November 19, 2011,
L.M. asks from Wheaton, IL on March 30, 2007
How Do I Tell My Daughter I'm Getting Married?
I'm a single mom. My 4 and a half y.o. daughter never met her biological father and he has no interest in ever having a relationship with her. I very recently met and fell in love with a wonderful man, he wants very much to become a family. We decided to get married next April. I'm trying to gather advice on how to help my daughter understand and deal with these life changes. He and I haven't been together long at all (less than 3 months) so its all kind of sudden. I don't want her to feel like her whole world is being turned upside down. I have been taking plenty of time to let her know that no matter what I love her and will always love her. He is going to be moving in May 1st. She's met him and spent time and adores him. He plans on adopting her and being her dad as time progresses and that relationship becomes more natural. Just need some ideas.
So What Happened?™
Well, I certainly understand not everyone can understand and support different decisions. I did ask not for reassurance or in light of second thoughts but just for some ideas to build on my gut feeling of knowing when the right time to bring things up is. She actually has been showing me when she wants to talk about things. I believe in short, simple, honesty for her. I will say that we all have the complete, enthusiastic support of all family. Thanks for your honesty, words of caution, concern and support.
L.S. answers from Chicago on March 30, 2007
Sorry, I wouldn't do it. At the very least, pass on the move in situation. I do not see how you can bring in a man who is a virtual stranger into your home with your daughter. You are a Mother with a responsibility to protect your little girl. At the very least, date seriously so this is not such the surprise for your daughter. You are both grown adults, no need to hurry for a wedding date. Lily, I am sorry. Please reconsider. I am sure you are a great Mom and I believe you thin you are in love with a great guy. Please, for the success of all relationships involved, WAIT! Good Luck!
2 moms found this helpful
J.H. answers from Chicago on March 30, 2007
Way to fast way to soon! What's the rush? My child would be my first concern- I really find it hard to imagine that after 3 months you know everything about this man. I still learn things about my husband for gods sake! If you two truly love each other than time should be your friend. I also think by you asking for advice on this subject that something must not be sitting right with you- Best of luck to you. I really do wish you well.
1 mom found this helpful
N.D. answers from Chicago on March 30, 2007
If your new hubby-to-be is moving in already on May 1st, the best thing that you can do is to wait and let her adjust to that. If you tell her about your marriage plans, she will feel like it's all coming at her so fast and she won't have a chance to adjust or even get to like the situation. She may even resent you for making so many quick decisions...which even you have admitted to.
My best advice is to let her get use to you guys being "a family" and let her see how good it can be and then, when the time is right, ask HER if she would like things to be more permanent. If she says no at that point, you can either try to "show" her why it's a good idea or you can heed her warning that she might be seeing something that you aren't. Your plans for marrying next April give you enough time to do it right. So, I implore you...give her a chance to adjust before springing it on her.
1 mom found this helpful
N.M. answers from Chicago on March 30, 2007
This has the makings of a Lifetime movie feature. Please please please do not move in with this man so quickly. It sounds like it's a move of either financial help or convenience (as in, maybe his rental contract is up?). It is so far from what you need to do for your daughter. I do not know you so do not know if your making a snap judgment, but i do suggest you wait until you've known him at least 6 months. Do you know his family? How he treats other women (waitresses, his mother, sisters, co-workers), his past, his friends? It's not that every single event like this turns into the Lifetime movie, but more often than not. It happened to my sister and she ended up spending 13 months trying to keep her temporary restraining order in force because he started beating her. I guess my coming from a family of chicago cops doesn't help me to trust men any better, having heard the worst stories about the women who trust too much and allow these men into their lives only to seriously regret it later. Sorry, I really am, for this advice, I am sure you do not want to hear it, but maybe get to know him for 6 months (more like 9 months to a year), which is usually when the honeymoon phase ends and real life starts making it's way back into the relationship. Good luck to you hon. In the end, it's your decision and you sound like you know what you are doing when it comes to the welfare of your daughter. :)
1 mom found this helpful
K.S. answers from Chicago on April 20, 2007
My name is K. and as to the previous advice..you're a grown woman you know what and when love is there. Me personally... my husband and I didn't get married till last year. After being together for almost four. BUT.. when we first started dating everything went really fast. We were together for only two months and I found out I was pregnant with my first child (6 wks. pregnant to be exact) It was really scary for me cause I was just starting to change my life by dating men. Well happy to say we have two beautiful boys and are living our lives together and I don't see him going anywhere. If you feel in your heart this is the right thing to do then your daughter will see it also. All you can do is be her mommy and let her know that nothing between you two will change. And she will now have the daddy that she has been deprived of ( I can relate with her on that) Wish you all the best!
