Hooking up with Mom’s Ex-Partner

Q:

I have a question about a relationship I am entering. I am a 32-year-old lesbian (I came out when I was 18), and my mother, 50, has also been “out” as a lesbian for as long as I can remember.

The person I am entering a relationship with is my mother’s ex partner (also 50). I was 26 and out of the house when they got together. They broke up about a year ago after a six year relationship. She has always been a great confidante to me. We have continued to stay connected, talking all the time because she and my mom have a child together.

I plan to tell my mom when things are more settled between myself and my new girlfriend [mom's ex]. I guess my question is: should there be any issue with this? I mean, it isn’t like she was ever a mother figure for me.

A:

Of course this will be an issue! That you even have to ask tells me you are either in deep denial or extremely self-centered.

Sleeping with your mother’s ex is never a good idea, regardless of gender or circumstances. While you never considered your mother’s ex your “other mother” technicalities won’t change the fact that you are already family by association. (Hey, it was technically acceptable for Woody Allen to marry Mia Farrow’s adopted daughter…that doesn’t stop people from thinking of it as incest.)

If there were no children in this family, I would probably leave it at that and expect to watch your mother’s reaction on an upcoming episode of Jerry Springer. But there is a child involved, so I must say more for his sake. I’m appalled that your first concern is not your young sibling (who is now potentially your step-child-to-be). I also seriously question the judgment of your mom’s ex, whose first priority should be her child, not her new love interest. How could either of you think it’s acceptable to put this child in the middle of all of this betrayal and drama? Talk about forcing children to pick sides!

And back to your mother: It’s hard enough to work through a break-up to get to a point where ex-partners can co-parent effectively and be civil with each other. It’s cruel for you to expect your mother to put on her best co-parent game face while constantly being reminded of the fact that her daughter is sleeping with her ex-partner.

End this now — out of respect to your sibling, your mother, and most importantly, yourself. Hold out for a drama-free partnership that won’t humiliate your mother and destroy your relationship with her.

Her father’s sexual orientation is the “elephant in the livingroom.”

Q:

Three years ago, my sisters and I found out my father is gay, but not because he came out and told us. My youngest sister (11 at the time) found some incriminating evidence, and put the pieces together. Since then, there has been a mutual understanding between my mother and father, and my father and us, that he is gay, but our family will remain intact. We have never sat down together to actually discuss the situation, we all just know it’s there, but don’t discuss it. It seems to work for us, but being 25 years old, now living in a different city and looking back at the situation, I see how it may be affecting myself and my sisters.

I have always had some issues with trust, but since finding out my father is gay, they have only gotten worse. At first I thought it was simply finding out that this male figure in my life had a totally different life, but now, I’m realizing it may also be about my parents staying in a marriage that is so clearly not working, all the while giving the illusion that nothing is wrong.

My impressions of true love, marriage, and truly trusting someone have been rocked to the core. I am still close to both my parents and love them very much, but can’t help thinking they’d be happier separate. It also seems that my father is seeing other people (men) on the side, but my mom is entirely devoted to him and would never cheat while still married.

So my questions are these: Is my parents’ “elephant in the room” marriage healthy for me and my sisters (ages 18 and 15)? Do many families do this? How can I examine my own trust issues and figure out how to come to terms with not only my father’s orientation, but my parents’ denial?

A:

Yes, some married couples stay together when one of them comes out. Just how many, we have no way of knowing. I can only say anecdotally that I hear from plenty of straight wives trying to “make it work” with their gay husbands, but I can only think of a handful of straight men who have wanted to stay married to his wife after finding out she was lesbian.

You might never know why your parents have decided to stay together, or what arrangements they have worked out regarding relationships outside of the marriage. There really isn’t much you can do to improve their situation.

You can only say your piece with no expectations. You might say something like this: “Mom, Dad, I love you very much. And even though we have never talked about it, I know Dad is gay. The silence hurts me. I need to talk about it. If you are staying together for the sake of your children, I want you to know you’re not doing us any favors by pretending everything is fine when we know you are unhappy together.”

