Dating while divorced kids

Dear Therapist, I’ve been dating Adam for two and a half years.

I’m 33 and childless, and he’s 48, divorced, and the father of three kids.

He comes with his children, and his children come with their mother.

There’s no such thing as Adam without them—that version of Adam simply doesn’t exist.

At the same time, I understand that in an ideal world, the kids would have a more stable and self-sufficient mother who wouldn’t intrude on your time with Adam.

You say that you feel “robbed of something that should be” yours, and while you absolutely should have some uninterrupted time with Adam and parameters set in place, it will be important for you and Adam to talk about his needs as well.

Quite often she calls Adam hoping that he can “set them straight.” I’m certain that she’s the cause of all that chaos, because the kids never go out of control with Adam, and I’ve only seen them be pleasant.

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Similarly, stepparenting requires a lot of selflessness and has the potential to come with rewards, but it also comes with a stipulation—one you have to decide whether you can live with.

And when a person who doesn’t have firsthand experience as a parent becomes romantically involved with a divorced parent, he or she can struggle to understand the parent’s experience and the directions he or she is pulled in, both emotionally and logistically.

It sounds like Adam is trying to please everyone and ends up feeling trapped.

But this would take time, involve conflict, and also mean that the kids would be more of a presence in your life—which brings me back to the package deal I mentioned earlier. On the days that Adam has the kids, are you there, too, or does Adam spend that time alone with them?

I think you should consider how you feel about Adam’s kids two and a half years into this relationship, because they aren’t going anywhere. If you and Adam get married, these three kids will be your stepchildren, and my guess is that you don’t know them very well, because kids—like people of all ages—aren’t always “pleasant” and sometimes—again, like adults—“go out of control.” I imagine that they’re going through their own struggles related to the divorce—adjusting to two homes, to their mother’s less-than-stable situation, and also, don’t forget, to a woman in their dad’s life.

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