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Seeking communication advice for “non parent” who disagrees with the BFs parenting approach

Just Learning's picture

Just Learning's picture

Hi all!

I'm very grateful to have found this forum. I am 37 and childless by choice, but as a result of finding and dating a man I really love for the past year I now have a 9yo girl and 12yo boy in my life. They are lovely kids and in many ways I am pleasantly surprised at how quickly I’ve grown to care about them. They are both generally polite, smart and have been very accepting of me. SO and I live 90 minutes apart and between job demands (mine more so than his, as I own and operate several businesses and frequently travel for work) and the kids activities (both super involved in several extracurriculars) we really have to plan and put in the effort to spend time together but we’ve been making it work, and I really see a future with this man who is kind and caring and a wonderful father.

A bit more background: my guy and his ex wife have been separated for nearly 3 years. She left him to be with a man she’d been having an affair with for over a year, which my SO had no idea about. He was devastated and understandably had a difficult time adjusting to the separation, one he didn’t envision living. They have 50/50 custody - one week with mom, one week with dad.

And… I am really struggling. 

I’m not one of those people who feels really awkward or uncomfortable around kids, but I have learned that I really don’t have much of a maternal instinct. I feel like everyone assumes that women are naturally nurturing and nothing about my interactions with his kids feels natural. I just really never envisioned kids being a part of my life. I do have a 6yo niece who I adore and spend a lot of time with, but I have a very busy and satisfying career and have always loved my freedom which is largely due to not having kids. We’ve only been dating a year and already I can feel myself making excuses to not spend time with him and the kids during the weeks he has them, instead making plans to see him on days the kids are with their mother. This is partly because everything is extremely busy, rushed and stressful when the kids are there, rushing one to hockey, picking the other up from ballet. I spend 10-12 hours most days wrapped up in work so when I come home at the end of the day I savour my downtime. Honestly, the last thing I want to do is spend an hour and a half sitting in a freezing cold ice rink watching a bunch of kids skate around. The advice I’ve gotten from so many people is “the thing that really matters to kids is that you just show up for them”. What does this mean? Honestly, “showing up” is not really something I can commit to. For many years my career has been my priority and I have built several businesses from the ground up. I am proud of them and truly enjoy investing time in them, growing and expanding them. I imagine my SO feels much the same about his children but of course he has different expectations for my involvement with his kids than my expectation of his involvement in my business endeavors! Because of my schedule with business travel I’m really not able to have a whole lot of consistency in their lives. My SO is very laid-back and regularly assures me that he thinks I’m doing a great job being in the kids lives and making them feel cared about, but I feel inadequate and like I don’t know what I’m doing at all when it comes to my role in their lives. He is the kind of guy who was truly born to be a dad. It’s a huge part of his identity, and I don’t think it will ever feel that way for me. He loves every minute of it and takes such joy in every aspect of parenting – the good, the bad and the ugly. That’s great, but because of this he has no understanding of the sacrifices it feels like I am constantly making, because to him the kids only add huge value and enjoyment and meaning to his life. For me, it mostly feels like giving up my own downtime (which is pretty limited) to talk talk talk (there’s not a moment of silence when they’re around which I understand is just kids being kids but it’s still hard on the head for someone who’s not used to it), to shuttle them around for extracurriculars (which he does 98% of, not me, but it equates to a lot less time he and I get to spend together unless I’m willing to go along to the kids’ activities), and of course far less freedom and spontaneity in the relationship. SO essentially plans his life around the kids’ sports schedules and he rarely misses a game or practice whether it’s his week with them or not. Because we live an hour and a half away from one another this frequently cuts in to our time together unless I’m willing to go to the practice/game with him. It’s not the way I would choose to spend my time on my own, nor how I’d choose to spend “date time” with him, especially such huge amounts of time. In an average week most (5-6) nights/weekend days have at least one sporting event on the calendar. His ex’s partner (who she lives with, and is also the guy she had the extramarital affair with) appears to be a wonderfully supportive stepparent and he and the ex rarely miss a sport event, even when it’s my SO’s week with the kids. All of that support is, I’m sure, awesome for the kids and I’m so glad they have that… But it just makes me feel even more in adequate because I don’t have the time or inclination to be in the stands cheering them on at every turn. Is it such a terrible thing for kids to know that the adults in their lives also have jobs and other things going on? I would gladly spend SOME time supporting the kids’ interests but my entire life is not going to be spent in a hockey rink or in the stands at a soccer field. SO doesn’t force me at all, but again, if I don’t go along at least sometimes we’d be seeing an awful lot less of each other so it doesn’t feel like I have much of a choice. For a short stretch of time I did take a break from going to sports stuff and the result was my SO making the 90 minute drive to my place just to spend a few hours together here and there, which he did without complaint, but obviously that doesn’t seem sustainable. Another layer here is that I feel bad/guilty at SO going to all of the sports events alone when his ex-wife is there with her partner. SO still has, understandably, pretty negative feelings toward his ex and this guy and I know he just feels a lot better when I’m there. He’s always so appreciative when I do go.

