OK, ladies, it’s time to travel back to that strange land that we (sometimes) just don’t understand … “Inside His Head”. Inside His Head has become very popular with the mamas, since women have a million questions about why men do the things they do.
Our panel of husbands (whose identities will remain anonymous for their privacy and to keep them from getting into trouble with their wives or their adoring public) have stepped up to the plate to answer our tough questions. They’ve been great to give us the no-holds-barred truth about how guys really think.
OK, it’s that time of month again. Time to go “Inside His Head.” (Oh, and if you’ve got a question for our outspoken guys, just send it to mamas@nwaMotherlode.com and it may be featured in an upcoming installment.)
Dear Inside His Head guys,
I’m a single mom and I want my kids to meet my boyfriend. My ex-husband is totally against the idea, but I’m getting serious with this guy and I think it’s important for him to get to know my kids (they are 4 and 6). I don’t want to fight with my ex, but I think he’s being unreasonable. Do you?
GRAY: There’s a giant gap between “getting serious” and “getting married,” but you need to decide where the relationship is going before getting your children involved. Kids are a huge part of the equation, but if you and your boyfriend aren’t serious enough to be hearing the faint din of wedding bells then you might want to wait until the time is right.
Children learn from your example. I’ve seen women bring home one “serious” man after another and, as the relationships fell apart, watched kids slowly lose respect for their mother and refuse to listen to her advice when they hit their teens and began having relationships of their own. The implications can be wide-reaching not only in how they see you as a parent, but also in how they perceive their own ability to have a lasting relationship.
On the other hand, you don’t want your children waking up one day with a “surprise daddy” in the house. If the relationship is heading toward marriage it’s good to have your kids in the picture. They need to become accustomed to who their stepdad is going to be. Your children’s opinion of your future husband is important and how he and they interact can often cement a family. Listen to them.
So why have I left your ex-husband out of the picture? I’m not saying you need to cut your ex off, but his motives are probably biased. What dad would want a stranger spending more time with his kids than he does? You’re the one in charge of your household. You’ve got to do what you think is proper for yourself and your kids.
MAVERICK: It really depends. You don’t mention how long you’ve been seeing this guy, his background, or your relationship with your ex-husband.
To make things simpler, I’m gonna assume your ex-husband is generally reasonable and has not tried to manipulate you though your children; isn’t saying no to you while exposing the kids to his dates; and so far has had the best interest of your children at heart (short of agreeing to a divorce, that is).
In this situation I’d say err on the side of caution and listen to your ex since it’s your kids you’re messing with here. The children should not be exposed to any of your dates (his or yours) unless you’re well beyond the “just dating phase”.
This includes actual time as well as emotional time. It doesn’t matter how you feel, if you’ve not spent a fair amount of actual time with this guy, just dating and hanging out, you don’t know anything about him. The longer the relationship, the harder it is for a true creep to keep up his guard.
It’s your ex-husband’s job to watch out for the welfare of his children. Don’t assume he’s being an ass for challenging you on this. He’s likely doing what he should do. Far better to have a ex who is saying “be careful” than one who doesn’t really care.
Real fathers are coded to protect their children like mothers are. Trust his instincts, assuming your ex isn’t normally controlling or combative, he likely has a better general feel for your “boyfriend” since he has no emotional attachment.
Set a reasonable goal for when you plan on introducing him (in three months, in six months …) to the kids with some input from your ex.
This will move the decision away from an “I feel it’s time” to “We both think X is a reasonable interval before we expose our kids to someone we’re “serious” about.
If your “boyfriend” is serious about you, he’ll agree. If he’s combative and acts like an ass, dump him, because he’s not wired to deal with your real situation. If he can’t handle this trying to make a life with this guy is pure fantasy or pure masochism.
The bottom line is, all things being equal, don’t bring the heat onto your ex for speaking up. It’s what he should do if he’s concerned about the welfare of his children.
MICHAEL: In my opinion you shouldn’t involve the kids until you are seriously considering cohabitation. If that’s the case, read on.
I’m sure your boyfriend is a great guy, but as a father I know I would be really uncomfortable with another guy hanging around with my children. I’m realistic enough to realize that you will more than likely enter into another long term relationship, but you’ve got to be very careful with your existing relationships with both your kids and your ex.
You need to communicate the seriousness of the relationship to your ex and maybe even let him meet your boyfriend. You also need to make it clear to him that you respect his opinion but you aren’t married anymore so your decisions are yours. In the end he doesn’t have a say as to who you date, however, you can make things easier by clueing him in to what’s going on and make him more comfortable with the situation.
As for the kids, be honest with them but don’t tell them more than is age appropriate. Make sure that all the roles and expectations are well defined so that everyone knows their boundaries regarding discipline, etc.
Hopefully you are all mature selfless adults that can put aside any animosity and history in order to properly raise your children in a loving and supportive way.
To read previously published Inside His Head questions and answers, click here.