Breaking Up With a Guy’s Kids Is Even Harder Than Breaking Up With the Guy

Blended familiesI’ve always been really persnickety about who I let in Girl Child’s space. Not everyone is worthy of meeting your kids—most of us know that—and that goes for friends and love interests alike. So a guy knew he had really hit paydirt if I even brought up the possibility of meeting my daughter.

Even though I had her when I was young and unmarried, I didn’t want her to endure seeing a string of pointless relationships start and stop at our doorstep. No sneaking Mr. So-and-So out the front door before she woke up for school, no letting dudes weasel their way in with little blended family-esque outings, even if they had kids her age. There was a complete and total separation of church and state. 

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Because if you’ve ever had to disappoint your kids—and most of us have, somewhere along the line—you know how hard it is to see their little faces all deflated and disappointed. So ripping someone they’ve grown a real bond and attachment to is the absolute worst. You introduce a person, incorporate him into their lives, and then, when the grown-ups can’t get their crap together, the poor children have to part ways with them because they’re part of the breakup package. Same goes if he had kids and you enjoyed the opportunity to spend time and love on them, even in a kind of reserved, I-don’t-want-to-encroach-on-their-mother kind of way. Anything that was shared or communal during the relationship is suddenly parceled back out to the two individuals and that includes the kids.

Rare is the ex who can maintain a functional, worthwhile relationship with the kids that is completely separate from the romance with their mother (and not a secret ploy to keep tabs on the mama or win her back). And to me, that’s the riskiest part of the whole blended family thing. Because it stands to reason that somewhere along the line, the children have already suffered a loss on some level. Maybe their parents are divorced. Maybe their mama or daddy passed away. Maybe they never knew one of their parents in the first place. Some way, somehow, the scenario was created for their custodial parent to be in the dating world and meet another person.

So when that individual is then invited in—albeit cautiously, perhaps—and then ends up leaving, it’s another loss chalked up for the poor children. Double that if that person also came with their own kids and both sets of children had a chance to bond and get to know each other. Then suddenly, in the fallout of the relationship, it’s like, “Oh never mind. That didn't work out either. I’m going to snatch you back to the way things were before.” And that see-sawing is the worst. In fact, everybody loses something because of it, especially because kids need and crave stability.

You know, sometimes you have to take several parts to make a whole which, in my daughter’s case, is the way she has to look at the two exes who have been her father figures and the actual father who’s selectively active in her life. That’s not an ideal situation—I mean, fatherhood is ideally a one-man job—but sometimes you just have to take the ingredients and blend as necessary.

Do your kids maintain relationships with any of your exes? Why did you allow them to stay active in your children’s lives?


Image via Spirit-Fire/Flickr

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