So you’ve met a woman. Maybe it was in a bar, or maybe it was in some self-development class, but either way you have felt a connection, a knowing, a sense that this lady is someone you could see yourself spending your life with.
Only there’s something you don’t know; something she hasn’t mentioned. You only start to get a feel for it when she seems reluctant to take you home – or let you take her home. Eventually it comes out, it has to. You haven’t just met a woman, you’ve met a mom.
It’s a Package
Right about here, she will become one of two people: either the ‘my kids are ok and do their own thing kind of mom’ or ‘we come as a package mom’, But don’t be fooled; it’s always the second. The truth is moms and their kids always come as a package. Like it or not, if she accepts you as a boyfriend, you have inherited a kid.
So, you’ve met the woman, who became meeting a mom, and now it is time to meet the kid(s).
Let’s assume for now that there is only one. The multi-pack version can be looked at later.
The first thing to bear in mind is that you are going to have gut reaction to him/her. You’re going to love or loath him/her. This will have almost nothing to do with the kid—especially if he/she is still very small. Kids are natural mirrors, with no smoked glass. When we look at them, we see ourselves reflected back—or rather we see what we are like as people. We see what our values are. So if you don’t like him, it is because he is showing you something about life, about people, about the human race, that you don’t like. He may seem to be a weakling, or whiney, or overly aggressive, or overly passive, or too clingy, or too aloof, or bossy, and so on. Whatever it is, that’s what you don’t like in people—and possibly yourself. You will see this because most kids have next to no ability, or interest, in hiding any of part of themselves—if they can, it is likely for some rather sad, self-preservation type reasons.
This might be the first time you have met someone in the rare act of being totally honest about themselves—and since he is not your child, who you personally created and therefore feel unconditional pride and love for – you know you have a totally bona fide excuse to think ‘yuk!’ However beware, because this also means this new little being in your life is extremely vulnerable to you. Even his teachers, who are in his life by choice and vocation, are unlikely to judge him as harshly as mom’s new boyfriend will. You have enormous influence over the poor little thing. By your actions, you will tell him if he is okay or not. Make no mistake, whether he shows it or not, you have great power over him.
Power and Responsibility
The irony is that most men coming into such a situation feel the opposite. Instant-parent is a difficult if not impossible predicament, and for all sorts of reasons (not least, trying to not upset mom) most men will feel they have no power, no ability to properly parent. But this is an advantage. Since you can’t parent in a traditional ‘tell them what to do’ way, you can actually step back, relax and learn to parent by example, by reasoning, by… well, actually by self-development. How you ‘as a representative of the world’ choose to respond to him means you can learn a lot about how much response-ability you have towards the world at large, and ultimately yourself.
You also have a good excuse to admit you have no idea what you are doing and go and join a parenting course. Engaging in a parenting course when you are a natural parent is still seen as an admission of failure by some or of taking-it-all-too-seriously by others. But inheriting a kid is a great way to be in one—you can claim the ‘well, I thought I’d better get up to speed’ excuse.
What makes parenting courses so good for the switched-on-to-life man who cares about more than his finances, is they are a way to do self-development courses without doing self-development courses. This is because they are really about understanding your own little kid, the one still stuck inside you that comes out and throws an emotional tantrum when life isn’t working.
So don’t be deterred when you meet a woman who’s a mom. Under the guise of learning how to ‘handle her kid’, you can be free to be a real mentoring parent, grow in leaps and bounds as a person, and ultimately be the man you always wanted to be.
[Written by Anna Pullman, Photo by D Sharon Pruitt]