Dating & Relationships, Post-Kids
Berkeley Parents Network >
Family Relations >
Dating & Relationships, Post-Kids
So, I have been seeing a wonderful man for about 18 months. I am
divorced and had had been separated for about 7 years prior to my
relationship with my boyfriend. I had never dated or seen anyone
else during this time. My relationship with my friend is loving,
close, real, and may lead to marriage. My two sons, ages 12 and 10,
tolerate my friend but have a much harder time when we spend time as
a ''blended'' family with his three children, who are 5, 10, and 13.
We have gone on two or three vacations together en famille, and
although during the holiday we have all had fun, after the fact my
children complain bitterly about his kids, about not ever having
vacations with just ''us'', etc. etc. And last wek they asked if we
were going to get married, and made it very clear just how unhappy
they would be if that happened. My question: How do I deal with
this? I love my children, they are my utmost priority. However, I
love my friend too, and do not want that part of my life to end. My
children's father does not live in the same state as we do, but I do
my best to keep communication open and amicable between our children
and him. How do I reconcile continuing a loving, long term
relationship with a wonderful man (who is quite fond of my children,
as I am of his) with my children's disapproval?
You must be very happy to have found love again in your life.
It's a great feeling. The same happened to me, my husband and I
fell in love when my daughter was 9 - I, too, had been divorced
and alone for many years.
My experience was that at first, my daughter and husband got
along very well. He was the dad she never had. He tried to woo
her. When the ''honeymoon'' was over, things went from bad to
worse. If I had to do it over again, I would have sought family
counseling and I highly recommend it for you and your family.
You are going into this with 3 pre-adolescent children - the
teens are a tough time even under the best circumstances - your
children are already expressing some concerns about your future -
a good family therapist can help you to help them. Sometimes
just acknowledging their feelings does a lot, but we need help
to learn how to do that. Good luck to you. My daughter is 25
and still estranged from my husband. It was a high price to pay
for ''love'' and could have been avoided with planning.
Unfortunately, this is a very difficult situation. You are
obviously very caring and are trying to do the best for your
children. I am an adult who's parents were separated when I
was 3 and divorced when I was 5. My dad remarried when I was
8. I never stopped hoping that my mother and father would 'get
back together'. Regardless of how many blended families there
are, children always want their parents together.
I suggest doing things alone with your sons, like a fun day on
the weekend but also maintain the outings with your boyfriend's
children. On a vacation, maybe do something with your boys one
afternoon so the whole trip is not spent with the other
children. Talk to your boys too. Ask specifically what they
don't like Make them be mature about it. Don't accept
responses like, 'he smells' or 'she's mean to me'. Ask them to
be honest. Also tell them that you understand their fears.
Change is frightening and they may want to know where they will
live, will they live with those kids and see them all the time,
etc. Also make sure they spend time with your boyfriend
without his kids too so they can see him for the man he is.
THey won't like him initially but he can win them over but not
by catering to them. He should be understanding and fun without
being a pushover. You should enforce discipline when necessary
and not allow the boyfriend to do that (he can wait until you
get engaged if you do). Make them show him and his children
respect as you expect them to show respect to all people.
Good luck and remember, you can't be good to your children if
you are not good to yourself. You need to be happy for them to
Child of divorce
It is not up to your children to ''approve'' of your choices, and
you are giving them an inappropriate amount of power if that's
what you're seeking. They're kids and they're going through all
sorts of growing pangs- that's all there is to it.
As a single, full custody mom of two kids, I can say that I feel
for you and your situation.
It does feel impossible to join families and have everyone ok
I remarried when my kids were 11 and 13. His kids were 13 and
15. It was a disaster. I did not believe it could be as hard as
it was. All 4 of the kids were resentful of the time we spent
with the ''other'' partner's children. My kids were resentful of
the time I spent with my new husband. This got in the way of my
relationship with my new husband and I felt incredibly torn
about who got my time and how to dole it out. I was totally
stressed. I left the marriage and am now happily single. I
cannot imagine trying to establish a new relationship again
until my children are out of the house. The interesting thing is
that we (my two kids and I) are stronger as a unit than ever
before. I think that I put my kids through hell with this
remarriage and I am trying to forgive myself for what I now see
as a selfish move on my part. I believe that we signed up to be
parents when we had our kids, and this is an awesome
responsibility. I also believe that if the marriage to their
father ends, the priority should be the kids and the family
until they are out of the house. You will have plenty of time
later and if this man is as great as you say, he will still be
there for you. In the meanwhile, I suggest that you skip the
group dates and just get a sitter and go out the two of you. The
kids are pretty clear they don't like this arrangement. They are
protecting you and your relationship with them and they don't
want to share their mom. I would feel the same way.
another single mom
I was once in a similar situation. My situation is a little
different because I went from a 16 marriage to a lesbian
relationship. I also have male children. They never liked my
new partners (I practiced ''serial monogamy'' for the last 20
years with 4 long term relationships, I am still in the last
one which I expect to last, and all my childen are adults now)
I suspect that it is the rare child that is ok with seeing mom
with another love interest. I dont think there is much you can
do about that. However, what you can do is make absolutely
sure, as much as humanly possible, that this new partner is
going to be good to and for your kids. My only regrets are
putting my kids in less that ideal situations because I was so
besotted of a particular lover. In my case, unfortunatly for me
and the kids, my wusband was a workaholic and a pretty crummy
parent, so he never took up my slack.
So my advice is, imagine yourself looking back on your life and
see if you can have a clear conscience about your relationship
with your kids and meeting their emotional needs. If so, then I
would go with the relationship.
Blending families is a huge order. I think that part works
better with a bit of therapy or other professional guidance.
love makes a family
Unfortunately, you may never be able to get your children's approval.
Not saying that
that will be the case, but it is out there. I would say to find a
really good family
therapist. Your kids need to know that it is not a betrayal of them.
Most children of
divorce hang on to the dream that one day mom and dad will get back
stepkids are in their twenties and the divorce is 12 yrs old and they
still have it.
Counseling may be the key and is definitely worth a shot.
I am a 40 year old single mom and I have a 4 year old son. His
father and I share time with him and we split the financial
costs associated with his school, clothes, etc. We dated for a
few months, split up, got pregnant, became parents. We have both
been in his life since birth, have never gone to court, just
work out a schedule for him to spend time with each of us which
is basically 50-50 with each parent. We are not interested in
dating eachother or having a physical relationship with
Things have been great until I started seriously dating a man. I
am going on 3+ months with a man who I am very much in love with
and am in a committed relationship with. I have dated before
this man, but have never gotten my son involved because it just
didn't feel right. This time it feels right and my son and I
spend some nights at my boyfriend's house.
My son's father is furious and demands that I not have my son
involved with my relationship for overnights at his house.
I feel like this new man is really a partner. He is supportive
and wonderful to me and my son. I know the relationship is new,
but it feels very much like it won't end anytime soon. I do not
spend all the nights I have with my son over my boyfriend's
house but I feel like I have the right to have a relationship
and to involve my son as I see fit and that it's natural for me
to have my son and boyfriend get to know eachother. My son
enjoys my guy and is not acting out in any way as a result of
this ''change'' to his routine.
His father disagrees but won't agree to discuss it with a
counselor and I feel like he's just trying to control my life.
I would like to hear what other SINGLE PARENTS think about my
Even if this turns out to be a lifetime relationship, it has not
yet stood the test of time. Surprises do occur. Wait at least a
year to involve your child.
I think that having your son spend a lot of time with a man
you've only been with for 3 months seems a bit excessive. I
realize that it seems like things are going great and the 3
months feels like forever, but from an outside perspective it
doesn't seem like much time at all.
I divorced my daughter's father and have since been married
twice. During each period of dating I held off introducing my
daughter (who was 6 years old the first time and 12 the second)
to my dates until they became serious relationships, and then
only introduced her to them as friends for months afterwards.
They did not spend the night until things had advanced to the
nearly engaged stage. I probably wouldn't even have done that,
but extenuating circumstances (boy, that's a whole 'nother post!)
It's just a lot for kids to deal with. You've got plenty of time
away from your son; can't you spend time with your new guy during
those times? I knew a woman who would never date after divorce
because of her kids, which seemed kind of sad--it suggested to
them that if things don't work out, you should never try again. I
want to model for my daughter that I can pick up and try again to
be happy, and so can she. But on the other hand, you don't want
your child to have to cope possibly multiple times with you
dating and breaking up and dating and breaking up, and 3 months
just doesn't seem like much time to establish that this guy is
the one. What's the harm in waiting a bit?
I'm a single mom of a 4.5 y.o. girl, and have been dating a
wonderful man for almost 2 years. I thought I took it slowly
as far as introducing my child to my new boyfriend goes, but he
just reminded me that he was actually introduced to her on our
first date (well, of course he was: he picked me up at my
parent's house, which is where my daughter and I lived at the
Honestly, I think then I waited almost 1 month before starting
to have outings together.
