Carolyn Hax of the Washington Post was given a complicated question the other day: What happens when a woman loves a man very much, but doesn’t love his children? According to Hax? You don’t stay together. Good on her.
The woman in question thinks her own children are far better behaved and complains endlessly about her boyfriend’s kids. But, as a mom of three who has seen my own fair share of bad parent behavior, I am well aware of the fact that most parents see their own children better than they are and most kids are brats at one time or another. Besides, sometimes “bad” kids come from better parents. Parents who discipline harshly may have “good” kids who stay in line who grow up to be very bad adults, indeed. But none of this is the point. This piece is all about love and when you are marrying into a blended family, you better be dang sure you like the kids. Otherwise, it’s simply unfair.
I am lucky enough to have been married to the father of all three of my children for coming up on 13 years. We have a strong marriage with good communication and a lot of love. I hope we are modelling what we have for our kids. But if we ever divorced or one of us was lost, we have an unspoken understanding that any future spouse would have to be good to our children. I know it can happen. It happened to me. My mother died when I was 16. My father remarried. Knowing what I know from that, it is vital that anyone moving into a stepparent role understand two things: 1.) They will not be the priority 2.) They must like the children.
The fault is on both ends. I can’t imagine marrying a man or loving a man who didn’t also love my kids. Yes, they can be bratty and loud and demanding and even spoiled at times. They have a good life full of travel and opportunity and they don’t fully appreciate it. But I could never love someone who didn’t see the good in them — the way they smile at each other and help one another, the way their eyes light up at the idea of something new. They are not bad kids. They just have good and bad moments. Like any human. I couldn’t love a person who didn’t see that. Hell, I have dumped friends over this. It’s a dealbreaker. Period.
When you are young, love is about you and your man. As you age and other factors come in and remarriage becomes a thing, other people are involved and that “love” must encompass everyone or it’s not worth pursuing. Good on Hax for offering this advice and any woman (or man) looking for love with someone with kids should know this off the bat. Don’t like the kids? Don’t like the man.
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