that you are their father’s partner and as his partner you feel compelled to behave as a parent towards them?
It is thanks to no-fault divorce that the poor OP finds herself in this position. In the old days people thought long and hard about marrying someone because they knew that it would be for life. In the past divorces were only granted in proven cases of adultery,mental cruelty and abandonment.
* It is not for nothing that all step-mothers in fairy tales are portrayed as wicked,cruel or neglectful.April 26, 2018 at 11:50 pm #699222
I’m a mom and have gone through this. Here’s my best advice to you…
Let him parent. Don’t push your thoughts in him. He’s been a parent longer than you and has his experience with this situation.
As far as what they can call you, let them decide. It sounds like their mom is very understanding of the situation and you should respond in kind. Leave them be for now as they are a family although disjointed.
You are confusing them caring about you with a title. He hasn’t asked you to move in because if you play it wrong, you are out. They aren’t going anywhere ever so it’s best practice for him to go slow with you. I admire that from him. Remember, if y’all have a kiddo, he will be demonstrating this same type of loyalty to that child should y’all not work and you’ve gotta appreciate that!!
You’ll have your chance at that special bond with your biological child. See it like you are their cool aunt and stay in that role. They have their 2 parents and even though they aren’t together, they will unite for their kids. The more you respect that and honor it, the more you will be welcomed into their family dynamics.
=)April 27, 2018 at 1:18 am #699230
Thanks, Laura. I am trying. He asked me to move in and I said not yet. Next month, is his daughter’s birthday and they asked me to plan parts of it. To be honest, I don’t know what part I’m supposed to play. I would love to step back and let them parent but I get pulled into stuff by their request and then feel like the odd person out.
I’m just going to take it easy because this is confusing for all of us and I don’t want to impact the kids in a negative way.April 27, 2018 at 5:40 am #699244
There’s nothing confusing about the situation: he obviously loves you, to make you such an integral part of his life. The kids think the world of you.
They might be disorganised but noone’s perfect. His ex treats you with respect
You sound a bit unreasonable and spoilt (you’ll understand it when you have your own child).
It doesn’t matter what title they call you. What matters is that they include you in their lives and they ask you to be a part of it. Women on this forum would do anything to get in a relationship – let alone one as good as yours.
Why can’t you just chill? The kids will grow and eventually they’ll get it. In time you’ll be seen as a family member but things take time and the children don’t know much about the world yet.
Leave the worries for now and be loving to the kids and to your man.April 27, 2018 at 5:57 am #699245
After marriage they can call you and endearment such as, MamaJen or Mamere (French).April 27, 2018 at 12:18 pm #699293
I wouldn’t worry about what the kids call you. When you do get engaged and married, you will explain that to them. For now, “friend” isn’t dishonest.
I would just have them call you by your name, Jen. I don’t think it changes the love they have for you. You were right to tell them not to call you mom, as they already have a mom.April 27, 2018 at 12:38 pm #699295
Thanks, Marie! I am trying to do the best I can to be respectful of their mom and the relationship she has with her children.
Also,I should have noted that this issue comes up in the context of not including me because I am not family and I think that is what bothered me. For instance one of the kids will say when I get married you can’t come because you are not family. Or daddy can’t pay for your stuff because you are not family. It is bizarre to hear that stuff like that and then have them say I love you to me five minutes later. I don’t know if they are confused by something or if I am doing/saying something that is confusing to them.April 27, 2018 at 12:46 pm #699296
Have you readup on this at all? You aren’t a parent. You are like the aunt regardless of if you live or marry this guy. I have honestly never heard of children calling their step mom, ‘mom’. Just because you choose to treat them like your own children doesn’t mean they are. Have you discussed this with your bf? Because it seems like you want to make a decision about what they should call you, etc., but at the end of the day it’s up to himand his ex wife. Why is it so hard for you that you can’t help with having a birthday party without having a title or role? It seems you resent acting the part of mom without some title or recognition. Unfortunately that is the reality. Even if you marry this man you can’t walk around and tell other people these are your children. Their your husbands and his exes. I would chill and just focus on the positives.April 27, 2018 at 12:47 pm #699297
hmmm… yes I understand what you are saying. Sounds like they just dont really understand and are trying to build a framework for this new family dynamic. What does your boyfriend say regarding those types of comments? Maybe you could both explain to them (in kid terms) that while you are not related, that doesn’t always mean that you are not included in those types of things since you are a special friendApril 27, 2018 at 12:49 pm #699298
I also think it is hugely confusing for young children to have dads gf practically living with them. They are too young to understand what or who you are. And if you are married, it’s up to their dad and not you to clarify your role in family events, etc. it must be hugely confusing for them to understand why mom and dad aren’t together. Especially since they share custody and still get along. You are asking too much of such young children.