As far as sleeping arrangements go, I would never have had my
boyfriend sleep over in the beginning because the possibility
of my kid waking up and finding us in a compromising position
would have been too great. So, we would have him come over
after bedtime to watch t.v., but he would leave at about 9:30
p.m. This eventually transitioned (as we became more involved)
into him coming over directly after work, having dinner with
us, watching t.v. as I put my daughter to bed, and then us
staying up later, ''talking''. I waited until my daughter was
comfortable with my involvement with him before even
entertaining the idea of having him sleep over--which, we
decided, was rather uncomfortable for HIM because he isn't used
to being woken up at 6:30 a.m.
On an aside, my parents helped to give me some occasional adult-
only overnight time.
That being said, I dated a few men before this wonderful guy,
and honestly, I found that the single men without children
couldn't understand my devotion and constant prattle about my
own kid. That meant that single dads were much more fair--and
fun--game. Also, the date could be considered a 'playdate', if
the kids were involved (later dates).
I think my bottom line is keep the kid out of the picture as
long as possible, as they are most certainly aware of the
goings on (i.e., mom has a new person in her life), and
sometimes that can be overwhelming for them (what if mommy
doesn't love me as much), not to mention the inevitable
questions if your child is old enough (is he my new daddy?, are
you going to marry him?, how come you spend so much time with
Dating with a child is tough, don't let anyone tell you
different. Parent's Without Partners (org?) helped me get my
dating game back on, after a long hiatus post-divorce. Again,
IMHO, single (men, for me, a hetero) parents of kids are easier
to associate with--and develop relationships with--than single,
childless men. That being said, there are a few child-less men
who are great, and are available.
I wish you the best of luck in this shark-infested dating pool,
and my main train of thought: keep your kid out of the picture
for as long as possible, for everyone's sake, especially the
been there, done that
I am a single Mom with 2 children and am siding with your sons
father completely. Yes, you have a right to have a life and a
real adult relationship. You also have 50% of your time to
pursue that relationship. Good grief - 3 or even 6 months is
NOTHING in terms of time - no matter how it feels now. I think
it is absolutely fine that you have this man meet your son, get
to know him during outings, at dinner ect. ect. but taking your
son to sleep over with you at your boy friends house, in my
view, IS crossing the line. The relationship is just too new
and really, as wonderful as it seems now, in 6 months it may be
over and how is your son going to feel then? With kids, just
please go slow. Spend the night at his house when your son is
at his father's. If you don't end up with this man and your
child becomes too attached, it will feel like a divorce when
you split - and that is really hard for kids. Sleep over on
your own time.
I basically agree with you, and although this isn't quite what
you said, I think that in this time and place people go a bit too
far in ''protecting'' their children from the fact that their
parents are sexual beings.
But I think that getting counseling help regarding any
disagreement you have with your child's father is for the best if
the two of you can't resolve it on your own- you may want to
initiate counseling yourself sometime in the future if you are
concerned about his behaviour in some significant way. The point
of good counseling is not at all for one person to gain control
over the other, but for the two people to come to understand each
other better and discover ways to meet in the middle.
I'd suggest that you deal with your fear of being controlled by
taking some of the initiative around finding a counselor. You can
each come up with some names, each ''interview'' prospective
counselors on the phone, and keep doing that until you find
someone you both feel comfortable with.
Don't look for someone who just supports your point of view
around this particular issue, look for someone who is experienced
with separated couples with children, who you feel safe to open
up to, and who has a creative and open-minded approach to
interpersonal problem solving.
i am a single mom of a 31/2 year old. i feel your pain around
trying to balance your dating life with your role as a parent.
i met someone last year, and was convinced that they were 'the
one' (and at 35, i had enough dating experience to know, i
thought). i brought my son for sleepovers, we all hung out
together, my son got attached. and then we broke up. i am
exceedlingly lucky that i happened to choose someone who still
wanted to be in my son's life, and they still see each other
regularly. however, i would never, ever put him in that
situation again. how we as adults are in relationships sets the
pace for our children's attachments, intimacy and relationship
patterns as adults. in my dating since, i have made it very
clear that no one i am dating will meet my son unless we are at
the point where we are ready to move in/get married. you are
lucky that you share custody and have so much free time in
which to date. the danger in terms of your son's emotional
health is not while you are dating, it is what will happen if
you break up. is this person someone who would continue to be
in your son's life even if you weren't together? would you want
him to be? given all that, it is also hard to separate other
issues--like maybe your ex is afraid that this new man will
replace him, and you need to have a conversation with him about
that, or maybe he has genuine, well-founded fears about your
son getting attached to someone who might not be around. hard
to say. i wish you all the best.
Been there, single mom, trying to date. I haven't met a (the?)
man I'd want to marry or be with long-term, so I've made do
with an altered but actually good part-time relationship. I
totally understand the need to date and I've looked around and
have seen blended families... those are made up of people who
felt - I think rightfully - entitled to happiness and who met
the right person. It's a good sign that your son seems to be
BUT (you knew there'd be a but!) three months is such a short
time. He may be everything you think he is, but would it hurt
to let a year go by before getting your son accustomed to and
maybe loving this father figure? On the wild off-chance it
doesn't work out, THAT'S when your son will be hurt. Can you
really know everything about him? If he cares about you, he
will work with you to maybe make the overnights less frequent
for 6-9 months... there could be some middle ground.
Another thought is to browse Barnes & Noble under blended
my two cents
Dear Single Mom,
Three months does seem like a short time to get serious about a guy, but
to go with your instincts. Maybe the father of your son is jealous. Is
he in a
relationship himself? He might also feel that he will be replaced? You
him that he will always be the father of your son and he will continue
to see him,
but that it's really good when there are more caring adults in a child's
assure him that you know this is the right thing for you and your son
now and that
you wouldn't be exposing him to a creep. It sounds like you don't have a
men flowing through the house and are really sure about this guy. You
right to do what you are doing. I know it's hard when the father's are
mad, but it's
HIS stuff, not yours. This may be the next step in ''splitting up''.
There's not really
anything he can do to prevent you.
I get along really well with my ex's partner, sometimes better than with
him! I like
that there is another person in my daughter's life who loves her and is
for her. I'm not partnered now and I am careful about who I bring around
my daughter. There have been some duds, but we've all gotten over it.
have slept over, more like meeting at dinner. It's life afterall! And
it's practice for
them too, seeing how we are in relationships. If we in a healthy
relationship but it
doesn't work out, it's okay too. Not trying to jinx your new
relationship but just to
point out it's not the worst thing in the world if it ends and your son
was involved. I
wish you the best of luck. I know it's hard to juggle everything as a
especially when there's that third person there!
Happy mommies are better mommies!
I am also a single mom, 36 with a 4 yr. old daughter, so I
truly understand your predicament. But, that said, I must say
I am concerned that you take your son over to your new
boyfriend's house for regular sleepovers. That is not
appropriate-- in that, I agree with your ex. You can sleep
over at your boyfriends when your son is with your ex. Or,
your boyfriend perhaps can sleep over at your home. Unless
there have been serious discussions as to becoming a family
together with this new person (and new relationships ALWAYS
feel as if they will last forever!), it is unfair and
inappropriate to bring your son for sleepovers for your own
enjoyment and convenience. It is not ''his'' space, not at this
point, is it ''your'' space. The relationship between you and
any new romantic interest should be kept fairly private, and
increase in levels. But not to the point of bringing your son
over to sleep unless it has been established that that will
become his home too.
Sorry to be critical, but I was taken aback by your posting.
oh GIRL! My boyfriend's ex-wife is all up in my grill over the
kids being at my house. Now that he's moved in, and it's his
house, she's less butty about it, but IMO she can't stand that
he's moved on. Keep in mind, she's led a multi-block-long parade
of men through their lives since the divorce, but don't even try
to question her judgement... I don't have any advice, but a lot
of empathy. Some people just can't let go. Glad you didn't marry
this guy. Good luck in your new relationship. (Maybe 3 months is
a little soon, maybe I would have waited one more month, but
you're the best judge of that! And how could you find out if he's
a partner if he never meets your kid?!)
Have you thought about mediation? There is a great
organization called East Bay Community Mediation that provides
volunteer mediators at a very low fee. The mediator can help
each of you negotiate a workable arrangement, and can assist in
eliciting the feelings underneath each of your positions, which
will hopefully help each of you understand the other person
better and lead to a lasting, workable plan. I myself am a
mediator and would be happy to talk with you further about
mediation and/or help you get connected with a mediator
suitable for your needs.
as a single dad for the past 6 years, daughter is now 8
1/2, who has not had a date those entire 6 years (not that i am
not trying, as i am, lots; i am 63, however, and for that and
other reasons am a difficult match), my feeling about your
situation is that your ex is indeed trying to be too controlling
about this, just exactly as you said, and he needs to let it go.
on the other hand, i can certainly understand his feelings,
and you would probably do best to attempt to do the same,
although this won't be easy (for you). he was used to your
previously loveless and mostly dateless arrangement, probably
mirroring his own situation, hence is now feeling
jealous/insecure, whatever. still i am with you 100% on this
and feel he needs come to terms with the new situation and not
be a controlling jerk. he definitely does need to agree to
counseling (have you tried suggesting he go on his own if he is
uncomfortable going w/ you?) to help get through this.
again i can totally understand his helpless and vulnerable
feelings here, but still feel he needs to see the broader
picture (you and your son and your needs as a family) and
lighten up and deal.
best wishes for good luck.