The second issue (and it’s a biggie) is that his parenting style really drives me up the wall. As previously mentioned the kids are 9 and 12. At that age my siblings and I had chores and other ways of contributing to the household. His approach to parenting seems to be treating the kids as though they are royalty and he is their servant, put on earth to make their lives as easy and perfect as possible. We don’t live together but recently talked about it. As much as I would love to start thinking about taking that step forward with him part of me feels it would be a recipe for resentment. The kids sometimes come with him to my house for a night or two on the weekends when they are with him and by the time they leave I am so relieved. The kids are extremely messy and my SO basically follows them around and cleans up after them without a word. Today his son was sitting on the couch on his iPad and started yelling “Dad! Dad!” His father was outside on the deck with me, enjoying the sunny afternoon, and got up mid-sentence to see what his son wanted. “Can I have a glass of water?” My SO responded pleasantly, “sure pal,” and proceeded to go to the kitchen, pour his 12 year old son a glass of water while the kid continues to play his iPad game, then came back out to the deck to continue his conversation with me. This is one small example of what is, in my opinion, and absolutely ludicrous way to rear children. Believe me when I say this had nothing to do with his son not feeling comfortable getting his own glass of water in my home. In fact, he feels so very comfortable in my house that he does running somersaults on the very expensive designer furniture. Having lived alone for 10 years my house is a relaxing space that was made for me and not with children in mind. SO’s house is obviously much more kid friendly. I get irritated that SO isn’t firmer with the kids when they’re in my home. In fairness to him, when I bring up something like, “the kitchen and bathroom look like someone dumped a dozen gallons of water on the floors because the kids are traipsing in and out from the pool in wet swimsuits; can you tell them they need to dry off on the deck before coming inside?” he always deals with it promptly. But I can’t help feeling like he lacks some common sense or has a giant blind spot when it comes to his kids. Knowing his approach to parenting, if one of his kids broke his couch by doing backflips off of it he would happily throw it out, buy a new couch and be watching the next round of backflips a few hours later. At 9 and 12 the kids have literally never washed a dish in their lives, never made a bed, and believe the laundry fairy ensures there are clean and folded clothes at the ready. As a result, they’ll take a sip from a glass of water and toss it in the sink as a dirty dish only to take out a new glass an hour later for their next drink of water. His daughter will pull on a hoodie to play with her scooter in the yard for half an hour and throw it in the hamper to be washed. They are good, smart kids and it feels to me like he is hindering their growth by playing a servant to them. I have on occasion said to them in my home, “Do you mind putting those dishes in the dishwasher?” and they’ve very happily helped! His daughter in particular, with whom I probably have a closer relationship than the son, actually seems to enjoy helping as she likes to spend time with me. Why is he not setting any expectations for chores or even cleaning up after themselves? It would be good for my SO and great for the kids! Once again I feel unable to say too much as they’re not my kids and as a “non parent” I’m certainly no expert. BUT I would not live in a house with kids and devote all my free time to cleaning up after them, that’s for sure.