They will probably get defensive and tell you that it is none of your business. And technically, they’d be right. But there’s no denying their choices affect your life profoundly. (I’m often told my opinion on this topic is harsh.) If they challenge what their marriage has to do with you, ask them to describe what kind of relationships they hope their daughters will find. Do they want you and your sisters to follow in their footsteps? Will they be proud of the values they passed on to you if you end up marrying a closeted gay man and you stay with him no matter how miserable you feel?

Say what you need to say — just once — and then leave it alone unless they bring it up again.

As for your sisters, you don’t need your parents’ approval to speak openly with them. Share your feelings with them and let them know you are open to talking to them about your family. Model specific and respectful language, so they will know how to talk about it if/when they want to. (Example: “I know we all know Dad is gay” instead of “I know we all know about the stuff Mom and Dad are dealing with.”)

Your own questions about intimacy and trust won’t be answered right way. Find an understanding counselor who will allow you to explore issues related to your father’s sexuality without insisting that you fixate on that single issue.

The biggest hurdle in sorting through everything is denial. You’ve jumped that hurdle by being honest with yourself. That’s a great start.

Teen takes his mother’s clothes and cigarettes.

Q:

I’m writing about my 14-year-old son. He’s my only child and his father and I are divorced. I think he might be gay and I don’t know if I should try to talk to him about it or what I should say.

While cleaning up his room on Friday, I found a box in his closet. The box contained a lot of my clothes and several packs of my cigarettes (mostly empty). I also found letters that he had written to me but never gave me.

In all the letters he tells me how good he feels when he dresses up in my clothes and “smokes like a woman” and how he wants to be just like me, and that he hopes I’ll understand. In the letters he says that he’s been dressing up and smoking since he was twelve and that smoking makes him feel feminine.

I’m not sure what to do. Should I just pretend I never found his box or should I try to talk to him about it and not mention what I found in his closet? I like to consider myself open-minded and I think I can accept his sexuality and the smoking, but I don’t know how to bring up the subject in a way that won’t scare him off or make him feel as if he can’t trust me.

A:

I don’t know what kind of agreement of privacy and boundaries you have with your son, but it’s hard to image that while you were cleaning the room of a child who is old enough to do it himself, you found it necessary to not only pick up after him, but also tidy up the inside of his closet. And not just that, need to tidy up the inside of a mysterious box and then…ooops…accidentally read his letters.

I’m thinking this wasn’t an innocent discovery. You were looking for something. And you found it.

Two main issues here: gender and smoking. I’ll start with gender.

The most important thing is that you are not freaking out and not plotting to “fix” him or kick him out of the house. His letters say he was afraid to tell you, so he needs to know that it is safe for him to be open with you. You can do this without actually revealing that you violated his privacy. The fact that he is stashing your clothes is a great excuse to bring it up casually. He might reveal everything right away, but more likely your conversation will go something like this:

You: Have you seen my [item of clothing of yours that you know is in the box]?

Son: Nope.

You: Hmmm…I can’t seem to find it. Are you sure you haven’t seen it anywhere?

Son: Yep.

You: Well if you do want to borrow any of my clothes, that’s just fine with me, as long as I get them back, okay?

Son: WHAT? Mom! Oh my god! What do you think I am, some freak or something?

You: I don’t think you are a freak at all. I know that some men like to try on women’s clothing, that’s all. It wouldn’t make you a freak and it wouldn’t make me love you any less.

Son: Whatever, mom…

You: Well, if you want to talk to me about anything, I’m here for you, any time. You know I love you no matter what, right?

Son: WHATEVER, MOM!!!

Kids are listening, even when they make a point to communicate to you that they aren’t. By leaving the door open, he will know he doesn’t have to fear your reaction.