I am divorced and mother of two wonderful boys, ages 9 and 11. We have
not lived with their father for 7 years. They have frequent phone
contact with him, and see him three or four times a year, as much as
we are able to make work with money and time away from jobs, etc.
Last spring I met a wonderful man, also divorced, with three
children. We started dating, and spending a lot of time together. I
have shared with my children that he and I are friends, good friends,
who like to spend time together. We go to movies, or dinner, and spend
time together on the weekends with his and my children. We have taken
one weekend trip together with all our children (5 all together), and
did not share a bedroom. We were and are very careful physically with
one another in front of the children, and only spend nights together
when the children are at sleepovers with friends or grandparents. We
are now planning another combined family trip this summer, for the
last two weeks of July. After over a year of dating, and spending time
with our families in various settings, is it wildly inappropriate for
my friend and I to share a bed while on vacation? His children are
''savvier'' than mine, in that their mother has had a long- term
boyfriend living in their house for over a year. My boys have never
had that experience, and have lived alone with me for over 7 years. I
do not want to make them uncomfortable, nor damage their psyches. On
the other hand, sleeping on couches or bunking with the kids while on
this holiday seems a little odd, too. How do I handle this? My
children are quite fond of my friend, and his children are of me as
well. As a group the five kids get along pretty well, not without the
usual sorts of conflicts that arise with any group of children. Any
advice, thoughts, pearls of wisdom would be great. Many thanks.
Oh, gee, you will probably get alot of varied ideas on this. If
I were you, I would want to sleep with him and just don't make
a big deal of it to the kids. It is a long term relationship,
you all know each other, and I think it is important to
demonstrate to children what a healthy, caring adult
relationship is, rather than sneak around and adhere to some
After my friend and I had been dating about 3 months very
intensely, we did the same thing on a ski weekend. We had
intended to each sleep with our kids, but the two boys
immediately took over the sofa bed in the living room and the
two girls took over the king bed in the master bedroom(!). We
wanted them all to enjoy themselves and the only place left was
a small double bedded room or the kitchen floor. We made a show
of leaving the door open all night and he slept in his sweats
and me in my flannel jammies under the covers while he slept on
top of the blankets. Word still got home to his ex-wife who
threw an absolute hissy-fit about how inappropriate it was
(this is the woman he left because she was having affairs with
men like their soccer coach and pediatrician WHILE they were
married!). So, there is no telling what people will regard as
appropriate. I say do what feels most comfortable for you and
your friend. You will probably feel happier which your children
will pick up on (and yes, someone will probably object, but
that is their problem).
love my kids AND my guy
I would suggest that you clue your sons in on your
relationship. I think that the hardest part is behind them; the
fact that you separated from their biological father. The fact
that you are moving on and have been so extremely considerate
of them, is commendable, though. You don't mention much about
how they handled your divorce, but assuming that they are okay
with the situation the way it is now, I would allow them to be
part of the next phase; a new man in your life. I have found
with our children that explanations and honesty are the best
solution. I think that if you mention to your sons that he
makes you really happy and that you have taken a long time to
get to know him really well, that they would only respect you
Hmm, I think your kids might be a little savvier than you think.
For instance, they hang out with at least 3 kids that are savvy
enough to fill them in. Nevertheless, it is a little disturbing
to have to think about your mother doing that so definitely do
not spring this on them when you are already on vacation. Have a
nice talk with the boys soon, so they have time to process it
long before the vacation.As it regards vacation make sure you
play up the fun for them, that it will be all kids in their room!
Have the talk with just you and your kids and your boyfriend
should do the same with his kids. Don't make it like you are
asking their permission, but more like you are acknowledging a
fact that they probably already caught on to (but making sure not
to make them feel dumb if they didn't know).As it regards
vacation make sure you play up the fun for them, that it will be
all kids in their room! Kind of like when they found out Santa or
the Easter Bunny or the Tooth fairy wasn't real! Maybe you can
get some sleepovers before vacation!
Look, you're allowed to have a grown-up relationship. Your kids
will be okay - it's especially nice that they already know the
guy and are comfortable with him.
I personally think it's a good idea if you two think you'd like
to be together for awhile, or see the relationship going
somewhere. But either way, he's been around long enough - your
kids will adjust.
It's probably a good idea to tell your kids at some point soon
that this guy is your boyfriend, and depending on what their
personalities are like (if they need to be prepared for
change), you might casually mention the sleeping arrangements
ahead of time, so they can quietly process it and not be
shocked. Such as: you and Bobby and Joey will share a room,
Mike's daughters will share a room, and Mike and I will share a
A couple of years ago, my boyfriend was evicted from the place he'd been living,
and since he had nowhere to go, he moved in with my daughters and I. I had
thought this would be a temporary situation, but more than two years later, there's
no sign of change, and he still has no means of financial support nor other place to
live... as my daughters have taken to shutting themselves in their rooms and hardly
coming out. All they ever talk to me about is how they hate my boyfriend living with
us (he usually stays in my room, away from the rest of the house, but he's been
around quite a bit of the time). The reason my daughters dislike my boyfriend so
much seem to mostly be due to him not being fun to have around, and his tendency
to dwell on subjects they dislike, that sound paranoid or fear-based to my
daughters (he grew up in rough neighborhoods, and had some challenging times in
his life... and while he's had lots of counseling, he still often brings up topics that
are not exactly cheery or bright). I have asked him to spend more time away from
the house in the afternoons and evenings when my daughters are home from
school, and while this gives my daughters and I a chance to have time together that
feels more normal, it's not a complete solution... because my daughters still feel
their home is not truly their own as long as my boyfriend's living in it. They would
like to walk around in just a T-shirt, to have friends over without feeling there's
someone here they don't feel comfortable around, and to be able to talk with me
without having my boyfriend always in the house. I love my boyfriend dearly, but I
realize that I only have a few years left with my teenage daughters before they move
onward and out, and I wish I could enjoy these last precious months and years
without so much stress in our home. I'd love to know if anyone has been in a similar
situation, or knows of anyone who found a solution to a similar problem.
The boyfriend should have never moved in without you having a
serious conversation with your teenage daughters. They aren't
children, they are almost adults and considering their age,
their feelings about the situation should have had serious
weigh in. I can completely empathize. My mom did the same
thing and I had serious ulcers for months that did not go away
until he was gone. There is no feeling worse than not being
able to be comfortable in your own home, especially if you once
had that, and now that's gone. He is not helping you, you are
not helping him. Your daughters see that. Preserve your
relationship with the girls by putting them first. You just
said they won't be there long. I personally don't do live in
situations because of my children. When we are married, then
we can live together.
Kids Come First Mom
I felt compelled to respond because I saw similar situation
happen in my family. Given what you have said about your
boyfriend it sounds to me like he needs to move out. You are a
single mother with the responsability for 2 kids, a household
and I assume a job, so I am wondering why you are doing this to
yourself? I am sure it is hard and the need for companionship
great but do you really need a freeloader on your hands? I
think your daughters are reacting to the fact he is not a full
participating member of this family. To stay in his room is to
avoid the problem and not work toward being a family...which
then begs the question...why are you together. Your daughters
are teenagers and yes they might be a bit difficult but it
sounds to me they are trying to tell you something. Plus at
this point your exemple means everything...is this what you
want them to be doing later on in life?
What can your daughters say to make this any clearer for you? Are you really willing
to tolerate paranoid comments and the fact that your own children are
uncomfortable in their home for the sake of keeping a boyfriend around? You have
imposed an unhappy and non-contributing person on your family and they've put
up with the situation for two years. Do you see how disrespectful that is of them,
and of yourself?
I think that just re-reading your post would tell you what you must do.
What would it take for you to decide to get your boyfriend out of the apartment? Is it
not a problem because he hasn't stolen anything (but two years of your/their life?)
or molested your girls...or because he's not violent?
Once your children have grown up and moved on your home and life are all yours,
but right now THEY should be your priority, not this man, or even a more appealing
one. Your instinct is right, your time with your kids is finite and if you don't remedy
this situation now, they will not come back to you, later in life. Get him out, and
apologize to your girls. I think all three of you will feel better.
Sad for your girls, who deserve their home
Do the Landmark Forum. www.landmarkeducation.com
Then you will know what to do.
Then, if the situation is still not resolved, dump the
boyfriend; your relationship with your daughters,and their
feeling safe in their home is too important.
You're so right that you only have a little more time for your
daughters to be adolescents who want alone time with their
mother, before your role in their lives and your influence on
them diminishes drastically. In addition you are their primary
role model for their own romantic relationships, so you may not
want them to learn, even subconsciously, that it's okay to put
the needs (financial or otherwise) of a boyfriend ahead of their
own and their children's emotional stress/privacy needs. I've
been in relationships that were draining me that I probably
would have stayed in for longer if I didn't have the example of
my mother, who gave me a lot of self-worth as a young girl by
showing me that I was more important to her than her boyfriends--
and any boyfriend who was any good for her understood and
respected this. Obviously now that I don't live with her
anymore her love life is her own business: but the way she
conducted her relationships when I was most impressionable gave
me more respect for her, for myself, and for women than if I had
had to wonder if she was putting a boyfriend's needs before what
was best for her daughter.
