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Thursday
Jan012009

"My boyfriend, his kids, and his ex..."

After this post, we received a number of emails from women which all varied on the theme of "What degree of contact is appropriate for my boyfriend to have with his ex?" and "My boyfriend hasn't introduced me to his kids yet." Our position on co-parenting and dating is discussed in part in the interview I (Deesha) conducted with Mike's fiancee and our children's future stepmom, Sherry.  But because of the feedback we've received, we've decided to share more of our thoughts about dating and co-parenting, based on our experiences, on the experiences of people we know, and on good ol' common sense.Incidentally, our advice is directed at women dating men because, without exception, these are the folks who have reached out to us.  But we believe that the same principles still apply in other dating situations.


It's interesting, however, that men don't seem to have "meet-the-kids-why-are-you-hanging-around-your-ex" concerns to the same extent that women do.  If anything, according to some single guys we know, too many women want to rush their dates/boyfriends into meeting their kids, when the guys would rather proceed more cautiously.

This is a serious topic, but we believe laughter can be the best medicine and  a little levity can help bring peace to a tense situation.

So, sometimes with tongue firmly implanted in cheek, we present the following Co-Parenting and Dating FAQs:

My boyfriend’s ex spends all the holidays with him and their kids, and it drives me nuts!  Am I wrong to complain?*

It depends.  Are shared holidays part of the co-parenting plan your boyfriend and his children’s mother established when they split up?  If so, then it’s not so much that you’re wrong than it is that your boyfriend is obliged to honor this component of his agreement with his ex.  Remember, divorce ends a marriage, but families endure.  Sharing the holidays may be one way that your boyfriend and his ex affirm to their children that though they no longer live together, they are still part of a loving family.

What exactly about this arrangement drives you nuts?  Are you never invited to attend?  Is your boyfriend’s ex rude or otherwise unwelcoming toward you when you do join them?  Are your boyfriend and his ex are a little too “joyous” (i.e., intimate) during these holiday celebrations?  If so, address your concerns to your boyfriend.  The problem is not the joint holiday celebration per se, but rather your feeling excluded, disrespected, and/or his ex’s attitude toward you.

Barring any of the above…it’s perfectly understandable if seeing your boyfriend interact with his children and his ex makes you feel awkward and uncomfortable.  We (Mike and Deesha) routinely socialize together with our kids and our significant others, and yet on occasion we still feel something nudge us inside that says  “This is a little weird!”  Feeling awkward or uncomfortable is part of the growing pains of being part of a co-parenting family.  Name the feelings, own them, and give them time to subside.  The more secure you feel in your relationship with your boyfriend, the less threatened you’ll feel by his interactions with his ex and kids.

You’re entitled to your feelings about all of this and should communicate them appropriately (and privately) to your boyfriend.  If the two of you are forging a serious relationship, and he’s committed to cooperative parenting with his ex, you’ll need to talk about your relationship going forward within the context of putting his children’s needs first…without turning you into a doormat.  It’s an incredible balancing act that should only be attempted by mature adults.

I’ve been dating my boyfriend for six months, and he still hasn’t introduced me to his daughter.  I told him that if he’s serious about me, he’ll let me meet her, and if not, we’re done.

Ultimatums in relationships are rarely a good idea, especially if you don’t have the wherewithal to carry out your “…or else.”

Six months feels like a long time to you, but maybe not so much for your boyfriend.  Perhaps he’s still deciding how he feels about you, how committed he is to your relationship, and if it is serious enough to warrant an introduction to his kids.  Some parents rightfully keep their kids away from the revolving door of their dating lives.  They are very selective about whom they introduce their children to and in what context.

Before our divorce was even finalized, we agreed not to introduce the kids to our “dates”–people we were still getting to know and not sure if we would commit to long-term.  We ended up introducing our children to our respective significant others after a year and two years of dating, respectively, once we believed that these people were The Ones we wanted to spend our lives with, and once we believed the kids were ready for introductions to someone new.  Our significant others were introduced to the kids gradually, first as “just friends”, and then more as time went on.

Every family is different; the “right” time frame for introductions depends on the status of the new couple, the health of the co-parenting relationship, and the children’s specific needs and concerns.  It’s a huge step for children to be introduced to their parent’s significant others.  It may conjure fears of being displaced, concerns about having to “compete” for dad’s (or mom’s) attention, and it kills the fantasy many kids have that their parents will get back together.  For these reasons, timing can be everything when introducing kids to the new someone in your life.

Ask your boyfriend if he has a time frame in mind for introducing you to this daughter.  What are his concerns?  How does he think the introduction should take place?  Where?  How much time will you spend with his daughter at the first meeting?  Does the child’s mother have concerns about the child meeting you?  These should be addressed as well.

If you are committed to a serious relationship with your boyfriend, let him know that you are also committed to doing what’s best for his kids.  Let him know that you honor the fact that his kids come first, but that you would like some reassurance about your presence in his and his children’s lives going forward.

My boyfriend and his ex sleep in the same bed sometimes when he visits his kids.  He says nothing happens and it doesn’t mean anything, but I don’t like it.

It’s time to introduce Kenny Rogers’  “The Gambler” Rules for Dating a Co-Parent:

“You got to know when to hold ‘em….” So it’s been two months, and your boyfriend hasn’t introduced you to his kids.  Sit tight.  Hang in there.  It’s early yet.

“…know when to fold ‘em…” You’re dating this guy, and every night he calls to say goodnight to his kids.  He spends about five minutes talking to the kids, and then 30 minutes talking and laughing with his ex about non-kid stuff and the inside jokes they shared as a couple.  As they chit-chat, you sit next to him twiddling your thumbs while watching Dancing with the Stars.

“…know when to walk away…” You’ve dated this guy for three years.  He hasn’t introduced you to his kids, and he shushes you whenever his ex calls (which is often), saying, “She’s still raw from the breakup.  I haven’t told her about you yet.”

“…know when to run…” Your boyfriend and his ex sleep in the same bed sometimes when he visits his kids.  He says nothing happens and it doesn’t mean anything.

If your gut tells you that your boyfriend isn’t over his ex, you’re probably right.  Listen to your gut, and move on.  If he really is over his ex, and he really is interested in committing to you, he will make it his business to make both crystal clear to you.  You shouldn’t have to wonder.

My boyfriend’s babymama won’t let me meet his kids.  She says that if he brings the kids around me, she’ll go to court to take away his visitation.  Can she do this?

The short answer is, “No, she can’t.”  Unless you pose some danger to the children,  your presence is not legal grounds for ceasing his visitation.

Sounds like the ex wants to punish your boyfriend for moving on (or other crimes), and thinks that his visitation is fair game.   There are few co-parenting matters that infuriate us more than when adults use children as pawns to fight their personal battles and demons.

Hopefully your boyfriend can have a calm conversation with his ex, letting her know that his visitation and your presence in his life have no bearing on each other.  He should affirm to her that the kids are and will always be his first priority.  Has he offered to let her meet you before you meet the kids?  Perhaps that will allay her concerns.  But experience tells us that anyone who would threaten to take away visitation to grind their own personal ax isn’t inclined to be so congenial.  All you (and your boyfriend) can do is try and to treat her with respect, regardless of her irrational threats.

When you do interact with the kids, your conversation about their mother with them and in front of them should exist along the continuum of neutral to nice.  Even if she bad-mouths you and your boyfriend around the kids, the two of you have to be the bigger persons, for the sake of the kids.

Keep in mind that the kids may feel wary or conflicted about meeting you because they know their mother is against it.  Respect their position, and don’t be overly chummy or try too hard to get them to like you.  Treat them kindly, but give them space.  In time, hopefully, the dust will settle between their parents, and the kids will feel free to get to know you.

My boyfriend spends too much time with his ex.  How can I get him to see that this isn’t fair to me?

This is a tough one because how much time do you consider too much time?  Some women think that their boyfriend shouldn’t spend any time with his ex because if it’s over, it’s over, right?  Well, if they have kids, it’s never truly over.   They may no longer be a couple, but if they are committed to cooperative parenting, they will have to interact for their kids’ sake.  As someone dating a co-parent, part of your adjustment is making peace with this reality.

