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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)

Hi, Erika,

Without knowing all the details of your relationship, I'm going to make a guess as to what's going on. Your boyfriend has asked you to move in and he wants to marry you--but I think this may mean something different to each of you. You interpret it as you two are serious enough for you to be around his child on Christmas and for you to ask about how he intends to handle Christmas when you two have a child together. He, on the other hand, may not interpret your living arrangement as anything more than just that...you're living together. He may feel that his child has nothing to do with his relationship with you. If this is the case, I can see why this would be upsetting to you.

One very important detail that you didn't mention is his custody/visitation arrangement. You mentioned that you are never included--does that mean that he only sees his daughter at his ex's house? If so, this may be a big part of the reason why "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." The "some reason" may be that he has agreed, implicitly or explicitly, with his ex that he will only see the child on her turf and on her terms (i.e., not with you around). Now, I could be wrong about this but you didn't mention meeting the child, so I can only speculate.

If your boyfriend has this "agreement" with his ex, I think you owe it to yourself and to your future to ask him about this. If you are living together and considering marriage, then details of his custody arrangement is certainly something you should be privy to. If your boyfriend shies away from this discussion, this would suggest to me that he's not on the same page as you are with regard to what living together/wanting to marry means. In this case, you can either accept what he's offering (that he will keep his relationship with his child separate from his relationship with you), or you can ask him to reconsider. Continuing to give ultimatums isn't good for either of you in the long run. He's not going to want to be bullied, and I'm sure you don't want to feel like the only way you can get him to honor your feelings is to threaten him.

Perhaps he has a timeframe in mind for introducing you to his child's mother and to his daughter, and to including you in holiday celebrations? It may be that he's waiting for the right time to take these steps. It's a fair question to ask him when he thinks the right time is and what his intentions are in this regard.

As you said, what will he do when/if the two of you have children of your own? He could run back and forth between two households on Christmas morning--but why? Will your children together and his daughter never meet? Again, if he's set on keeping you away from his daughter and/or her mother, I can only guess that it's either because he's not a serious about you as he has led you to believe (so he's not thinking about future children), or he's keeping you away because his child's mother has given him an ultimatum of her own.

Best to you,
~Deesha

June 6, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteradmin

Hello Deesha,

Thank you so much for your reply. Im sorry that I didnt include more details about the relationship. I have met his daughter and we are actually starting to do more things together. For example this weekend my boyfriend picked his daughter up and met up with me and the three of us went to lunch. He is definitely making steps to include me when he does things with her. His ex knows that the baby is around me but she hates it. Im sure she still wants to be with him, but my boyfriend says that whether he is with me or not, it will never work between them. The baby's mom has not given him any kind of ultimatum and hasnt stopped him from seeing his daughter, but she makes faces when she hears that Im around her daughter. I can understand why she may feel this way, but I think the healthiest thing for the child is that we all get along. I offered to meet her, so that she knows what type of person I am and feels comfortable with me being around her daughter, but she hasnt said whether she wants to meet me or not.
So about the whole Christmas issue...I dont know if I should just let the issue go or if I should insist on us doing it the way I mentioned. Another issue is the childs bday party. Her last bday was in December and the baby's mother asked my boyfriend not to bring me. This year I wonder if he will stick up for me and say, its time to stop this and Erika will be invited. His entire family is there, and he pays for the party and it will be in a public place. If there is nothing going on between them then there should be no reason why I am not invited this year. Do you agree?

June 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterErika

Hi, Erika,

In your boyfriend's defense, there truly may be nothing going on between him and his ex, and she may still not want you to attend the child's birthday party. However...If your boyfriend doesn't intend to take you to this year's party, then I suggest asking him when he plans to, and what he's waiting for. Is he afraid the child's mother will make a scene and ruin the party? If this is the case, perhaps he should give her enough advance notice so that she can get herself together. If you are around his child at various times anyway, there's no reason that I can fathom why you shouldn't attend her birthday party, especially since it's in a public place and not the mother's house.

An alternative is for your boyfriend to host the party at the home that the two of you share. The child's mother would be invited, and it would be up to her whether or not she attended.

I can understand your boyfriend wanting to avoid having his ex ruin the child's party, and my guess is that he feels that he must cater to his ex for his child's sake. I can understand this on some level early in your relationship, but at the very least, now, he needs to have an "exit strategy" for this current game plan of his. His obligation is to his child's best interest, not to her mother's whims, grievances, and petty jealousies. He doesn't seem to know the difference, and his "confusion" is at your expense. I think it's more than fair that you ask your boyfriend when he intends to shift gears. If not this birthday and this Christmas, then when? If he has a time frame in mind, hold him to it.

Also, it's not too much to ask of a grown woman--a mother, no less--to control herself enough so that she doesn't ruin her child's birthday party. Your boyfriend needs to let his ex know that he expects her to act like a grown up for their child's sake. If not, he needs to let her throw a party that she pays for, on her own terms, that he can attend without you, and then he can throw a separate party for the child that you will attend. It's ridiculous that it would come to this, but I can only think of one other alternative:

Let it go. Same with Christmas. Don't attend the party. Have cake and ice cream for the child the next time she is with the two of you. Open her Christmas presents on a day other than Christmas when she is with the two of you. If your boyfriend is willing to accept his ex's unreasonable terms, then you really don't have any other choice but to accept them as well (if you stay with him). Every relationship requires some degree of compromise; you have to decide what you're willing to compromise, and where you draw the line. If you find yourself constantly compromising and your feelings constantly secondary to the ex's whims, then I'd say it's time to re-evaluate your relationship. Personally, I wouldn't compromise on this one.

Best to you,
~Deesha

June 8, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteradmin

Once again, thank you Deesha. I truly appreciate your advice and will definitely use it. I agree with you, I love him but I will not compromise when it comes to that. Hopefully he will make the right decisions on his own, because like you said, ulitmatums are not the way to go.
Take care,
Erika

June 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterErika

You're welcome, Erika.

Much peace,
~Deesha

June 8, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteradmin

Hi Deesha,

Im in a weird position because my daughter is with a guy whom was separated now he is back with his wife. He doesnt see my daughter because his wife doesnt want him too without her. She and him has an older daughter which I iunderstand but I want my daughter to know her father. His wife is somewhat immature because she threatened to fight me. I dont know why cause I do not want him and once I found out about her i left him alone then I foud out I was pregnant and kept my baby. He said he would be there for me but he hasnt so far an she is 4 mnths old. What should I do in this situation? My daughter deserves a father just like everyone else.

Help needed,
Nicki

June 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNickisha Bennett

Hi, Nicki,

My heart really goes out to your daughter. I hope that in the months and years to come, all the adults involved can remember that this child had nothing to do with the circumstances of her birth, and that despite these circumstances, she needs and deserves the love and care of both her parents. What this means for her father and his wife is pretty obvious: This little girl shouldn't have to "pay" for their marital problems, hurts, and disappointments. What this means for you may be less obvious.

You wrote: "He doesnt see my daughter because his wife doesnt want him too without her...His wife is somewhat immature because she threatened to fight me." Does this mean that the child's father wants to see the baby, but you won't allow him to because his wife will be with him? If so, is this because you are concerned about a physical altercation between you and his wife?

If he wants to see the baby, and if his wife behaves herself, then why not meet them, perhaps in a public place?

If he really wants to see the baby, and his wife continues to pose a threat to you, then he will make it his business to leave her at home when he visits his daughter.

Basically, I can't tell from what you wrote who is "stopping" this man from seeing his child--you or his wife. Either way, he is, as my mother used to say, a poor excuse, if he allows either one of you to do this. If he really wants to see this child, as much as his involvement in her life may further complicate things in his marriage, he will make it happen.