-proud of my mom, & trying to be proud of myself
Um... why is this deadbeat living with you? More to the point,
why are you putting the wishes of a no-job, no-life boyfriend
over the wishes of your precious daughters? They hate him because
he's using you. They want better for you. So do I! Don't you?
You have chosen your boyfriend over your daughters. And your
daughters know it. Not sure what you are getting out of the
relationship with your boyfriend -- he cannot financially
support himself, he makes your kids uncomfortable in their own
home. Kick him out and step up to putting your kids first. What
kind of example is this setting for your teens anyway?!
Wake up, sister!
I had to edit my response a few times, you wouldn't have wanted
to see my initial reaction. At first I thought this was a joke
question...of course you need to get rid of the boyfriend, and
asap, like today. You need as much time as possible to regain
trust with your daughters and allow healing to take place. If
you do it immediately it might happen. By letting him stay,
you are telling them they are not important and don't deserve
to grow up in a home where they feel safe. Your first loyalty
needs to be to your daughters. You are not responsible for his
inability to take care of himself. If you must, give him $250
for a cheap motel while he finds a place to live. You must put
your foot down and take back control of your home! Be clear
about your priorities and don't waver from them. It is so
important for your daughters to learn how not to be victims of
a helpless-acting man and not to learn the lesson that they
don't matter. I urge you to gather your courage and issue a
deadline and stick to it no matter what. Your daughters will
respect you for it and you can begin to rebuild trust with
them. I know these are strong words, but I just couldn't word
it any milder.
I admit up front to strong feelings about your post. Your
daughters' feelings are totally valid. I've been a single mom
for a while and I've dated one guy seriously but not let him
move in with me (he wanted to ASAP). I've seen how sensitive
our home atmosphere is to this guy she's known for years, who
respects her and who she's come to see as caring and funny. She
appreciates him after all this time. Because I don't overwhelm
her with him, I'm not remorseful to sometimes have him over go
out with him just because I want it. I would not have the
relationship I have with her now if I'd had him move in.
It's absolutely true that your daughters have ''lost'' the
privacy of their own home, even if he stays in his room. Also
how can they (or you) respect a guy who made a move that should
be an important relationship-family mutual-adult decision,
based on his need and inability to support himself, let alone
support you on some sort of equal level? What can they learn
about what to expect from a man when they see you accept him in
a role similar to another child?
Even just based on what they need day-to-day in terms of a
home, I agree with them. The negativity (depression?) of his
worldview is icing on the cake. Not a reason to end it
necessarily, but is it your job to take care of him at their
expense? Asking him to spend time in his room or away tells me
you value your time alone with your daughters too. If you love
him, couldn't you work at your relationship in separate
residences, if just for now?
One last thing, my boyfriend situation almost but did not quite
work out for marriage. For me, marriage probability was the
test for whether I would put my daughter through the upheaval
of adding him to our household. I know I'm probably old-
fashioned on this, but it seemed to be in my best interest too.
been there/different approach
It sounds like you're living a double life, except it's no
secret. You have a boyfriend living in your room who you adore
and then your teenage daughters who you equally adore living in
the rest of the house. I don't think this happened by accident. I
think there's a psychological reason for this that you need to
explore in therapy. It's normal for kids this age to hang out in
their rooms, regardless of whether you have a boyfriend living
with you or not. Telling your boyfriend not to hang out around
the house in the afternoon and evenings so you can be with your
daughters is not. Either you're a family or you're not. Either he
lives someplace else, or he lives with you. It sounds like you're
the one who is benefiting the most from this arrangement and you
need to see a therapist to find out why. Otherwise you're not
being fair to your boyfriend or your daughters.
I am a solo mom, who has always been single (which means there
is no other parent at all), with an almost 10 y.o. son. After a
hiatus of 10 years I am dating someone. Needless to say,
working out the logistics for intimacy is very challenging. My
particular issue is that my son still comes into my bed in the
middle of the night (I never wake up when he does). I would
like to now have him stay in his own bed because at some point I
would like my boyfriend to be able to stay overnight with me. I
am very aware of the preception of ''kicking'' my son out of my
bed for someone else. I am looking for some guidance on how to
do this. Help! I would also like to hear from other parents in
this situation about how they juggled time alone with a paramour
as well as time with their child(ren) around. Right now I am
proceeding very slowly, but am tuning into my own personal needs
for the first time on 10 years. Thanks for any words of wisdom.
Three points in yr post. 1.Your 10 yr old is too old to be sleeping with
his mother. I emphasize both ''his'' and ''mother.''
2. Do you really want to model for your son that it is ok to have a
boyfriend sleeping over with his mom? I want more kids to know that
they need to be way, way more selective and knowledgeable about sex,
society, stability, and morality.
3. You gave up ''your needs'' when you had a baby. (See pt. 2, above)
You can wait until your precious and only boy moves out. Have dates
outside his home. Your son needs you to spend time with him. Trust me
on this. Why don't you two do community volunteer work together?
Good heavens, I had to write after reading the post suggesting you wait
until your 10 year old is grown before dating and having overnights with
If this is someone who seems important and with whom you are having an
ongoing relationship (which is how you describe it), then you just need
to explain that to your son. Children will react differently to this
news -- some overly thrilled, some overly angry. You need to get clear
with yourself that this is an appropriate thing you are doing and
communicate that clarity to your son. It will settle out in time. You
absolutely deserve to have a relationship that includes sleepovers and,
in fact, it could lead to a wonderful relationship for your son as well.
Best of luck!
I asked a friend in the same situation and this is what she told me... I
took out names, so I am not sure about editing:
Honestly. I talked to my son and told him that it was time for me to be
in a relationship and that at some point my boyfriend would spend the
night. He was cool with it - at 10 they know a lot about this stuff
even if they don't know the details. It was different as my boyfriend
and son knew each other before I knew my boyfriend but jealousy is
still, after 8 months, an issue. I try to talk to my son openly and I
spend time with just him at times as well as with my boyfriend.
Truly, I think it has been good for my son as it has made him more aware
that all people have needs and that love comes in many places. It has
certainly made my son more aware that I am a woman and adult as well as
I am relieved to have my son see a healthy and open relationship - to
see us argue and get through it kindly, to ''neck'' (as he calls it) and
see healthy love/affection, to see my boyfriend be kind to me and do
sweet things and visa versa. He would have had no idea how to treat a
woman or how he deserved to be treated by a woman if he had left home
with no example. I
was always worried about this.
I honor your courage and strength. My friend is one of the best
mother's I know, and her son is doing extremely well. The traditional
family, is not the only best way to raise children.
Wishing you the best
At 10 your son may be old enough for a sleepover at a friends house.
that way you can have your sweetie over undiscovered. after a while,
when you are sure that the relationship is strong. you can simply tell
your son that boyfriend is sleeping with mommy tonight because that is
what people who love eachother do. if he comes in in the middle of the
night anyway you can take him back to his bed and cuddle him there for a
bit before heading back to your man.
i hope this helps. hopefully i'll be in the same position myself one
The original post expresses a very serious concern, which ideally should
be handled with professional assistance. It is not inappropriate to
warn of potential trauma for a 10-year old boy who is suddenly
prohibited from sleeping in mother's bed because she is dating. This
was the original post's real concern. Certainly there are therapists in
the Bay Area who have experience with similar situations.
I experienced a similar situation. I was 12 when a teacher, whom I
knew, dated and eventually married my mom (single for many years
previously, after the death of dad). I thought it was fine, felt it was
fine, acted adjusted, but I repressed significant issues. This
precipitated inexplicable suicidal thoughts, acts, etc., and led to a
loss of three or four years of ordinary childhood. I was not overly
dependent on my mother, either, so I assume a boy who sleeps in his
mom's bed could be more destabilized.
Good advice cannot be absorbed if it comes with too much opinion.
Because single parenting and sexual freedom provoke such strong
opinions, several responses to this post seemed painfully opinionated,
although only the "conservative" one created a backlash.
My boyfriend is moving to the Bay Area from southern California
in the next few months. Although marriage is intended in the
future, it is not something we are planning presently.
(background: we've been dating long distance for a year, but have
been friends for almost ten years)
What we have been discussing is living together. He already
spends most weekends at my apartment with me and my three year
old daughter. They both adore each other and are wonderful together.
What I'm unsure about is 1. how to answer my daughter's questions
as to why B sleeps in my bed; 2. if living together would confuse
her or not; 3. how to explain living together if B moves in; 4.
how to explain marriage if we later get married; 5. if living
together is a bad idea or not; and 6. what exactly is B's
relationship with my daughter if we're living together -- do i
need to talk about that with her or not?
Last bit of info - I was never married to my daughter's father.
He sees her about 5 to 15 hours a week, but she has never has
overnights with him. So my home is really her only home.
Any and all advice, comments, shared experiences that answer my
questions or are just tangentially related are very welcome by
me. I don't know any other single moms, so I'm on my own for this.
