Earlier this year I wrote an essay, mainly for women, about meeting a single dad’s children and using it as a litmus test of his commitment. I cautioned against that and tried to give women a peek behind the curtain of their man’s thinking and explain why he may not be so eager for that next step.
I now want to write to those single dads about the same thing.
I routinely use readers’ emails for my topics. I’ve lately received a string of pleas from moms about a single father who after a reasonable amount of time is still resistant to meet her kids and to introduce his. The common theme from all of these notes is:
‘I want him to know the full me, that includes being a mom. I want to know the full him, that includes him being a dad.’
It’s honest, sincere, and they’re right.
To the men reading this, it’s important you understand, if the woman in your life is a mother, that job – motherhood – is a huge part, and probably the biggest part, of who she is as that woman. Motherhood is a tree with deep roots that get wrapped around her heart. Many women – far too many women – are raising their children alone without any help from the father. They don’t get the luxury of ‘finding themselves’ or have much time to explore who else they might be. By necessity, motherhood is in first chair position of their lives. For such women, their entire world may be summed up in one word – ‘Mom!’
God stitched motherhood onto these women’s hearts. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all. (Prov. 31:28-29) So when you refuse to see that side, you are rejecting her as a full person. You are telling her you only want to know bits and pieces. It’s like wanting to know her arms and legs, when the other parts, the best parts, you’re discarding. Her kids are her heart and soul, and you wound her when you don’t want to know those intimate places.
How can you tell her you ‘love her,’ when you don’t want to know her?
When a single mom chooses to bring you into that part of her life (if she is doing it right) she is showing you her trust. A wise mother will not bring just anyone into the inner sanctum of her being. She will not risk the most precious parts of who she is for a stranger. When she wants you to meet her kids, you need to pay attention and take it seriously.
Do not be flippant or casual about this. If you’re not ready to take that step, then explain why with sincerity, grace, and honesty. Don’t blow it off by saying ‘I don’t think it’s time’ or ‘I’m not ready yet’ and leave it there. You’re piercing her with blades of rejection. If you don’t think you’re in the place to meet her and introduce your kids, that’s ok, but you need to talk it through, reaffirm your commitment to her and the relationship, and tell her where the relationship needs to be for your feelings to change.
Furthermore, if you agree to meet her kids, then you need to introduce yours. Just as she wants you to know the ‘real her.’ She wants to know the ‘real you.’ She desires to see you as a father and what kind of father you are, because there may come a day when you are a father to her children. Don’t be the guy who meets her kids, yet keeps yours on the sidelines. You will devastate her spirit.
Introducing children is a significant step in the life of relationships. Perhaps the most important. It’s like adrenaline being injected into the lifeblood of a couple. It takes their love to another level, and it must be taken with the seriousness and severity it rightly deserves.
A relationship that is ‘rocky’ or ‘up in the air’ isn’t at a place where the children should be introduced into the mix. The relationship that is ready for that step is healthy and strong, spiritually and emotionally. The couple eagerly awaits that day, because they sincerely want to know each other more. It shouldn’t be a one-sided decision. If it must be forced, there are much larger questions demanding answers. To push introducing the kids may be the worst possible choice.
Anything else may jeopardize the relationship and break the heart of a mother.
The loveliest masterpiece of the heart of God is the heart of a mother. – St Therese of Lisieux