“Too much time” also depends on the circumstances.  Are they spending time together dealing with kid-related concerns (school problems, health or behavior issues, e.g.), or are they just hanging out enjoying each other’s company?  The latter is an eyebrow-raiser that you should certainly address with your boyfriend (and see the Kenny Rogers’  “The Gambler” Rules for Dating a Co-Parent above).

In our culture, we are so accustomed to nasty divorces or to custody arrangements where kids barely (or never) see one parent, that we question how “normal” it is for ex-spouses to get along, much less spend time in each other’s company.  Remember divorce ends a marriage, but families endure.  Children need reassurance that they are still part of a loving, caring family.  Co-parents who interact in civil and cordial ways and minimize conflict–these parents make life much, much better for kids after divorce.  When a new girlfriend (or boyfriend) comes on the scene, it’s important that boundaries between “the old” and “the new” be respected, but the children remain the top priority.

Ask yourself if the real issue is inappropriate contact between your boyfriend and his ex, or if the real issue is your insecurity about your relationship.  Do you feel that your boyfriend and his ex are crossing boundaries and not showing you (and the new relationship) the appropriate respect?  Your boyfriend should be able to demonstrate his commitment to you in definitive ways that do not require his ex to be used  as litmus test.  His interaction with his ex (or lack thereof) isn’t a reliable gauge of his commitment to you.   Share your concerns with him directly–but take the focus off his ex, if the real issue is concern about your relationship.

The more secure you feel in your relationship with your boyfriend, the less threatened you’ll feel by his interactions with his ex.  It’s easy to think, “I’ll feel better if he didn’t spend so much time with her”, when truly what will make you feel better is clarity and reassurance about his commitment to you and your relationship.

My boyfriend vacations with his kids and his ex.  Is this normal?

Is it typical?  No.  But among those committed to cooperative parenting after divorce, it’s not unheard of.  Ever summer since our divorce, we have vacationed together with the kids.  Our respective significant others have accepted this as part of our commitment to affirming to our daughters that they are still part of a family.  One lament that children of divorce have is that they spend all or most of their time with one parent or the other.  Many children crave times when everyone can be together “like old times”; some parents sacrifice to give them such times.

Co-parenting (parenting in general!) involves lots of sacrifice, including continued interaction with one’s ex, forgiveness, and getting along for the sake of the kids.  By dating (or marrying) a co-parent, you are signing up to sacrifice as well: time, attention, and your comfort zone.

We’re not saying it’s easy knowing that your boyfriend is away with his “old” family.  But keep in mind, the kids aren’t “old”–they are very much a part of his present reality.  Get on board with his commitment to meeting their needs.

That said, consider the specific circumstances of your boyfriend’s family vacation in light of the Kenny Rogers’  “The Gambler” Rules for Dating a Co-Parent above.

My boyfriend won’t insist on boundaries with his ex.  She shows up at his house unannounced, interferes with our social plans, calls constantly, bad-mouths our relationship to the kids, and always uses the kids as her excuse for her behavior.  Should I put up with this?

No, you shouldn’t.  Is your boyfriend worried that insisting on boundaries will anger his ex?  If so, he may have to suck it up, have a conversation with her, and deal with the fallout.  She may initially chafe at his insistence that she respect his boundaries, but hopefully  his calm, matter-of-fact presentation of his expectations will temper her reaction.

Your boyfriend should also reflect on why he’s been so unwilling to insist on boundaries.  Are there issues from their relationship that he still needs to heal or resolve?

