You’ve got on a killer dress. You’ve coaxed your figure into hourglass-shaped perfection, thanks largely to Body Magic and no food or liquids since breakfast. You’ve slid into some gorgeous stilettos and fluffed your hair into the kind of full-on vampishness that would make Beyonce beam with pride. You’re nervous about your date — the fifth or sixth with this particular gentleman — but it’s more of a butterflies-in-the-tummy excitement than tax-time jitters. You like him. A lot.
But as soon as you open the door to let your new beau inside, your kids bumrush you at the foyer. Please don’t go, they beg. They don’t like him. And though they don’t come out and say it, you can already tell: they’re going to make dating him a little slice of hell.
I’ve never had the experience myself — thankfully The Girl has been a fan of the two men I’ve had relationships with in her lifetime. Anybody in between didn’t get close to the honor of meeting her. That’s actually how a dude could tell if he was in there for the long haul or not: if he met my child, he was probably going to get the boyfriend job.
I don’t believe in introducing kids to just any ol’ body, particularly because little (and sometimes bigger) ones have a tendency to get attached and a breakup, though it might be par for the course with their mama, could be confusing and hurtful to the children. That’s rough, so why put your kids through it unnecessarily? Besides that, it should be a privilege for a man to meet your kids, not part of a run-of-the-mill dating routine.
But I do have a friend who’s living this scenario. When she started seeing a new guy after breaking up with her youngest son’s father, her boys would frown up their faces every time dude would come to pick her up. Tantrums would fly, the silent treatment would be in full effect, and they weren’t above hiding her keys if they knew she was going out with him. She laughs telling stories about their love-blocking antics, even though it makes me frazzled just hearing about them. But it also makes her wonder if she’s missing something. Is it possible that they’re just picking up on a vibe that she isn’t getting?
Dating a man your children don’t approve of or flat out don’t like can make a mama feel like she’s straddling the peace and happiness she tries to maintain at home and the enjoyment she gets from adult time with her boo. It can be a knee jerk reaction to either drop new dude faster than a bag of bricks because little Simone or Shamar doesn’t dig him or dismiss a child’s feelings because they’re young and don’t know any better (and because mommy deserves to be happy too, right?) But kids do need to be comfortable with the man their mother is serious about — which brings me back to my point about not introducing children if the relationship isn’t looking long-term.
Instead of arguing with them, I think a mother with one foot in the dating world should ask her tots why they don’t like The Mister. The whole brouhaha could come from a couple of different reasons. Maybe they just don’t like change. Maybe they’ve seen their mom get hurt and they don’t want her fall into another hot mess. Maybe they don’t have enough time with her as it is and they think a boyfriend is going to cut into it even more. Or maybe, just maybe, their intuition tells them that he’s actually not so hot.
My friend is still seeing her man and the kids eventually warmed up to him. I mean, they’re not cuddling in front of a fireplace reading bedtime stories with warm cocoa at nights, but at least her three-year-old doesn’t run through a whole box of Kleenex begging her to stay home anymore.
I guess after a heart-to-heart, a mama can decide whether it’s worth it to keep her guy or if she and the children can work through it, especially if she really likes him. Shoot, you can’t just be tossing good men away like carryout containers in this day and age. It’s rough out there in the dating world and if he’s got a job, all his teeth, his good sense, a clean criminal record, and a modicum of common sense, let’s work that out.
Would you continue to date a man if your kids didn’t like him?
Image via Danail Nachev/Flickr