Now, about the smoking. That needs to be a separate, and more direct conversation that you have not once, but several times. Obviously seeing you smoke has made an impression on your son. You, the most influential woman in his life, are a smoker. As a result he associates smoking with femininity. Cut that association right now. Tell him how you are addicted to cigarettes, and that there is nothing desirable or feminine about struggling with an addiction. If you are not willing or currently able to quit, then at least stop smoking in his presence.

Be specific and explicit about the affects of smoking. According to the American Legacy Foundation, limited research suggests that the rate of smoking in LGBT communities is twice the rate of heterosexuals who smoke. What’s more, 80% of smokers get hooked before they turn 18. For more information targeted at youth to prevent or stop tobacco use, visit the link page on American Legacy Foundation’s page of links directed to young people.

On the issue of gender identity, with your love and reassurance that there’s no reason to be ashamed, your son will have the freedom to figure out things our for himself. He may be gay, transgender, or a heterosexual who likes women’s clothes. In the meantime, help him stay safe and healthy. There is nothing “open-minded” about accepting the fact that your 14-year-old using tobacco. Help him quit for good before he falls victim to this life-shortening habit.

===

Related Links:

“Listening to Gender Variant Children: A Humanistic Strategy for Advocates”
A lecture by Shannon Minter, NCLR

GPAC
(Gender Public Advocacy Coalition)

TransFamily provides referrals, literature, and over-the-phone information on all transgender issues for parents and other family members.

Children resist lesbian mothers’ urge to merge.

Q:

My partner and I have just purchased our first home together. We are extremely excited about this move since we have been living in separate apartments for over eight months.

The problem arises with the different levels of acceptance our children have about our decision to live together. They range in age from 21 to 13. Her two oldest sons — both over 18 — will not be joining us in our new home. They are extremely homophobic and vocally oppose our plan. Her other son (13) and daughter (14) get teased all the time by their older brothers and father. They seem to be coming around, and say they are okay with my partner and I “being” together — as long as we don’t share a room. My son and daughter on the other hand, (also 13 and 14) have no problem with my partner and me sharing a room.

What should we do when we move into the house in less than two months? Do we continue sharing a room as my children have grown to accept? Do we sleep in separate rooms until her children can accept our relationship completely? I feel as if I would be lying to my children and hiding something that is so natural for them, but then again I don’t want to hurt her children. Please respond, as we are very confused on how to handle this situation.

A:

I am hesitant to believe that any teenager has the flexibility to completely accept a parent’s new partner of any gender within the time frame of eight months. I’m a big advocate for longer courtship when children are involved, because you can never be too careful. However, I understand that you are set on moving in together, so here’s my advice based on your choice.

My overall sense is that your children feel out of control in a situation that for them currently has a lot more drawbacks than benefits. They will be less likely to try to control the situation by dictating your sleeping arrangements if you take steps to increase respect and lessen anxiety in your home. Here are my suggestions:

1) Her former husband must quit the teasing immediately. Children should never be taunted about their families. When this taunting/ teasing is done by a classmate, it’s called “bullying.” When it’s done by a parent, I call it child abuse. Get a mediator if you need to. Make sure that their father understands that in his attempt to hurt his ex-wife, he is seriously wounding his own children. Ultimately, his strategy will backfire on him, when his children are grown and they realize how he tried to manipulate them and make them feel badly for loving their own mother.

2) The teasing from the older siblings must stop as well. No wonder the young teens can’t feel pride about their family when they are caught in the middle! Your partner should inform her older sons that she will answer any questions they have, that she will attend family counseling with them if they are willing, but under no circumstances are they to speak badly of their mother in front of their younger siblings. This step will only work if Step 1 is carried out, since their father is setting the standard and expectation for the boys to express hostility toward their mother.