Finally, as for what you should do, consider your boyfriend situation in light of the Kenny Rogers’  “The Gambler” Rules for Dating a Co-Parent above.  Perhaps you should give him some time to work out this kink in his relationship with his co-parent.  But if the handwriting is on the wall, and he refuses to insist on boundaries, it may be time to fold ‘em.

~~~

Well, that’s the gist of the dating and co-parenting concerns folks have shared with us.  Don’t see your situation reflected in the FAQs above? Leave a comment or email us!

Happy dating and co-parenting!

« 5 Reasons to Co-Parent After Divorce or Separation | Main | "Custody Chaos, Personal Peace: Sharing Custody with an Ex Who is Driving You Crazy" »

Reader Comments (335)

my boyfriend's baby's mother does not want me to be around when he picks up their child or drops him off.She has threatend to stop visitaiton if i show up with him. SHe lives an hour away. She thinks it is disrespectful. i strongly disagree. It really upsets me. i don' think i can put up with this. He wants to have a fa mily with me and i don't like the way things are going. Am i wrong and over reacting here?

January 31, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermaria lopez

Hi, Maria,

Thanks for stopping by. It sounds like you are in a tough situation. I will reply in a separate post because I believe other readers might benefit.

Best to you,
~Deesha

January 31, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteradmin

My boyfriend with whom I live with constantly has to deal with his ex. I myself has 3 kids...he has 3 kids with her. She will text or call with a question about the kids, has he will quickly respond... She then takes that has she has an audience to go off about our relationship...bashing me in the end. The problem is in the past yr he has left and gone back to live with her(2 wks each time) and tells me two things one he was going back for the kids( which he has 50 50 custody so doesn't make sence) and two because he couldn't take me getting on his case that he wasn't standing up for us and telling her how it is. He has made more of a committment this time with getting on the lease and being on the same bank acct and sharing car insurance but am I crazy for still doubting that he won't just pack up and leave again. We have a great time together but the second she text or calls the problem starts. He says I'm letting her get to me but I feel like it's not her getting to me... It's him disrespecting us and not going out of his way to make me feel comfortable... Am I wrong for thinking he needs to make me comfortable when it comes to this? Please help me my heading is spinning that it is me!

February 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJodi

Hi, Jodi,

I believe you've answered your own question: The bottom line is that you feel disrespected, and that your boyfriend is not honoring your relationship. You write that he's making more of a commitment to you know, but the fact remains that he's walked away from you (and back to the ex) more than once, and he's unresponsive to your very valid concerns about his ex's texts. It's understandable that you would feel doubtful and need affirmation from him that he's truly committed. You're not wrong; you shouldn't have to live in fear that expressing your needs and concerns is going to cause him to walk away again.

When the ex sends the texts bashing you, what is your boyfriend's response? I can't imagine what he can possibly say to her when she's bashing you. Defending you over and over again makes no sense. As you you said, it just gives her an audience. If he ignored her texts, she would eventually stop. That seems like an obvious solution, but maybe there's more to it?

I hope that your boyfriend can hear your concerns--tell him in specific terms what you need from him to feel better about the situation (i.e., ignoring her texts when they aren't about the kids--hopefully he can hear you and be responsive. If not, perhaps you are the one who needs to walk.

February 22, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteradmin

My boyfriend’s baby’s mother does not want me to be around when he picks up their child or drops her off, she also does not want me there on the visits (shes going to wait outside in the street in front of there house for the visit's every week) and says if she finds out im around his house when the visits are taking place she will come and take the child at the time of the visit and not let him have her for the next visit etc, they are already going through court beacuse she will not let him see his child by himself and she has to be there, they will be going back to court soon and shes now going to bring up in court about me and she is going to try and stop me being there on the visits, can she do this? (I am not violent, and do not have a criminal record) she lives an half hour away, and the only reason she doesnt want me there is because shes say's so! and is still not over there break up which happened over a year ago. I personally want to be there and my partner want me to be there, we have now been going out for a year, It really upsets me. He wants to have a family with me and move out in the next 18 months with me, we have tryed being civial to her but it always ends up in a arguement with her slagging me of and she hasnt even meet me properly, i ahve never said anything back to her even when she has been saying stuff about me. she thinks i will harm the child if left alone with her, but personally i think this is just an excuse as i think she is still very bitter about there break up, what would your opinon be if you was in my shoes?

February 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterElla

Hi, Ella,

If I were in your shoes, I would let my boyfriend have his day in court, because ultimately the courts--not any of you--will have the final say about who can interact with the child and under what circumstances. A lot will depend on why your boyfriend has supervised visits--are these court-ordered supervised visits, or does the child's mother do this on her own? If it is based on a court order, will he be asking for unsupervised visits at the upcoming hearing? If supervised visits are not part of a court order, he has more flexibility about who's around when the child visits, and if the mom tries to cease visitation out of spite, he can take her to court. Generally speaking, a parent can't ban someone from being around their child unless they pose some sort of threat, but if he hasn't been granted unsupervised visits by the court, it may be more difficult for him to insist that you be allowed to be around the child. I wish I could offer more support, but ultimately this will come down to the judge's decision, and all involved will have to abide by it.

February 23, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteradmin

Thank you for responding so quickly, the reason why my boyfriend has supervised visits is because the mother of the child says so, he has gone to court once already for unsupervised visits and the reson the mother wouldn’t let him have her was because he didn’t have a good enough bond with his child, and the court granted that he most do a months worth of visits at his house with the mother of the child present, needless to say the child has not cryed or been upset at all around his house and this has made the mother very frustrated, in the last visit she proceeded to say that she was going to lie in court next time and say that the child cryed all the time unless he argees to me never being there on his visits and to sign something in court, when he goes back to court next he is asking to have unsupervised visits as this was the whole reson of going to court in the first place and doing these months worth of visits, my boyfriend now knows that she is going to lie and ultimatly try and make me stay away, she has even told my boyfriends family that if he is granted unsupervised visits with me allowed to be there, she is going to sit outside there house for the whole visit and make sure I am not present and that if I am she is going to come and take the child.

February 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterElla

Hi, Ella,

I would suggest two things:

1. Once your boyfriend dispute's the mother's lie, he might want to request that a court officer monitor one of the visits and report back to the judge.

2. This may go without saying, but your boyfriend should report the mother's threats (i.e., coming and taking the child if you are present) so that the judge can let her know that if visits are ordered, she can't interrupt them on her whim. She still might try, but at least your boyfriend will have gone on record and will have a stronger case if he has to go back to court because she is refusing to honor the visitation request.

And finally, while the two of you can't control the mother's actions, try to stay calm around the child, as hard as it may be. The mom can rant, but you and your boyfriend don't have to respond. Really...there's nothing to say; the judge will rule. Let the adults battle it out in court (or elsewhere) out of earshot of the child. I'm sure the situation is tense and confusing for the child as it is.

Good luck to you.

February 24, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteradmin

Thank you for all you help.

February 25, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterElla

You're welcome.

February 25, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteradmin

Hi my boyfriends ex (babys mom) through out our relationship has never really care when she sees her son, as long as she gets money every month. Most of the time, her son is with my boyfriend and I (for the last 3 years) and she never takes any sort of parental responsabitlity unless she sences that she can have some sort of control on my bf & mines relationship. She does use the child as a pawn, and this has become a strain on my bf & mine's relationship. Whenever the two of us plan a romantic night for us, she "suddenly" has to go to the gym, or has something else to do that is more important then us making our reservations, thus we must cancel our plans since she cant pick up her son. For her son's birthday, I planned a trip to an exhibit he wanted to see, and low and behold, she had HER boyfriend pick up her son at the museum becuause "She made some plans and forgot" and he missed out on my gift that I paid for weeks in advance. I do love my BF very much and his son too, but she makes it perfectly clear to me that "this was part of the package" and whatever she chooses to do must be followed as she is "the mom". In no way did I ever try to take her place, and I have even made it clear to her son that he needs to listen to his mother. She makes threats to my bf all the time becuase his name is not on the birht certificate, and he tired to take her to court for this a few years back but she never showed. Now it has gotten to the point where both me and my bf argue about this, and im not going to lie, the 13 son is in the house in his room at the time, and she now states that she doesnt want me around her son (even though I have fed him, checked his homework, and taken care of him when she's not around for the last 3 years!) she is doing it to have control of my bf and now he is wanting to leave me. Is this legal of her to be able to place restrictions and only be a "parent" now that my bf finally tries to stand up to her on this matter? I love my bf dearly and I feel as though I am being driven out by his ex. And his reasoning is that she is his childs mom and he needs to respect her wishes, but my response to him is that she is never willing to respect his. I feel like it is a one sided battle. Is it not even worth me trying to salvage a relationship with a person I love, or am I just delusional and wanting to save something that cant be saved? Any advice is soooo much appreciated.

March 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLori

Hi, Lori,

My heart really goes out to you. I can only imagine how hard it is to feel pushed out of a child's life after you've forged a relationship with him and been such an integral part of his world.

