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
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.