Girlfriends: When His Kids Aren’t Your Kids Are You A Non-Entity?

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Remember last week when I introduced Girlfriend, our new regular guest blogger, who tells it like it is in her brand spankin’ new I’m Not Married But… column on Man, Wife, and Dog Blog? Well here’s her latest installment – enjoy!

There comes a point when you grow older when you suddenly realize that vow you made never to date a divorced man or one with kids becomes somewhat difficult. After the age of 30 there’s usually a reason why a man has never been married or in a serious relationship and it’s likely not a good one. In my case, I met the Boyfriend and immediately wrote him off because he had in fact been married and had two small children. He in turn did the same with me, realizing I wasn’t the type to focus my energies on someone who in his mind had large amounts of baggage (all of which having to do with an ex-wife who doesn’t exactly function on a rational or mature playing field).

But circumstances as they were, we ended up making a go of it and a year and a half later we still are. Usually his former marriage is a non-issue, but it sometimes becomes frustrating for me when I realize while I’ve made an investment in him, my investment in his children is weak at best. Let me backtrack by saying while it goes against my mothering nature, most of this is intentional on my part: I don’t think it’s fair to either of them to play a significant role in their lives until daddy puts a ring on it. (Mommy is the type of person who defines her value by having a man in her life and has lead them down a bumpy road wherein they’ve been moved three times with her in the last year and were instructed to call her last boyfriend’s daughter their “stepsister” after four months of dating.)

To me that’s just too much emotional damage no child should have to deal with, so I’m happy being “daddy’s friend” for the time being just to keep things clear and consistent for them. But it gets REALLY rough when I see her doing things like this and having no voice in the matter. Much like a grandmother, godparent or favorite aunt, it’s not my place to get involved, to vent my frustrations or to antagonize an already difficult situation. At least when you’re married and take on a stepmother role the lines are clearly defined; when you’re the girlfriend you ARE the unofficial non-entity. No matter how sweet I think they are or how much I want to be a positive force in their lives, my role is currently a limited one at best.

Having watched many of my mom’s friends struggle as single parents, I often try to give his ex the benefit of the doubt, but this becomes harder and harder as time goes by. I see the Boyfriend upset because the kids didn’t call him on Father’s Day or his birthday, or aren’t allowed to speak to him because it’s dinner/bedtime/ they’re busy/otherwise engaged. Being too young to manage these things themselves, she holds all the power and I’m powerless to help or intervene in any way.

Sometimes I miss the days when my only worry was whether or not my childless, unmarried significant others were being distant or weren’t giving me enough time and attention. When you factor in ex-wives and extended family members the opportunity for drama increases ten-fold. The Wife often says it’s not easy being married — I often retort that it’s not easy being the girlfriend that’s expected to step into a “wifely” role but gets none of the perks or respect that goes along with it. Yes, I always have a present ready for every holiday and birthday, but a part of me wishes I could be the strong female role model in their lives that teaches them to respect themselves, encourages their independence and ultimately fosters the notion that blood ties should not be the only thing that ultimately defines the people who love them and have their best interests at heart.

Are you falling for his kids before he’s put a ring on it? Do you feel like the lines are blurred?

XOXO,

Girlfriend

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7 Responses to Girlfriends: When His Kids Aren’t Your Kids Are You A Non-Entity?

  1. Crazy - Hectic - Bonkers! says:

    Wow, this hits so close to home! Great post!! I can tell you that I definetley hear you. I was in the girlfriend role for about the same as you are now. One thing I have to say thou is that things don't really change much after you become official (unfortunatley). We still have to keep our boundries as step-moms or our good intentions can be misunderstood and cause bigger issues. My hubby's ex is pretty much the same. Now married, finally after a few boyfriends, and is making her son call her new husband, daddy. She keeps him so busy that he never calls and when he does is just to say goodnight. It is the most painful situation to be in because now, you are in it – forever, and there's still nothing you can do to change things…hope things get better for you. – CHB
    My recent post What About The Kids?

    • Taylor says:

      I can agree with ALL of this. Although my sweetie has court ordered visits, what are you supposed to do when the kid becomes a teenager and the vist is boring to them? They want their weekends to hang with friends, play sports, date, get a little job… not so much hang with Dad, so the question became do you want to enforce the visit knowing it makes them miserable socially or allow them the freedom/respect to choose how they spend their free time only to never hear from them on holidays, birthdays, etc.

  2. Unkown says:

    I agree that it can be difficult, but he can revise his divorce papers to give him more rights. It does mean you will most likely have to go to court, but he can have the papers changed so that he has the children on his birthday and father's day.

    In the beginning my other half's ex-wife was lovely, but in as the kids have gotten older (and he has gotten happier) she has gone off the deep end. Use the system wisely, his biggest regret is not fighting harder in court to ensure his rights as a father were more clearly defined.

  3. Lossidele says:

    I have/had the fortune/misfortune of being in roles of both gf of man w/ child and mother. Here's the thing, it's not ideal, in either role. As the mother, I'm very protective of my boy and very sensitive to the judgements of a single mom's love life. The first commenters "(She's) Now married, finally after a few boyfriends,…" is a perfect example of that. Just because I have a child doesn't mean I should become desperate or dusty. Women with children deserve a good man too and that may take a few bfs to get to (ahem, Crazy – Hectic – Bonkers). In 5 yrs, my ex has shaken hands with the only 2 men I've introduced to our son (1 of which I'm currently with). It's important to me to make things clear so everyone knows their role. Is every situation like that? No. But that's why most of the tension, confusion and feelings of non-entity-ness exists in the first place.
    My recent post Working Mom: What’s Chicken Got To Do With It?

    • Crazy - Hectic - Bonkers! says:

      I agree w/ you on making things clear from the start. I did the same w/my ex. I have also been in both roles. Didn't mean to offend by my comment. She has had more than a few bf/friends and she has introduced and moved in each one. Her son was left hurt each time. Now that she's married, she told her son that the less my hubby is in their lives the better so they can be happy in their own family, like she always wanted to have. It's all very difficult for sure so unless both parents put their feelings and pride aside, the relatioship between kids, parents & step-parents is always a bumpy one. -CHB
      My recent post What About The Kids?

  4. I can only imagine how tough it is, but like you said, you can't exactly intervene without stepping over some boundaries. Discuss it with your man, and maybe voice your concerns and let him know you're not trying to interfere, but you care. Kids can be easy to get attached to, but if you guys have been together for this long and you have met the kids, you could be going down the path of stepmom soon.
    My recent post Wedding Wednesday: My Sister Got Married

  5. Michael Barkman says:

    It is a very important story that you shared for every boyfriend because if the children’s of the girl friend is not your children’s it will be hell. The typeressay.org is also a great thing for all the boyfriends in the world because it will give them great solutions of their problems.

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