A reader comment from June 15, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
You missed the boat on your answer to Sheri re: summer romance and the kids. Of course she should tell the guys she’s thinking about going out with she’s got children, and I liked the soft-pedal way you suggested she let them know. HOWEVER, she’s absolutely right about not introducing the kids. Well, maybe introducing (10 and 12 are old enough to be curious about who mom’s having dinner, movie, etc. with ) but certainly not including them in any events. You think it’s hard for just one person to be the dumper/dumpee — try having your whole FAMILY included in a mess like that. Some possible scenarios:
* The kids get overly attached and nothing comes of it — then regardless of who dumped whom — it’s your fault.
* He/She loves them so much when you break up they still want to see them — and the kids agree. This is especially true for kids just coming out of a divorce situation or haven’t ever recovered from it — Hey! Here’s someone to take up where mom/dad left off!
* The kids/date hate each other so much you’re doomed from the beginning. And there’s a good chance they will. Kids want all your time, date wants all your time…and everybody resents you can’t give it all to them (and what’s more, you’re supposed to choose who you love the most as in, “If you loved me, you’d ______”).
If you care about your children, you never let them get involved in your dating life, unless and until you start to maybe, just maybe (gasp, wheeze) think this is THEEEE one. Of course, hopefully by this time some of the major questions on both sides have been worked out. The kids may want to know you’re seeing XYZ for a movie Friday evening, but that’s ALL they want to know. (And all you should share with them.) Now, take all this and think “summer romance,” as in 3 or 4 months and end-o, zippo, that’s all folks…do you think this grief would be worth it on anyone’s part? Methinks not. (If you doubt my word on this, check with Breakup Mom — give you 5 to 1 she agrees with me.)
Breakup Girl responds: Sounds like you know what you’re talking about…all too well. And your comments are actually not consistent with what I said … or, anyway, um, what I meant. I should have made more explicit my distinction between “introduce” and “involve.” And — hmmm — now that I see what you’ve written so wisely, perhaps that distinction isn’t as significant or as un-slippery as I thought. So no, I don’t doubt you. But the reason I’m not checking with Breakup Mom is that she and Breakup Dad are on vacation. For the next few weeks, we’re on our own.