Because of the kids’ involvement in so many extracurriculars if they have two minutes of free/unscheduled there are whines of “I’m boooored,” and my SO sees it as his duty to entertain them. All in all I am just not on board with his approach to parenting but what do I know? I’m not a parent. It feels like it’s none of my business and like I shouldn’t have an opinion on how he raises his kids, especially since we’ve only been together for a year. On the other hand I’m having a really hard time understanding what my role will look like in the future, if we do ever live together. I can’t imagine taking a step forward in our relationship without sorting this out first, but because we’re only dating and not living together at this time it feels like I would be overstepping to voice an opinion on his parenting.

Another thing that’s not yet an issue but that I foresee as one should we live together is finances. SO and I each make a great living but his lifestyle is that of someone making a third of his income because the kids’ extracurriculars and material possessions (clothes, tech stuff, dirtbikes and other equipment for hobbies) suck up an unfathomable amount of money. I’ve always been smart with savings and investments and although we haven’t had super in depth conversations about our financial situations being that we live separately I definitely get the  feeling his priority would be spending on every whim the kids have rather than making what I consider to be smarter investments. For example, when I think about us buying a home together I would not be agreeable to making concessions on a house so the kids can play on more competitive sports teams (which require an outrageous amount of travel, accounting for a larger price tag even than registration and equipment). I work hard and in past relationships (with people who were also childless) I enjoyed vacations and the kind of adult recreation (nice meals out, etc.) that kids don’t fit into very well to begin with. Given the expense of his kids’ activities I think many of the things I like to do would be off the table for him because his finances are focused on the kids. This isn’t a dealbreaker but it’s a concern in considering the future, should we ever have a joint asset (e.g. a house) or joint finances. 

I have read posts in this forum from those who’ve been step parenting for a long time advising to set boundaries and make clear communication a priority from the start. I think this is smart advice but I’m having a hard time knowing what to do or say, and I often come back to questioning whether the relationship can even work as kids being involved feels so foreign to me and I worry that I’ll become resentful and feel like I’m making major sacrifices to be with him. I feel like a bit of a monster writing all this and want to emphasize that they are overall great kids, and that I don’t hate children. I love their dad and honestly I have no doubt that being a father has played a large role in making him the selfless, kind person he is. Especially after reading some of the horror stories of terribly behaved/belligerent kids, and/or really unsupportive SOs I fully appreciate that both my SO and his kids are about as easy to deal with as any could be, given the complexities. I’m just really having a hard time wrapping my mind around whether/how the kids can fit into my life and how to communicate with SO in a way that will help that to happen… or, maybe it’s a case of making a hard decision because our lives just don’t mesh. I’m not sure, but I would welcome any input.

Thanks so much for reading this novel, and thanks in advance for your advice!

Sanity_With_Stepkids's picture

Oh my gosh.  Let me start by saying, I HEAR YOU and your feelings are VALIDATED!  I am also childfree by choice and my career has been my baby.  I have so enjoyed being childfree by choice- the independence, the freedom, the disposable income, the clean home, the quiet evenings/mornings, etc.  I too have a 6 year old niece who I adore but I also never felt the maternal signal or want to have children.  I wanted to be successful, make money, get promoted, grow, travel, learn, visit friends and family, etc. Then I met an older, divorced man with 2 boys and a stepson of his own! 

Here is my advice.  Don't try to be someone you're not.  You are a very successful, driven woman who not only needs her downtime but also needs to focus on the empire she has worked so hard to build.  That doesn't mean you can't date a guy with kids.  It just may mean that you make the final hockey game, or the last soccer game or the concert and not all the practices.  You show up when you can. Keep in mind, you're not even married to this guy or even engaged yet. So no, you do not need to attend things and don't feel guilty because the parents are- they should, that's THEIR job. 