Trying to be good mom
No- please don't move this guy in! Be patient and see if you actually
get married first.
my husband and i first moved in together when my son was 4 years old,
with me not having been previously married to my son's father. i think
that the most important element is that you and your partner are
committed to each other so that your daughter does not get caught in the
we ended up going on and having another child, before we were married. i
cannot remember if the discussion of marriage ever came up so you may be
worrying about things that never arise, but i have always talked to my
son about the many definitions of family and how many different
equations can come from that one term. and, my husband has never tried
to take the place of his father. my son is actually closer to my
husband, though he may not readily admit it, but also has weekly contact
with his dad. we have never tried to make the situation something that
its not, nor forced anything on him other than his siblings!! i think
just be open with your daughter and let things evolve naturally while
including her in the process. and talk to her while encouraging her to
be open with you about how she's feeling.
best of luck in your new life.
Hi, I can't believe you haven't met any sinlge moms here in the Bay
Area! Well, there are lots of us out here, with and without boyfriends.
To comment on your situation, I guess I would be wary about moving in
right away if you haven't had the time to be together in the same town.
I think it would be harder on your daughter to figure things out if he
moved in and for some reason you guys didn't hit it off domestically and
then moved out, than if he came over a lot and started to spend the
night slowly before he actually moved in. As far as explaining things to
her, you just say, adults who love eachother sleep together and it's
another kind of love that's different from how you and she love each
other and how your boyfriend and she love eachother and how she loves
her father. I don't think there's another way to say it. She will figure
it out eventually. Marriage and living together, hmm could be the same
for a 3 year old, so I wouldn't go into too much detail except for
saying that that's what adults do. Maybe you could say adults live
together first and then if it works out and everyone is happy then they
get married! If you are going to live together try to make sure that she
doesn't feel displaced, try to keep her room as is.
As far as her relationship with your boyfriend, it's nice to have
another adult caring about a child. He's not her father, but can be a
guiding loving person for her.
You need to put your daughter first and foremost in your life. If you
and your boyfriend are really serious about marriage, have you two sat
down separately and together with a wise and experienced third person
and gone over with a fine tooth comb your views on money, sex, household
duties, conflict resolution, parenting, estate planning, activities that
involve each of you three individually and in different groupings of
your family? Unless you are prepared to do this work at least twice
with months between cycles BEFORE your boyfriend has moved north, you
are not truly mature enough to get married. Then get married before the
dude moves in.
As I said above, it is your daughter, not yourself and your love life,
who you must put in the forefront.
The way I see it, you have two choices. Either get married since that is
your intent and then you can then explain that when people get married
they love each other and form a family and live together. Or just say
that when people love each other they live together (? especially when
they are going to get married soon??) Ring those bells if you're gonna
I am a single mom of two boys ages 8 and 4. I have a boyfriend
whom they adore and he loves them. I would like to be able to
have my boyfriend sleep over when the boys are in my house, but
don't know how to approach this. We lived with another man
briefly, so they have experienced my sleeping in bed with a man
other than their father. How have others approached this with
their children? Thanks for your advice.
You indicate by your post that you have already had at least two failed
You are parenting two kids, both sons, which cannot be easy. But you
must model for them commitment and stability. That means ''dating'' out
of the house, and minimizing contact with boyfriend. They are very
impressionable and are just beginning to understand sexuality, morality,
commitment, respect for girls and themselves, and a myriad other
fundamental lessons. They both need all of your extra time, not some
joe-boyfriend. I suggest you and the kids do volunteer work together
(like Habitat for Humanity), work on assisting their education and
teachers, and do other, deeper activities. They will be out of your
life and into their own in less than 10 unbelievably short years. Use
these years wisely. Be a strong, proud woman.
OK, communal parental wisdom, I have a question that is really
about adult relationships but touches on how to survive as a
parent post-divorce. I am recently divorced and just shy of
fifty. Recently I contacted a man I met before I was divorced
both to ask a work-related question and to test the waters to
see if he might like to get better acquainted. We have had
five get-togethers of the strictly lunch and coffee type over
the past three months, all except the first instigated by him,
and these are always pleasant but limited in time (two hours or
so) and scope (we don't talk relationships at all). During
that time he said nothing about any kind of ongoing
relationship with someone else or even alluded vaguely to the
presence of a woman in his life. For my part, I vaguely
alluded to shared custody and no longer wear a ring, but didn't
discuss my divorce. Come to find out via a mutual acquaintance
that he has a girlfriend, I don't know how serious though I do
know that they don't live together. Question (particularly for
you males out there, I know there are some out there) -- how do
I interpret this? I am interested in the proverbial ''something
more'' but have proceeded with extreme caution. Ah, it feels
just like teenagerhood. Input from all welcome.
If you want a partner who will surrepititiously go on lunch dates with other women and then
''forget'' to ever mention you exist, well then by all means, go for it. I guess as women
get older, they don't get any smarter in the ways of love. This is disconcerting. Really,
the type of man who fishes around for the next, uh, fish, before ending the relationship he
is in is a coward, a liar and has absolutely no integrity. As you have no idea what it would
be like to be in an emotionally and physically intimate relationship with him (I mean it
could be awful anyway)yet and are not physically or emotionally or finacially attatched, why
would you even consider a man like this. It is not like the two of you are together and have
problems you need to work out. He's proving to be a problem before step one and you will
have only yourself to blame if you go ahead with this. P.S. Why don't you check in w/ the
girlfriend. I am sure you will learn a lot. Sorry to sound harsh. I do feel for you Take
Care of Yourself
Given the fact that you and he have not discussed personal issues, it would seem to me that
he is treating you like a friend since you have not indicated that you are interested in
anything more. Since you have discussed work, it is easy enough for him to tell his
girlfriend that he is seeing a friend from work for a casual lunch. I would suggest talking
about other issues, such as asking if he has plans that weekend, or maybe say when he asks
if you are free for lunch the next time, say that you are busy but was wondering if he would
like to meet for a drink (or coffee) after work. See what he says. He and his girlfriend
might be serious, or they might be both dating others; you won't know until he says
something. This is the Bay Area and there's a wide variety of relationships here. Many
years ago I dated someone named Tom, who had a boyfriend named Adam. Everyone was on the
same page and we had no issues with that (both Adam and I saw Tom separately, and in fact I
never met Adam). More recently I had a female friend seriously dating a man who was also
seeing another woman; again, all were knowledgable about what was happening. Just some
things to consider. L.
glad you posted; i just love this stuff, as a recently (well, 5 years ago now, come to
think of it) dumped 62 year old dad of a now 7 year old, after 17 year relationship. you at
least have something going, so good for you.
but what to make of, or how to interpret what is happening with you? from my
perspective, unfortunately there is no obvious read on him for you. clearly he is
interested, since he has asked you for 4 of the 5 meetings you have had. but whether or not
1)he is very tight with the non live-in girl-friend but is just enjoying a little extra
company with you, or 2)even wanting some kind of extra-relationship fling with you, but will
still be committed to her in the end OR 3)things with her are not all that serious and he
really IS checking you out for something more serious, i just don't think is all that clear
at this moment.
therefore, i think all you can do is just go along with your life and see what, if
anything, develops, either here or elsewhere. but keep in mind that ANY of the above 3
alternatives is possible. please however don't mortgage your emotions to any one of them,
if you can help it, because it may not be the actual one.
good luck and please keep me posted, in case you have time or interest in doing so. i
much enjoy hearing how you and
others go about these things.
Uncharted territory with these new relationships. Putting yourself out there for a deeper
connection is tough.
A few things came to mind as I read your post as I too am coming out of a 7 year commitment.
First is to remember that you know when someone is into you.
He would be wanting more than a few hours here or there. Also, any man I have dated will
want to go out in the evening to a play or to dance. There is lots of eye contact and any
excuse to sit closer than how friends would sit.
If you really are attracted to his mind/body put it out there a bit and see if he is
interested in going out to dinner. Let's try and get a date that is longer than 3 hours.
Don't be shy when you see someone that looks interesting at the store, supermarket or
wherever you are say hi.
As my grandma says, ''put on your lipstick and go with the attitude that today anything can
Feel free to ignore the lipstick part (; Good luck and have fun!
My 2 cents
Don't jump into ANYTHING that you have some doubts about if you're recently divorced. It's
way more trouble when you're older and have kids to get into things and to break them off.
Given that you have learned he has a girlfriend, I'd suggest you
either: stay away COMPLETELY from the possibilty of ''something more'' (my preferred option
for you), or ask him about it. To me, the fact that he didn't mention a girlfriend probably
means that he's testing the waters with you, in a less than straightforward manner (and I
suspect he'd be equally vague and elusive about you). Usually this means he'd be interested
in being deceptive about his girlfriend. Honey, you have time! Don't worry! and Don't start
into anything virtually guaranteed to cause stress.
Don't push this until you find out from him (and maybe your other source) that his
girlfriend is out of the picture completely. And if he indicates that he may be interested
in something more, or if your meetings get to be more than casual (e.g., nice dinner or
something that feels more like a ''date'' to you), come right out and ask him about the
girlfriend. Make him be straightforward w/ you. It's not unusual to start out w/ past
acquaintances right after a divorce, but it's probably a good time for you to meet more than
just one person, and keep them all at friendship/casual level for a while. You can't replace
the good things you lost from your ex just yet
My instincts are failing me on this one, so I need some help.
I've been divorced for a year now and am re-entering the dating
world with a three year old. What are the rules here?
Don't introduce boyfriend until when? (I assume some number of
months? or are brief at the door intros okay earlier?)