N.D. answers from Chicago on March 30, 2007
I agree with the others, however, you take my advice with a grain of salt. The main person in your life may be your new fiance, but to your daughter, you are all she has. 3 months of courtship seems a bit hasty to start talking of 'moving in.' What if something goes wrong? Your little girl will become even more confused. Children thrive on stability and little changes. Instead, plan events and get-togethers with your fiance where your daughter can continue to get to know him as a future step-dad. By the wedding date then, they will both have created a bond together. Things just seem to be going really fast and I think you need to slow down, that is all. Put yourself in her little shoes.
K.A. answers from Los Angeles on November 19, 2011
L., I was wondering if your marrage was successful and blessed?
S. answers from Chicago on March 30, 2007
I have to agree with the others. Why do you have to move him in so soon? I can't see a reason. Let him come around a little more, take it slow, esp. with a little girl's heart. I'm sure she likes him a lot already but even more time will make her relationship even stronger.
S.B. answers from Chicago on March 31, 2007
Hi Lily! Well, the good thing is, she is still young enough that it wont really be that difficult for her i think. I would just tell her all you are telling her, plus, that you really love this man and you want to marry him and for you to be a family and that he adores her and would love to be her daddy and see how she reacts to that. I bet she is going to be just fine, especially since she is so young. I know what you mean. My first daughter, the same thing happened to me. Her bio dad never wanted anything to do with her. I met me husband when she was 6 weeks old, so he is the only dad she ever knew. Good luck.
S. Bailey CLD
P.H. answers from Seattle on March 31, 2007
First let me go against the grain and say I can understand the quick engagement.. my husband and I were engaged within 3 months of starting dating also... we were engaged in april of 03 but didn't marry until june of 04..we wanted to make sure that we were doing the right thing.. I had a 3 year old son at the time.. and him and my husband spent alot of time together.. my ex is also completely out of the picture... btw ..yes my husband moved in with us in the same time period you are suggesting... my husband has adopted my son and we are very happy he is a wonderful husband and father... but I never needed any reassurance that I was doing the right thing.. so if you are having second thoughts.. which it seems to me you may be.. then maybe you should wait a little longer before he moves in... My husband and I have been married now for almost three years.. which i know doesn't seem like long.. but we are still very happy... when it is right .. you will know it is right.. and you won't need us to tell you...
Good Luck.. if you want to talk feel free to message me..
L. answers from Chicago on March 30, 2007
My son was just a little older than that when I re-married, and I think time spent with the future "dad" was the best possible thing to get him comfortable with the idea of him being around all the time. Can I suggest to you, however, that perhaps it would be better to wait to live together? Perhaps you can tell your daughter that this next year is a year of changes and getting to know her future dad better, but it is still you and her for one more year. You could even present it as you need her to help with wedding plans and help to make things "ready" for him to come live with you. Also, should things go sour (I know, it seems impossible, but it recently happened to a friend of mine and it was -and still is- a MESS!) but if for some odd reason things don't end up working out, it will be FAR, FAR less traumatic on her if he never lived with you. It will be a break-up. If he lives with you first, it'll be like a divorce, because the attachment will be stronger. Let them just be friends until the wedding...daddy-daughter will come later. This will also be teaching her to begin to learn to guard her heart...
J.C. answers from Chicago on March 30, 2007
Okay, I have read through all of the other answers and realize that the last thing you need is yet one more person telling you that you are handling things waaaaay too quickly but I feel that I must urge you to take a step back from your rose colored "newly in love" world and take a look at what you are doing.
I myself divorced in 2002 and dated many different men none of whom ever met my kids until I met my current husband. He met my kids after we had been dating for about 6 months and began interacting with them in a very casual and reoccurring way. Eventually he asked me to marry him and we had an 18 month engagement and the kids helped to plan the entire wedding. My youngest was 4 at the time and I believe the only reason she is as close to her step dad now as she is, is that he took the time to develop that friendship and relationship with her prior to taking on the husband/father role he now has.
As much as you feel you are in love, please remember that your daughter is your first and foremost concern, you're all she has.
N.M. answers from Chicago on March 30, 2007
I know the feeling. I divorced a very rocky one at that. The circumstances surrounding my divorce left me little choice but to give in and allow my children to live with there father. The hardest thing I have ever done, previously I was a stay at home mom. I am trying the nice and convincing route to get custody now. But on to your issue... I met a man about a year after my seperation and we knew within a few monthes we wanted to be married. My children loved coming over loved playing with him. We now have our first home and another child. I worried that my first two would be angry with me for leaving them with there dad and starting this new family without them. I was very wrong! They love the fact that I am happy because now we have more fun. They love the fact that we have this big house, with their fathers home they share a small 10 by 10 room. My new husband loves them and is behind me 100% in getting custody..they spend days alone with him while I work and we do things together as a family. As long as your new partner is understanding of the transition with your little one, things should go well. My oldest has questions all the time, but my son who is 4 just seems yern for his time here because of the family time we have. I think he needs a mother and father working together to feel like his schedule has meaning. I have no problems behavior wise but his father does For him the transition isnt complete because he is still here for short periods of time and wants to be here longer. We plan our time with them arround them and what they enjoy without giving in to much to our regular routine.