About parenting styles. I also can feel your pain.  I experience the same thing.  No responsibilities, catering to these kids, etc. It's divorce dad guilt, but it's hard to watch.  I see it with my 2 stepsons.  They both do horrible in school (both barely passing) and they aren't even involved in extracurricular activities or sports!  Yet, they have all the toys: iPhone, iPad, gaming consoles, bikes, unlimited data and wifi, etc. 

I think you two should continue to date. I know you're 90 min away from each other and that sucks. But I wouldn't rush moving in together. Only because, what's bothering you now, will only get magnified. And then you will not have your own space.  Which is another point.  Because the custody is one week on and one week off, try to look at it as a busy week on with him and the kids (again, not going to everything but whatever works for your schedule), and on your down week use that time to enjoy the peace and quiet, personal space and your guy.

As for the finances part-his money will certainly be tied up with his kids for a very long time. That said, you don't have to pay for any of that. That's why they have a mom and it's her responsibility too.  Not yours. As for dating, you two can enjoy vacations, but maybe not as many as you're used to. Maybe it will be one big family vacation per year and one just the two of you.  I'd also keep your finances separate so that your income isn't paying for things mom and dad should be responsible for.  You can certainly pay for what you feel is fair on your end but I wouldn't want to see you grow resentful.  

I hope this helps you. Feel free to message me because I'm 39 and can relate to so much of what you're saying! xoxo

mapap's picture

I am completely understanding all of this and have similar issues! I wouid say make sure before u live together that he will allow u to be the adult. In my house im not allowed to say anything to the kids.. that's why im leaving! I guess that's something we never discussed. I have no kids and I lived in a nice house and yes I was clean neat and had expensive things. He lets his kids do whatever and tells me the house can't look like a museum.. yes well the kids here are 16,19,22 years old. Not 7. I struggle deeply w this and I wish we had talked about it more before I moved in 

JRI's picture

You sound like a very intelligent, clear-headed person who raises reasonable issues.  I have to say I have doubts about how this relationship would work out day-to-day.  Those kids arent going to change, if anything, on this same path, things will intensify as they become teens.  Your SO clearly is in the " pal" role rather than the dad role (" Clean that up!  Knock that off!").  

How would you feel about continuing the long distance relationship until they (hopefully) launch at 18?   That won't resolve all the time spent at the sports events, though.  Another question:  is he really divorced yet?  Got a legal custody agreement?

You seem to really like him but I'm afraid you would be so unhappy in a marriage where your home was being trashed, your marital finances were going toward activities you don't enjoy and you were living with these 2 kids 24/7 every other week.

Good thing you found this site.  Hoping for your best outcome.

Crr18's picture

I will just tell you from my experience and I have only been here close to a year. The sports and activities will more then likely increase if they are highly involved in it already.My skids are 13 and 15 and I thought they were nice kids too. They got worse and it doesn't seem like it will get better for a long time. If your BF is already running them on his off weeks to practices he wants to be a full time dad. I am not sure how your BF is with his ex and if he is taking them places on his off night he probably has lots of contact with her. That is something that I can not get used to. I am trying to make things work but I can tell you this has taken a lot out of me. I never thought it would be so hard and life draining. I am not the person I once was. Pleas consider YOU and what YOU really want.

SteppedOut's picture

Yea, sorry, I think you should cut your losses now. Your life styles are too different. 

"Love" is not enough.

Find someone who does not have children, or at least someone that doesn't wrap their entire being around their kids lives. 

Bee_kay's picture

I think you should express your concerns to your SO like you did here (minus the complaining about his children lol). If you cannot have an honest and open conversation now, it will get worse. 

My situation is a bit similar to yours. Speaking from experience, when I tried to address how I was feeling or my concerns, I often felt dismissed and unheard. I also felt as though my boundaries were not respected.  I think I unconsciously created a wall to protect myself. I came here looking and hoping to get unbiased advice. Some were helpful. Others made me realize their stepchildren were not the only problem.  I have learned from reading other people's stories; take what you believe is helpful and throw out the rest. 

You should also consider the distance between both of you. If you were to move in together, I assume he would expect you to move in with him or find a place in his area to remain close to his children.