Is it ever okay for boyfriend to stay over at night? In separate
bed? on sofa? what about when you are no longer dating but in a
What, if any, activities are okay to do together? and when?
Or do I just learn to wholly segregate my parent life and my
dating life? (which seems hard since I am so intrinsically a
Obviously I want to do what is best for my child. Any guidance
from those who have been through this before?
Want a social life again
I consider myself instrinsically a parent as well. That's why in
dating, I only date men that have children and are actively involved in
their children's lives or men that have a strong desire to be fathers
and for some reason, have not yet.
Further, I have been divorced since my children were 6 months old and 2
years old and they are now 8 and 10 - and I've learned the hard way not
to involve my children into my relationships. The right time is when I
know the man I'm dating is going to be my husband. Dating is hard
enough for us, trust me when I say it's twice as hard when you have kids
because when the relationship ends, it's a break up for them too. In
dating, I talk about the kids all the time as he does about his daughter
but we decided not to merge until we are ready to take it to the next
level. Also, I don't date anyone that I don't think is likely to make
it to the next level.
SIngle Mom that Dates
Hi. A few years ago, I was in this exact situation and I followed my
instincts. I did not think in terms of whether boyfriend should be
introduced, stay over, etc. I judged everything by my one principle
that a child should not have someone come into their world and become
significant to them, only to then lose that person. This might
condition a child into the feeling that lovers are temporary. Since a
small child forms attachments so quickly, I did not want to make anyone
part of our household in any way unless I were certain that person was
going to be around for a long time. Therefore, it was 6 months before
my child met my boyfriend, and it was almost 2 years before I began
occasionally including him in family dinners, or going camping as a
threesome, and so forth.
Now of course my child is attached to him, but we have been dating for 5
years. For 3 years my child would only see him every few months; now
it's once a week or so. And I have never had him spend the night. I
feel that someone who spends the night becomes, in my child's eyes, an
essential part of the household, and I don't want my child's household
world to be disrupted again the way it was when my husband left, or
growing up with the idea that men come, and then they move on. As it
happens, I dated a while, and then I ended up with my current boyfriend
of five years. I have never regretted having myself be fully guided by
what I feel is best for my child. I felt that if a potential boyfriend
did not understand my attitude, then we were better off without him.
But guys I dated respected my position, and may have been relieved to
get to know me without having to also form attachments with my child.
I imagine men don't need the burden of potential guilt if, after a
couple of months of dating they are no longer interested, they'd be
hurting a child as well.
When I read your post, I was inspired to respond right away!
I'm a local single mom who dove back into dating when my daughter turned
Your questions are excellent. You sound very thoughtful.
Dating as a single mom has been quite a life-changing experience for me!
You can read about what I've learned at Literary Mama,
www.literarymama.com, where I write a column called ''Single Mom
I, too, have struggled with issues such as sleeping with a man for the
first time. As it turns out, single motherhood has been my first lesson
in learning how to date - for real. It sounds like you have really great
instincts. Feel free to write to me!
I would be curious to read the responses you will get for this.
I am in the same boat as you. I did start dating while my husband and I
were separated. In hindsight,emotionally, I wasn't ready to date even
though I was the one that wanted the Divorce. I wasn't ready to share
myself emotionally with anyone else. The dating was fun as it got me out
of the house. My son has a good relationship with his father so I only
went out on dates during the weekends when he was with his father. And
no, I did not introduce my son to any of my dates.
I broke up with 'Joe' after dating him for about 3 months. A few weeks
later, an friend of mine emailed me. We both had a crush on each other
for a long time while I was married.
(Although he was not the reason for the divorce. My husband and I
managed to screw it all up by ourselves). In any event, he is wrong for
me on paper for so many reasons, he is 6 years younger than me for one
thing. (He's in his late 20s and I am in my early 30s)However, I decided
to take the chance and said yes to dating him. I found our dates to be
so much fun and he is a wonderful person to be with. (Keeping my fingers
crossed!) I know he loves kids (HE babysat for one of his single mom
friends) but I would not introduce him to my son and vice-versa until
things got more serious or until he asks to spend time with my son. (The
last time he saw my son, he was 6 months old)
My best friend went through a divorce with a 2 year old daughter. She
met someone right after who not only asked to spend time with her but
also planned activities to include her.
Needless to say, they are now married and are one big happy family.
I am a single mom (separated for three years) and about to turn
forty. Although I get lots of attention from men, I have not
been interested in anyone (at all) since leaving my husband and
so have fallen into a rut of politely saying ''no thank you'' to
all men who approach me. I keep telling myself I'm not ready,
the divorce isn't final, I'm too busy with my child
etc...Recently, a man has shown a great deal of interest in me
and I am shocked to find that I am interested in him too. The
problem is he is seven years younger than me! Although he is the
only man I've looked twice at in years I am tempted to say ''no
thank you'' again because he is so young. I know we are all
individuals, age is just a number, men do this all the
time,etc...but I am not a man. I feel ridiculous bringing this
issue here (it makes as much sense as consulting my child's
magic eight ball, which invited me to ''ask again later'') but I
wonder if anyone, esp. women my age have insights that might
help. Is such an age difference a good enough reason to reject
the advances of an otherwise desirable guy? Am I just protecting
my vanity, reputation, or whatever? I have not dated since I was
younger than this guy so I have no idea what's ''normal'' now. Am
I making a big deal of nothing?
7 years is nothing in terms of age difference. Go for it, and see what happens!
Go for it! While I'm married and have not been in your situation, I have friends who
have and are the same age as you. Who cares if he's younger as long as you enjoy his
company. Take it one step at a time, and live and enjoy your life. You are entitled
to have some romance. At the same time, you have a child so there needs to be some
boundaries established with any new relationship you embark on, regardless of age.
Go for it!
I've been married to a much younger man for more than ten years, and am very happy
that when I asked myself the question you are asking yourself, I decided to give it a
go. The only area where our age difference makes any difference at all is that we are
of different musical generations. Other than that, the important things -- the things
that make or break a marriage, like having well-matched values, for example -- are
utterly unaffected by our age difference. Before I met this man, I had generally dated
men 2-5 years older than I was; I can tell you that most of them had far less maturity
than the guy who eventually became my husband (when he was 28 and I was 40).
Age Is Only a Number
Woman, go for it!! You will only know if it works or doesn't work by trying it. And if
there is chemistry and you have some connecting points then it could be fun. You don't
need to go into it thinking you are going to get married or that he is going to be the
child's second father.
Speaking as a single mom (10 years divorced!), it's really nice to have the attention
and affection from a nice man when you can. It's a hard job and you need adult
initimacy too! You don't need to broadcast it at first, in fact, I don't talk about or
bring the new man home to meet my daughter or friends until I'm sure about him and
we've been seeing each other for a while. Even then, in 10 years it's only been a few,
not exactly a parade.
He must be around 32? Not exactly a spring chicken, it's not like his biggest memories
are from college or high school! I think we learn things from all relationships, about
ourselves and others. Have fun!
Don't worry about it - if you like this guy, just ignore the age difference. I am 11
years older than my husband. We started dating when I was 39 and he was 28. We have
been together for over 10 years now and we are very happy. We have many common
interests and the age difference really only comes up when we are reminiscing about
music we listed to in high school (he listened to crap and I listened to the good
stuff - ha ha). Anyway, it is not a big deal. At first, I had a few insecurities about
being older, especially since I'm a woman and women worry about their looks a lot more
than men do. It's socially acceptable for old geezers like Hugh Hefner but really
''scandalous'' with genders switched! However, I soon realized that no one really
noticed the age difference. Even being around his friends, they just don't seem to
recognize the difference unless I bring it up. He says that women live on average 10
years longer than men, so we are about even!
Not too scandalous
Am you making a big deal of nothing? YES.
I'd say go for it with this guy. A seven year gap in ages is a big deal when you're 24
and he's 17, and still something of a deal when you're 30 and he's 23. But if you're
40 (almost) and he's 33, it's no big deal at all. The older you get, the less this
kind of thing matters. My now husband some 15 years ago dated and lived with a woman 7
years his senior and they got along famously. Unfortunately, the poor lady died of
cancer after only a few years, but I know they were happy and in love right up until
the end. Both families were very happy to have them settled with each other.
He and I met a few years ago and are now married. I'm only a year older than him, but
I think if I were 7 years older, it wouldn't matter.
If you have lots in common and chemistry, you go girl! Both my husbands were younger,
one by a year, another by 4 years. Most of the time it made no difference at all. My
present relationship is with a guy 17 years older. Most of the time, again, the age
doesn't matter at all. Just keep the good communication going and have fun. You
deserve fun in life and someone nice to share those experiences with.
Lucky you!! I would not worry about the age difference at all. I am 40 and would
definitely consider dating a 33-year-old (although I can't because I'm married!). I
think the biggest issue is whether you both feel you are in a similar stage of life.
For example, the difference between 22 and 27 can be much greater in terms of ''just
out of college'' vs. ''stable job/life and looking to settle down'' even though the
age difference is only 5 years. 33 and 40 are not so far apart if family/work/life
issues are compatible.
Stop worrying sweetie! 7 years is nothing at ages 33 and 40, and will continue to
matter even less as you both age. Put it out of your mind right now so you can get to
the things that matter :-)
I know two couples with women ten years older than the men - they both met in the
women's late 30's early 40's.