3) Find out what her kids’ concerns are about you two sharing a room. What does that mean to them? How would it feel different to them if there were two separate rooms? My hunch is that they want to feel “safe” when classmates come over to their house by not being immediately “outed” when they look around the house and see only one bedroom for two women. (Just thinking about when a classmate asked for a tour of my dad’s house makes me remember how my stomach dropped as I tried to divert attention from the double bed.) It’s not necessarily that the kids of gay parents think of their parents as inappropriately sexual — indeed, we don’t often think of our parents as sexual at all — it is our peers who get hung up on it, and it’s often our peers who insist on detailed explanations. Unless you have told your kids specifically what to say to people who ask about you, they might not even know that it is okay to tell anyone — or how to explain it.

4) Offer this compromise, if you have a spare room. If there is a guest room in the house, give the kids permission to say that’s where one of you sleeps, but that it’s also okay to say you sleep in the same room. Give them the options to make the choice for themselves. Sometimes kids of gay parents prefer to not come out, for lots of different reasons — many of them reasons parents cannot understand. Having a back-up plan, knowing they will not be “outed” by force when a new friend comes over, removes the anxiety of feeling out of control in their own home.

5) Empower your children by observing this transition as a family. You could be taking for granted that what seems obvious to you are huge unanswered questions that are causing anxiety for your children. What is her commitment to your children? What is your commitment to hers? Are your combined children now “brothers and sisters” to each other? Even if you both have talked about it with each other, have you shared your thoughts with the kids? Help the children feel secure and permanent with a special event in the new home, like a dinner or private ceremony. Write something to acknowledge and celebrate each child in this new family formation. Assuming the older boys will not participate, I would still mention them in your ceremony, explaining that they are loved unconditionally and that the door is always open for them, too.

Can these mommies get their groove back?

Q:

I really appreciated the response you gave to Randi from Denver. The child is the most important factor in this decision.

On that note: My partner of 15 years and I have a four-year-old daughter. We do share a bedroom, but have kept the door open and have remained (for lack of a better term) platonic since our daughter was born. I am really at a loss about how, when, or if to reclaim an intimate relationship with my partner.

I think sexuality and sex are very complex issues and our child isn’t old enough to understand. I worry that if we lock our door it might be trouble in an emergency, or that our daughter might talk about finding our bedroom door locked at school. (Although it occurs to me that if her peers talked about locked doors of heterosexual parents, it would be considered “cute” or amusing.) Silly as this might seem, we really worry about it. Any thoughts?

A:

When is it time for you and your partner to reclaim your intimate relationship? About three and a half years ago! Parents who sleep with the door open at night who still really want to have sex will find a way — by getting a baby sitter to take the child to the park, or both calling in “sick” on a school day, or taking a shower together during nap time. Avoiding sex with each other because it’s too complicated for your child to understand is just an excuse to avoid sex.

(You might think my advice to you contradicts what I told Randi last month, but the big difference here is that Randi’s partner is a new-ish love, as opposed to you and your partner who have been together and co-parented your daughter her entire life.)

To directly answer your question: A four year old does not have to learn the details of sexual acts in order to learn about privacy and respect for boundaries. It’s simple: make sure your daughter knows to knock when a door is closed. When you and your partner are intimate, lock the door, and trust that your daughter is capable of asking for help should an emergency arise.

But right now, the real emergency is the intimate relationship you and your partner have neglected. You are not doing your child any favors by raising her with parents who are distanced from one another. It’s a sure recipe for a break-up in the future, and that definately is not in the best interest of your child. Meet with a queer-friendly therapist, perhaps even one who specialized in sex therapy. After four years, you will probably need some help with communication, trust, and other issues involved in re-establishing your intimate relationship.

Mom’s girlfriend sleeps downstairs.

Q:

I am in a relationship with another woman who has a 10-year-old daughter. She told her daughter that we love each other to which her daughter replied, “I know.”

Now, I am not sure what exactly she “knows” but when I stay over, I sleep downstairs in another room. I’d like to stay with my girlfriend in her bedroom, which is upstairs, near her daughter’s bedroom but my girlfriend is not sure how to explain this to her daughter. What would be the best way to tell her daughter that we want to sleep in the same bedroom?

