Responsibilities and vulnerable hearts have me anxious!
Hi there. I haven’t been on here for a while. Emotions exploded, relationships ended etc etc. Over the last year I’ve stuck to myself and done some serious healing and self work.
I’ve recently entered into a relationship with an absolutely amazing individual and I really would like to “do it right” this time, at least as right as can be figured out… I consider myself naturally polyamorous and they have been involved in multiple polyamorous relationships before. We have chosen to be exclusive when it comes to sex, but both have an understanding that love and intimacy and close relationships with others is wonderful and encouraged. This is primarily due to them appreciating poly in theory but having it not work one too many times in practice. Down the road polyamory may be an option but I am prepared for it to not be and am currently enjoying the simplicity and prefer exclusivity right now as well (although I refuse to see it as monogamy… haha).
This is really just background info that may not be necessary but provides a little context. I’m not sure people will find my search for advice on this particular aspect appropriate but I know that being in polyamorous relationships seems to force a high development of relationship skills that can then be transferred to all sorts of relationships so am sure there is much wisdom on this forum that I would like to take advantage of. So here is my struggle:
I never thought I would date someone with kids but my new lover has children. I went ahead as their children are a little older (young teenagers) and far less dependent and demanding on their parents time and life. My initial perspective on this was that their children were simply another aspect of my lover’s life that wouldn’t be a part of mine. A positive actually to maintain our own lives and individuality the same as busy schedules, separate interests and close outside relationships with separate friends. Something I need but struggle with taking so anything that seems to “force” independence is a good thing in my eyes. I decided that if I got along with their children great, and if I didn’t that’s okay so long as we all treat each other with respect. But I felt very distant from “that part” of my lover’s life.
I tend to struggle with compassion and thinking of others (quickly climbing to the top of the self improvement list!). I realized the other day though that as things quickly escalate in this new relationship and I find myself hoping to build a partnership that this view is impractical and that I can’t factor children out of any part of my lover’s life. What has caused the most anxiety in me is the idea that their children may have a different ideal relationship with myself. I now realize that instead of being at risk of breaking one heart I’m at risk of multiple and the responsibility of that is a bit overwhelming. All the “what-if’s” are running through my head. Like what if the children really like me but I don’t like them? What if we developing a loving relationship and the main relationship ends… what are my rights for maintaining relationships with the children… or my obligations too… does it make a difference if I am the dumpee or dumper?
I have kind of likened this situation to that of metamours. People finding themselves building relationships based on a common love/relationship with someone else. I also see it as them being primary relationships and myself as a secondary which suites me just fine. Which was one reason I felt there might be much to learn here. I see the added complication of the fact that these people are young people whom are just learning about relationships and very possibly have very poor skills in this area… something I do not tolerate too well and my track record with metamours I do not connect with or communicate well with is not a very shiny one. Hence the sudden stress and worry.
So, what am I hoping to get out of this community? Not sure. Maybe some tag suggestions on how to manage/develop relationships with people (metamours) you wouldn’t otherwise desire a relationship with. It’s hard to find info on relationships between metamours specifically let alone that which translates into my situation.
Perhaps general advice on how to be cautious with children and their hearts and some useful boundaries or guidelines early on. I am very clueless when it comes to how to relate to and interact with children although as they get old enough to have full intellectual conversations I find it a little easier. If I end up being a huge fan of them and they think I’m really rad and the relationship with my lover becomes what I hope it will then everything will be just grand… but what are the chances that so many relationships will go so smooth? Any advice or different perspectives people have to offer would be useful to consider and I’d be very grateful!
One of the best pieces (as a parent who also has close relationships with other people's kids) is don't LEAP.
Kids generally don't like someone who doesn't like them-I can't explain why or how-but I know it to be true.
My oldest is almost 21 and I've watched this with her and her friends for YEARS. They are like cats in a weird way-except cats seem to throw themselves at those who can't stand them, kids tend to avoid those people.
At the same time, once kids "fall in love" with you-that is VERY hard to break. And it's hell for them when the adults decide they can't have someone in their life that they love.
So-cautious but honest is good.
NEVER SAY NEVER and
NEVER SAY ALWAYS and
NEVER promise to be there forever-cause you don't have the power to grant that promise.
depends on you and their parents.