Currently seeing someone 5 years younger
In a word (or few): dating a younger man is no big deal at all.
My husband is 4 years younger than I am. His best friend's wife is 7 years older than
her husband. My 65-year-old aunt married her 55-year-old husband when she was 33. My
other aunt on that side married a second husband who is six years younger than she is
when she was in her late 30s. And so on. It's really no big deal and I wonder if your
concerns are really more just about getting back into dating again (which is perfectly
The only question would be if this man wants children biologically related to him. But
I'm jumping the gun and if this is an issue you'll no doubt talk about it in good time
My experience with this is only peripheral. My best friend (48) is married to a man
12 years her junior. They have two children and have been married for over 10 years.
My sister is almost 45 and married to a man 7 years her junior. They also have a
daughter and have been together over 10 years. I think both have come to view the age
difference as a non-issue.
I say go for it!
First, congratulations on finding that ''feeling'' again. Isn't it wonderful? I am
also nearing 40. I don't think that the age difference should make any difference. I
understand your statement ''men do it, but I'm not a man'' but really, I don't think
it should make one bit of difference if you are compatible. If you enjoy his company,
see him some more. Take it slow and see where it goes.
Good luck and enjoy!
I am in the same boat as you-seperated/divorced 3 yrs haven't dated since-41 years
old. My rule of thumb for dating at this age is 10 years up and 10 years down(31-51)
and there can always be exceptions. The older you get the gap in how people behave
becomes smaller (usually). If you are 40 and he is 33, that doesn't sound weird to me
Go for it, girlfriend! It great that you're finally feeling the spark
again. Honestly, 33 and 40 doesn't seem that shocking to me; I think
the age gaps lessen as we get older. It seems to me like the issues
with younger men often revolve around kids (the older woman wants to
start a family, the younger man isn't ready yet, or the older woman is
leaving her fertile years and the younger man has conscious or
unconscious problems with that), but since you're on the BPN I assume
you are already a mother so the issue is moot. Congrats on being
attractive as your youthful, vital self.
You're probably going to get a lot of responses to this, but I thought
I'd chime in. I got divorced at 34, and met a man 6 years younger when
I was 38. It didn't even occur to me to think of him romantically at
first (I was always into older men), and when it did I felt slightly
embarrassed at being so much older, but I must say, he's the best man
I've ever met.
Almost 5 years later, we're married with a 3 year old, and I never
thought I could be so happy. The age difference has had virtually no
impact except that I beat him to 40... So go for it! What have you got
younger guys rock
I am 41 and married to a man 8.5 years younger. I was in a similar
position as you 4.5 years ago when we met--meeting fewer and fewer men
of interest, and most seemed young (as in
immature) even if they were my age or older. The only time hubby and I
notice the age difference is when discussing certain aspects of pop
culture, and even then, I'd say we have ''knowledge overlap'' most of
the time. I think what it comes down to is does the man have the same
timeline as you (for commitment, marriage, kids, whatever); granted the
younger the man, probably the less likely they want those things, but
there are some who are open to it.
happy with younger man
Forgot to mention some other salient points...I think it's cool to be
able to say I married a (significantly) younger man.
It's also very fun to have him find me so desirable and sexy, and
appreciate my independence and no-bullbleep attitude.
happy with younger man
When is it an appropriate time to introduce someone as a
significant other to your kids? I have a 4 year-old son, never
been married, and my son's father & I have not been together
for over a year. I had started dating a few different men
several months ago, but nothing serious and I have kept all
that completely separate from my son (i.e. I never brought any
of my dates around my son). However, I have been dating one
man pretty much exclusively for the past month and we've been
talking lately about moving our relationship to the next level
(monogamous, boyfriend/girlfriend, exclusive, or whatever it's
called). He is extrememly supportive in any way I want to
handle things with my son in regards to including him into our
lives, undertstands completely that my son is my first and
foremost priority and that everything else falls into a distant
second. He is also all for ''the slower, the better''. My son
has met him as ''mommy's friend'', so he is familiar with him.
But considering the relationship developing into something
more, I don't know how to do this so that my son feels
comfortable as well, and that I don't give him the impression
that I am trying to ''replace'' his daddy with this new man. By
the way, my son has a great relationship with his father, which
I want to continue to support. Do I talk with my son about it?
Or do I just hang back and let things develop without having to
say anything? How have some of you handled the experience of
dating, finding someone really special, and letting your kids
know, too? Because not everyone is just ''mommy's friend''
or ''uncle so&so''.
Dating is Hard
Please don't make the same mistake I made when I first started
dating again. You've been dating someone for a whole month and
think it's time to merge (bring your son into the
relationship). You are dating the guy, not your son. Leave him
out of it until you're ready to say ''I do''. It's hard enough
when a relationship ends but then to have to nurse your kids
through the break-up, well they did that already when you and
the father split up. It's easier to leave them out of it.
Been there, but never ever again
There is this great group for singles at the Berkeley Richmond
JCC. Actually the facilitator (Rachel Sarah) is a single mom,
who wrote a book about being a single mom and the dating
challenges that she had to face.
You can go to
They meet every Thursday at 7pm. Perhaps you can go and she can
give good advice about it.
My father died when I was 4, and my mom dated afterward. Based on my
experience, I would encourage you to be cautious about letting this man become
someone your son counts on until you have a secure commitment with your
boyfriend. It can be heartbreaking and bewildering for children to be ''broken up
with,'' believe me. It's like a divorce except that the one person simply disappears,
and the child has no real claim on him. A kid can experience this as a life lesson in
how little he matters in the world and how risky it can be to trust others
emotionally. Basically, I just think you and your boyfriend should be mindful of the
relationship he is building with your son, and remember that your son is a separate
person who may come to love your boyfriend, too. Keep things light and friendly
until you know where things are going -- and certainly don't move in together until
your future together is clear. My two cents.
I've never thought that my daughter (9 years old) will behave in
such a terrible way. I am a single parent who devoted the last
six years to her. We are very close and spent a lot of time
together. She was my first priority and I did not date anyone
seriously. My daughter is very sweet and mature for her age. Dad
is hardly in the picture.
I met someone recently and our relationship has been progressing
very quickly. However, my daughter does not like and does not
accept the guy. I understand that she is jealous and wants to
keep me for herself. She asks me why I am not happy just having
her, and why I need someone else in our relationship. She also
afraid that I don't think about her when I am with a boyfriend.
She seems to understand my explanations and reassurance of love
but once she sees the guy she throws tantrums, screams and hits
things around her. When he is not around she always talks how
much she hates him. She also concern about physical part of our
relationship and does not want to see us kissing or holding
hands. It's been like this for a couple of months. I was hoping
it will pass but it is getting worse.
Is there any way to make it easier on her and not to give up a
boyfriend? Do I need a therapist?
Thank you for your advice.
My parents split up when I was three and I lived through both of their dating other people. They both started dating other people when I was much younger than 9, so by then I was used to it since it had always been that way.
This is one of those times when you need to put your own needs first. If you dump the guy for your daughter, you will resent her, she will not respect you, and you will end up being much more emotionally dependent on your daughter which she will resent once she hits the teenage and young adult years. All you can do is explain to her that you are not going to be alone for the rest of your life just so she can have you to herself for a few years.
Be firm, do NOT let her push you around.
Now my mom dated several guys while I was growing up (not all at once of course). Some of them I liked better than others. The main thing that determined this was how interested they seemed in me as a person. I didn't mind if they were nervous around me (which I didn't know at the time I only know now in retrospect) as long as they put in some kind of effort to get to know me.
Your boyfriend needs to reach out to your daughter. If she blows him off he just needs to try something else.
If he decides that he doesn't want to be in this relationship because of your daughter (unlikely but may happen, I don't know the guy) DO NOT guilt trip your daughter or let her know she had anything to do with it. Just tell her he broke up with you, end of story.
My daughter was about 7 when I met my now husband. She has an older sibling who was 17 at the time so it wasn't an issue.
However, she, too, didn't like him, didn't like the way he treated her (he never had kids and didn't know them well). We moved in together 3 years later as he traveled a lot, and although her biological dad was totally out of the picture, she didn't find a bond with him..both of them were at fault.
Several things I think and in listening to Dr. Laura years ago and now Dr. Phil, heed her feelings and be sure that there's nothing strange about their relationship that makes her uncomfortable. Is he nice to her? How does he treat you when you're with her. The physical stuff can be curtailed if this is just her only issue as it may make her uncomfortable
If your certain that it's more of she needs to share you and doesn't like it, it is hard on them..I would then seek therapy.
We went to counseling and then during our move in period, did family counseling. I am not sure it helped a lot, as they still clashed, but she was 10 and I wasn't getting any younger and although he wasn't the warm & fuzzy guy towards her always, I knew he genuinely cared about her and her life.
Mixed feelings about the choice I made. She's in college now, and they get along lots better and I know deep down she will thank him for all he's done for her, for me and I know how proud he will be when she graduates and then, maybe they'll get closer. I do know when she marries, she wants him to walk her down the aisle.