Even though the child's mom may be motivated purely by a desire to control and manipulate your boyfriend, unfortunately, there's nothing you can do if dad is unwilling to stand his ground.

To your question about the legality of the mom's behavior, I would say that if she's the child's only legally recognized parent, she can place any restrictions she wants. As for your boyfriend's name not being listed on the child's birth certificate...that's perplexing. How is he the primary caregiver of a child over whom he has no legal rights? Does he have an attorney? Even if the mom was a no-show in court, paternity can easily be established. If the child has been in his custody all of this time, he should have at least established guardianship. How does he enroll him in school, get medical care, etc., if he has no legal rights?

Lori, I think you have to ask yourself some hard questions. First, is your boyfriend being completely open with you about the legal situation where his child is concerned? It seems mighty convenient for him to be able to say that, essentially, he has to put up with his ex because he has no legal rights.

Secondly, there is a difference between respecting someone (in this case, the child's mom) and allowing that person to bulldoze over and manipulate you. Is it that your boyfriend really doesn't know the difference--or is it just easier for him to let his ex have her way, at the expense of your relationship?

The most telling part, to me, of your comment is this: "...and now he is wanting me to leave." As hard as it may be to move on, Lori, don't stay where you're not wanted. It won't be easy to move on, but you can't stick around trying to single-handedly make this relationship work. It takes two.

Best to you,
~Deesha

March 3, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteradmin

Deesha,

Thank you very much for the rapid respone. It is very nice to have an outside viewpoint on the current situation. I actually showed this website to my boyfriend after putting up my post, and he said that after searching things out on here, he has more insight on co-parenting challenges that may occur. I am actually the first "serious" relationship he has had, in fact introducing me to his son and even all of us living together, and he expressed that many of the issues that we have been experiencing are all "first's" for him as well. He also mentioned to me that he sometimes feels helpless and trapped againts his son's mother's demands. Hopefully this response can asist him to know that he does have some rights and reason to voice concerns to her as well. And I hope he does do paternity so he can have legal say in his childs life. I am not sure as to why he is not on any paperwork legally, but his son's mother has stated on all school paperwork and medical forms that my bf is "father". There have not been any serious issues that have come up for that to come up (thank goodness!) I just really am so grateful for websites like this that can help give some insight to those that are feeling hopeless and lost looking for answers to these tough life situations. I also expressed to him the possiblity of a co-parenting counselor or moderator to help him expressing his feelings to his often combative ex. Maybe that will help him be able to have his concerns heard. Thank you again for everything!

March 4, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLori

Big sigh of relief, Lori! I'm so glad your boyfriend has gained some insights. It sounds as if his plan going forward has the potential to be beneficial to him as a father, beneficial to your relationship with each other, and most importantly, a big plus for his child in terms of the stability of his family life. Your boyfriend doesn't desire conflict with his ex--and that's a good thing. Hopefully he can move forward in a such a way that is in the best interest of the child, and in a way that will model healing and cooperation for the child, also. I wish all of you the best, and I hope that you can find support from a counselor and/or mediator. Take care!

March 4, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteradmin

I'm so frustrated. My boyfriend and I have been together for a little over a year now. He has a young daughter, Eden, with another woman, Brooke. When Brooke found out we had moved in together and that we were having a child of our own, she lost her mind. She said we couldn't see Eden anymore, that she wasn't going to be our "practice baby". We didn't see Eden for a few weeks afterwards. Finally, after talking to Brooke's father (she wasn't sane enough) she allowed another 7 hour visit. She made him promise I would not hold Eden, feed Eden or have anything to do with Eden or she would take her away again. I haven taken some really cute pictures of Eden with Bill (my boyfriend) and Bill's mother over the past few months and put them online (facebook) for family & friends to see. Well she lost her mind AGAIN and told me to immediately take them down and took Eden away from us again. Bill hasn't been to court yet for custody and feels so helpless. His anger has been coming out more and today he just lost his mind. His anger with Brooke is coming out on me! I started to pack my bags and was going to get a hotel room. It went that far! I realize he is under alot of stress and so am I. Especially now that I am 5 months pregnant and wondering if I am bringing a child into a bad situation. I love him dearly and together we are happy & loving.
I'm at a loss as to what I should do. This is causing alot of pain & hurt. And it is tearing us apart, which is what she wants. She is so spiteful and angry, I don't understand it! We have been nothing been civil and respectful towards her! It feels like there is nothing we can do! He just wants to see his daughter.

March 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterEmily Schreiber

Hi, Emily,

It's so unfortunate that you are dealing with this stress and frustration, especially while pregnant. As hard as it may be, the healthiest next step for you is to separate your relationship issues from Bill's custody issues. While there is no doubt overlap, there are truly areas over which you have no control; the sooner you let go in those areas, the better it will be. Even Bill can't do anything about Brooke's threats and withholding visitation until he goes to court--so you certainly can't do anything about it. It's not good for anyone for Bill to continue to rage in the meantime. If he can't get himself together, then you may need to pack those bags again. That's the part you can control: your participation, whether you stay or go. As much as you care about Eden, you cannot influence custody issues where she is concerned. I hope that you and Bill can keep the peace between the two of you until a judge can make a decision about visitation--a decision that Brooke cannot violate whenever she feels like.

As far as the pictures on Facebook...I would say that a child's picture shouldn't appear on Facebook if either parent has any objection. Perhaps you've put safeguards in place so that the photo can only be viewed by Friends, but even still...Brooke, as Eden's mother, has a right to object. I don't agree that she has the right to withhold visitation for that reason, however.

I wish you all the best,
~Deesha

March 20, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteradmin

I'm at a loss right now. My live-in boyfriend and I have been together two years now. I have yet to be able to spend time with his kids that he has from a previous relationship (they are 13 and 10). I have a three year old son of which my boyfriend has taken over to his ex's house while visiting his children, meaning that she has spent time with my son but he still wont bring his kids over our place when he wants to visit with them so I can also get to know them. I have found on numerous occassions where he has used his children in a lie. Example being; one morning at 3am his ex called, I asked him who it was and he said it was a friend of his. I went through his phone (I know that's a no no but for right now lets keep that factor aside please) anyways, I saw that it was her that called and I listened to her voicemail she left saying how *she loves and misses him*. I confronted him saying that I know it was her that called and not a friend, his responce was that she was calling to tell him about his daughter because she was sick. Mind you, I already listened to her message (though he did not know this) and it had nothing to do with his daughter. They still have late night phone calls (like 1am, 2am) but he alsways says the kids was up late and wanted to talk to him. He even gets mad when he finds out his ex is sleeping with someone or another man is driving her car; though he tries to hide it from me, I can hear some of the things he says even though he goes outside to talk to her Even in just general conversations, whenever she calls he jumps up and goes outside to talk to her. He gets angry anytime I mention anything about the subject of how he interreacts with his ex. I am now 3 months pregnant with his child and as my emotions are getting more jumbled by my hormones, it's getting harder for me to know how to handle this, heck, it's hard enough dealing with it when I wasn't pregnant. Please give me some advice or your opinion on this matter.

March 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCarina

Hi, Carina,

Your hormonal state doesn't have anything to do with the good-sense realization that the situation with your boyfriend and his ex is suspect. Everything you describe points very clearly to an intimate involvement between your boyfriend and his ex. Even if the intimacy is strictly of a non-physical nature (though my gut tells me there's more to it), it's still a level of intimacy that doesn't appear to jibe with your very reasonable expectations of him as a boyfriend. Further, your boyfriend isn't being honest with you, as evidenced by his response to your question about the 3 a.m. phone call, and he's defensive when you question him--as you are right to do--about his interactions with his ex. Unless you are willing to accept your boyfriend's dishonesty, his defensiveness, and his continued involvement with his ex, my advice would be to walk away from this relationship. I know that that's easier said than done--especially since you are pregnant--but the picture you paint of your relationship screams "dead end" to me.

It's not your fault that your boyfriend behaves the way he does; he is responsible for his own actions. But at the end of the day, however, he can only do what you stick around and allow him to do. I would go as far as saying that especially because you are pregnant, you need to leave him if things continue with his ex the way they have--and certainly if his anger at your questioning escalates. His behavior is unfair and disrespectful to you, and certainly not the kind of environment that would be good for a child.

I wish you much peace going forward.

My 2 cents,
~Deesha

March 22, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteradmin

I need some advice. I feel like I'm going crazy. My boyfriend and I have been together for about a year and a half. He has a almost 3 year old daughter and "baby's momma" that live in another state. He talks to his daughter every night on the phone and tries to visit a few times a year. He hasn't told his ex that he is in another relationship. Here's the problem...I am 4 months pregnant and he still hasn't said anything to his ex or his daughter. I am worried that there is going to be resentment and hard feelings from his daughter down the road if he isn't just honest about the entire situation. His ex has expressed to him that she still cares about him and wants to be a family. Am I crazy for thinking it is unhealthy to not just be honest with everyone? He thinks that I am pushing too hard about the situation because the baby's mom will freak out and not allow him to see his daughter. I say the sooner you tell her the faster she can heal from any hurt feelings she may have. I am sick of holding this inside of me just to avoid an argument. What should I do?

