When kids do not get a vote.
Tuesdays on CoupleDumb are usually devoted to children and the little day-to-day nightmares that those adorable blessings can heap upon us. So, what does starting over with a later in life relationship have to do with your children? Nothing. That’s the point.
Paul says: You will notice that there is an underlying theme as we talk about starting over. There is an assumption that the people starting over have the ability to look back on their lives and see what worked and what didn’t. If you have no concept of causality, if you have no clue why you keep waking up on the other side of the room after sticking your finger in a light socket, then calling your process ‘starting over’ is a misnomer. Starting over does not have an Alzheimer quality to it.
Every person that I know who has ever begun a new relationship, especially later in life and after other failed relationships, have had the same question: how is this going to be different? Of course, in our unhealthy and uninsightful society the caveat to that question is… and how can I have something totally different without changing anything about me.
What does all of this have to do with children? Simple. Our kids, also known as the symptoms, are the perfect indicators of the health of the family system. Let’s take one of the common ‘starting over’ problems as an example; the kids do not like your new love interest. This is the stuff of sitcoms and after school specials. The kids vehemently hate daddy’s new chippie and do everything that they can to get rid of her, including gluing her to a bus and sending her to Albuquerque. Of course on TV, the woman is a shrew that would make Hera look patient and the dad is a moron. At the end, dad is back together with the kids mom and everybody lives happily ever after.
Sure, art mirrors reality but we all know that that shit doesn’t happen. And, by the way, if you are getting your life lessons from sitcoms then you need to seriously up your meds. Instead, what we have when the kids dig in and tell the adult with whom they can and cannot be in a relationship is a lack of boundaries. This is not something that happened overnight and it really has nothing to do with the new person in your life. Somewhere along the line, you gave your kids the message, the permission, that they dictate who you bump uglies with. I am using the term bump uglies because it is my favorite euphemism for sex and it makes me giggle every time that I say it but this includes holding hands, kissing, whispering sweet nothings, and walking on the beach.
Starting a new relationship when you already have children is bound to test boundaries to the limit. The kids do not need to like mommy’s new love but they do need to understand that mommy likes him. And mommy needs to understand that as well. This is your boy toy, not theirs. And daddy is not bringing home a new mommy.
On the upside, children are resilient and innately loving, all evidence to the contrary aside. When they see a happy healthy parent in love with a happy healthy new friend, they will fall in love also.
Lee says: So to summarize, don’t take relationship advise from sitcoms, Daddy’s new chippie is none of the kids business, you can’t start over if you have amnesia, you need to change to really start over, boundaries with your kids is important and anything remotely sexual makes Paul giggle.