Hopefully, you will find a compromise that will work for you and your SO.  

Winterglow's picture

I’m not sure why you feel that you have to attend every match, training session, etc. The showing up part concerns their parents. You are their dad’s girlfriend – you don’t have to be there all the time. The fact that the SD turns up all the time should be of no importance to you, it’s his decision and you don’t have to do things just because he does. Try not to feel inadequate because, really, your role is to be your SO’s partner, not his children’s substitute mother. I’d step back completely from this part of the relationship. Is it really worth sitting through their games just to be with your SO? IS that really quality time? To answer your question – kids do need to know that people have lives that don’t revolve around them, that’s just part of maturing and growing up.


As for his kids’ behaviour in your home … you have every right to expect them to behave like decent human beings and not savages. It’s high time you told your SO that your furniture is NOT a trampoline, and you don’t want to see anyone jumping on it ever again. Honestly, by age 12 a kid should know not to jump on furniture, especially someone else’s. hen the kid asked his dad for a glass of water, I would have asked him why he wasn’t told to get it himself. How are kids to ever grow up and learn things if they are never expected to actually do anything for themselves. Kitchen and bathroom awash? Point out how dangerous it is to your SO. Someone could slip and have a serious accident. Have you ever considered posting a list of house rules on the fridge? Spell them out first and then post them. Please tell me you don’t do their laundry when they’re at your house …


Forget joint finances. Keep yours separate and have a joint account that you both pay into (he’d obviously be paying more than you) for the bills … should you decide to live together.


I’m not sure you have enough in common for this relationship to work in the long term. He wants you to step in and be a second mommy. You do not want to be responsible for his kids and want a real adult relationship. I find it difficult to find common ground for you. Please lose your feelings of guilt, what you have expressed is extremely normal and nothing to be ashamed of.

Kaylee's picture

Hmmm, sorry but I don't think it's going to work out. 

You have been clear and honest in your post about your lifestyle and preferences and that's good. 

Now be honest with yourself....I believe you know deep down that this isn't going to work out. He may be a nice guy but you know he is going to be full on raising his kids for the next 8 to 10 years, and likely longer.

That's not the future you want, by the sounds of it.

Good luck.

TheAccidentalSM's picture

Your lifestyles are too different.  And your BF parenting style will drive you completely nuts if you live together.

Here's my experence as a childless by choice SP.  

  • We had seperate homes until well after we married because I didn't want to live near his kids.  Way too suburban and a pain to get to work.  Plus I work silly hours at a stressful job so I don't need a bad commute too.
  • DH would live at my house during the week
  • DH had them EWE.  I would decide whether or not to go to his side of town.  (Over an hours journey from my side of town)
  • We never ever ever got to do fun mini breaks.  BM would go nuts at DH trying to get two weekend off a year.  I accepted this as the price of the relationship but I did miss out on a lot of experience my peers had.  Oh and my mother constantly asking why we weren't hopping off somewhere for a lovely w/e.  Even after repeatedly explaining she kept asking.
  • Due to EWE rules, I went to quite a few weddings on my own while we were together. Imagine that.  Being the "single" friend even when you have a SO.  Fun times.
  • EWE lasted until the youngest was 16 and moved in with us full time.
  • I nearly left after the youngest moved in and had been getting more and more annoying.  Luckily DH dealt with it when YSS was 19 but it was that or the marriage. 

So think long and hard about what you are prepared to sacrifice.  As others have said sometimes love isn't enough.

Harry's picture

That if he really wants a relationship with someone , you,  He must find some balance in his life with  his kids.  He can not spend every minute catering to BM and his kids. Weeks he has them he must do the activities thing, games. Ect.  But weeks he does not have them it should be all about you.