April 1, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSally

I have a 3 week old baby by my boyfriend. I also have a 5 and 6 yr old by my ex.My bf has an 8 yr old by his ex. She willnot allow him to see or speak to his son because she is jealous of our life together, but last year her son had been living with us for a year and a half. i guess my question is can she stop him from speaking over the phone with his son because of the new baby? and he has been paying child support and she moved out of state so he cant see his son is that allowed w/o his consent? Also i am very stressed with the whole situation, how can i cope when he bows down any time she says for him to do something. i.e he can only call after nine once a week , then she might not answer , or he cant mention the baby, but she has 4 kids with 4 different dads , she even tried to say this isn't his baby and that i was not faithful, that isn't true at all, the funny thing is that we all know his son isn't really his but he signed the birth certificate can we still get a dna test to stop the child support.he loves his son but isnt allowed to even talk to him for the last year and there is another man raising his "kid" any way , he does love him but it just isnt fair.

April 5, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteramanda clark

Sally,

It is possible that things are still so raw with your boyfriend's ex, that he believes waiting to tell her will soften the blow of the news of your pregnancy. However, if your ex thinks that learning of your pregnancy will lead to his child's mother keeping him from seeing his daughter, then it really doesn't matter when he tells her. If she is capable of that, he needs to have a court-ordered custody and visitation plan in place to prevent it, if he doesn't already. If he has a court-order, then he needs to be prepared to go back to court to have it enforced.

As for what you should do...You can either stick with your boyfriend and do things on his timetable, or if the situation is a deal-breaker for you, you can leave. I can understand wanting to get things out in the open, but there's no guarantee that more time will "speed up" his ex's healing. It's not always that simple. The ex may never be accepting of your boyfriend's relationship with you. Eventually, however, your child will be born, and the ex will find out about it. All you can do is encourage your boyfriend to be prepared for this inevitability; if he thinks his visitation with his daughter will be threatened, he needs to take the steps necessary to keep that from happening.

April 6, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteradmin

Amanda,

To answer your questions...

i guess my question is can she stop him from speaking over the phone with his son because of the new baby?

It's not right, but actually she can, if he doesn't have a court-order spelling out the terms of custody, visitation, and contact. If has such an order, he needs to request mediation because his ex is not in compliance. If he does not have a court-order, communication has broken down between the two of them, and she's limiting his contact with his son at her whim, then he needs to get a court-order.

he has been paying child support and she moved out of state so he cant see his son is that allowed w/o his consent?

That he pays child support has no bearing on their custody agreement--if they have an agreement in place. Whether she can do this legally depends on whether they have shared legal and/or physical custody, or if she has sole custody. Your boyfriend should consult an attorney or the family law court in your area.

how can i cope when he bows down any time she says for him to do something

I don't mean to be insensitive to your situation, but if you choose to stay with him and this is how he chooses to relate to his ex (over your objections), then you cope by letting it go.

the funny thing is that we all know his son isn’t really his but he signed the birth certificate can we still get a dna test to stop the child support.

So let me get this straight...You're concerned that his ex won't allow him to talk to or see the child...but you're also wondering if your ex can get out of paying child support since the child is not biologically his? Amanda...what's this really about? Your anger and frustration that your boyfriend "bows down" to his ex? Because it doesn't sound like your primary concern is the welfare of this child. Just as the ex shouldn't withhold contact on whim, neither should you boyfriend be allowed to withhold child support because his ex isn't playing nicely. The child is not a pawn to be "played" at the discretion of angry adults, and neither is child support. By withholding child support...who suffers? The child, not his mother.

In my opinion, your boyfriend forfeited his right, morally speaking, to the DNA test that would prove he's not the father when he put his name on the birth certificate and, more importantly, when he presented himself to this child and interacted with him as his father. Legally speaking, whether he can stop making child support on the basis of a DNA test depends on the laws in your state. Your boyfriend would need to consult an attorney or the family law court in your area.

he does love him but it just isnt fair.

And stopping child support and telling an 8-year-old that the guy he thought was his dad really isn't--is fair? All because the adults involved are mad at each other? It's not that the child doesn't have a right to know, but he shouldn't be told just so that your boyfriend can get out of paying child support because the mother is being difficult. Further, that another man is raising this child at his mother's urging doesn't make it right for your boyfriend to bow out of this child's life in retaliation for what his mother is doing.

And when you say, "It's not fair"--fair to whom? You? Because your boyfriend "bows down" to his ex, and thus another woman wields control over your man? And for this, a child should not receive financial support?

Or, are you saying that it's unfair that your boyfriend pays child support for a child he has no contact with/isn't really his? He chose to pay child support for a child that wasn't his when he put his name on the birth certificate, so he can't complain about fairness now. Of course, his involvement in child's life should be much more than a monthly check, and he should pursue every legal remedy available to him to make that happen.

Child support is not the "price" your ex pays in exchange for seeing his child. Again, visitation and child support are two separate issues. They are only related insofar as the amount of custody your ex has (i.e., if the child lives with him part-time) is one of the factors in the calculation to determine child support. Other factors include the income of the two parents, and the expenses they each incur on behalf of the child (medical and dental insurance, child care, etc.).

My hope is that all the grown-ups in this situation would put their own axes to grind aside and do what's best for the child.

April 6, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteradmin

Hi,

I'm with my boyfriend for 9.5 months now. We both divorced 6 years ago. I dont have kids, he has daughter of 10 years who I have not met yet.
I am in good terms with my ex, who knows about my new relationship. My boyfriend's ex-wife must know about my existence (as she has seen my cosmetics in his bathroom) but they have never openly talked or even mentioned my existence. I am a taboo.
The problem is that my boyfriend refuses to make me part of his life by normally communicating with her about my existence. At the same time he spends time with the ex as if they were still married. If she calls and asks him for breakfast with daughter and herself on Saturday morning at 10am, he would rather cancel our plans than tell her "i have plans with my girlfriend, how about we do lunch at 12". Often she does come into the meetings with the daughter and they all together play a family as if they were not divorced at all. The ex has known about my existence for some 2-3 months, and has since then increased her presence in his life - coming to the meetings of the daughter and father more frequently and making more and more intimate requests like picnics and breakfasts outside...

I think its great they still get along and can spend time with the daughter, but I am not comfortable that I remain a taboo. I am not even asking to be introduced to the child, all I want is honesty and respect between adults. I am happy to give my weekends away for the daughter, but not for an ex-wife who does not "know" about me and who tends to suggest quite intimate outings (not even a lunch outside but actually lying on a blanket in a park in the sun).

The ex is also trying to make my boyfriend feel guilty by crying "no decent man wants to be with her" and sometimes calling at weird hours. She herself, a 41 year old woman, however sometimes leaves the daughter alone at home at 4 am with childminder and goes to party.... She was also the one who cheated on him and who filed for the divorce. She has had other relationships since. For my boyfriend this is the first time he is living in the same city with her and the daughter after the divorce.

My boyfriend says I need to give him time, and it has been only 14 months that he has had to come into terms with the practicalities of living in the same town with the ex. But I am not sure anymore how much "time" I want to give something like this. He is using the "child card" and saying this is all the best of the daughter. I dont think it is fair to give the daughter hope they will get back together... She is not likely to accept new partners in a situation like this, and most likely just feels even more confused about the situation: she also has seen my items at his place and asked whose they are, but he has come up with lies...
I would be very happy to meet her sooner or later and like hearing about her life so the current situation drives me mad. I get only 2 hours from my boyfriend's weekend because of this arrangement and the taboo.

April 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterEvelina

Hi, Evelina,

I've tried putting myself in your shoes, and I have to say, they don't feel very comfortable. I think you are right to be flexible and patient and "invisible" (for a time) where your boyfriend's daughter is concerned...but for her mother? Six years after the divorce? Not so much... I understand that he has recently located and that's a factor, but at some point, enough is enough.

You write: "I am not sure anymore how much 'time' I want to give something like this" and I believe this is key. I wouldn't suggest an ultimatum to your boyfriend, but internally, you can decide for yourself how much longer you are willing to play Invisible Woman where your boyfriend's ex is concerned.

You may also wish to ask your boyfriend for a time frame; that's different from giving him an ultimatum. Does he have a plan/time frame for when he will "come out" with you to his ex (i.e., being explicit with her about your role in his life, especially at those times when you have plans that conflict with her invitations)? Does he have a plan/time frame for when he will discuss you with his daughter? Introduce you to her? Is it a timing issue related to his perceptions of his daughter readiness to meet Dad's new friend? Or is it a timing issue related to how he's feeling about you/the relationship? This is important to clarify.

I totally agree that it's unfair and harmful to give their daughter hope of a reconciliation if none truly exists. I also agree that if her mother doesn't come around and accept that Dad has moved on, this has the potential to make a future introduction to you/future interactions with you more awkward, upsetting, and confusing for the child than they might otherwise be. If you are going to be a fixture in Dad's life, then all the grown ups involved need to give any future relationship between you and his daughter every chance to succeed (while progressing--and maybe even regressing--at the variable pace that these things are wont to go with kids and the new person).