–Randi from Denver

A:

I’m not sure you should be sleeping in the same bedroom yet. This situation should be handled the same way a mother would deal with having a boyfriend sleep over Would this mother be okay with her daughter knowing a man was staying overnight? Now, granted you can’t get married to each other, so the line between being a girlfriend to a life partner not nearly as clear as when a “boyfriend” is officially a “husband.” You need to take into account how long the mother has been single before you came along, how long you and she have been dating, and how serious you are about your relationship. All of these factors will affect how a child reacts to a new person in the bed of their previously single parent.

Although personal time frames can vary greatly, I don’t think brand new love interests should stay overnight when their are children involved. I address this issue in Chapter Three of Families Like Mine: “Waiting at least until the infatuation has subsided can help a parent see more clearly whether the relationship has staying power.” (pp. 85-91) Some parents have a three-month rule, or six months or even a year to make sure that the relationship is solid so that the reason for sleeping in the same bedroom can be explained as a loving, mutual partnership rather than one defined primarily by sexual attraction.

As for the conversation your girlfriend had with her daughter about how you “love each other,” I think it was too vague for a 10-year-old to even have the tools to ask questions. She needs to hear the word “lesbian” (or “gay” or “bisexual”) to get a clearer understanding of what you mean. She “knows” you love each other, but she might she’s supposed to pretend it’s a friendship love, like the way she and her fourth-grade best friend “love each other.”

I say you lay off the sleepovers altogether until you and your girlfriend are on the same page about how serious your relationship is and when you will both be comfortable telling her daughter.

Finally, don’t even think about sneaking into your girlfriend’s room late at night and leaving early in the morning. You will get caught and this 10-year-old could end up among the dozens of kids who have sent me emails after walking in on their mother and their mother’s “friend” during an intimate moment. It is a terrible experience for them, so just don’t risk it. For now, intimate encounters need to be at your place.

Using a “known donor” you don’t really know.

Q:

I have just recently got your book. Thanks for all the info. I know it will be helpful along the way.

I am a lesbian in a committed relationship with my girlfriend for three years now. We are both very much in love and both of us want to be parents together. However, we live in Ireland and gay people have no rights as parents, adoption etc. My girlfriends wants to be the biological parent however she wants the donor to be an old friend of hers who I have not met. She wants her friend to have an active role in our child’s life.

I’m very uncomfortable about this and would prefer an unknown donor, for all the usual reasons. My girlfriend hates the idea of that and so we are in stalemate. I am not against the child knowing who Dad is. However I do not want to trust a complete stranger. I am feeling powerless and sidelined. I am being asked to be a nanny for the rest of my life with no consideration for how this effects me. My girlfriend does not see my point and thinks that I’m being selfish. She says that this guy will be a “good boy” and do what he is told, even though he has expressed to her that he wants to be a father. She says that I will be an equal partner even though I would have no legal rights and the child.

I am not asking that you solve the problem for us however I am finding it very difficult to find decent information on both sides. I would like to talk to people who have been through this, how they compromised, what the outcomes were, what were the actual agreements they drew up, what are the real realities of both sides? How are the children affected? Although there is information out there I find it vague and am frustrated. Where can I talk to people directly? Where are the forums, etc. as I have been searching in vain. Thank you for your time and your experience.

A:

Sometimes prospective parents get so caught up in the logistics of becoming parents that real discussions about actually being parents for the rest of their lives become low priority. There are red flags all over this situation. If you choose to proceed, do so with EXTREME CAUTION.

There are countless documented cases of women whose pregnant partner promised they would raise the child equally, but then changed her mind and the non-biological parent had no legal standing. One of those women is Lisa Coons-Anderson featured in my book (pp. 80-81). She now hosts a website to support other unrecognized parents: We 2 Have Parental Rights.

Other stories about non-bio moms are in the anthology, HomeFronts: Controversies in Nontraditional Parenting (Alyson Publications, 2000).