I don't think he ready for a new relationship,  he still living his old life minuses the ex.  You are just filling then role of his ex nit his GF.  
This is not the relationship for you,  I bet he is spend tons of money in these kids. And as they get older will require much more money.  New cars, college, ect.   You then will be bank rolling this crazy relationship 

Evil4's picture

Veteran SM here. My SKs 30 and 32, were Disney parented like your SO's kids. Your SO is what is called a Disneyland Dad. It's nothing less than soul-destroying to live with Disney parented kids. I moved into a place with my DH and SKs when I was a childless career oriented young woman. It wasn't long before I was filled with seething resentment because I had to be the one to concede 100% because of the "poor damaged CoDs." I had a filthy house because my SKs weren't required to do a damn thing and my DH waited on my SKs hand and foot. 

The prognosis for Disneyland Dad Synrome is slim to none. In fact, in my experience and many other SMs' experience, these dads will reluctantly go for help when their relationships are in  trouble, but when the brats show any sign of evolvement or maturity, these dads will sabotage it to knock the kids back into helpless infancy. These dads are Disneyland dads because of their deeply rooted fear of losing their kids. These dads will do ANYTHING to keep their kids from ever leaving them. Disney parented kids don't reach milestones when their peers do, so don't make the mistake of counting down to 18. Don't make the mistake of hoping the kids get their driver's licenses or BFs or GFs when their peers do and being out of the house more often, because that won't happen. Go check the adult forums to see 27 year olds who have never been on a date and don't drive yet. These adult kids often don't work and Daddddeeeeee pays the shot with some excuse about how Flossy has anxiety or just "needs time." Believe me I've been there done that and bought the t-shirt for it. My SD is 32 years old and still can't use th microwave without asking Daddeeeeee a bunch of questions for no other reason than to get his attention and to get him to continue doing things for her. I could go on and on and on with examples.

I always wanted to travel and I liked going out to eat weekly yet we couldn't do ANYTHING because despite my DH making 6 figures a year, he was in 6-figure debt from spending all of his money on the brats. He refused to buy a home with me when I told him that not owning was a deal-breaker. I ended up buying our house after 20 years and telling DH that there will be no room for adult kids in their mid 20s and that he can either join me and our DD together or he can continue to live with his adult babies forever, but not both. I also refused to be his booty call so he better choose wisely. I will not stand by and have DH come to my house to fuck me only to turn right around to go back to living with and paying the shot for adults in their mid 20s. 

DH and I are in heavy-duty therapy, marital for us as a couple and both of us individually, because I had an exit plan due to being sick and tired of being stuck with adult babies. Disneyland dads who infantilize their kids so as no to lose them have this thing where they cannot be all-in with a spouse. They are not emotionally available to us due to their enmeshment with their kids. Your SO will never stop his servitude to his kids and they'll grow up to be helpless adults who can't or won't fend for themelves. 

Run fast and run far. Not a day goes by that I don't regret not putting on a good pair of running shoes and booking it the fuck out of there. Your SO's kids may seem "like good kids" because they may have a pleasant disposition but just wait until you all live together and your SO even makes the slightest changes and the kids blame you because "this didn't happen when it was just Dad and us." 

Don't waste your youth on this situation. It's a hell I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. Oh, and my worst enemy has been my SD because she never liked another female being part of my DH's life. She adored me at first, but when she realized I wasn't going anywhere the claws came out. BM ramped up her bullshit too. Apparently, it's OK for BM to have cheated and blown up the marriage but by God, DH better not move on. He was expected to remain single and pine for BM for the rest of his life and both DH and I got punished big time for him moving on. I look back and it wasn't worth it. Even though DH is making significant changes, it's too little too late, and everyday, I fantasize over what my life would look like after executing my original exit plan. I can never get 26 years back. I'm still sad and pissed off over what I went through. It's really not worth it. Go find another man with an entrepreneurial mindset like you so that you can share your successes and the same interests. 

paul_in_utah's picture

This whole post should be stickied to the front page.  A great summary of the perils of Disney-Parenting.  I can totally relate, as my SO does everything she can to stunt her kids's development, so they that they will remain depenadent on her.  An additional layer is that my SO is a Covert Narcissist, so she also wants the kids around to serve as a source of her supply.  I am on the road over 300 nights a year, which allows me to keep my sanity.  If I was there would be really tough.

caninelover's picture

His kids may still be cute.  Wait until they are full-on teenager mode and if SO's Disney-Dad parenting drives you up a wall now - in the future it will make you insane.