Stepping out on his marriage and fathering a child created a burden, no doubt. But the baby herself is not that burden, nor should she be asked, in essence, to shoulder a burden that he and his wife would rather not carry. They are the grown-ups; she is a child and completely faultless. Her existence is problematic for them, but that fact doesn't release her father from his obligation.

Not surprisingly and understandably, his wife is threatened by this child (and by you) and deeply wounded by his infidelity. But at some point, she has to put on her big girl panties, and stop standing between her husband and his child (if that's what's she's doing). At the same time, and more importantly, he doesn't need her permission to be a father to his child. He needs to grow up too.

If you are the one preventing the visits because you don't want his wife around your baby after she has threatened you, I can understand that too. But as long as you are present and the wife keeps her hands and attitude to herself, then I say, let the visits happen, as awkward as they may be. Invite a friend or family member to come with you for support.

He said he would be there for me but he hasnt so far an she is 4 mnths old.

In addition to his playing an active parental role, are you referring to child support? If so, this can be addressed through the family court system in your area. At the same time, a visitation plan can be agreed upon if your child's father pursues one. For your child's sake, I hope he does.

But if he doesn't...I wish you much peace, wisdom, and strength in raising your daughter in such a way that her father's rejection does not define her. The circumstances of her birth were far from ideal, but her life still has as much value and promise as any other child's. Help her embrace this and cherish all the people in her life who are there for her, instead of focusing extensively on the very important person, her father, who is not there. His absence will be felt, deeply, but it does not have to define or limit her.

Also, as tempting as it may be, do not demonize her father's wife. The only power this woman wields is that which he gives her. She is not keeping your child's father away. He's allowing himself to be kept way--or worse, he's choosing to stay away and using his understandably angry wife as an excuse.

Finally, commit yourself to keeping your disappointment in your daughter's father separate from the disappointment and rejection she may feel as she gets older. These are two separate relationships. You will each need to heal and mourn these disappointments in your own way and in your own time, and over time.

In a few years, in a decade, or even when she's an adult, your daughter may be open to a relationship with her remorseful father if he gets a clue and comes knocking. As hard a pill as this might be for you to swallow, don't stand in the way of it, if this is what your daughter wants. Give her wise counsel and protect her if need be, but don't allow your own unresolved feelings interfere.

All the best to your and your daughter,
~Deesha

June 10, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteradmin

Dear Deesha,
I am a pretty recent "baby momma". My son was born in April of this year. His father and I had an on/off relationship for more than ten years. Some of that time we lived together. We were not dating when our son was conceived. He had been dating someone for about two years and they broke up and he came to me seeking sympathy and I slept with him.

He and his ex reconciled after two months apart. He lied to her and told her he had not been with anyone else. She broke up with him again when he told her about my pregnancy.

For almost my entire pregnancy he was resentful of the baby. He said he associated him with loss and he could not deal with seeing me. Then in my eighth month he started dating someone new. Suddenly he became interested in being a father - he told me she was excited about his impending fatherhood which in turn made him excited to be a father.

I want him to be involved with his son. My baby is six weeks old and he has seen him three times since birth and two of those times I was in town (I live two hours from him..)and one time he visited him here at my home.

He recently told me his girlfriend is jealous that the baby is such a big part of his life and she cannot see him or hold him. Am I wrong to think it is too soon or her to be involved since they have been dating for such a short time? She has actually seen my son once through the glass of the hospital nursery. (He brought her to the hospital although I had asked him not to, which I feel was a reasonable request on my part..)

We do not have any legal custody set up and he is not paying any child support. I have tried for my son's sake and relationship/future with his father to be agreeable by setting up visits, sending pictures, etc. but I feel it is too soon to be introducing a girlfriend to my son. Am I being irrational? Any advice would be helpful!

Sorry for the length, but I felt you might need some background info. Thank you!

Dani

June 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDani

Hi, Dani,

No problem at all re: the length of your comment. ;-) To answer your questions:

Am I wrong to think it is too soon or her to be involved since they have been dating for such a short time?

If I did the math correctly, your child's father has been dating this woman for about 10 weeks. I agree with you about it being too soon. There aren't the same concerns about the child's perceptions, because we're talking about an infant, not an older child. However, the "infancy" of your ex's relationship with his new girlfriend is what makes it too soon, in my opinion. Your ex may feel that the time is right, but the timing of this is something that the two of you should be able to agree upon.

He recently told me his girlfriend is jealous that the baby is such a big part of his life and she cannot see him or hold him.

Normally, I wouldn't view this as a red flag because she's entitled to her feelings. However...

She has actually seen my son once through the glass of the hospital nursery. (He brought her to the hospital although I had asked him not to, which I feel was a reasonable request on my part..)

...which suggests that you may want to have an explicit conversation with your ex stating that, going forward, you expect him to honor the boundaries and plans the two of you establish and agree upon regarding your child and your co-parenting relationship. This may pose a conflict with his girlfriends "feelings", but he'll need to deal with that. As long as your expectations aren't unreasonable and are truly in the best interest of your child, then your boyfriend should be able to respect where you're coming from.

However, what the two of you agree upon may be at odds with his girlfriend's expectations. I suspect that she's inclined to use her access to the baby as a litmus test for their relationship, i.e., if she's important to him, then he'll give her access to the baby. This, of course, is not reasonable given how little time they've been involved, but that's his concern, not yours.

Anyway...What's her hurry? If she doesn't intend to stick around, then she doesn't need to be around the child. If she intends to be in your ex's life long-term, then she should be able to wait until their relationship is more established to meet his son. Now's the time for her to play her position...which is to play the back where the baby is concerned.

It sounds as if you are not saying that she can't ever have access to the child--just not so soon. Would you be willing to allow her to join your ex for a visit where you are present? At what point would you be comfortable with this? At what point would you be comfortable with her being around the baby without you present? Communicate these possibilities to your child's father.

We do not have any legal custody set up and he is not paying any child support. I have tried for my son’s sake and relationship/future with his father to be agreeable by setting up visits, sending pictures, etc. but I feel it is too soon to be introducing a girlfriend to my son. Am I being irrational?

Where a 6-week old child and a 10-week old relationship are concerned? No, I think you're being quite rational.

Because you don't have a custody agreement in place, if your child's father wanted to press the issue of his girlfriend seeing the baby against your wishes, the onus would be on him to go to family court and have a custody and visitation plan established, including the specific terms. In this case, you would have an opportunity to have your concerns heard and considered.

I applaud your efforts to be agreeable, and I hope that you and your child's father are able to establish a solid co-parenting relationship.

All the best to your family,
~Deesha

June 12, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteradmin

Hi Deesha,

This is Nicki. Thanks so much for responding. I offered when my daughter was intially born for her father to visit and he stated that he cant come without his wife. So I agreed but he has yet to do so. Thats when she stated if she sees me anywhere she will fight me. Her dad always has some excuse not to see her and many of his family members dont know that my daughter exist. Yes I do agree he needs to grow up and be a man. He pays child support willingly but has never held my daughter and she is 4 mnths. I weep inside for what she is missing because I missed a father role in my life while growing up as well. I came to a signed agreement with him that he can see her on weekends because his wife stated that they wanted ful custody of her. For what reason I have no idea but I was not allowing another woman to raise my children after more than 28 hours of labor and ten months of tears. I wish and pray that he would come see her but to this day he keeps saying that he needs to handle "his ride situation," then he can see her. Im so tired of men and their excuses.

