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Dating a single mom with a pre-teen

 I’ve been dating to a lady who is a single mom and it’s starting to get serious. I don’t have any kids but she has a daughter who is 12 She’s a good kid and is well behaved but when I think about the idea of marrying a single mom it makes me think of a lady with a baby or real young child. Is it bad to marry her if her kid’s almost a teen?  The girl is also adopted and my girlfriend wants to adopt another. I’m not sure how I should be feeling about all of this. Got any advice?  –Jeff-inOR


There’s a lot more going on than you may realize –and much of it is very good. Let me summarize what you’ve stated:

  • You’re conflicted about marriage because the child is 12 or older
  • You’re conflicted also because the kid is adopted
  • You’re conflicted about your lady wanting to adopt another child

As with all blended families, if you marry this woman there will be certain challenges. There consistent issues Stepdads run into and have to work towards improving. Some examples are; differences in family dynamics, bonding with your new kid, defining what your role will be (with regards to the child) –and so on. However, in your situation you also have some unique benefits most Stepdads don’t get.

  • You won’t have to deal with a bio-dad since the girl is adopted
  • You have the option to become her adopted father

Having a bio dad in the picture can be a blessing or a curse –depending on the man you’re dealing with. A good man can help pave the way for the good of the kids and make your job much easier. However, many Stepdads will tell you about their wife’s horrible ex. The truth isn’t quite so simple. Yes, there are some terrible bio-dads who are deadbeats and losers but there are also plenty of Stepdads like that. Many biological fathers don’t like seeing another man raise their kids. Seeing his kids with another father figure can make a man feel like he’s being replaced. It’s emotional and can make bio-dads react irrationally sometimes. This can create a lot of turmoil, and Stepdads frequently find themselves caught in the middle. The good news: You won’t ever have to worry about that because your kid is adopted.

More good news is that you will probably be able to adopt and become her one and only “dad” as long as she and her mom are ok with that. Before you make a decision that you want to adopt her it’s important to make sure she wants it to. Pre-teens (and teens) are very much about their feelings. No one likes to feel forced. If she feels you are making the decision for her it will make it harder for the two of you to bond and will also give her a reason to dislike you. If she sees you as a bad guy she’ll probably perceive you as a threat in her relationship with her mom and could try to work against you. Moms care about their kids and will probably (rightly so) be concerned. Having the daughter working against you can put you in a frustrating position. The best advice I have is to include the girl in all discussions about adoption and seek her opinion. Young people like to have their opinion matter as much as adults do. For kids, it’s especially empowering because most people don’t’ ask what they think. Tell her that you’d love to be her dad and you’re excited to become part of their family. There’s a good chance she wants a daddy. It’s normal and most young kids do. Ultimately let her decide. If she says no, she may change her mind later. If not then just be the best father figure you can be.

Uncertainly in marriage is not a good starting point. Based on what you wrote you seem to have some general uncertainty about whether you want this marriage. Until you feel solid about the decision, don’t do it. The divorce rate is quite high but the failure rate for 2nd marriages –or blended family marriages is about 20% higher than traditional first marriages. This means that you can expect this marriage to be more challenging than a traditional first marriage. If you’re uncertain going in, then it stands to reason that you would run an even higher risk of failure. Talk with your girlfriend and agree on what role you will play in her daughter’s life if you were to get married. Talk about what each of your expecatations is and iron out any differences before you say, “I do.” If you don’t do the work up front, you’ll pay the price in the end.

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