Question for dating a woman with children

Since this is my first post, I’ll give a bit of my history quickly…didn’t know who else to go to, so found this forum.

I am 40 years old and widowed. My wife of 9 years passed away of cancer in '04 at the age of 31. After a couple of years, I started to date again, mostly sticking to only dating women quite a bit younger than myself, as I was kinda holding onto hope of having children of my own someday. I am now resolved that this will not likely be my path.

Anyway, flash forward to my current situation. For about a year now, I’ve been dating a woman. She is my age and is divorced. The divorce happened shortly before we started dating. That was late last summer. Her children are a girl (18), a boy (12) and a younger girl of (10). The ex-husband was a manipulator and the type of guy who didn’t have any problems going on unemployment and not making more than 23K/year while she worked away, paid all the bills, and on top of that she is the only one that made sure that her kids were doing things like homework, etc. He preferred to just badmouth her, yell at the kids, and drink beer.

Since the beginning of the summer, this is what I have witnessed happen. I really need advice here as to what I need to do, what are my boundaries, etc. I’m simply at a loss.

Her 18 year old (then 17) is dating a real piece of work. He does drugs, lies, degrades her, etc. Finally, one night he wrecked another girls’ car, got out and ran to my girlfriends house, had the 18 year old let him in and hid there while the cops were out looking for him. When my girlfriend and I found out, my girlfriend (Patti) told the daughtere (Tori), that Tori’s boyfriend was no longer allowed in her house, as she would not have him bringing the cops to a house with her two younger children in it. Her daughter (who up until that point refused to even speak with her father for the previous year), threw a fit, got all of her clothes in bags and left to move in with her father, who was there with open arms…and now allows Tori and her boyfriend to live together at his house (Tori and boyfriend just moved away 70 miles to go to a nearby tech school. Both Patti and myself are hoping that Tori comes to her senses and dumps him, but in the meantime, Tori won’t so much as swing by Patti’s house to say Hi, unless she needs something. She pouts until she gets what she wants.

The boy (Cameron…age 12), is the least trouble of all of them. He is a good kid, but he is incredibly disrespectful to his mother. don’t get me wrong, he loves her, and has a heart of gold. I can only attribute this to the fact that he’s grown up seeing his father treat his mom with this much disrespect, so its normal to him. He is his father’s son, if you know what I’m saying, and is heavily favored by his dad.

The youngest is a girl aged 10 (Alli). Alli is a sweetheart when she wants to be, but is also a combination of the worst attributes of both Tori and Cameron. She shows absolutely no respect unless she is wanting something. She screams the most hateful and hurtful words to her mom when she doesn’t get her way. It is nothing at all for these kids to tell Patti that they hate her and that they want to live with their dad the second Patti doesn’t give in to what they want.

She (Patti), has given in to them time and again. It has gotten to the point where I don’t know what she can do to change things, as they will simply call their father, and he will tell them whatever they want to hear just so he is their “favorite” and to hurt Patti. He seems to really get a thrilll out of making her out to be the bad person, when it has been she all along that has taken the high road (for instance, he and his family speak so ill of Patti and her family in front of those kids …we hear all the stories), while Patti and her family won’t say a word in the negative about he and his family.

I have had enough of the kids treating their mother like this. However, I don’t know where my bounds really ought to be. Patti has told me that she wants me to help, which I don’t have a problem with. However, the second I say something or start showing any type of authority, I know that they will simply go running to their dad’s house (small town of about 1,000 people, and the houses are only about 10 blocks apart). There will also be the whole “you aren’t my dad” thing most surely.

Does anybody have ANY experience with this? I don’t know what to do, how to respond, or where to draw a line on this. I love Patti, and I love her kids ( not a fan of her oldest right now).

Thank you, and sorry for the novel.

It seems like you’ve gotten yourself in deep. You’re not their father and not her husband so there’s really not much you can do but offer moral support. You’ll hate me for saying this but she’s technically still married in the eyes of the church till (if and when) she gets an annulment and it’s really not your place to take on an authority role here. Just my two cents. :cool:

I’m Catholic. She was not raised in a church. Her children weren’t either. Her marriage was LDS. I don’t know if any of that makes a difference or not.

I don’t have a glass jaw. I don’t take any offense at all. Thank you for your input. Like I said, ANY input is appreciated.

Hi there.

I respect your wish to help. It certainly is something that would flatter your girlfriend.

However, as another has stated, your place in her child’s life is limited–not just morally but legally.