Thanks for allowing me to vent,
Nicki

June 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNicki

Hi, Nicki...

I hope, for your daughter's sake, that her father comes around and becomes a positive presence in her life.

Feel free to vent anytime. ;-)

Take care,
~Deesha

June 15, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteradmin

I guess I just needed a place to vent and put my feelings out on paper. I've been dating a man for 8 months now we were both married previously but I did not have any children and he had 2 a daughter that's in elementary and a son in middle school. Now I'm only 26 and yes he's wonderful prob the most wonderful man I've ever dated with the exclusion of items that don't conflict with his kids events or upbringing. Whenever we don't see eye to eye on subjects such as where to live ....relocating out of state or even a dog my opinion loses and I feel like I will always lose the battle. He filed for full custody and the kids like me and I like them we have great outings but its something I had to swollow as I never intended to date a man with kids and now whenever some other subject comes up that contradicts what I want because of his kids like moving or getting a dog I feel like 'poor me' and yes that I've compromised a lot because I've committed to becoming a stepmom one day if it comes but why can't he just give me a little compromise over his kids or hear me out before its a flat no. I love him to death but I get overwhelmed with how the greatest man I've ever met has this baggage that will always come first and leave me last and I know its selfish of me to phrase it like that but I'm trying to think long term wise will I truly ever be happy taking a back seat to his kids needs??? What about when I have kids of my own? It'll be been there done that for him while I would wish to share it special with someone that its their first time too. I just don't know how to get over my selfish wants or thoughts sometimes because he and I do talk long term and I'm not sure if ill wake up one day and just want to run out saying this isn't the life I wanted....i love him madly and just want what's best for him his two kids and myself too though. sigh confused.....

June 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterChristy

Hi, Christy:

Venting is welcomed here.

You didn't ask for advice, so I'll just ask a question and then make an observation. Do you think perhaps your boyfriend will be more willing to compromise and make joint decisions about major life changes or issues related to the kids further down the road, when the two of you have been dating longer? Different people have different expectations in this regard. Eight months may seem like enough time to you, but perhaps not to your boyfriend. In other words, maybe he won't always be unwilling to compromise and discuss.

Finally, there may of course be some issues related to the kids about which he will always have the final say, as their father. But outside of those "biggies", I don't think it's "selfish" to want to be viewed as an equal partner when it comes to decision-making as a couple, and not viewed as always "last".

Best,
~Deesha

Best to you,
~Deesha

June 16, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteradmin

Thanks Deesha for your ears. With regards to major issues down the line no he will never be flexible and that will never change...we are talking about marriage and I know that he will always be tied to his roots for his career and so that the children can be close to their mother. I ask what if I get a job that's not local and the reaction I get is I can't stop you and I won't be going so why would you even try for something like that to begin with. I've never met the childrens mother although I'm told that she knows about me and will be meeting her at future sporting events for the kids. Dating him just overwhelms me sometimes because there are so many factors that wouldn't be there with someone that didn't have kids but dating someone else wouldn't give me the same man I've managed to fall in love with. How without any expereince before am I going to be expected to become full-time step mom to a teenager and a young child and now a damn dog too.....working....cleaning...cooking...helping with homework..... I love him and adore the kids but I get scared and get resentful towards him because I feel I'm getting the short end of the stick and he's getting all the benefits and he won't see things from my point of view.

June 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterChristy

Christy,

I can definitely see why you feel resentful and overwhelmed.

Peace to you,
~Deesha

June 16, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteradmin

I have a boyfriend that has 4 kids. He is paying almost 2 thousand childsupport, and he has custody for every other weekends. My boyfriend and I acted like we are husband and wife. We sleep together for 8 months now. i havent ment his 3 kids yet. The ex been telling the kids that i am bad person, and my boyfriend spend all his money to me and my son. He also paying rent for 800 a month. I felt that my boyfriend doens't want to spend money on me and my son eveytime we go out because i think that he wants to prove to the es that she's thinking wrong. I want my boyfriend not to much spend money on the kids if he is with them because he already paying 2 thousand a month for them. I am right to stop that? Also everytime they need something they always ask for my boyfriend but the mom doesn't do anything. Do i have the right to stop that? Because i just want his ex to realized that he doesn't own him anymore. The ex love to see my boyfriend sad and crippled. I want to meet his kids yet but then he is not ready for that yet.

Do i have the right to react with these kind of situation???

June 16, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterjean

Hi, Jean,

You asked:

I want my boyfriend not to much spend money on the kids if he is with them because he already paying 2 thousand a month for them. I am right to stop that?

What does your boyfriend want? If he wants to spend on his kids beyond child support, that's his prerogative. As for "proving" something to his ex...how would she even know what he does and does not spend on you and your son? I am inclined to believe he spends "extra" on his kids because he wants to, and doesn't spend on you and your son because he doesn't want to. People typically spend according to their priorities, and his children are rightfully his first priority. Regardless of your "acting" like husband and wife for 8 months, you and your son won't ever replace his children in that regard. You can become "a" priority, but not at his children's expense, not if he's a responsible dad.

That's my long-winded way of saying that I don't believe you are right to TRY and stop him from spending on his kids. I say "try" because I doubt you'll have much success in "stopping" a grown man from spending on his kids however he sees fit. Now, if the two of you were deep enough into a relationship such that you had a common budget and pooled your incomes, then I could envision a conversation about his spending, but even then there's no guarantee that he will do what you want him to do. Further, I can't imagine him taking kindly to you trying to "stop" him from spending on his kids so that he can spend on you and your kid. The good dads I know aren't with women who would essentially ask them to "do less" for their children so that they can do more for them and theirs.

I might be reading too much into what you wrote, but it sounds like you believe that 8 months of sleeping together and "acting" like husband and wife entitles you to have him spend money on you and your son. I won't go any further down the thought path of this connection between sex and money... suffice it to say, you boyfriend's actions tell a different story: Regardless of your sleeping together, at t this stage in your relationship, you are not a financial priority to him. Truly, the fact that he's not ready for you to meet his kids says far more about where he is with your relationship than how long you've been sleeping together and "acting" like husband and wife (what does that mean, exactly?).

Also...$2,000/month child support for 4 kids is a lot more than many parents get, but it's also not necessarily exorbitant depending on the cost of living in your area and the monthly expenses incurred by the custodial parent (his ex). The fact that he has visitation every other weekend--the amount of time the kids are with him--also likely factors into the child support calculation, depending on the laws in your state. If he had the children more often, he'd likely pay less in child support. But the alternate weekend visitation means that the children are mostly in their mother's care. States typically use a formula to determine the amount of child support; the formula takes into account several factors including time spent with each parent, each parent's income, and other expenses such as health and dental insurance and childcare--who pays these?

You didn't mention anything about your boyfriend appealing to the courts for a modification in the amount of child support nor a modification in custody, so is it safe to assume that he doesn't have a problem with either? Is it also safe to assume that he also doesn't have a problem with the kids asking him, and not their mother, when they need something? If he doesn't have a problem with it, and the ex and the kids obviously don't, then the only one who has a problem with it is you. Not a battle I would recommend fighting. If these assumptions are correct, then your boyfriend seems to be quite clear about his priorities at this time, and your options are pretty much to take it or leave it.

On the other hand...not to disparage your boyfriend because I can only speculate, but...do you know for a fact that he pays $2K in child support? Do you know for a fact that his ex tells the kids that he spends all of his money on you and your son? How can this even fly if, as you say, he spends "extra" on the kids when they are with him? Is it possible that your boyfriend is using his ex as a scapegoat/excuse because he'd just rather not spend money on you? I don't mean that to be as harsh as it sounds, but I'm just suggesting the possibility. Again, you can either take or leave this relationship on his terms. To do otherwise and press him to spend more you and less on his kids...where's the dignity in that?