His kids are too young, it doesn't sound like he has good parenting boundaries with his ex, and he is not really ready for a new relationship because his focus and priority right now are his young kids.

I would step back from this.  I would definitely not move in together.  

The only reason things worked out with my SO is that his kids were all older when we met (the youngest was 18 and at university) but even then its been hella-challenging.  Before SO, I briefly dated one guy with young kids and that experience was enough to teach me that I didn't want to be a stepmom to young kids.  These Dads always seem to want you to be substitute mommy and I am childless by choice.  I love to travel and my photo books are filled with photos from many adventures.  SO's is filled with kid parties, kid activities, kid sporting events, etc.  Our life works now because his youngest will turn 25 next month and we now have a clear understanding about our 'family' dynamics.  If we had gotten together when Bratty was 9?  Holy crap - I would have been miserable.

ESMOD's picture

The kids are 9 and 12 and they are certainly capable of understanding that there are different rules and expectations when you go different places.  If you don't want your home treated like a gymboree class.. tell your BF and his kids that your home is a no "tumble" zone.. that if they want to do that.. they need to go outside.  Your BF may have set his home up to be more kid proof.. but his kids should be able to understand that they have to abide by the rules of each home.  If they go to a friend's home.. they can't do "what they want".. if those parents have different rules right?  same goes for your place.. and you are 100% in your rights to set those boundaries and insist your BF parent his kids.  If he can't or won't in your home? red flag galore.

And.. just because they have a SF that is engaged with them in a parental way.. that doesn't mean your relationship with his kids will look the same.  They are his kids to parent and raise.. but if you end up heading the same household.. then there will be ADULT decision that you both make together about how the home runs.. and once those rules and expectations are set.. it's up to HIM to enforce them.  Sure.. you can remind them to put dishes away.. or make their bed.. but generally it is his responsibility and you aren't obligated to be teh one to mother them.

But.. you are getting a look at how things work when it's his kid's time (which is 50% of the time).. he is an involved father to kids who are involved in activities that require practices etc.. so he has that obligation.. you don' thave to go with him.. but that will mean you are on your own more the 50% on week.  not the end of the world.. many couples have full interests that don't include their SO.. it's ok.. as long as you still feel you are jointly a couple and feel fulfilled in that role.  If you are going to feel shortchanged that he focuses that time on his kids during those weeks.. and can't see the "glass half full" because you get him to yourself the other 50% (plus some of the on week time too.. just less0.. then maybe it isn't the right relationship?

I am a childless SM.. so I get some of what you are feeling.. I did what I felt comfortable with.. and let my DH do most of the parenting.. with some polishing around the edges.. it worked out for us.. but it can be a struggle.. I know.

Rags's picture

This is not a relationship that has legs IMHO.

If you are going to continue down this path I think the immediate solution to current issues is obvious.  Spend only BM's kid weeks with your SO.  That cuts the frustration notably.  This will have to include a clear statement that if the two of  you are going to make a life together that he has to parent on his time and participate in sports, etc... on his kid time shile  BM's kid  time has to be focused on the two of you as a couple.

Regarding the issues with his parenting style, if you are at your place when they are at his place... your exposure risk is halved.  Establishing this new normal has to be a foundational plank of your evolving relationship together IMHO.

One thing that will be important for DH to prepare to navigate what is likely the invevitable avoidance and manipulation of the facts by BM will be your SO having the divorce decree/CO ready, the facts prepped and when necessary seasoning his kids on the fact that their mother is an adulteress and their StepDad is her cheat partner when she cheated on your SO.

This community has countless examples of Skids who have been PASd by one parent or the other to the point where they splash around in the  Kool-Aid served up by the PASing parent to the detriment of their relationship with the PAS targeted parent.  Facts are critical to kids having the knowledge they need to mitigate the manipulation of a PASing or toxic parent and helping the Skid and the quality parent to remain connected.

