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Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Never Say Neverland

Dear Mistress Maeve,

My boyfriend and I (both in our mid-twenties) have been together off and on for the past five years, parting ways only during times of extreme geographical difference. We get along fantastically, recognize our differences and seem to balance each other really well. We just can't compromise on one very vital thing: I want kids someday, and he's not sure.

He says he's afraid he will forget to go to his kids' band concerts, afraid he won't provide enough rich cultural experiences, and he doesn't want his kids to struggle with school like he did. We got into an uncomfortable conversation about whether we should continue to date if our views are so different on something about which we cannot compromise. He told me not to listen to him and that his feelings aren't permanent. I'm afraid that we'll date happily for a few more years, and then when my "crazy clock" starts ticking, I will be alone in wanting a family.

Is it unreasonable to want to know now if we are on the same page about having kids in the future? Is his Peter Pandering likely to change, or should I listen to what he's saying and make hard choices now?

Wendy and the Lost Boy


Dear Wendy,

After being together for the better part of five years, you’re not unreasonable in wanting to know if you're on the same page about having kids.

It sounds like your man has some debilitating fears of fatherhood that need to be addressed before he feels confident enough to be a parent. It's time to revisit this issue and give it the weight it requires. Tell him that you're not willing to compromise on having kids, and that he needs to quit being wishy-washy. It's unfair for him to say he doesn't want children, then follow up with "Don't listen to me; my feelings aren't permanent." Encourage him to take some time to think, see a therapist, whatever — but tell him that he has to give you a clearer picture of what he wants, and he needs to do it quickly, so that you can make difficult decisions if need be.

Let him know that, despite his fears, you think he'd make a fantastic dad and that you're willing to be a true partner in parenthood. Your Peter Pan references may be spot on — perhaps your Lost Boy simply needs to grow up a bit and gain more confidence before deciding to bring kids into Neverland. On the other hand, if he has no desire to hear the pitter-patter of little feet, you may need to be your own Tinker Bell and save yourself from this relationship.


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