It's very easy to make the ex the bad guy in these situations because it plays into our ideas about scorned or jealous women, and it's also about the "new" woman feeling like she has to grab control of the reins from the ex. In your own words, you expressed a desire to get the ex to realize that "she doesn't own him anymore". I'm going to venture a guess that you don't "own" him either; I can't imagine that he would want to be controlled or ordered around by either of you.

So your focus really should remain on your boyfriend and your relationship, not his ex. Even if he is trying to "prove" something to her, that's a choice he's making, so if you have a problem with it, you have a problem with him, not her.

Do i have the right to react with these kind of situation???

You always have the right to feel what you feel. No one can tell you how to feel. But what are you gonna do? The bottom line is that his children's needs and best interests should always trump any pissing contest between you and his ex, and trump any frivolous spending on you and your son. (I say "frivolous" because he is not responsible for your basic necessities nor your son's, so surely you aren't expecting him to pay for stuff like your rent or utilities, right?) The two of your may disagree about what his children "need", but if he's not ready for you to meet them, I seriously doubt he wants your input as to what's best for them.

You, and not his ex, are indeed the woman in your boyfriend's life, but don't try to compete with this kids. If he's the dad he should be, you'll lose every time.

Best,
~Deesha

June 16, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteradmin

Deesha,

Thank you for your advice! I feel so relieved that you understand how I feel. I am really trying so hard to be fair for the sake of my son and it is hard, hard, hard at times. My friends and some of my family feel I am being too kind to him considering our past relationship and his behavior during my pregnancy and after. However, I do not want my son to ever think I deliberately kept his father from him in the future.

Your take on my situation was very helpful to me. I still have not had a discussion with him yet but what you said about setting boundaries makes tons of sense to me. I don't know when I will be ready to possibly meet her, either. I feel nothing but dread about it, honestly.

Thanks again for your ears and advice! I will follow up with you.

Dani

June 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDani

Hi, Dani,

I'm glad to be of help. Though it's difficult, you are wise to keep your son's relationship with his father separate from your feelings about your ex and your history together. I hope that the two of you can forge a healthy co-parenting arrangement for your son's sake.

Please do keep us posted and all the best to you!
~Deesha

June 17, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteradmin

I am only 19 years old but i have a boyfriend who has a 20 month old son. Him and the babies mother broke up before she knew she was pregnant, but he stuck by her when she told him, but didnt get back with her. I got with him when his child was 11months old, she was fine with it at first, they still went on days out which i aloud and was very calm with. But then the constant texting and phone calls started, they gradually built on top of each other, making us argue, and we ended up breaking up.

In the space of being apart, my boyfriend told me he thinks he wanted to try again with his ex. I told him to go do what he wants, as i knew from what he has told me of her in the past it was only for the sake of the child. Within 3 weeks we met up and he broke down, admitting it was because of his child, and that he misses me. We decided to give us another try, as i respect that everyone deserves a second chance, but this time when she fount out she went really horrible, told him he wasnt aloud to see his son, and that she would kill me if she sees me. I know she is all mouth, so left them to sort it out, the threat lasted a day, and the next day after that they had to go out to sign for another copy of the birth certificate. Since then she has been constantly stabbing at him, calling me an emo, saying he has ditched his family to play boyfriend and girlfriend and happy familys. I hardly see his son, only like once every 3 weeks, but she seems to think we go on days out as a family when we dont, and my boyfriend gets the grief for it.

I really think my boyfriend should go through court, as he has been diagnoised with slight depression, and i think she is the reason why. How can i help?

June 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLauren

My daughters mother and I disagree on one matter. I don't think that the person she met on the internet and has been seeing for a week should be spending the nite while our daughter is in the house and I don't think she knows this person well enough to introduce our child to this person and have them around every day. I ask that she give it time maybe a month or two to know that this relationship may actually go someplace before our child is introduced into the situation. And the sleeping over should be saved for a even later time in the relationship. She disagrees with me and doesn't see how our child can be affected by any of this. She knows this person well enought after 1 week to trust that nothing will go wrong with them. What do I do? I am looking out for the interests of my daughter and don't want her to get hurt or confused.

June 21, 2009 | Unregistered Commentershawn

Hi, Shawn,

I'll give the obvious disclaimer that you should consult an attorney to find out all your legal options, but in my layperson's opinion, I would suggest requesting mediation through the family courts to have your custody arrangement modified to include specifications/guidelines that address your concerns. Perhaps a third-party mediator, family counselor (which the court may order) and/or parenting coordinator can help your child's mother understand what's in your child's best interest and safety in this regard.

Best to you and your family,
~Deesha

June 21, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteradmin

I really think my boyfriend should go through court, as he has been diagnoised with slight depression, and i think she is the reason why. How can i help?

Hi, Lauren,

I think you can help by encouraging your boyfriend to pursue available legal options to restore visitation with his son, and to seek treatment for his depression.

Best to you,
~Deesha

June 21, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteradmin

I have been dating this guy for a year. He only gets to see his kids on the weekends. His girls are 14 and 16. I keep asking to meet his girls, but he keeps saying he doesn't know if he or the girls are ready. I keep bringing it up every month since March and we almost break up because he keeps saying he needs time to think. We struggle seeing each other because he has to be with the girls every weekend. It would be so much easier if we could do things together. He tells me that they just never talk about him dating so he never talks about it. This just drives me nuts that he will not allow me to meet them. It makes me feel that he is hiding me and that our relationship is not very meaningful to him. I think he only wants to introduce the girls to me when he is ready, but he avoids conflict and I have a gut feeling it will never happen.

June 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJean

My question is how long do I wait for him to introduce me to his girls.Everyone I talk to says its weird and he just doesn't care about me. I am 43 years old and I want to get remarried. He just turned 45 and has told me that someday he does want to get married. What do I do? How long do I wait?

June 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJean

Wow, I didn't know this thread was over here. I've noticed that the majority of the questions/concerns have come from women.

Deesha, you are doing a good job. I love the fact that you know when to hold them and thus, advise your guests to seek legal advise when it's warranted.

I would like to address an issue of Shaun's. From a father's point of view, his situation is serious, imo.

We can not choose our lovers for our ex, but I'd be very concerned about men they bring around my children. I've heard of those that have found love on the Internet. However, I've also heard of the horror stories. Given the time period of his ex's new relationship, and the circumstances of which they've met, I agree with Deesha. Guidelines are warranted, and fast. Also, I am not a legal expert (just a dad) but his suggestion to his wife that she should wait at least a month, might even be to soon ...way too soon, imo.

I don't know the age of Shaun's daughter but on both ends of the spectrum, it's a slippery slope. If the daughter is a teenager, there's obvious concerns. If the daughter is a toodler, there's even more issues.

On a side note. Kids learn from their parents. I wonder what example the mother is displaying and how this will affect their relationship in later life.

Hello Deesha, As you know, men have co-parenting issues. We just are not as prone to admit we don't have all the answers. It's a macho thing.

I am new to your site. What has been the trend? Are men less open about sharing there fears in regards to the intentions of their new mate. I've noticed that more women ask questions of the heart than men. Have you noticed that as well and if so, why do you think it's so.

Your site is a wonderful place and I think men could become better co-parents by visiting if only to listen to the hearts of women.

June 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCareyCarey

Hi, Carey,

Thanks for your kind words and for stopping by to share your insights! I agree with you that a month isn't enough time; hopefully, the mediator/counselor that Shaun consults can make the case to his ex for a longer "wait" time.