I have ex lovers who have maintained close relationships with my children for over 15 years. Shrug-I respect my kids needs and I never date someone I don't FULLY trust with my children-so there is no reason to segregate them just because our romance died.
But-I know people who remove an ex-lover from their children's lives SIMPLY because they are an ex.
It really is a parents perogative.
I DO suggest inquiring about these things with your lover-so you have a clearer idea of what THEY think. Especially if they've been through previous relationships since they had children-they probably know what their tendency is in regards to allowing ongoing contact.
OH! another thought (I'm so terrible!)
Especially as pre-teens and teens-they aren't likely to "fall for you" fast. ;)
Something that tends to be UNMENTIONED BY THEM but important none the less-is knowing that they need to KNOW (not hear-see) that you have no intention of trying to come in as their parent. Leave the parenting duties to their parent.
If you treat them as "short adults" whose first language is NOT the same as yours-when conversing, that will help too. Remind yourself-that children and especially teens-have their own language. It sounds JUST LIKE ENGLISH-but it isn't the same as adult language. So feel free to ask what they mean by something, show a sincere interest in what they are doing (even if only to learn from it-because it's different than what you already know) and don't offer a lot of info to them without them asking.
Answer what they ask honestly and directly, but don't go into long drawn out details-because they will tune you out.
Hey thanks LR! I think that my brain might be on a good track with this based on what you’ve said. I for sure have no intention on being their parent. There is a small age gap between my lover and myself so while I am older, I don’t feel as though I have any sort of authority over them or their actions and wouldn’t be surprised if they don’t view me as much older.
I’m totally on board with never say never or always etc. I learned that very early on and am very cautious about any definitive statements I make in any situation now!
The idea that if there is some type of relationship to be built it will be mutual puts me at ease although not too sure I’m convinced of that. But like I said, I don’t “get” youths…
I know that it is ultimately up to the parent if a relationship is allowed if things don’t work out, I really do, but I cringe to think that whether or not I can have a relationship with another individual might not be up to me… I really don’t like being told what to do. However, my lover is such a person that I believe it would be my choice in the end. I think on the flip side I worry about not wanting to continue a relationship with them and hurting them as well simply because a relationship they had no say in didn’t work out…. Sigh.
I don’t have any intention on leaping into anything and I know these worries are me getting ahead of myself but it seems that when it comes to being cautious with potential hurt, better to think too soon than too late. Things with my lover have not necessarily progressed fast but emotions and intensity seem to keep growing exponentially. Perhaps that is standard NRE, but it’s unlike most of my other experiences with new relationships.
In terms of sharing these anxieties with my lover… not sure yet. It might be something I process more and work through on my own. The last time we discussed it I mentioned that I was totally fine with the existence of children but that I was unsure of how my relating to them would look and I figured that I would figure that out with them and maybe we would click, maybe not but I would be respectful of them and expect the same in return.
It was then mentioned to me in a message that one of them was asking a bit about me and might be approving of me which seems to be a big thing. This is what made it click that they are human beings with hearts that I may affect as well (horrible it took so long, I know).
Again, thanks for your feedback. I really appreciate the tips on how to communicate with them as it seems different from what my natural tendencies might be! I realize this reply is pretty choppy… sorry!
Not a problem and feel free to toss out more questions my way.
I have kids from 5-20 and several I've raised in addition that weren't mine. ;)
I have a bit of experience there.
MUCH more confidence in my "dealing with kids" experience than my poly experience!
I am married and have 3 kids. All boys 18, 9 and 5.
I now have found myself in a relationship I never thought I would find. When my husband loved me enough to support me finding my happiness I never expected to find a second man who I would fall so deeply for. I love my boyfriend almost as deeply as my husband.
Now that I feel like my boyfriend M is going to be around a long time I have the conflict of the kids. D my husband at first was a bit resistant to M ever meeting the kids. He felt threatened as a father. My husband is an AWESOME dad and probably the better parent of the two of us..lol We talked about it a lot..
D said to me the other day that he now is perfectly comfortable with M meeting the boys when he is ready. My kids are over 9 hours away from their closest family. It would be good for the kids to have another strong male role model. If something were to happen to D he would feel better to know the boys had a second father figure to look after them.