Before we married, my wife-to-be wanted to do more with my son (such as taking him on some trips by themselves), but I had to hold her back as her responsibilities (and her liability as well) could have been used against me by my son’s mother in legal spats she creates. Now that we’re married, she now has legal guardianship by benefit but still cannot make a few critical decisions, which still reside with me.

This is important. If you were to assume parental responsibility while not actually a parent or legal guardian, you open yourself up to serious problems that leave you in legal trouble and without authority to back up your decisions should they get misinterpreted or go wrong. Don’t put yourself in the place of the parent for that reason.

Instead, place yourself as the adult friend of the parent. Live your life and show the kids by example what should and should not be done. Advice is OK. Driving down to the car impound may not be.

I wasn’t clear from your post on what the children’s mom is doing to help with her kid’s issues, but remember that she also has the sole responsibility to make the decisions without the legal father in play. She alone has to make the talks, to define the punishments.

It’s a disservice to the kids if you “pinch-hit” for their mother because, if you are not there one day (and unless you are married, that’s a possibility), they are left without your guidance. Further, the mother has to do her job (taxing as parenting can be sometimes) and shouldn’t expect you to “help.” Further, the children’s father may have rights which he may misconstrue as being either “usurped” or “given to” you. Depending on state law, your involvement can be misinterpreted and could affect child support, custodial control and other factors.

Roles are important here. It’s thoughtful that you want to help, but the true parents must make these calls to help. No one else can do this for her, not even you.

If anything, if your relationship is blossoming and appears to be something that you want to see permanent, know that your friend’s baptism is not considered valid in the eyes of the Church, as the LDS Church’s formula and doctrine presume a type of polytheism that makes their baptisms invalid. As such, she may be considered to have a natural marriage (legally true, but not sacramental–indissoluble in the eyes of the Church). This opens up the possibility of the Pauline Privilege marriage exception. See a priest to talk about it more if your relationship deepens, and God bless you for your caring of those kids.

I have to agree that offering moral support and, hopefully prayers, is about all you should do in this situation. As a boyfriend, you have no legitimate authority over her home and children. Based on what you’ve shared, I can’t imagine that your involvement, no matter how well-intentioned, would benefit the children or your girlfriend. I hope things work out for all of you.


It makes no difference as far as her marital status is concerned. She’s not Catholic and is not bound by the same rules Catholics are concerning marriage. If you wished to marry her at a future time, an annulment is necessary. As it stands now with the Church, you are dating a married woman.

This should be put on a plaque and nailed to the wall were it can be seen everyday. Many people don’t have a clue what kind of trouble they can get into. All that has to happen is that one of these kids make an accusation to the authorities and you can be arrested. Furthermore, if the accusation is serious, you can be carrying the consequences around for the rest of your life.

Example: One of the kids makes an accusation of violence/sex abuse. You get arrested, but the charges are eventually dropped. You decide it is ill-advised to continue the relationship and leave. You meet a wonderful woman your age and try to start a family, but it doesn’t happen naturally. You decide to adopt, but the adoption agency see your prior arrest. Even though they see the case is dropped, they decide it is ill advised to have you adopt given the gravity of the charges.

This can also happen with any type of employment requiring a background check.

If I were in this situation, I would run like the wind. The issues you have not will be multiplied 100x if you marry this person. Of course, you (speaking to the OP) are free to choose the course of action that you feel is best for you.

I would think long and hard about continuing this relationship. I’m sure that your GF is a wonderful woman, but there are some serious issues that you need to analyze and decide if that’s the life you want to live. You say that she caters to the children (that’s my word. I’m not sure what word you used). You’ve already seen the damage done to these children by BOTH parents – the father for being abusive and the mother by being over-indulgent. That will not change!!! While there are blending families that do work out fabulously, the majority do not. You will have no say in the discipline of these children because, one, they are her children; and, two, it sounds as if they are out of control. Mom will feel guilt and the cycle will continue of her overindulging them.

I have walked away from a relationship with a gentleman with two children because I saw the way his daughters acted. He was a bit overindulgent because he felt guilty about the divorce, et cetera. I also saw how his ex-wife was and I did not want that drama in my life. He wasn’t a bad guy and his children were not horrible monsters. I just did not want that kind of life for myself and I recognized that fact.

So please do some serious soul searching about this relationship.

^ This. You are in a very tenuous situation with this family. They have myriad problems to deal with and your input will not help the family dynamics, only add more complications. I’m sure the woman is attractive and nice, but you need to think of the disasters that might surround you. Do you REALLY want that kind of drama in your life? As the above member noted, it is not beyond the realm of possibilities that you could be implicated for some sort of act you did not commit. People accuse men of such things often these days, and there is NOTHING you can do to stop the consequences.