My SS has navigated this journey as he grew up in a blended family situation with COd visitation with his SpermClan. Their manipulations and lies had to be countered and facts are the best way that his mom and I found to do that.  As he grew up, he began doing his own research when they would lie to him or spout some alternate perspective that deviated from the facts as the SpermClan would attempt to demonize his mom.  Facts, facts, facts, facts, facts.  He learned to recgize the maniplations and lies and he learned how to protect himself from them.  Sadly he has had to continue to use those skills as their manipulations and lies extended beyond him aging out from under the the CO.

SO will need them eventually and has to be ready to play them.  The facts that is.

Just my thoughts of course.

Good luck.

Exjuliemccoy's picture

While there may be chemistry, you don't have compatibility. You're childfree, while he is a committed Disney dad. And, he's still married. That's some big red flags.

Like you, I was working a lot when I met my DH. We were on different schedules with different days off, so the time we did get together was fantastic and the skids weren't a huge part of our life. I had plenty of me time, and always saw him at his relative best. It was only after years of skid problems, strife and a job change that I was able to see, really SEE what a conflict avoidant non parent my "wonderful guy" is.

My point is, you don't really know this man yet, and you're already noticing problematic behaviors. He's super dad, while you're CF. And again, he's still married. Not making any moral judgements,  just pointing out that he has a lot of unfinished legal and emotional business, and hasn't been methodical about preparing a place in his life for you.

Date him casually if you must, but don't change who you are to please him and quit trying to fit into his family friendly lifestyle. When you're CF, you have to listen to you gut and be ruthlessly honest about what you can and cannot tolerate regarding kids. If you're already feeling like you're wearing an itchy wool sweater that's too small when around his kids, its time to move on.

Survivingstephell's picture

You can't call a man a good father and then turn around and criticize his parenting.  Red flag waving.  This is the area that will break the relationship.  You two are NOT compatible.  He's a parent mindset and you are a career mindset.  These mix as well as oil and water.  You are feeling guilt ? Over not being able to participate in stuff you hate to do?   Don't twist yourself up trying to find a place this situation.  You don't fit to begin with.   Yeah I'm blunt but I've seen way too many women in your boat suffer and struggle trying to make it work.  All they got was a broken spirit,  lost tons of their money and got nothing in return.  

CLove's picture

What happened? Anything change or worse, did you stay?

Curious as to what your situation iss 2 months down the road...

Miss T's picture

Date this guy if you must, but don't get in any deeper. Don't spend any time with his kids. Don't combine households or finances.

Believe the misery and chaos people describe here, the red flags they now realize they ignored. The relationship you describe is yet another disaster in the making. You have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to save yourself. Please, for all of our sakes, take it.

Kona_California's picture

First off, you seem like such a kind person. Someone with her spirit still in tact, and that's something to protect.

My thoughts are not only do you not seem compatible since you don't like having a lifestyle that involves catering to children (which is not a bad thing!) it also seems like you don't feel you can talk about this with your SO. You should be able to say all of these things to him. About how he seems to overdo it with the catering, spending so much time at games and practices, and you don't feel like he's meeting your needs. 

I would strongly suggest laying aaaaaaall of this out for him. You are a tactful person so I'm sure you will say it in a digestable way. Whether you decide to stay together, I think pulling back would be very important for you and the relationship. It seems kind of soon to expect you to suddenly be a parent. He should be able to spend time with you just as a boyfriend, and be able to enjoy that time. However, it sounds like he actually doesn't have much time. Going to practices when it isn't his week is too much. Sprinting away from you to cater to his son's wants is poor modeling. He's teaching his kids that they should be disrespectful to the people around them and not have good boundaries. 

Remember, the kids have a mom and a dad, so don't feel guilty if you don't want to "show up" because fortunately that doesn't apply to you. Having a friendship with them is actually the best thing you can do, while establishing exactly what you described of things like "hey can you load your dishes?" So that they know you are an authority. 

Good luck and keep us posted!