Many can relate to the issue Shmuel writes of, especially those trying to make it a go with blended families:
I have two children from my first marriage. Both are teenagers. The woman whom I have been dating has one child from her first marriage, a preteen son. After months of dating and knowing that we wanted to take the relationship to the next step, we gradually introduced our kids to each other. At first, things seemed okay.
When I asked my daughter about my girlfriend’s son, my daughter said that she doesn’t ever see herself having any type of relationship with him. I told my daughter that it was too soon to make a judgment call; plus, she is a few years older than him and I don’t expect her to be best friends with him. But she will be living with him off and on for the next few years and I’d like for them to at least get along with each other.
When I asked my son about the boy, all he said was that he thinks the boy is “okay” and maybe he can see them doing things together “sometimes.” That gives me hope. My daughter has me a little worried. Any advice?
Thank you for the letter, Shmuel.
Dating is hard enough without adding children into the equation, and you’re adding two teenagers and a preteen?! Wow. Kol HaKavod to you and your girlfriend.
I can see where your daughter is coming from. She’s a few years older than this other boy, and even though they have spent some time together, she doesn’t see a future with the two of them going to the pizza shop and movies together. Fair enough; the two don’t know each other very well yet. Maybe with time and the more they get to know each other, they may find that they share common ground – or not. As you mentioned, they will be living together off and on for the next couple of years.
I am also aware that you wrote that you told her that it’s too early to “make a judgment call,” but you are the one who asked her what she thought of the boy. You did kinda ask her to make the judgment call. The good news is that your daughter feels indifference to the preteen boy, and there is no bad blood or bad chemistry between the two. I don’t know what your custody arrangement is with your children’s mother or what your girlfriend has with her sons’ father, but as long as they are able to be nice to each other, civil, cordial, then I think it is fine. You can’t push a relationship on someone, and if you did, it may backfire. Let your daughter and the boy get to know each other better. Give it time. And your son’s answer sounds perfectly normal: He doesn’t know the boy well and maybe he can see them playing ball together one day or maybe learning together. At the very least, they can walk to and from shul together once in a while. Your son sounds like he has a better grasp about things: Whatever happens will happen.
I know of a story where the children of the couple could not stand each other. The two children really did not get along, but they loved their parents more than they hated each other, so they found a way to coexist under the same roof. I also know of a story where a widow and widower married each other; each had four children. Right away they became a family of ten. It was a huge adjustment for everyone involved. Some of the children were the same age and gender, while others were the same age but different gender. It was quite a challenge, but they worked it out (They bought a house, converted part of the attic into a bedroom and part of the basement into bedrooms and then started assigning the children to rooms and roommates.) Now, over 20 years later, all eight children call themselves siblings and get along very well – not to say that there weren’t huge hurdles for them to overcome. It was much like the 1968 movie Yours, Mine and Ours with Lucille Ball and Henry Fonda.
Shmuel, what I am hearing from you sounds very doable, normal, and nothing to keep you awake at night. Your daughter was being truthful with you. At the moment, she, a young woman of 14-17 (you never mentioned her age), doesn’t see that she has anything in common with a boy of 11 or 12. But that isn’t abnormal, is it? Give it a chance. Let Mother Nature and Father Time work on it and, who knows? They may have more in common that your daughter thinks. Or not. But as long as they can peacefully coexist, what more can you ask for?