A note to readers:
This post will appear on both the “Ask the Guys” page and the “Fatherhood/Parenting” page. It seems appropriate for both.
And now, in addition to answering relationship questions, THE GUYS will also be fielding parenting questions. If you’re looking for an objective view about a parenting situation you’re having, we are happy to offer our humble opinion. Don’t consider this advice per se, because we certainly have many questions ourselves. But we—”our collective parenting experience”—might be able to offer some insight into your problem. And if nothing else, it’s another opinion for you to consider.
So ask away. Don’t be shy.
My son is 26 and has been dating a woman who is 33 for the last 7 months. She has three kids of her own.
I dont understand how he can throw his life away? He will never have children with her because she already has three. But he says he loves her.
Dear Upset Mom,
Thanks for your question. We can certainly speak to this topic from both sides. (Some of us have chosen your son’s path and some of us are parents.)
As parents we want our kids to have a great life. We want them to get an education, land a great job, find a loving partner, have their own kids, and grow old—surrounded by a support system of wonderful people including their kids. In essence we want them to live the lives we’ve lived—or are living—but only better. And this is completely natural and understandable. We’re right there with you.
However, you know as well as we do, that this isn’t how it works. Think about your own choices and how they may have clashed with your own parents’ hopes and dreams for you? At least on our end there has always been, and still is, a healthy dose of conflict with our parents, as we fumble and claw our way through this life. Not to get all existential on you, but isn’t that what the human existence is all about? It’s a continuum. We try our best, make mistakes, grow wiser—hopefully—and just as we think, maybe just maybe, we’ve figured out a little something, it’s time for us to leave this earth.
Your son is doing exactly that. He’s making the best choices he can make for where he’s at on the continuum of learning. Sure it’s easy for us to offer this viewpoint sitting here on the sidelines, but actually we do know EXACTLY how you are feeling.
So what are you saying to your son? Are you giving him a hard time about this? Because if you are, you’re putting your relationship with him at risk. And for what? No matter what you say he’s going to do what he thinks is right for him. This is not a guy thing. This is a human thing. He has accrued a certain amount of information in his life that he carries around in a metaphorical bag. This bag of experiences informs him every day. And so he can only make decisions based on the experiences he has already. Maybe in five years, ten years he’ll look back and wonder what the heck he was thinking. But right now, he can only make decisions based on his previous experiences. And for him a relationship with this woman seems like a good thing right now.
So you have two choices.
1. Try to accept this as best you can and support him. If he ultimately chooses this path then at least you’ll be with him as he moves forward with his life. And if he does break it off with her, you’ll be there to help him get back on his feet, with your relationship still intact.
2. You can continue to be against this choice and draw a line in the sand by letting him know he’s making a mistake. But then you’ll miss out on being part of his life because he’ll shut you out. Sure, if you must tell him how you feel, say it once, and once only. But after that one time, if you continue, he’s going to push you out of his life. And if he does break up with her, he’s going to remember how you treated him—mainly that you didn’t trust him to make his own decisions—and hold that against you. Your relationship will be in serious jeopardy, and will likely be forever altered. And we honestly don’t think you want that, do you?
Guys especially need a purpose in life. For some it’s a great career. For others it’s a family to take care of. And for some, it’s bedding as many women as they can. And guys struggle with this. Some choose one purpose only to realize it’s not what ultimately makes them happy, and then they do a complete 180.
It’s very possible this is not your son’s “final stop” on the continuum. As we said before we’ve been on both sides of this. And we’ve seen it work out to varying degrees. A dear friend of ours married a woman with three kids and couldn’t be happier—much happier than many who have chosen the conventional life. Others have dated women with kids only to break up after a time.
So please think long and hard about how you want to proceed from here on out. We understand you’re sad, frustrated, and probably a bit angry. All the time and energy you spent raising your son, only for him to choose this path?! We don’t think there’s a parent on this earth that would choose this particular path for their child. But all parents would choose happiness for their kids.
Remember, the relationship you’ve built with your son is everything. Don’t throw it away over this. He needs you now as much as he’s always needed you. And that will never change, unless you create a situation where he doesn’t trust you anymore.
So hang in there. You might be surprised at what happens. Most relationships don’t last, especially when complicated by more than two people. But when they do, they were meant to.
ps. Let your friends know about us. (If they have any relationship or parenting questions.) And please consider a donation to THE GUYS. (PayPal button on right of each page.) It does take time to answer questions thoughtfully and thoroughly. Thanks!
Readers: Please share your opinions. Or experiences.