Dear Single Dad,
Let her love you. But too, she must love your kids. It’s not enough that she has kids of her own. This fact does not entitle her for the role she may have in your kid’s growth and development. It’s not even enough that she likes your kids or tolerates time spent with them.
She has to love your kids with genuine adoration and respect.
And for this to exist, she has to love and respect herself. She cannot rely upon your attention to define her worth, she is not your child. She is your lover, your friend and possibly a parental partner for your kids. She should show up whole and ready for all parts of you, not just the parts that work to her benefit.
She should not view your kids as the residue of a past relationship or the shrapnel of a night’s worth of passion.
She should embrace them as human beings with hearts, feelings and future relationships of their own. Because they are the best part of you, they are expressions of love.
I get that she moves your soul, rocks your world and perhaps you are feeling loved beyond your wildest imagination. You have found the companionship you’ve always longed to experience and you deserve this love. But please remember, you are not alone in this connection.
Those who inhabit your heart will intrinsically inhabit the hearts of your children. This hallowed space should be protected, curated and cherished by those invited. For this woman will play a vital role in the growth and development of your children.
They take cues on self-worth from your interactions with them and many of those cues are never spoken. These cues are lived and experienced in real time moments that you may not notice but to your kids, these moments often become part of their self definition.
True love begets true love.
True love grows children into wholehearted adults.
Wholehearted adults attract wholehearted love.
Wholehearted love cannot exist with a woman who has to be the constant front-and-center in your world. She “wins” you over and over again because she competes with your kids for your time, attention and love.
It may not be obvious to you but it will always be a flashing neon sign to your kids. The sign that shrieks its hurtful message of postponed love, “You are next on my list, wait your turn, stay in cue, be right with you, just one minute…”
It’s this often silent, always insidious message of rejection that warps your kid’s developing sense of self-worth.
If the girlfriend/wife (& her kids) are repeatedly given the highest priority of time ahead of your own daughter… be aware, the results can be highly corrosive. Resigned to being set aside, your daughter will hungrily accept any small amount of attention you have left over to give her.
This will become the blueprint for her future lovers.
Your daughter will always settle for less than she deserves.
If the girlfriend/wife (& her kids) are repeatedly given highest priority of time ahead of your son… be aware, the results can deeply impair his ability to recognize healthy love. He will learn to move the people in his life like pieces on a backgammon board.
Your son will be “won” like a carnival prize from a good roll of the dice rather than being deeply loved from a genuine and giving heart.
There will come a day when you will recognize these failings and it may be too late. Because your kids will grow into adults who don’t fully recognize their worth. They will, in all probability attract relationships with people who can’t give them the love they truly deserve.
Believe me and hear my heart. I am sharing this with you from a deeply personal space. I’ve been on the outside watching the other family bond, vacation and grow together. I’ve expended hundreds if not thousands of hours willingly waiting in cue only to come up short again and again. And predictably, I attracted partial, conditional love throughout my adult life.
After becoming a parent I began to shift away from this depleted version of love. In loving my own kids, I’ve learned that wholehearted love exists and now I attract other giving hearts into my life. I am grateful for the wisdom in love they continue to teach me. And the more I learn the more I’ve wondered, “How do you love a person and not love their kids?” To me the two are inseparable and that’s really a gift. I want to love a man who is big hearted, wide open and healthy enough to love us all! I want a shared love, not a stolen one.
If she truly loves you from a healthy, giving heart, she will love all of you and your kids. This giving heart does “win” you or seek to posses you love. It is not threatened by your attention or love for the very best of you, your kids.
Instead, the giving heart is wholehearted in its intention and genuine in its love of you. Because true love begets true love. True love grows children into wholehearted adults. Wholehearted adults attract wholehearted love.
And, we all deserve true love.
A Wholehearted Lover
For more self-study, The Urban Howl recommends The Universe Has Your Back: Transform Fear to Faith.