When you begin living together try not to change your routine to much with your L. one. Make sure she still gets time with just you since that is what she is mostly used to. If she is used to movie times and speacial breakfast on sat then keep that up and try to get your new partner involved in it. As long as your child does not feel left out of your new relationship then you should have few problems... I hate to say it but it does help her that she does not know her biological father, now she has a chance to meet someone who wants to be a father and will care for her the way you do.
Good luck and Congratulations on a wonderful life change...
A.R. answers from Chicago on April 01, 2007
I also had a short courtship "in person" with the man who is now my hubby. We originally met online and chatted by internet and phone for 5 months and then met in person after which only 4 months passed and I moved halfway across the country with my 5 yr old daughter to be with him. We were legally married in a courthouse 5 months later and then planned an actual "wedding" 8 months after that.
I will say, after having been through abusive relationships and realationships where I found myself compromising to the point of "settling"-- when it's right, it's just right. But if there is a seed of doubt or red flags, then it's time to reconsider. But we're all adults here, and I will go forward with my advice based on the fact that it obviously seems right to you. :)
Let them have time together to bond. Maybe they can start a fun new routine together just the two of them. Can he take her to the park every Saturday or make pancakes together on Sunday? Could he help her learn to count and do math? Etc, etc. Maybe the two of them have an interest in something like computer games that you don't have... let them bond over those things.
When we planned my wedding, we planned it as a family joining. My daughter was the flower girl, but after our vows to one another as a couple, she joined us in the middle and we made vows to her and she to us (she simply said that she promised to love and respect us both as parents) and we lit a unity candle with 3 candles instead of 2, we had a group hug and then all recessed together. She even registered for a few small gifts (like a lamp for her room, a purple flashlight, a pretty throw pillow, etc) We made the reception very family-oriented and made sure we included her in the tastings for food, etc. so that she would be a partner in the whole party. She LOVED it.
I do think it's better for them when they don't know their biological dad (my daughter doesn't either) in that they do bond quicker with other males in our lives. That can be a huge drawback if things don't work out (I've been through that with her in my dating stage) but it's wonderful when you do meet a partner who is willing to be a loving parent.
I can tell you that we are all very happy. We have been married for a year and are expecting a new addition to our family in November. My daughter has moved across the country, been in 2 (soon to be 3) new schools, lived in 3 homes in the past 2 yrs, left family she loves and met new family she loves, been exposed to a different culture, new friends, new routines, etc. and she is still emotionally healthy and resiliant to all the change. If you love your child and that is unconditional- they will know that and be just fine. Children are strong, but we must be strong for them as well. Put her first and all else will fall into place.
Best of wishes,
B.M. answers from Chicago on March 31, 2007
I was in a very similar situation except my daughter's father is still a part of her life. I just had to sit down and tell her straight out. Explain to her that this person makes mommy very happy and wouldn't it be great to become a family? Of course my daughter had a lot of questions, i.e. Is he moving in with us? What now? kind of thing. But I think that if she sees how happy you are, she will settle in well too. The only thing that I can stress is not to pressure her into calling him dad or pushing their relationship too fast. I've been with my husband for 2 1/2 years and it's still a developing relationship. They have good days and they have bad days. But in regards to telling her, I would just be very straight forward. That seemed to be the best bet for us. Good luck!
D.P. answers from Chicago on April 01, 2007
I feel that kids have more wisdom than we give them credit for. It would probably be best if you talk to her before your fiance moves in. You have a month, but don't wait too long. The sooner you tell her the more time she will have to get used to it and to also have the last time with just the two of you. Also, don't just tell her, but ask her how she feels about it too. She needs to know that she has a part in this major life change for all three of you. You can ask her how she would like having (insert name) stay with the two of you forever and ever. Once you do talk with her make sure your fiance gives the two of you some alone time. Don't talk with her then immediately have him come over. She will need adjustment time, then when he does swing by the three of you should go out and do something fun like a picnic or anything "family like". This way it will allow her to observe him and to begin to think of him in those terms. Tell her he wants to be a part of your family, but don't bring up the adoption just yet. I would wait until their bond is stronger. The great thing is your engagement is for a year and he will be living with the two of you for about the same amount of time. Make sure you set aside one day a week when your daughter gets you all to herself. Take a long walk, go to a movie, do a picnic, etc. Then when they start to get closer, he can take her for a few hours each week and do something too. Have her involved in the wedding planning as much as possible. Think of the wedding as for the three of you.
Good luck with your daughter and your fiance. Congratulations!!!!!