I understand your boyfriend's concern about his ex's reaction when he starts being up front with her about you, and the potential impact on his daughter. He owes it to his child to proceed thoughtfully. However, as his girlfriend, you have reasonable expectations of him as well--at the very least some indication of his future intentions, in this regard.

April 12, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteradmin

my boyfriend has an 8 year old child by his ex from high school.Now were all in are 20's and me and him been together for 2 years and im pregnant now with his child.Now his baby mama is ferious and upset with the fact im pregnant with his child and she feels as if im interfering. She is married to another man shes been with for years and have a one 3 year old child with her husband.Now she telling my boyfriend if he wants to see his child he has to pay her and if he dont he wont see her at all.What should i do and is that fair?

April 15, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterjasmine

Hi again,

Thousands of thanks for the thoughtful answer. In fact, I was introduced as "a friend" to the daughter last week over lunch outside. Everything went nicely, we got along very well.

I assume the ex has heard about the meeting from the daughter so there should no longer be need to inform her about anything. (On a separate note; using the child as a messenger is a bit cowardly but I guess the only way to make sure the daughter met me with no bias).

Boyfriend however is a bit "quiet" these days - I guess he is a bit daunted by the fact that our meeting was not such a "big thing" at the end...!

What is still disturbing me is that most of the time he visits the daughter at her house (because she is 10 and cannot travel alone in the big city) - whilst the ex is present. They have dinner together like a family. But for now I have decided to stop complaining, at least they all know I exist.

April 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterEvelina

Evelina,

Baby steps, right? ;-) Perhaps the mom will ask to meet you now. It would make sense for her to have had some interaction with a person who, going forward, is going to be spending time with her child. I have my fingers crossed that the bias you are concerned about won't rear its ugly head, but I agree that the child=messenger should be avoided. Good luck to all of you!

April 16, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteradmin

Jasmine,

There's really nothing you can do about your boyfriend's ex's demands. It's not right or fair for her to demand payment from him in exchange for seeing his child, but your boyfriend is the one who must address this issue, preferably by seeking court-ordered visitation. Is he already paying her child support? If so, he should note that child support is not a guarantee of visitation. If the child's mother isn't allowing for visitation, that's a separate issue to be taken up with the courts.

If he's not paying child support and doesn't have a court order to do so, then it's likely that if he takes her to court for visitation, she will ask for support. This should be a non-issue, however, as he has an obligation to support his child.

April 16, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteradmin

My boyfriend and his ex-wife separated and he moved out of their house almost 3 years ago. They went through a really bad separation in which their 2 daughters (8 and 10 now) saw her slash his tires and break his car mirrors. I have been with him now for 2 years and we now live together (including my 12 year old son). I have met and spent some time together with his daughters but his ex is against them coming over to our house. She says their daughters have anxiety and they have become withdrawn now because they are around me and blames my boyfriend. The divorce was final last year and they did get joint custody. She has already told the girls that they are not allowed to come over to our house and if they do, they can't be around me. The oldest child has started to get "sick" all the time at school (upset stomach, headaches) and is now throwing screaming tantrums when her mother goes to work. They saw a school counselor and she told the mom they have "separation anxiety". My boyfriend asked his daughters how they felt about being around me and they said they don't mind. The problem is when they get home, their mom questions them about me and they feel uncomfortable answering these 20 questions every week. My boyfriend doesn't want to make them uncomfortable and make them feel worse so now when he has them he goes to a friend's house or does various activities without me and my son. I really do not know how to handle this situation. My boyfriend knows that I want to see and spend more time with his daughters but he doesn't want to put his daughters in an uncomfortable situation. How do we incorporate them in our lives as smoothly as possible? My boyfriend has tried to get together with his ex to discuss these issues, he has even suggested parenting classes but she refuses to speak to him (her communication is through text only).

April 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLeslie

Hi,

Just thought i would give you an update on the current situation.

My bf went to court 3 times before they allowed visitations unsupervised, but its now been granted and going well!

I have now meet his child, and she took to me very well, even letting me pick her up/feed her etc all in the first visit, she even come to me for a cuddle.

Me and my boyfriend are very happy now with the situation and will be asking for over night stays as we are going to renting our own house soon, i hope this goes well aswell!

The ex is still being a bit of a pain, but so far so good.

April 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterElla

Hi, Ella,

Thanks for the update! We always like to know how things turn out for families, and you never know when your situation will encourage someone else. ;-)

It's a drag always saying, "Go to court", but usually if people reach out to us, they've already tried working things out with the co-parent on their own, to no avail. Some view court as a weapon to punish their ex, but as your situation illustrates, getting the court involved can help defuse the situation and can get families back on track. I wish you and yours all the best!

April 20, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteradmin

Leslie, my heart goes out to you, your boyfriend, and his children. It sounds like the girls' anxiety has a lot to do with struggling to be "loyal" to their mother where you are concerned--a burden an adult should never put on a child.

I applaud your boyfriend for trying to make things more comfortable for his kids and for suggesting parenting classes; it's unfortunate that his ex didn't agree. However, some states do offer mediation to families, even after the divorce is final. Your boyfriend could ask for mediation via the courts, and with the help of the mediator, sit down and address these concerns with his ex. If you are going to be a fixture in his life, his children must be allowed to relax around you, be in their father's home, and not be pressured and inundated with questions upon their return to their mother. Perhaps a mediator can help his ex understand how her behavior is hurting the kids; perhaps the your boyfriend can request counseling for the whole family if the mediation session is unsuccessful.

Hopefully, having a 3rd party involved will help his ex see beyond her dislike of you/your boyfriend and understand that her children need her to be "okay" with the new arrangement so that they can be okay. She may never like you or the fact that your boyfriend has moved on, and that's her perogative. But unless you pose some sort of a threat to the kids, her children need to permission to relax and enjoy their time with their dad, in his home.

April 20, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteradmin

My boyfriend and I have been together for 2 years and he has a son with his ex and hasn't got to see him since april of 2008, just because he said something she didn't like. At Christmas my boyfriends parents called the exes parents and asked if they bought gifts would they be given to the child and the response was no they wouldn't. Their breakup was bad and I was a part of that because when him and I met it ended for them and she has had hard feelings. (obviously).She is now married to another man and my boyfriend and I have a 4 month old daughter together and I have wrote on her and apologized to her for the pain that caused even tho they had their problems long before I came along. I made my amends to her and ask if there was anyway her and I could meet up so the kids could meet. They are half siblings and I feel that they should meet. She made no effort to respond or anything. I am just wondering if I am at wrong for writing her or if maybe I should let it go?

April 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCristy

Hi, Cristy,

Your letter to your boyfriend's ex sounds like a good-faith effort on your part to make amends. However, things may still be too raw for her to reach back, and that's understandable. The ball is in her court, really, in terms of when and if she decides to reach back; there's nothing else you can do but remain willing and try to keep the peace. I don't think you were wrong for trying, though.

As far as your boyfriend not seeing his son in a year...I hope he will try to work out a formal visitation arrangement with his child's mother. If she won't cooperate, perhaps he can get court-ordered visitation. As long as neither parent is unfit, kids should have the opportunity to have a close relationship with both parents. Visitation shouldn't be at the whim of a disgruntled parent, no matter how justified s/he might feel/be in his/her anger.

April 22, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteradmin

Me and my ex broke up & he went back to his wife they have a child together now & we are back together i need to understand co parenting & is it ok she doesn't want me staying with my boyfriend when he has their daughter & is it ok for her to text or call him whenever she feels the need to?

April 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBrittany

Brittany,

The short answer to all your questions is, "It depends." Are the mother's objections to your presence have anything to do with the child's safety or general welfare? Does she feel it's too soon for the child to be introduced to someone new? Or does she not want you around her child because she's angry at you and/or your boyfriend about their breakup? Has your boyfriend discussed this issue with her to get to the bottom of her concerns?

It sounds like you're asking if co-parenting means she gets to call all the shots, and the answer to that question is "no." Your boyfriend (and you) have an obligation to be responsive to her concerns and wishes where the child is concerned, but you're not obligated to honor directives from her based on mere whims or bitterness. The terms of your boyfriend's custody/visitation should be clear and agreed upon by both parents. If your boyfriend and his child's mother can't agree on these terms, perhaps mediation (which many family courts offer) can help.

As far as her texting and calling whenever for whatever reason...that's not "co-parenting". Is she texting or calling about issues related to the child? If not, your boyfriend isn't compelled to answer every text or call immediately, or ever, depending on the nature of the communication.