The trend here has been that the overwhelmingly majority of the comments are posted by women. The same is true of those who reach out to us to share their story, and of those to whom we invite to share their story. We have your story, another co-parenting dad is drafting his, and I'm waiting on a reply from another dad (you know who you are! ;-). Just as some have observed that some black folks are more "at home" at spaces specifically designated for "us", the same may be true of dads (vs. moms). Check out our friends at dadsdivorce.com, and you'll find a lot of guys expressing a lot of emotion.

The other dynamic that may be at play is...me! Because I (a female) tend to be the one replying to comments, the site has a female vibe in that respect. My fellow co-parent isn't as available to handle the replies, so it's me by default. This is another reason why I appreciate your male insight here!

Finally, as we alluded to in a previous post on co-parenting and dating, I think sometimes we don't hear from the guy wringing his hands over his ex's behavior because, honestly, it doesn't bother him as much as it bothers the new girlfriend. Again, it may be because he's not paying child support, so he doesn't want to make any waves or anger the child's mother if he can avoid it. Or maybe the ex isn't the real reason he's not bringing the child around--maybe he's not that serious about the girlfriend, or maybe there's something going on with her that he doesn't want to expose his kids to. Who can say for sure? So...if any of this is in fact going on, then of course it would be the girlfriend, and not the boyfriend, who feels there's a problem (i.e., not seeing/meeting the kids).

~Deesha

June 23, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteradmin

You are so on point, Deesha. There are so many reasons why the boyfriend does not bring the children around their new mate or introduce them to the girlfriend.

From my own experience, after my wife passed away I waited over a year to entertain another woman. I've never been the one to advise another on when it's appropriate to met the kids/when to date or any issues involving co-parenting. Specific time periods are so subjective. Time is a valuable tool yet quality time is the trump card.

As I mentioned, I slowly moved into the dating game. Of course I received the side eyed look from many that thought I should have a shrine in my home and never be in the company of another women. Nevertheless, there are still some that are not cozy to the idea. One is my son.

You mentioned something about the emotions of men (co-parent) being different than women. This appears to be true in the lives of are children as well. My daughter seems to understand. Yet, I've had to honored the cold feeling of my son toward my companion and do not plan time with him and her. In this case, it's not about her, it's about the children.

I've noticed that many of the issues of the new girlfriend surrounds time spent with the children that takes away from time spent with her. Or, they sometimes feel like a secondary issue - on the sidelines. What's amazing about this delimma is that these emotions/issues occur in traditional families as well. Many men will tell you that their most treasured love will come second to that of their children. I think to some degree it is a natural instinct of protection.

So, when some women feel as if they are playing second fiddle to a man, that might well be the case. Then, it's my opinion that the new lover has to look deep and accept that position or possibly miss a good relationship by worrying about things out of their control.

As you said to another postee, it's never wise to tell a grown man what to do. If he is a man, he will resist giving up that title, imo.

June 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCareyCarey

I appreciate everyones thought about why he wont introduce me to his kids. I really feel he doesn't want to introduce the girls to me until he is sure that I am the right one for him, but how will I know this relationship is going anywhere. He says he doesn't know what he wants, but we keep dating. So, I am thinking he doesn't know if he wants to get married. Should I set a deadline if he hasn't introduced me to the girls? I get the impression that he feels really guilty over the divorce and when he has the girls on the weekends he tries to make up the lost time by trying to make them super happy.

June 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJean

Hi, Jean,

"Divorce guilt" is quite common, especially amongst dads who typically do not have primary custody. I know you want to be empathetic in that regard, but I'm sure a time frame for your meeting his girls would provide some comfort and clarity for you. A deadline might make your boyfriend feel like you are asking him to choose between you and his kids, but really it sounds like you want to be incorporated into his life with his kids. If he can't offer you a time frame, perhaps there is some other way that he can clarify his intentions towards you and your relationship. As you said, how will you know where the relationship is going? How can you measure progress? No one wants to feel like they are wasting their time or being taken for granted.

Some other questions/issues the two of you may wish to consider: Does he know that you are empathetic about his "divorce guilt", and that you admire how he wants to do what's best for his kids? Tell him you think he's a great dad and that you want to support him in that regard. At the same time however, does he fully grasp the position you're in? Are the two of your dating exclusively? Does he acknowledge that by asking you to wait indefinitely (or rather, until his kids mention the possibility of him dating, which could be never!) with no assurances of a future together, that he's asking quite a bit? Is he empathetic to your position as you are attempting to be to his? Would you be interested in dating others while dating him until he's ready to solidify your commitment and introduce you to his kids? If so, how would he feel about this?

In sum, while I wouldn't advise you giving an outright ultimatum or demanding to see his kids, I think it's fair and reasonable that your boyfriend offer you some straight answers at the very least. As Carey said, you can accept your current position, or move on. I can only speculate as to what I would do if it were me, and without knowing all the specifics, I might choose a middle ground: just date him casually and not exclusively, until I was assured about his intentions towards/interest in me. I read a quote once that said, "Never make someone a priority if they treat you like an option."

You wrote that he says he doesn't know what he wants, but you know that you want someone who is marriage-minded. If you start dating others, you might just meet someone who is also marriage-minded. Just because you are empathetic with your boyfriend's concerns regarding his kids doesn't mean that you should put your life on hold--not for someone who hasn't made a commitment to you and who can't give you any idea when he will. Your empathy also doesn't exempt your boyfriend from the hard realities of life: living with the consequences of the choices you make. While his concern for his daughters is admirable, and only he can judge when they are ready to meet his significant other, at some point he runs the risk of losing you. Carey said that you might miss out on a good relationship if you walk away, but by the same token your boyfriend might just miss out on you.

Finally, remember too that a "goodbye" now is not a "goodbye" forever. If you move on, your boyfriend may reach out again in the future when he is ready to date openly. On the other hand, I wonder if he is he feeling like, "If you're really the one for me, you'll wait"? Another question for him, and the same old decision for you.

Best to you,
~Deesha

June 24, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteradmin

Wanted to add...as to the issue of whether a year of dating is long enough before introducing the kids, I think that depends on the situation. Some folks wait less time and it works out fine, while others wait longer and it works for them too. (Either scenario can end in disaster, too, but that's another story for another day...) However, the grown-ups should be clear with each other as to whether or not an introduction is even in the future; how long into the future is a separate issue. Meeting the kids should signal a Big Step in a relationship, but prior to that, there should be other Big Steps, clear markers as to where this relationship is headed...or not.

June 24, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteradmin

Hi
Just curious what are some other clear steps to see if the relationship is going somewhere? I asked him if he ever wants to get remarried and he said yes. I told him that if he just wants to date and not the intentions of getting married he needs to let me know because that isn't what I want. I said how do I know you are committed to this relationship and he said, "We have been dating for a year isn't that a sign" I really do care for this guy and I believe he does care for me, but I also think he is scared to take the step. The reason why this has been such a touchy subject is because it seems like every month since March we almost break up because I want to meet the girls. I tell him I wont bring it up again, but then it seems like in 3 weeks I bring it up again. If I don't bring it up he never talks about it. I will ask him all the time how his kids are, etc.. and he doesn't seem to mind that. He is suppose to go to a meeting at my church to hear what an annulment is all about because I am Catholic and he isn't. He agreed to go to the meeting. The meeting is in July, so if he goes to this meeting it will definitely show he is interested in more than dating. Do you agree?

June 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJean

Hi, Jean,

I think his attending the annulment class would be a positive sign, however, I'm curious: Does that mean he has to annul his previous marriage in order for the two of you to be married in the Catholic church? I'm not familiar with the process/rules.

