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May 31, 2011

How do I tell the new guy about my kids?

Filed under: Advice — posted by Breakup Girl @ 8:18 am

summerromanceAbout a boy or two on June 8, 1998

Dear Breakup Girl,

I’m a very young looking attractive 42 year old, divorced with two children, ages 10 and 12. I’m usually attracted to younger men and they to me, but some of them freak out when they find out I have children. I just met a handsome man at a formal dinner/dance and it turns out he has asked a mutual friend for my phone number. He is 34. Do I tell him right from our first conversation that I have children? I don’t plan on introducing him to my kids; my last relationship ended in disaster partly because he did not like my kids (but that’s another story!). I’m not expecting this to go anywhere really, a summer romance would be nice though. So, what do you think? The thought of an “instant family” scares off many younger guys, even though they are projecting way off into the future. Thanks for any input.

–Sheri


Dear Sheri,

If I were you, I’d tell him/them right off. I mean, not RIGHT right off, as in “Hi, I’m Sheri, but my kids call me ‘Mom.'” And there’s no need to issue a pre-first-date statement like, “THERE’S SOMETHING I THINK YOU SHOULD KNOW. NOT ONLY DO I HAVE TWO CHILDREN, AGES 10 AND 12, BUT THIS ALSO MEANS THAT I ACTUALLY PAID MONEY TO SEE FREE WILLY XII: THE QUICKENING.”

But say, when you’re making plans, just let it pop out naturally. As in “That would be great. Let me just make sure I can get a babysitter and I’ll confirm with you by tomorrow.” Or “Chuck E. Cheese? Oh, I’d love to, but I was just there last week with my kids.” No drama, just matter of fact.

Why? If it scares some guy right off the bat, it scares him right off the bat. Just for the record, I don’t think it’s evil — nor, I don’t think, do you — that “younger” men might be “scared off” by the prospect of an instant family. Sure, there are all sorts of horrible places we can go with this one: the notion that women are either Sexy or Fertile. The concept of Damaged Goods. And those are definitely out there. But still, being hesitant to date a mom doesn’t even mean that a doesn’t want to have a family; it just means that they’d like to do it themselves. And what’s the alternative? Trying to stall for time and “let him get to know you before he finds out about your family,” I guess. But that’s kind of wack, if you think about it. You’re a mom. You talk about your kids. Especially, God knows, during the summer, when they’re actually around all the time. You’ll wind up doing sitcommy shenanigans trying to explain the presence of, say, Leonardo DiCaprio’s Unauthorized Biography in the back seat of your car. Or when you do finally have to own up, he could be fully down with it — but may well be weirded out. Not by the kids per se, necessarily, but by having all of a sudden to readjust the “vert.” and “horiz.” on the image of you that was getting more and more steady on his screen. Not a comfortable development for what could have been a promising relationship.

Not to mention that there are cute guys out there who actually seek out single moms. Well, the one I’m thinking of is fictional. But still.

Oh, and about this not introducing them thing. Hey, that’s your call. And I can see a need to compartmentalize. But if you’ll allow me to read between the lines, it looks like you are being more than twice shy here. You’re not introducing him to your kids because some other unrelated guy was not, as it turned out, a kid person. And you’ve all but written this one off as a summer thing before you’ve even had one post-dinner/dance conversation. If that’s all you’re looking for, that’s one thing. But you might have some long, hot days ahead: don’t sell your prospects short.

Love,
Breakup Girl

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