In love, lead by example
I got divorced from a dead marriage and have four kids who live with me half-time. Occasionally I have used a babysitter when I want to go out and it conflicts with my responsibilities with my kids. Two months ago, I met a woman and feel myself falling for her. She seems to be everything I could want: affectionate, beautiful, athletic and smart. We talk for hours on the phone and try to see each other every day that we can. I want to move the relationship to the next level and wonder: When is the right time to introduce her to my kids?
Not really. I just said that ’cause you’ve been struck by the lightning force of this-could-be-love and I want you to stand still long enough for me to pull Cupid’s arrow out of your head. Ready? (This could hurt a bit.)
When you have your kids half-time, being engaged with them should be your priority. If you ever feel that your kids are obstacles to dating, you need to pinch yourself awake. Comprende?
Your children learn how to love by observing you, visually and intuitively. So teach them that, even when your heart expands to include a partner, your sweet little ones will always be your beloveds.
I cherish the thought that you have met a woman that you see a future with and that you are courageous enough to risk a commitment. I just want you to stop driving so fast. Savor the romantic phase of your relationship. Spending hours on the phone and seeing each other too much can intensify infatuation and lead to emotional burnout. That’s the kind of relationship where people are sexually connected and can’t really get along otherwise, but pretend that they’re in love.
The time to introduce your girlfriend to your kids is when your relationship with her is the ideal model of what you want your kids’ dating experiences to be like. So wait until you and your girlfriend are not pawing each other, exchanging sloppy kisses, and you’re not so overly into each other that you are unable to be good company to people around you. Introduce your girlfriend to your kids after you’ve learned to be good friends and have learned how to resolve conflict with each other in a healthy way. Introduce this woman to your children only after you are certain she will be in your life as a trusted friend beyond the expiration date of your romantic life together. Need numbers? Wait at least six to nine months before introductions.
So many of you have approached me in the last week upset about the pressure of Valentine’s Day and feeling left out of what you called “a manufactured holiday.”
My suggestion, though late: Be your own Valentine. The culture is offering you a suggestion. You can live it any way you wish. Send yourself a sweet card, e-mail or roses. Or invite those you love (of all ages) to dinner or dessert. Personally, I’m throwing a party for the people I love and admire. I want a house full of Valentines!