Let's see...what else?...

Are you the only woman he's dating?

You asked if he wanted to get remarried, and he said yes...Now, I'm not trying to be funny, but is he being clear that he wants to marry you? Again, no offense intended.

Have you met his close friends, colleagues, other family members?

Do the two of you talk about/envision the future as if it is something you will explore together (i.e., sharing a home, travel, future educational or professional pursuits, cultural interests)?

Does he talk about future plans such as "When I introduce you to the girls..."? He may not know exactly when, but hopefully he will give some indication that he intends to.

Commitment, especially the second time around, can be a scary thing. I speak from personal experience. But your boyfriend's fears have to be balanced by some degree of concern for fairness where you are concerned.

~Deesha

June 24, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteradmin

Yes, that is what an annulment means. Not sure if he will do it because he said if he does his ex will find out and make it hell for him. Yes, I am the only person he is dating. We see each other one night during the week and usually one night on the weekend. No, I haven't met anyone he associates with. He doesn't have close friends. If he isn't working he is with his girls or me. He does shoot pool one night a week, but doesn't hang out with those guys. No, I tried to meet his parents and that was the same situation as the girls. He is so exhausted all of the time he hardly ever has one night free. He never knows whats going on that day until he looks at his calendar in the morning. We never know the weekend schedule until the girls tell them what they have going on or what they want to do and that isn't usually until Thursday night or Friday. So, this isn't a guy that plans ahead at all. Two weeks ago he mentioned that we should go to Mexico together. Here and there he will mention about doing things together in the future. No, he never says when I introduce you to the girls. I don't think he will because then he knows I will keep asking when?

June 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJean

Again, I am just a man and yet I beleive a man's point of view could help in this exchange.

I am so glad Deesha's post ended with this ...."If you’re really the one for me, you’ll wait”? Another question for him, and the same old decision for you" ...here's why.

From my observations of men, having been around thousands of them, they don't like sharing or competition. Hence, dating others while "waiting" for him is a slippery slope.

Even though the man has made no firm commentment, they sometimes view women who wish to date others as women who would always jump the fence at the best offer(at the time) or one who has to have it their way.

All I am saying is one should be careful about mentioning dating other. Be forewarned that a man might view this in a different manner. I would suggest that the mentioning of such be thoroughly thought out and framed in the proper context.

Many women have tried the jealousy game. Frequently they are left with a jealous, doubtful, questioning guy. Men are very insecure when it come s to women.

Just my little viewpoint.

Btw,It appear that Jean is on the threshold to all her answers. She's asking all the right questions.I think she will have to find the courage to pull the trigger. And the motive to do so.

I hope I didn't barge in on 2 womens discussion.

June 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCareyCarey

Well, Jean, the ball really is in your court. Even once you meet his kids, will you be satisfied with how little time he has to commit to a relationship, or how he doesn't plan ahead, etc.? Not judging him for this because people with all sorts of quirks, schedules, dispositions and personalities can have successful relationships; I'm just asking if this is what you want. Sounds like the kids/meeting the kids are just part of the issue here. I agree with Carey that you are asking the right questions, and that it comes down to what you're willing to contend with and be content with. I think the "right" answer is the one you can live with.

Meeting his parents and meeting his kids are two separate issues, imo. It would seem that meeting his parents would be purely about how serious he is about you and your relationship, with no worries about traumatizing or upsetting them. That's a step he could take at some point to clarify his intentions.

~Deesha

June 24, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteradmin

Carey
I actually I appreciate a mans point of view too. So, please tell me how long should I wait? I really do care for this guy and when we actually get time together and he is rested he really enjoys being with me. I ask him if I make him happy and he says I do. My question is would a guy keep calling and texting if he doesn't really care for this person or doesn't want to loose this relationship? I am not looking to get married instantly, but I would like to be engaged by May because that would almost be two years. I cannot see myself dating anyone else the same time I am dating him.

June 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJean

Just to clarify...I know some women (and men) play the jealousy game, but that's not what I had in mind when I suggested that Jean might want to consider dating others. I made the suggestion based on what I think I would do in this situation, for three reasons. First, I'd need certain things to be present in a relationship in order for me to be exclusive. Second, dating others would help me shake the feeling that I was being taken for granted. And third, I think it's easy for someone to drag their feet as long as they have no real motivation to step lively. ;-) So, it's not about jealousy...it's about respect.

I hear what you're saying, Carey, about how the guy might "read" this choice, but the alternative--waiting with little or no real incentive to do so--would not appeal to me. You wrote that the woman could paint the picture of herself as someone willing to jump at the best offer or who has to have it her way. I would say that the guy is painting a picture of himself as well--as someone who strings folks along and has to have things his way. I could live with losing That Guy; I'd have a harder to with feeling like I'm being taken for granted. But everyone's mileage varies and our limits too.

I think it comes down to the difference between compromising and settling. The latter is one-sided, and I don't recommend it. The scenario you paint looks very one-sided: the woman has to "fear" reprisal and cater to the man's insecurity. What's his responsibility to her? What about her concerns and insecurities?

~Deesha

June 24, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteradmin

You are absolutely correct Deesha, my words didn't express my true feelings. Playing the jealousy game is a whole different subject. I am glad you caught that.

I am so glad Jean has allowed us to express our opinion of her concerns. It's interesting how "I" as a man, tend to look at the issue from the guys point of view. You on the other hand said, "What’s his responsibility to her?" "What about her concern and insecurities".

Those are very good points. I've learned something in this exchange. Well, I think it's the root of any good relationship - compromise ...seek first to understand.

There is one issue that seems to be paramount in this discussion. Jean asked how long she should wait?

Also Deesha, you wrote ..."And third, I think it’s easy for someone to drag their feet as long as they have no real motivation to step lively"

I think you've voiced your opinion on "how long", Deesha. So, I will defer that question back to you and maybe you can explain to Jean and I, your "step lively.

Jean, Deesha obviously has boundaries/ guidelines in relationswhips, as she detailed in the above post. If I am reading her post correctly, I think it's incumbent upon you to decide what you are comfortable with. Earlier I spoke of acceptence. It's been a valuable tool in my life's struggles. If I can change it, I will try. If I can not change the situation, I stay in pain and worry if I don't accept it. If I don't like any of those choices, I move on. But through it all, it's still my job to define what I want and what I can live with.

June 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCareyCarey

"Step lively" vs. foot dragging in this case means that Jean's boyfriend gives her some clear signs of progress in their relationship such that she doesn't have to wonder where they are headed and if they are making progress.

June 24, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteradmin

Hi,
In all, I feel that everyone is saying handle what you can and if its not what you want get out, but I am new at this dating thing and I am scared that I am rushing things for him. I do not want to break up with this guy and if I bring up the girls again very soon I know it will break us up. He calls and text me everyday, I know I would miss that horribly and not being able to see him. To be honest its not the fact of meeting his girls its the fact of his commitment to me. I feel that he should be proud of me and wants to brag me to his girls and parents, but instead I am in secret. I gave him a picture of us and every time the girls and parents come over to his house he takes the picture down. That hurts my feelings, he said he doesn't want the girls drilling him with questions. He told me that the girls know he is dating, but he isn't sure if his parents do. I figured I would wait for awhile and then ask him where we go from here. This is where I am struggling because I did tell him I would not pressure him anymore to see his girls and that I would let him decide when the time is right. How long do I wait before this is mentioned again???? If he cancels out of the annulment meeting then I know he isn't serious about this.
Would a guy take off of work and go on vacation with someone if they didn't see a future with this person?