There is also an important document that is endorsed by numerous LGBT organizations including COLAGE, and you can find it on their website: “Protecting Families: Standards for Child Custody in Same-sex Relationships.”

In addition to your concerns about defining your parenting role, your question is not really about making a decision between a “known donor” vs. “anonymous donor.” The prospective donor is “unknown” to you. While it is possible to have a successful co-parenting arrangement with a known donor, without meeting him there is no way you can determine if this arrangement could work for your family over the next 20+ years.

This situation is very suspicious. A mature adult knows that co-parenting should never be taken lightly. Why isn’t your girlfriend making the effort to introduce you to her friend? Why isn’t her friend demanding to meet you before he decides to enter into this life-altering agreement with you?

The fact that your partner is challenging you with a game of trust suggests there are some much bigger issues you need to look at before you resume discussions about raising kids together. If you truly want to negotiate a parenting arrangement with your girlfriend, make an appointment immediately with a couples therapist who has experience working with lesbian couples. I’d say chances are high, however, that the demanding, controlling, and irrational behavior your girlfriend is exhibiting now is only a preview of how she will treat you after there are children in the picture.

How can the daughter of a gay father move past secrets and isolation?

Q:

I stumbled on your website out of of desperation. I’m 28 years old. I found out my father was gay when I was 13, but I had to keep it a secret for nearly ten years, because my father said he wasn’t ready to tell my younger brother — or anyone else for that matter.

I was made to accept my family’s situation very quietly and had no one to talk to as it was “a secret.” I love my father and thought we had a good relationship, but lately I feel so angry. Or maybe confused. I fear that this confusion is coloring my own relationships (I’m straight, and tend to go from one bad relationship to the next). I’ve never actually spoken with anyone who has a gay parent before and think that this might help me. Do you know of any chat rooms you’d recommend?

–K.

A:

Listen up, parents. See how unfair it is to drag your children into the closet with you? See how they grow up having to sort through warped ideas about honesty, authenticity and successful relationships? DO NOT DO THIS TO YOUR CHILDREN. Spare me the “kids are resilient” blow-off speech I hear way too often from parents who expect their children to keep their secret. This “kid” is 28 and still rightfully angry and confused.

K, my heart goes out to you. Your father selfishly put you in a terrible position that compromised your right to open and supportive relationships with anyone and everyone. I can’t excuse his choices, but one time a son of a closeted gay dad told me he had more compassion for his father’s choices by realizing that, “People who are scared often act in selfish ways.”

It was wrong for your father to expect you to keep his secret, especially from your own brother. I hope you can find some comfort in the suggestion that your father acted out of fear, oblivious to the impact his fear had on you.

Kids of LGBT parents need to be able to talk about it, share with other people who know where they are coming from, and above all, not have to carry the burden of their parents’ shame. I recommend connecting with COLAGE. There is a listserve (not a chat room) for kids of LGBT parents, ages 22 and older. This list is closed to adult children only, so it is safe space for you to share your experiences with other people from similar situations.

In addition to COLAGE, I also recommend counseling. Secrets are toxic. This toxicity was always present in your life as you developed from teenager to adult, distorting your views of what relationships are worthy of your pursuit. Obviously you can’t go back and “fix” your family history. But you are a grown-up now and you have the opportunity to figure out your own criteria for authentic relationships. A counselor can help you sort through this and help you identify and stop the patterns that keep you in your cycle of relationships that are bad for you.

Should a transsexual parent and her teen daughter relocate?

Q:

I am a male-to-female transsexual who underwent surgery last November. Since my transition, my 13-year-old daughter is having some issues with the kids at school. They have started asking her about me on a daily basis. She is very upset about it.

The school social worker says we should move to a new community where they don’t know us because she thinks that it will get worse when my daughter enters high school. What do you think? Should we move?

