Inside His Head: BF is overwhelmed by my kids

Dear Dads,

I have two children (7 girl and 5 boy) and I’m dating a man that I could imagine marrying. He’s kind and considerate, but he sometimes seems overwhelmed by my kids. Is this a red flag or should I give it more time?

GRAY: Heck, I know a lot of people who are overwhelmed by one child, and it’s actually their own. Going from zero to two, both at an age demanding attention, might be enough to give any sane person second thoughts.

Are your children always an afterthought to him or does he continually make plans that include them? Do you think he simply tolerates them so he can spend time with you or is it clear he’s in love with your family too? Watch to see if he’s getting better or worse with your kids. If he’s increasingly intolerant, well, maybe it’s time to have second thoughts about wedding bells, but if there’s always a little bit more of a connection and more of an anticipation then I’d put fears aside.

It’s easy to forget how relatively easy we have it when it comes to learning how to care for children. At first we simply have to change diapers, feed them and learn how to live without sleeping, but as babies grow up the problems grow up too. Anyone without kids, regardless of how frequently they may have been around other people’s children, just doesn’t know all the things we’ve learned over the years. Give him time, but he may always be a little overwhelmed. I’ve got a five-year-old and I still feel overwhelmed occasionally.

And don’t discount how your children view him. I’m often surprised by how keen an eye kids can have. It could be your best answer may lie with them and how they feel. Listen to your heart and theirs. Cliche though that may be, it often yields the correct answer.

MAVERICK: If the guy doesn’t have kids of his own, or isn’t one of 10 siblings, I would be more concerned if he was too chummy with your children.

Kids are tough for a lot of guys to handle in general, add to this that they’re kids of a woman that he has feelings for, that he might end up as their step-dad one day, and it gets complicated and overwhelming for most of us.

He likely needs to just get used to your kids and learn the ropes regarding their age levels and interests. This isn’t something most guy even vaguely have a plan for. We’re likely more mentally prepared for our girlfriend to be a time-traveling robot from the future or an assassin named after a poisonous snake, who’s out to get a guy named Bill. We’re not women. We simply don’t spend any time thinking about this sort of situation until we’re thrown into it. Then we sink or swim.

The only red flags I could see is if the reason he’s feeling “overwhelmed” is less to do with your kids and more to do with how you parent.

If he clearly is bugged by say, their lack of discipline, or if they talk back to you, or how they treat others, or if you seem overindulgent, this could be a pretty clear indication you’ll have really conflicting parenting styles and that is indeed a red flag.

Ratchet down the pressure. Just hang out together in casual situations. Don’t force him into road trips or ask him to plan a birthday party and you soon should be able to more clearly judge how he’s gonna mix with your family.

Bottom line is he must mix and mix well. If you have ANY reservations after plenty of exposure, save yourself and your kids and him some grief and heartache and send him on his way.