I may be wrong, Brittany, but I sense from your comment that you are concerned that your boyfriend's contact with his ex and her influence in his life is questionable, but being presented to you as "co-parenting." If this is the case, then I encourage you to share your concerns with your boyfriend. If need be, check in with him about just how "done" he is with his relationship with his child's mother. If your intuition tells you that something's awry, don't ignore it. You owe it to yourself to ask for clarification and to be comfortable in your relationship. All the minute details of his co-parenting relationship may not be to your liking, but if overall you are questioning the nature of your boyfriend's relationship with his ex, then that's important and worth addressing with your boyfriend.

Best to you,
~Deesha

April 24, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteradmin

Hi,

Update on my situation: boyfriend was awfully quiet the whole week after I met the daughter. But physically things were ok. The last week he continued being quiet and also cut all physical contact. Two days ago he also noted he "likes me but is not in love". So for 10 months I waited that our relationship matures enough for me to meet the daughter, and when he did introduce her to me it ruined something from his part. It seems like that me meeting the daughter has caused something now and he is pulling off. I even suspect the ex got angry and asked him to specify how important I am and he is not sure anymore. I feel terrible.

April 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterEvelina

Hi, Evelina,

I'm sorry to hear that your situation took this turn, especially after it seems as if you devoted a lot of thought and emotion into the relationship. I'm sure it's little comfort at this moment, but the "clarity" that your ex boyfriend now has, while hurtful to you, is probably preferable to the kind of limbo you would be in if he continued being ambivalent. Also of little comfort, but possible, is that his ambivalence may have little to do with you and everything to do with his past relationship. Either that "door" wasn't ever closed all the way, or it was but he's having just as hard a time really moving on as his ex is (even after 6 years). Again, I'm sure none of this takes away your pain, but in time, having this clarity may give you a level of freedom and peace that you would not have had if your ex had continued the relationship uncertain and ambivalent. I wish you much peace now and going forward.

Best,
~Deesha

April 26, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteradmin

Dear Deesha,
Where..oh where... do I start?
We have been together for nearly 1.5yrs and started seeing eachother shortly after he split with his ex wife. They have 2 children together, a 6 year old girl and a 16 year old boy. I've NEVER met his ex (we're both not ready for that..). However, i've met the kids together quite a few times and have been able to do activities with them and their father. The eldest boy knows I'm his dad's gf and that I live with his dad, I also see more of him than the little one because my bf and his ex are "shielding" her from any confusion or disruption. She just thinks i'm daddy's "friend" in the times we've met.

My concerns:
*They're lying to their daughter. They can still be a "family" even if she knows they are not together. My bf doesn't live there anymore and comes every 2nd day to the house, plus spends the whole of Saturday day with them as a "family".
*They still greet eachother and say good-bye by kissing on the lips! for the little girl's sake (she isn't to know any disconnect). The worst thing is i repeatedly asked him to stop - which he did. I then was contacted by my own ex after 2yrs of not speaking and then to retalliate my bf kept up the kissing act for his "daughter's sake". Oh, and because his ex started initiating it again! It absolutely infuriates me!
***This last one just really UPSET me so much. He normally spends Saturdays with them as a family but tomorrow is Mother's Day. So on Friday night he tells me he will spend Saturday with me and Sunday with them for Mother's Day - "because his kids want him to spend it with them as a "family" " and that they also did something for him last year on this day. He also said he wants to pay his respect to the mother (his ex) who has been raising these children.
Oh my gosh Deesha, this has just pissed me off so much i got so mad. Why the hell should he have to be there on MOTHER'S Day! I don't know ANY other divorced family that has the other parent joining with the kids on this day! So I said to him - since you respect her so much - please respect the fact i don't want to be with you this weekend. Spend both days there.
And, we didn't speak last night when he got home or today when he left. I feel like why tempt me with the chocolate cake if you're going to take it away anyway - i'd rather not see it.
So yes inturn i'm more miserable because i end up missing out on spending time with him, but at the same time i'm proving my point.

I just don't think i can handle this relationship any longer. I don't want to be his partner on the sideline that will have the mother of his children in his life forever. When she says jump, he will. I want to be that priority along with his children. But unfortunately, they're still HIS family and i'm just the sideline girlfriend. I'm over it!

Saddened,
Kelly

May 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKelly post

I just don’t think i can handle this relationship any longer. I don’t want to be his partner on the sideline that will have the mother of his children in his life forever. When she says jump, he will. I want to be that priority along with his children. But unfortunately, they’re still HIS family and i’m just the sideline girlfriend.

You said it all right there, Kelly. I see what you see in this situation. There's a time and a place for compromise, but there's also a difference between compromising and settling. I'm glad, for your sake, that you are firm and clear about what your expectations are, and that you aren't willing to settle. I wish you peace in the midst of the sadness you feel now, and peace going forward.

Best,
~Deesha

May 9, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteradmin

I have been dating my boyfriend for 6 months but have known him all his life and his son too. Of course this means I also knew his ex, both when she was his girlfriend and after they broke up. Despite the split being more than four years ago she has been very unhappy about our relationship and has stopped all my access to her son. I understand that this is a difficult and threatening time for her and have tried to be accommodating, making no attempt to push the issue of seeing the child, and no complaints about last minute changes to plans he and I have made or curtailment of the time we spend together because of his parenting commitments. We live in different towns and I see him once or sometimes twice a week; his ex-girlfriend sees him 3-5 times a week and speaks to him on a daily basis. My partner has said to me that he is committed to us and is working slowly toward a situation in which I can play a part in his life with his son without it upsetting his ex.

Then yesterday she approached him in floods of tears and said she is ready to mend all her ways if he will come back to her. He is considering it - he says because his son is unhappy. Although he has not decided, I am devastated; she made him so unhappy before and they used to have terrible arguments in front of their son - I can't believe that will make him happier and I know he doesn't love her, he is considering it only for his boy. Their relationship has been characterised by frequent bitter rows, which I find unpleasant and cannot believe provide a healthy environment for their child. I thought my boyfriend and I could have a long future together; we make each other very happy and resolve conflict through reasoned discussion and I had hoped that in years to come we would be able to share our home and family with his son and integrate his ex into occasions like christmas. But if he is even willing to consider trying again with his ex am I kidding myself?

We talked about it honestly and he says he doesn’t know what to do. But not once has he mentioned loving anyone but his son. I don't know what, if anything, I can do.

May 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBeth

I thought my boyfriend and I could have a long future together; we make each other very happy and resolve conflict through reasoned discussion and I had hoped that in years to come we would be able to share our home and family with his son and integrate his ex into occasions like christmas. But if he is even willing to consider trying again with his ex am I kidding myself?

Hi, Beth,

Who knows what the future holds? Given his previously rocky relationship with his ex, it wouldn't be so surprising if things didn't work out between them...again...and if your boyfriend reached out to you in the future. But as for this moment, I agree that if he is considering recommitting to his ex, then it's probably for the best that you press "pause" on the plans and expectations you've had of him and the relationship.

He's feeling the pressure of wanting to make his child happy and that's certainly understandable(though, as you've noted, the way he's going about it offers no guarantees at best, and is problematic, at worst). But in the face of his situation, you may want to take a step back for the sake of your own happiness and well-being.

We talked about it honestly and he says he doesn’t know what to do. But not once has he mentioned loving anyone but his son. I don’t know what, if anything, I can do.

You can't do anything to relieve the anxiety (and perhaps guilt?) your boyfriend is feeling about his son's happiness. Added to this, you have the child's mother's insistence that you stay clear of the child. This issue would have to be addressed if you are to proceed with the kind of serious future relationship as you described, and it doesn't sound like your boyfriend is anywhere near ready to face that challenge.

It's admirable that he wants to do what it takes to make his child happy, but at the end of the day, whatever his stated motivations, that's what this comes down to: he's considering going back to his ex. The impact to you is ultimately the same, regardless of his reasons.

So...what can you do? Take care of yourself. Accept that your boyfriend is likely not ready to share with you the kind of relationship you hope for and deserve. He may well be ready one day; you can decide at that time if you are open to trying again with him.

But remain steadfast and clear on the difference between compromising and sacrificing, i.e., trying to give his ex a chance to adjust to the reality of your relationship), and being taken for granted, i.e., being held in extended limbo while your boyfriend figures out if he's going to go back to his ex.

Best to you,
~Deesha

May 14, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteradmin

I have been with my bf for 6 years. My boyfriend has a 13 year old daughter that he has custody of since about 2 years ago. His daughter since she was around 3 years old was pretty much raised by the grandma (moms mom) I after meeting my bf wondered why he let this woman raise his daughter without really giving him much say so in her life. My bf's ex did not live with the daughter she instead lived with her bf and rarely visited her daughter, meanwhile my bf all this time paid her child support, mind you non of it ever went to the daughter. We soon began having his daughter with us all the time, to the point where she stayed with us for weeks even months at a time and the mother still collecting child support and not ever calling to check on her daughter. One year later we hired a lawyer and took his ex to court and the judge saw his ex to be unconcerned with his daughters well being and gave him primary custody. It has since then been going on 2 years and still no change in the situation as far as his ex showing no concern, I am now pretty much the mother to his daughter and I take almost full responsiblitly for her needs. Recently his daughter did her first communion and of course his ex did nothing to help. As usual I got his daughter up helped her put on her dress and did her hair and light makeup all by myself. Later that morning we were at the church and his ex shows up with her new bf and her new baby which I have no problem with, however my bf's sister then runs over to her and hugs and kisses her then starts taking pictures of her and my bf's daughter then of her and her bf then she takes pictures of my bf and his daughter meanwhile i'm standing there looking totally out of the loop!!! It was to the point where even his mother and aunts were all standing around his ex laughing and giggling with her. I confronted his sister and she said that she is aware that his ex neglects his daughter but that that will always be her mother. I just don't understand why she would acknowledge his ex and not acknowledge me...ever!!! I should add my bf's sister to this day doesn't really ever talk to me and honestly i'm not sure why. I thinks it's sad that his family in general would even give his ex the time of day even after she chooses to ignore her own daugther and me the woman that takes her to school everyday takes her to get hair cuts and cooks and washes her clothes for her... I get no respect at all. I feel somewhat used and totally disrespected, my bf saw me upset and honestly didn't see why I was upset and blew it all off... my question... am I exaggerating? It's not an easy situation and I really only do what I do because I love my bf, I try to avoid his family as much as I can because they have been so hurtful to me in the passed in other situations.

May 21, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterterry

Hi, Terry,

I’ve asked Sherry, our kids’ future stepmom, to respond as well, but for now, here are my thoughts:

You are experiencing what many parents (biological and adoptive) experience at some time in the course of their children’s lives: being saddled with the responsibility and “grunt work” of parenting, but with little or no respect or recognition for it. There are times when parenting is a thankless job, and your situation is exacerbated because you’re not “officially” this child’s parent and because there are these other layers of animosity from your boyfriend’s family. For those reasons, I empathize with you. However, this was key for me:

It’s not an easy situation and I really only do what I do because I love my bf…

If this is your only motivation, then I would ask you to reconsider. You cannot dictate your boyfriend’s family’s relationship with or attitude toward his child’s mother, nor does it appear that you can will them to like or respect you. You can continue to attempt appeal to your boyfriend regarding his dismissive attitude towards your concerns, but ultimately the ball is in his court.

The only way that you can independently change this situation so that you aren’t just this child’s nanny, for all intents and purposes, is to change your attitude toward what you do for this child and why you do it.

You are in a position to build a healthy, caring relationship with this child, one that is borne of, yet independent of, your love for her father. You have the opportunity to create a meaningful bond with her, the outcome of which will be its own reward, independent of how her other relatives choose to view her mother or you. Those people may never recognize or appreciate your care and concern for this child, but ultimately, the child will, and that’s what matters most.

Ultimately, however, you may decided that the disrespect and disregard of those adults is more than you can bear. Only you know your limits. But stay mindful too of your motivation. This child needs you to tend to her (if you’re going to do it) because you care for her, not merely as an extension of your love for your boyfriend. When we as adults involve ourselves intimately in children’s lives, we are making a commitment not just to our significant other, but to the children as well.

What is your unique commitment to this child? Have you discussed this with her father? What are his expectations? It’s possible that he appreciates your care for his child, and views it as independent of how chummy his family is toward the child’s mother. Perhaps you could adopt this same view? Aside from his family’s embrace of the child’s mother and disregard for you, do you feel that he doesn’t value the care you give his daughter? I don’t think how the family treats the child’s mother is a good measure of how much he appreciates what you do. But if you feel unappreciated by him in general, definitely talk to him about that.

It's been two years now since your boyfriend has had custody of his daughter, but it's not too late for you to strengthen the foundation of your relationship with her.

Best to you,
~Deesha

May 26, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteradmin

How about mature adults...over age 50 that are dating. My guy has 4 ex wives and 3 children. The youngest was adopted and is now 8 yrs old and lives with her mom. the other two are young adults.I have two grown sons. My guy cannot have a conversation with me without bringing up his kids and sometimes an ex....what the kids are doing...what they have done. He repeats the stories over and over.
Is this how it is when you are divorced and dating someone with children? I can go for weeks without bringing up my kids. I feel there is not an even balance of us making new and happy memories verses his prior history and what he now does with his adopted daughter. I don't want to keep living his past. And holidays...ha-ha...at the last minute I am always left out if an ex with kids invites him over!!
I have met all his kids....the young adults really are not involved that much...the adopted daughter likes me.
Am I being unreasonable to not want every converstaion to be about his kids ad nauseum??

May 29, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterle sch

Hi, Le Sch,

Four ex wives? It sounds like your guy has spent a lot of time married (unless they were all short-lived marriages?), so it's somewhat understandable that a lot of his past history would involve his wives and kids. Also, how long has he been on his own? Long enough to cultivate a life distinctly outside of wives and kids? Or was his last divorce only recently? Maybe he views those married years as his "best" years and looks on them fondly? If that's the case, it sounds like you may be ready for him to make some new memories and to believe that great years are yet to come--with you. And I can't blame you!

To answer your question, I don't think it's unreasonable for you to want him to stop going on and on all the time about the kids and/or an ex. It's not uncommon for divorced folks to be a bit socially wobbly as they re-enter single life. Your guy may need a nudge from you to realize that he needs to move on, conversation-wise. Hopefully, he will respond affirmatively to your suggestion that you have an evening together, at the very least, in which talk of kids and exes is verboten. Depending on how long it's been since his last divorce, you may want to ask him point blank if he's truly ready to move on and move forward with you.

As for dropping his plans with you at the drop of a hat, I would suggest pointing out to him that this is not only unfair to you as his current significant other, but downright inconsiderate by anyone's social measure.

All the best to you!
~Deesha

May 31, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteradmin

Le Sch,

Also...visit http://www.stepinstitute.ca/. I hear that one of their upcoming teleconferences will focus on dating situations just like yours.

~Deesha

June 1, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteradmin

Hi again Deesha,
Thank you for your advice,
It is a difficult situation and I actually need to focus on all the good that has come out of it. I think I have been a great role model to his daughter, i'm not perfect but I really do so much for her. My boyfriend takes it all for granted but his daughter thanks me everyday for any little thing I do for her even something as small as putting away her clothes. I left out that I myself have a son and I treat her with the equal amount of attention as I do my own son, which at times can be very tricky! I do agree being a mother is a thankless job. I thought of everything you said today and actually felt better about my place in this whole situation. I'm never gonna be able to make anybody like me or accept me so I might as well stop focusing on them!! I should'nt have said that I only do this because I love my bf because those were so not the right choice of words, what I meant to say was that I only hang in there because I love him and I love her too! I know he appreciates me too I just have to learn that some people aren't as open with all of this as I am... Thank you once again!! I'm gonna save your response and everytime I feel upset again i'm gonna read it all over again because you really opened my eyes!

June 2, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterterry

Hi, Terry...I'm so glad you're feeling better! And I'm glad to hear about your relationship with your boyfriend's daughter.

It's hard to give and give and give, only to feel as if the people you are caring for take you for granted. Here's wishing your boyfriend could be a little more open with his appreciation for all you do. But if not, it's wonderful that his daughter appreciates your role in her life. She's expressing her thanks to you for the "little" things, but I bet it goes so much deeper than you may even realize. You are guiding her into adulthood with all the "little" things you do. What a gift!

All the best to you and your family,
~Deesha

June 2, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteradmin

Hi Deesha,

I am a 27 year old single, independent woman who has never been engaged, and has no children. I am dating a 34 year old man with a 16 year old son and 3 year old daughter. Both children have different mothers. I have no problem with the 16 year old and his mother, but I have issues with the 3 year old and her mother. My boyfriend and I got serious pretty quickly, and during the first 9 months of our relationship he refused to tell the baby's Mom about me. So I threatened to end things because I couldnt take it anymore. The reason he gave for not telling her is that he didnt want to "hurt her feelings" and he didnt want his relationship with his daughter to change. I understood the part about not wanting to hurt his relationship with the baby, but I could care less about his exes feelings. At that point he was choosing her feelings over me, and I told him he should be with her if he cared so much more about her feelings. Well, he ended up telling her about me so we stayed together. Now we've been together for 15 months, and he asked me to move in. I'm moving in with him next month (we practically already live together because Im at his place every single day) but I still have an issue with the way he handles certain things with his ex and his daughter. I told him that since he wants to marry me and have a family with me that we should start setting boundaries and doing things more as a family, afterall, his daughter will be my step daughter. I told him that I want to do for her and love her as if she is my own, but for some reason I feel that he wont let it happen. For example, I mentioned how holidays should work. I said that for Christmas the baby should spend half of the day with her mother and the other half of the day with us (we all live within 10 minutes from eachother). He says no, and insists that he goes straight to his exes house on xmas morning to open presents with his ex and the baby. I told him that I want to be involved and that Im not ok with him leaving me every single Christmas to go spend time with them, what happens when we have kids of our own? I think it is healthy that he and I buy presents for her, and she can have Christmas with us after she is done doing Christmas with her Mom. Am I wrong for wanting this?? It would be different if I were invited to his exes house so we could all spend xmas together, but I am never included. I dont know what to do, please advise.

June 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterErika

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