M brought up an interesting point-to-ponder in her comment to my last post, about my friend Angie's struggle with her emotions regarding her boyfriend's kids. Would I have felt differently about my husband if he had come with a child?
I honestly don't know. Angie's situation is difficult, I think, because he has always come with this baggage. She knew he was a parent long before they started dating, and that's one reason that they knew each other for over a year before finally getting together. It's colored her impressions of the relationship and the "where is this going" end of it since the beginning.
My husband's ex was raising a son when they were together, and he was a true father figure to the boy. His sourness over the way she left things was exacerbated by the immediate breaking of ties with her kid. Even though he was pretty much the dad for the two years they lived together, he never got to say goodbye (because she was evil and selfish), and I think that's a sore spot that he never talks about. But let's say, for a moment, that this kid was his child, and that he was still in his life. Would I have still been interested?
I can say that it probably would've been something to add in the "con" column of our pro/con list (not the kid, per se, but all the baggage the kid brought into the relationship), but I'm not sure it would've been the dealbreaker. I don't think I could be a custodial parent, but if it meant having him in my life? Knowing what I know now about my husband I'd do it in a heartbeat, much in the same way that I'd take custody of my niece without question if something happened to my brother. However, I doubt I'd have even begun a relationship with him if he had been a custodial parent. A non-custodial parent? That's a big maybe.
As for Angie & her boyfriend? Who knows. After her engagement broke up a year and a half ago she vowed to spend the year abroad that her former fiancé had poo-pooed due to finances. She's been saving up since then and I think it's extremely important for her personal growth that she does it. I also think that her boyfriend will not be able to join her, and this will break her heart. Had they met after this year abroad I think it would be a completely different story, and maybe they'll come back together after her trip. I just think that if this doesn't work for them, it will have a lot more to do about the timing of the relationship than about his kids.