June 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJean

I live with my fiance and we have been together one year. I have a 5 year old that does not see her father, and my fiance has a 4 year old with his ex. They are still going through the divorce but it is only a matter of paperwork. When we first started seeing each other she flipped out on him and didnt allow me to see their daughter. Then although I was allowed to see her after 4 months, she placed all these restrictions and rules on it and would constantly yell and fight with my fiance, making him feel guilty for being with me. She also said he was hurting his own daughter very badly by being with a woman who had a child, siting he would spend more time with my duaghter than his own. She has sent me nasty emails, and started many fights between my fiance and I. When we first were together he was very limited in his freedom and visitation. He was only allowed to see his daughter at the moms house. He got away from this when we moved in together, but after several months it seems he is back to doing a couple nights a week at the moms house, due to the distance and not wanting to spend his entire visitation time in the car. She is very bitter and angry he left her and even though they were separated for 4 years before I met she is enraged that he intends to marry again and I have a feeling it has a lot to do with money. My question is that it is a very difficult situation for me and I try to be patient but I can't help but give my opinion and it often leads to fights with us. How much am I allowed to say what I think he should and shouldn't do and how much interaction with his ex is okay? She does text and call him regularly, but since he sees he's daughter every other day he insists it is only ever about what time and when he will pick her up or if she is sick or something. I have given up on trying to be nice to the mom and be friendly with her because she is so angry toward me and is highly manipulative. How do I ease my man out of this dysfunctional web with her and still support his spending time with his daughter?

June 24, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterjadminp

To be honest its not the fact of meeting his girls its the fact of his commitment to me.

That was my sense as well.

Would a guy take off of work and go on vacation with someone if they didn’t see a future with this person?

It could happen. I once vacationed with a guy who didn't see a future with me--nor did I see one with him. We were both just living in the moment, each for our own reasons. So I wouldn't recommend using that as a litmus test. You could very well return from vacation and still not know what his specific intentions are, if he fails to articulate them.

This is where I am struggling because I did tell him I would not pressure him anymore to see his girls and that I would let him decide when the time is right. How long do I wait before this is mentioned again????

Well, since it's about the larger question of commitment and not seeing the girls, then I think a question about commitment is fair game, at any time. It seems to me that a committed man would want you to know without a doubt that he's committed; he would want to reassure you. But if he feels you need more reassurance than he is willing to give, then you are right back at the same impasse and question: What can you live with? If you take the issue of the kids off the table, I think you can safely say that a year of exclusive dating is more than enough time for him gauge his level of interest and his intentions, and to convey these to you.

Now, on some level you could say that he has already in fact conveyed this to you, and his answer is...He doesn't know. Again, can you live with that? If so, you wouldn't be the first woman who did...you just have to make peace with your decision and truly release him from the obligation of offering you anything beyond that until he is ready. Stay, in peace. Or leave and find your peace in leaving.

June 24, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteradmin

Hi, Jadminp,

You wrote: How do I ease my man out of this dysfunctional web with her and still support his spending time with his daughter?

You can't, as long as he doesn't want to ease out.

How much am I allowed to say what I think he should and shouldn’t do and how much interaction with his ex is okay?

It sounds like you've already hit his limit if your complaints have lead to fights between you. While I do think you are within bounds expressing how you feel about his weekly visits, it seems that he doesn't want to hear it because he's okay with his current level of interaction with his ex. Otherwise, he would report her to the court if she's in violation of their custody/visitation agreement. If they don't have a temporary agreement in place while the divorce is being finalized, they should and your boyfriend can make a motion to get one which would allow him to see his daughter in your home. Now, of course there's no guarantee that the motion would be granted, because his ex may well object. But he could try.

You wrote that at first "he was very limited in his freedom and visitation. He was only allowed to see his daughter at the moms house. He got away from this when we moved in together, but after several months it seems he is back to doing a couple nights a week at the moms house." Does "got away from this" mean that he brought her to your home once you moved in together, or does it mean that he stopped going to the mom's house and didn't see the child at all? If it's the latter, then I can understand why his ex would feel that you are negative influence on his relationship with his daughter.

Still...as foul as her behavior is, try not to focus on his ex. You said she's "started fights" between you and your fiance, and that she's "making him feel guilty". In this regard, she only has a much control over the two of you as you give her. Don't put your fights and his guilt on her shoulders. She can try to make him feel guilty, but ultimately, if he's doing all he can and doing right by his child, why feel guilty? She can plant that seed, but your boyfriend doesn't have to nurture it. The same with your fights. He's not handling her or his visitation the way you want him to--that's not her fault. As I said, if he wanted to do things differently, he could ask the court for a temporary agreement/order or to enforce one that is already in place.

My wish is that all of three of you would focus solely on the kids in your care (not on each other), and on creating a loving, stable, peaceful environment for them in both households.

Best to you,
~Deesha

June 25, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteradmin

I'm having a really difficult time. My boyfriend and I have been living together for two years. His oldest daughter lives with us full time as well as my own daughter. He has two other children that live out of state. This past weekend he went to visit them and I was wholly supportive. A few days before he left he told me he was going to stay with his ex to save money on a hotel but that she wouldn't be there. She had plans. Then he got there and told me that she actually was there the first night but would be leaving the next day. That turned into her spending the whole weekend there. I can take that, though I wasn't really happy about it. But I would never have said anything to make him feel anxious during his visit. Now he is on his way home and he says his kids will be coming out to our house for a week in a couple of weeks. Here is the problem. They are quite young. 10 months ago I was pregnant and had an abortion because he said that he absolutely did not want the child but that if I had it I would have to just deal with him being miserable the rest of our lives because he wouldn't walk away. I didn't want to have the procedure at all and even left the clinic three times before finally conceding to his wishes. I had told him I would raise the child on my own if he would just leave, but he said he would never leave his child he would just resent me for the rest of his life if I had it. Now I feel desperate because I can't fathom taking care of his small children in our home when he didn't want MY child...yet could never tell someone they cannot have their children for a visit. How can I possibly deal with this?

June 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer

Jennifer,

I'm so sorry to hear about your dilemma. I strongly encourage you to seek counseling, at the very least for yourself to cope with your post-abortion feelings related to the circumstances under which you had the procedure (i.e., your reluctance and your boyfriend's pressure). Ideally, both you and your boyfriend could benefit from couples counseling to heal the hurt that you are experiencing and to address the state of your relationship. I think this would be a wise step even if his young children weren't coming to visit, but even more so since they are. Again, even if your boyfriend is unwilling to attend counseling, I hope that you will.