I would advise to start backing out of her and their lives, ASAP. I know, I know, feelings for her and all that, but let your head rule your heart, please. You are a grown man and you ought to know better than to wrap yourself up in this drama.

and, p.s. - She paints herself as the victim in the situation but it takes 2 to tango. If she was married to an alcoholic, she may have alcoholism in her background as well, and she needs help just as much as her husband does. Don’t believe that if you step in, things will improve. You will just be dragged under by the drowning people.

BTW, the last post I made is based on several real-life situations. The most recent situation involves an completely out-of-control male teenager that made false allegations against his father. It became a real problem since the person has a municipal job. Because they are family members, the situation has the possibility of correcting itself. That is very, very unlikely to happen to a non-family member, especially somebody looking to “take the place” of the father.

I’ve had two or three friends with “blended” families. The most successful was the mom who waited to marry her boyfriend. They wed when her kids finished college. They had dated for eight years. Why? Because his discipline towards his kids (5) was lax while she was more demanding of her two.
The other family had financial woes actually brought about by their marriage. She was a widow with five kids and he was divorced with three. When they wed, his income became available to her and, consequently, knocked her kids out of getting any financial aid. Simultaneously, his child support to his ex was not seen as the ex’s income. The ex was shown as functioning on less money and, therefore, his children were eligible for financial aid. Make sense? Could be you.
I think the best thing you can do is continue to be her friend and leave the parenting to the parents. The kids will do exactly what you say they’ll do…pack up and run to Dad and you could be blamed for that.

BTW, my wife has a son from a prior marriage. Fortunately, he was over 18 when we started dating. He is also well behaved and respectful. I never take the father role, do not talk ill of his father, nor interfere with their relationship in any way, shape, or form. He respects me as a result. I recommend others take a similar course of action.

There are exceptions of course. For example, if the mother has a young child and the father died or abandoned the family, it might be proper to take the father role. Or the husband legally adopts the children (not really a good idea in this case, even if it could be done). But that is not what we are dealing with here.

This is the only one I would consider working on.

Take the kid on the porch (when it’s convenient… don’t pull him aside for a special conversation and tip your hand), give him a soda, and sit down and talk. Don’t criticize him or his dad, just tell him about how you were raised to respect your mom and some other things that your dad taught you real men do. Do it with some nostalgia, like you’re just reminiscing about “the good old days”.

If the kid has half a brain, he’ll realize the moral of the story is that real men respect their mothers and control their tongues (along with whatever other good advice you can mix in). At that point, he’ll either decide YOU are a good role model and follow YOUR behavior towards your mom, or he’ll reject it and there’s nothing you can do. That’s as far as you need to go.

Patti has told me that she wants me to help…

Yes, I’m certain the burden of “natural penance” from her previous mistakes is quite heavy and she would love to give it to someone else. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works (as other posters have pointed out… you’re liable to cause just as much harm, if not more, than the good you are likely to cause).

I am so sorry you lost your wife. I hope the Lord leads you to another fruitful marriage.

Well, in terms of marriage prospect you describe here, and going past the religious mis-match, ask yourself if this is a case of kids going through a testing phase due to a divorce (or merely hitting the hormonal phase of life very badly), or if this is a case of a woman who doesn’t respect herself enough to require that her children respect her. If the latter is the case, don’t think that you can fix that. You can support her, but she needs to address that. If she isn’t trying to fix that, if she doesn’t see that she is worthy of fixing it or ought to expect to fix it, then I’m afraid you ought to keep looking. You are in a lost cause, at least for the time being. (If she wakes up in the future, that’s another matter.)

In the meantime, firmly insist that a) you do not allow certain kinds of disrespect in your presence (which is to say you defend those whose basic human dignity is being violated) and b) you have enough respect for families that you do not presume to correct parents in the presence of their children. You will, however, correct a child who is disrespectful to their parent in your presence, when the parent doesn’t do it himself or herself. If either parent tells you that you are not to correct their child on this point and yet refuses to do it themselves, then excuse yourself, and do not come back. Don’t negotiate on this one.

Yes, I’m saying that you defend both parents in the presence of their children, from all comers. You can let the kids know that you do it out of respect for them (the children) as much as out of respect for the parents, and that they should expect respect for their parents not only from themselves, but from everyone who meets their parents in their presence. It is one thing to pass over insults to onesself, but one ought to defend against insults against one’s parents, as a matter of showing respect from where one comes from. It ought not be violent, but it also ought to be non-negotiable.

I want to hope for the best, but I truly fear that you are in an unwinnable situation, here. Do be careful.

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