A:

I would not be so quick to assume this is an issue that can only be solved by leaving town — and I’m giving the social worker demerits for offering such an uncreative, unresourceful, throw-up-your-hands “solution.”

Ask yourself this: Have you given your daughter the emotional tools and communication strategies she needs to weather your transition?

Of course it’s uncomfortable for your daughter to be confronted with questions about your gender, your sexuality and (most likely) your genitalia. Isn’t it understandable, however, that kids would have questions? Kids being genuinely curious is not the same as harassment.

How have you prepared your daughter to answer those questions? It’s likely the questions are not stopping because she is either not answering them, or not answering them sufficiently. Have you helped her practice her responses to intrusive questions? Have you given her permission to talk about you when people ask (or even when they don’t)? Find out exactly what questions they are asking, and brainstorm ways to answer them in matter-of-fact ways.

I imagine it took you a number of years to adjust to the fact that you needed to transition. Allow your daughter and your community some time to adjust to this fact as well. Moving to a new community should only be used as an absolute last resort, especially since it doesn’t guarantee things will be any easier. Unless you and your daughter feel you are facing harassment and discrimination, stay put.

Transitioning is challenging for transparents and their children, but you will get through this. In the meantime, don’t confuse feeling uncomfortable with being victimized.

Kids don’t want to meet Mom’s girlfriend.

Q:

My girlfriend of six months is mother to a son (13) and daughter (15). Until she met me, she had not been involved with anyone since her divorce 10 years ago.

Her children are very much against our relationship and are very adamant about not meeting me. My girlfriend is respecting their wishes, so I only get to see her every other week — when the kids are with their father. We are feeling very frustrated and resentful towards the kids.

At what point can we push the issue of spending time together on the weeks they are with their mom? When should they deal with the fact that we are going to spend time together? I’m mean just hanging out and doing things together, with no affection involved.

— Looking for answers in Ontario

A:

I don’t think it’s fair when a parent comes out and immediately expects her children to call her new girlfriend “mom.” I also don’t think it’s right for a parent to allow her children to have control over her relationship. Somewhere between these extremes there is a balance.

Your question presumes that the “problem” the kids have with meeting you has to do with you being “affectionate” with their mother. It could very well be part of the issue, but not necessarily all of it.

If these children have related to their mother as an unattached person for most of their lives, the idea that she is involved with anyone — regardless of gender — will take some adjustment. I’m not saying your gender is a “non-issue,” but I also don’t think it’s the only issue here. They could be adamantly opposed to their mom being romantically involved with anyone, period.

Not knowing your relationship or these kids, I can only guess to say that six months seems like a solid enough investment in this relationship for you to meet the kids. A meeting with the kids doesn’t have to be a huge ordeal. Go out for pizza or have dinner at their house. They need to see the reality of their mom’s girlfriend to counter whatever images they are conjuring up in their heads of this person they don’t want to meet.

You haven’t told me what has been communicated to them so far, but their mom could try something like this: “I love you dearly and you are the most important people in the world to me. I know you have some hesitations about meeting Jane but she is a very special person in my life. I haven’ t dated anyone since your father, so I know this is a big change. She knows how much I love you both and she wants a chance to meet you. You don’t have to love her. You don’t even have to like her. But I do expect you to be respectful when she joins us for dinner on Thursday.”

Expect a rocky meeting, but don’t give up. I would allow for another 6-12 months before getting involved with the kids beyond short visits, just to be sure that your relationship with their mom is solid enough for them to trust you and be willing to be emotionally invested with you. And be honest with yourself: if you don’t seriously see this relationship as having long-term potential, spare the kids the heartache and keep a healthy distance.

===

For more information about addressing family dynamics with kids in a same-sex relationship, search for key phrases like “lesbian stepfamilies,” “lesbian stepmothers” and “lesbian blended families.” My book, Families Like Mine includes a chapter called “Family Change” which addresses related issues such as dating, break-ups, co-parenting and blending families.

Children of Gay Parents Tell it Like it is