M likes children they just kind of never happened for him. I have told him if he wants some of his own I am the wrong woman for him. a) I am not leaving my husband.. (M is mono) b) My tubes are tied after almost dying with my youngest son. M wants me in his life and understands. He likes the idea that we have our own seperate houses and etc. He is like me and enjoys some space here and there. I split my time 50/50 between D and M as much as possible. He doesn't want a baby at 40. My kids are at the fun age...lol.
Plus M's family is here. M's mom has two grandchildren from M's sister. But she wants more. She is dying to bring my kids into her family. M's dad is just as bad. He is excited my kids are into cars and all things boy. They keep asking when we are going to include the kids. I have been the one to keep them seperate. We are just going to have to bite the bullet and make the leap. D feels comfortable with M's family becoming like my boys extended family. He feels the more people who care about them the better.
I have not been hiding M from the kids or vice versa. My kids know where I go when I go see M. I have even way back when when dating my husband D and I just had my oldest son believed that no one met my child(ren) until I knew they where here for the long haul.
My boyfriend lives with us and is an integral part of the kids lives. Always has been.
But-we do have a rule that new partners have to be met by all of us (myself, dh and bf) and be accepted before they get involved with the kids-because there have been a few psycho chicks.
LovingRadiance covered it beautifully.
I'll only add my bit for talking to my Lover Who is the Parent:
I ask the parent what they want my role to be and if I have permission to parent like I parent my own kid? I'm NOT the parent of course. But I'm not a guest exactly either. And I will not allow a child to run amok in my presence and leap on tables and crayon ceilings or poke the dog in the eye or root in my purse or take my car joyriding or...
I want to feel free to go "Hey! Kid! Don't do that! It is not safe!" or "Hey kid! You are crossing my boundaries!" So what are the rules of this household? How do I fit in here so my wants/needs for emotional safety and mental safety are met?
In a way that honors the parents as the General Top Authority in this household? They hold highest rank of course.
But if I hang here, how can I be a responsible Captain person in this world? What are my rights and responsibilities here in this particular chain of command? And can I rely on my superior officers or what?
Thank you everyone for sharing your experiences. My situation seems to differ from yours as described I think mainly because I have no desire to be a parent or have children. Ever. This may change one day, yes, but that is how it stands right now.
In relating to these children it would be as people on even ground and any relationship that develops I am thinking would be more akin to friendship, or perhaps eventually family like but I don't feel like telling them what to do and why in any situation beyond them directly affecting me. Aside from typical advice when asked, etc.
They aren't 5 year olds. They can make decisions and weight out consequences and learn from mistakes at this point as far as I can tell. I'm sure I will learn a lot and maybe my perspective will change as I get to know them...
I'm not sure I made my point clear?
You do not have to be a parent to these older children.
But you are not a guest. You are in the role of family friend plus. (Actually one of the parent lovers!)
So you need to ask your Lover when and how can you tell his/her kids off and be within your rights to do so. And how lover will plan to back you up. Will they? Or not?
Because if the kids cross YOUR boundaries while you are in this house, you want to speak up freely and tell the kid off for crossing your limits. And not have the kid pull the old "Nyah! You are not my parent! Neener neener!" crap. I would hope these children are not hellions. But if you are newish in this family, you cannot know yet. For all you know your lover is a nice person but a wimp parent. *shrug*
Would you be happy if kid took your car from the driveway to go joyriding with friends and banged it up? Would Lover pay for the damages to your property promptly? Drag it out? Or pull the "Well, they are just a kid so... we have to suck it up...." THEY have to. They are the parent. YOU do not. You are NOT the parent.
Then what? Small claims court?
Hash it now rather than later or leaving it to the winds. Seriously.
WHERE do you fit in this household in relation to your rights being upheld by your LOVER when it is a situation concerning the children.
It is not You AGAINST the children like you are at war with them for your Lover's attention. But let's keep it real.
If my lover's child stole my checkbook and made false checks, I want to be paid back in full, and apology PRONTO! Not more nonsense. And if Lover cannot give me that respect, I be rethinking this whole rship.
That has everything to do with how Lover is to be in Right Relationship to Me.
NOTHING to do with me being a parent to lover's kids. Unless Lover expects me to take on some parent-y babysitter-y role here. Which needs to be articulated and negotiated then. For me to sign off on. Otherwise I'm being polite family friend here and I do not "Do" children. Like 'em fine. But not mine.
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