Peace, comfort, and healing to you,
~Deesha

June 28, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteradmin

My boyfriend and I just recently moved in together, his mom lives with us now for a couple of months (that's what she says, that's another issue...) We've been together for 3yrs now, he has a 9 almost 10yrs old son with another woman (which I can't hardly stand), I tried to set peace when I met her and had talked to her over the phone a long while ago, up till the time she decided to talk ***t about me and what we had said at that time to my boyfriend of course skipping the nasty part she said about him and how unworthy piece of ** my boyfriend was and the many things he did to her, and was probably going to do to me as well. I tried to talk to her just to maintain peace, plus the fact of they're kid being around me.
I tried talking to her and letting her know how aggravated it is for me to deal with her calling and texting (no matter what day or time) my boyfriend to ask things about the kid, but also things that are not his concern. Like a couple of months I asked my boyfriend to fix or help me get my breaks(car breaks) since I'm always on the go and driving I had to get them fixed ASAP, and I work 6 days a week 14hrs a day... and she asked the same at the same time and he went and fixed hers (she works from home), he used to do her lawn and EVERYTHING for her, nothing for me. He has to reply and answer every single call and text from her, she knows everything that's going on, things that sometimes I'm unaware.
Now since we've been living together she got married, but she keeps doing the "needy/clingy" with him and he keeps catering to her, I have asking to just let her go but he says is just me being insecure, I know I'm not but one thing is to talk about your kids school grades than to talk about how can I pump gas in my truck without ruining my nails... I have to do everything myself without him cause he's always busy attending this woman.
Then there's the kid... he doesn't have any kind of manners (none, he burps and farts all over the place and it just grosses me out), he doesn't help with bags after grocery shop, he leaves everything in the middle of the room like shoes, hats...etc, he just sits in the couch and ask for food all day, if we go out to the movies his dad HAS to get him snacks even if he had eaten in the house before leaving, he cries to his dad so he sleeps with him (YEAH HE'S 9 almost 10!!), he only wants dad's attention all for him and whatever I do he has to do, like if I sit in the couch and put my legs on my boyfriends legs and kinda cuddle to him and maybe get up to get a drink, he's already doing the exact thing and not letting me be close to my boyfriend. We have him every other weekend (that's if the ex doesn't change plans and want us to watch him every time is convenient for her, despite the fact I'm never home therefore I spend almost NO time with my boyfriend and when his son is home our time together is even more limited, adding the 800 calls and texts of the ex...)
At this point I don't know what to do or say to my boyfriend about the little brat his raising by allowing him to keep manipulating him like that and constantly being in some sort of competition with me and I don't know if the mom has something to do with this kids behavior...
I dont know how to tell my boyfriend that I need him to focus on me, give me attention and communicate things with me not with his ex, I have been feeling like I'm just his mistress and that's not fair. Now I've been to Dr's cause I've been sick and having the kid there takes some attention and help from him since the kid can't even grab a glass and pour water in it by himself.
I know I can't tell him how to raise his kid, but I need him to be more of a father and not let his kid get away with everything and set some rules like sleeping by himself at a certain time, no TV or Video Games on certain days or times, get him to do some shores or help, and be rewarded, not just giving everything just cause... and maybe a way to explain to him and ask him to put his foot down with his ex so she can stop the "needy/clingy" attutide with him. I need him, I need a partner/a companion and I'm not getting it almost harly ever since she's always trying her best to not let it happen by sending the kid or calling/texting all the time all day and/or requesting things from my boyfriend...
I need help is frustrating and desperating... what can I do?? Every time I try to bring any of this up he gets upset and I'm misunderstanding, etc etc... Please just help me...

June 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMon

**I need help is frustrating and desperating... what can I do?? Every time I try to bring any of this up he gets upset and I'm misunderstanding, etc etc... Please just help me...**

Hi, Mon,

Your frustration comes through loud and clear. I'm going to guess that you and your boyfriend did not discuss a specific game plan for handling his son when he is staying with the two of you, and how to handle the transition and the inevitable issues. Now you are in reactive mode instead of being proactive, but you can still try to get on the same page. It's clear that you each have different expectations, and you feel your boyfriend is meeting his kid's needs and wants at the expense of yours. At some level, the kid comes first, but there is a difference between his needs and his wants. It's understandable that your boyfriend may not be open to all your parenting suggestions, but there needs to be some allowance for and receptivity to your concerns about bedtime, manners, food, and other issues.

Perhaps the next time you broach the subject with your boyfriend, you can take the "let's work together to make a plan we can all live with" approach vs. the "let me vent and tell you how you suck as a parent and how you are neglecting ME" approach. I'm not saying that you have intended to take this latter approach, but that may be what your boyfriend perceives--that you are simply being critical and insecure when you raise issues about his son. Articulate to your boyfriend that like him, you are concerned about his child's well-being, and that you want to support him in his parenting endeavors, but that your home needs to be a place where everyone feelings and needs are considered.

As for your boyfriend catering to his ex...I smell a lack of boundaries. This isn't something you should address with her because the bottom line is that she's not holding a gun to your boyfriend's head and making him say "How high?" when she says, "Jump!" For whatever reason, he's continuing to make himself available more than is warranted for basic co-parenting purposes. We can only speculate as to his motivations. You can try once again to tell him how his super-responsiveness to her makes you feel, but ultimately he has to be willing to let go. Let him know that you feel that you are playing second fiddle to his ex, and that you would like for him to draw some boundaries where she is concerned.

Perhaps you can choose a time when you aren't in the midst of a heated conflict about his son or his ex--maybe go out for dinner or coffee, just the two of you--and try to have a calm discussion about the issues that concern you. Approach him seeking resolution and peace, not with the blame game in full effect. He knows you're upset and frustration. Now ask him to work with you as a partner to solve the problems you're facing.

Hopefully, your boyfriend will listen respectfully to your concerns and will be willing to work with you to create more peace in your household.

Best,
~Deesha

June 29, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteradmin

Where do I begin? Sorry this may be long. I'm divorced with a three year old daughter and have been dating a man for nearly a year with whom I'm very much in love with. He has a son (5 yrs. old) with an ex girlfriend. In fact, they had broken up before he ever new she was pregnant. She had 2 previous abortions with two different men before getting pregnant with my boyfriend. He actually paid her to keep the child because she was threatening to abort his son. That's where the trouble started. She saw him as a "cash cow" because he does well for himself financially. She has caused misery ever since. She has been called by therapists and attorneys, a "narcissist". She has done nothing "right" for her son but instead has told him that my boyfriend isn't his true dad, that he is a part time dad, controls the time he spends with him, constantly claims she needs more money because she is starving and her son is too. Mind you she makes $65,000/yr + child support. When I first met him he was going back to court to get more time with his son and he was told by his 5 yr. old son that she was smacking and yelling at him which warranted an investigation. Well, did going back to court backfire!! She made up a ton of lies ...none of which were that bad. ( i.e. no claims of abuse, emotional or physical). Still they were lies at that. The judge ordered an evaluation of both parents through the FOC. She continued to lie through the evaluation and my boyfriend received a horrible review and lost most of his custody. No in-home study, no interviews with family/friends and no seeing the parent interact with the child. Purely on hearsay. He received one weekend per month and no holidays until his son was 18. Pretty extreme considering there was nothing "harmful to his child" in her claims. He was devastated. He loves his boy.

This is when things turned around. He finally found a good lawyer (very expensive to boot!) and had the decision appealed. They had a deposition with both parents and their attorneys present. My boyfriend's attorney caught her in over 15 lies and had a court reporter document it. He got his visitation back and a new agreement was signed by both parents right then and there! They agreed to see a parent coordinator to learn to work with each other. Unfortunately, she is back to her old tricks. She lies and crys constantly to the coordinator and refuses to work with my boyfriend. She pits her son against his dad. I know she says things to his son like your Dad doesn't love you. What a confused and sad boy!! He is depressed and it is obvious. The coordinator seems overwhelmed by their case and told my boyfriend she knows the mother has issues and is a narcissist. Argghhh. What can she do to stop her from ruining the relationship between father and son? I love him very much and I see what a great Dad he is. He is also very good with my daughter. We talk about the future together all the time. I'm so worried that I'm getting into something "tough" to say the least. I'm very amicable with my ex and my daughter is not in the middle of anything. So, it's good on my side. My boyfriend and I are educated people with good jobs. It's a shame that his son's Mom is so hard to work with. Any suggestions???? I really think she is NUTS!! Why are some people so bound and determined to destroy and control others lives? I just don't get it. It probably all has to do with money. What a shame! HELP!

July 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterEmily

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