It's hard when you're a single mom...but do pay attention to your daughter's feelings, acknowledge them, discuss and get some professional assitance. Contact me directly, should you need a friend
P.S. Many therapists, including, Dr.Laura, believe we should wait until our kids are grown...we're young and don't want to miss out on what could be a good man. Be sure he is before making him an active part of your lives -- yours and your daughters. It's worse when they get attached and then you break up. Good luck!
Hi! I suspect what you need is a new family dynamic that addresses both your insecurities and hers. There's a great series of CD's called Common Sense Parenting (available through me, or through Pransky and Associates in LaConnor WA)that would help tremendously. I also recommend that you consider where family health comes from and begin to include the whole family in your resolve to be healthy. I'd be glad to talk with you further if this sounds interesting. I coach families and individuals on accessing wisdom and health no matter the circumstances, using Principle-Based Learning.
When I was a little girl, my parents divorced and I watched my mom date and be with her boyfriends. I didn't feel that comfortable but they always take me to my favorite ice-cream place and let me take home 12 scoops. My mom and I parted way when she came to study in the US. Four years later, she married someone and brought me over when I was 13. I recented her and rebelled. I felt that she took her words back that I was her most important person partly because she never reassure me and involve me in the process. Eventually I got over that but it took a long time.
A girlfriend of mine started dating a single father of a 3 year old girl two years ago. They were very very good in introducing the girl into the picture. I realize your child is much older but the little girl is not less vocal at 3-5 years old (trust me).
First he made sure that they don't do anything in front of her for a long long time -- holding hands, kissing, etc. Second when he is alone with her or all three hanging out (a long time later), he had to reassure her that she is number 1 priority but now daddy likes a lady friend named ''xxx''. They both complimented her whenever they could and they would do what the little girl likes for the weekend when he has her. For every mild stone, he would take his daughter out on a date and have a little talk.
The first year they visit with the little girl, have dinner, play with her, then say good night and off they go their separate way.
I have to say that my gf is very much her friend, read to her, play with her, go to her school performance, go to the mall, whatever they can do together. Once she gains trust she can tell his daughter when she is misbehaving. When it's just the two of them, they can go out as a ''date''. I think a year later they started to stay at each other's houses and being in the same bed in the most discreet way. In short, they never made her feel uncomfortable.
Take it slow. The right guy will understand. Good luck.
When I was 8 my mother got serious with a boyfriend. I would do things like set the table for just my mom and myself at dinnertime and completely ignore him. I really hated their physical relationship, and while they didn't kiss or hold hands around me, I would see him coming out of her bedroom at night.
I'm not sure when things changed but over the years I grew to accept and even love him. We all moved in together at 12 and he basically accepted me as his kid. By highschool he was the calming influence in the house, while my mother and I raged at each other. To this day he is the person I go to if I need to discuss something important with them. He has very slowly earned my trust and now that he and my mom are aging, I am worried about what will happen to our relationship if she were to die first. When I look back, I remember that he tried to aproach me a few times, but it didn't really work. What did work was the space he granted me to go through the painful process of sharing my mom. What also worked subconsciously was the fact that-eventually-he stepped in as my father, accepting the financial/emotional burdens of that role. He paid for private school when things went weird for me in middle school.
He helped pay for college, and stood there proudly at my graduation. When I asked my mom to ''walk me down the aisle'' at my wedding, he respectfully sat in his seat and shined with pride. He wrote my most treasured entry in our guestbook. I say all this because I think it's important for you guys to look at this as a long-term thing. If you want it to last, I would just back off your daughter and give her the space to have her feelings. Spend special time, just the two of you. If your boyfriend sticks it out, he will earn her respect and love. She will eventually witness the love he has for you, and that will mean a lot to her. If your boyfriend is still in the picture, when she begins to really question her ''real'' dad's role, she'll see that your boyfriend is right there by your side. She is smart, she has a deep caring (and protective feelings) for you, and already at this age understands a lot. She'll be able to see what's up, and who deserves her affection. Good luck !
and be patient.
love my stepdad
You have my sympathy! My daughter was 9 when I re-married after
8 years of being a single mom. In my case, HE had issues and, unfortunately, my daughter suffered a lot. I basically had 2 people competing for my attention and while she, as the child, was the one who needed help and understanding, it was him, as the controlling and abusive man that he was, who ''won''. I deeply regret that I did not seek help at the time. I applaud you for your concern and want to strongly recommend that you seek counsel.
My daughter and I have a very good relationship now, but I still can't forgive myself for what I put her through. My husband and I are still together and over the years I became stronger in communicating my needs as well as my daughter's.
Good luck to you. Step-parent relationships are very tricky, as I'm sure others will tell you. I think you're awesome to be thinking ahead and seeking help. Good luck!
I'm also a single mother and can empathize with your situation.
I can only tell you what I've read about single parent dating and what worked for me. There are some statements that you made that resonate with me. 1-that you've ''devoted the last 6 yrs''
to your daughter. 2-that you've ''met someone recently and the relationship is progressing very quickly''. Generally from what I've read and found to work, it's important to move SLOWLY when dating so that your kids can have sufficient time to get to know your friend and become comfortable with them. But this takes
time- months sometimes years to establish, especially the older the child(ren) is (are). I made the decision to not have my child meet any of the men I was dating until I was sure in my mind that the relationship was going somewhere and was long- term. This period for me was 6 months. The reasoning is this: It acts as a great prescreen. You don't know how long the relationship is really going to last so (IMHO) it's better to experience this without your child having been exposed to the person and having established a relationship with him so that they're none the worse for it. I would also refrain from being affectionate in your daughter's presence until she is comfortable with your boyfriend. It puts more on her than she as a child is capable of processing, especially when she's still processing the notion of you being in a relationship. Is it possible for you to interact with him when she's not around?
This may enable you to work with her to assure her that you're not going anywhere and that you'll always be her mother regardless of who you're involved with. Then let your actions demonstrate that. Also, remember that if this guy and you are meant to be together then moving more slowly isn't a bad thing since you'll be together forever. Good luck!
single parenting isn't easy
Your daughter ''was'' your first priority? I assume she still is. Can you just put off dating until she is grown? I grew up with a dating mom and it was hell.
Wait till 18
I'm sorry you're in this situation, but I'm also sorry your daughter is in this situation.
You may feel like you are the victim in this situation, but really, your daughter is as well. If your child had a friend who was a boy whom she liked in the ''puppy love''
sense, and you found that he was totally bratty and terrible, and he was coming over all the time, staying for dinner, and holding hands with her, you would probably tell her you didn't want her to see him and that he couldn't come over anymore, and that would be it. But your daughter has no such power, so this is her way of expressing her unhappiness with disapproval. The bottom line is that if she doesn't like someone at all and he is coming over all of the time, and showing great affection to the one person in her life whom she really has, she is not going to like him any more as he continues doing this and it gets worse. If you really like him, you may need to make a huge effort (probably therapy included) to work out the issues your daughter has with him. If you don't think that it is worth it, then you don't like him enough to cause this kind of rift between you and your child.
I was like your daughter with my mother. You mentioned that her father is barely in the picture. If she was anything like me, she will be more threatened by your boyfriends because of her relationship, (or there lack of), with her father than the typical child. It's not your fault. But she may need some therapy to work out her feelings about men, or more precisely, father-figures. Of course, I could merely be projecting and she will grow out of this quickly. You may want to also try letting your boyfriend and she spend some time together, just the two of them, if she is willing!
Best of luck, Anon
If you are even considering not dating for the next 10 years (until your
daughter grows up) let me share this... My daughters is 25 and is giving
me/my boyfriend an incredibly hard time. I am in my late 40s and finally
ready to do something for myself, but she won't have it. She still wants
me at her beck and call- mostly for her children. There is no guarantee
that your daughter will be any more accepting when she's 18. In the
meantime you will be lonely, give up any opportunity to have another
child (if you want one) and most important, never have modeled the
makings of a good relationship for your daughter.
Remember, they do what we do, not what we say, not what they see on TV,
not what they see at the movies. If you sacrifice your possibility of
companionship for her, you are not teaching her that she is #1, you are
teaching her that she like you, is not.
I gave everything to my daughter including the food on my plate when she
wanted more even if she'd had enough and I hadn't. Is my daughter at 25
a self assured young woman who is out there getting what wants and
deserves to have? No. She is busy putting off her life and fullfilment
for her children. And, she's re- creating the one relationship she saw
me in. A really bad one.
Treat yourself the way you want your daughter to treat herself when she
grows up. Treat your daughter, the way you want her to treat your
I am madly in love with my grandchildren, sad that my daughter is not a
priority in her own life and very grateful that I have a boyfriend that
is forgiving of my often rude 25 year old daughter who doesn't want to
share her mother. I am lucky that he has given my daughter time and
space to get used to the idea of him in my life.
hoping its not too late
Your email really struck a chord with me, having been the only child of
a single mom who had a lot of boyfriends. First of all, I want to tell
you that I don't think there's any reason to give up on your boyfriend,
unless the relationship isn't working for other reasons. But several of
your comments really raised red flags for me. 1) You say you ''devoted
the last 6 years to her.'' Well, she didn't ask to be born and of
course you devoted 6 years to her -- that is your job. I hope you will
devote the next 6 years to her, too. She's not 18 and can't take care
of herself. 2) You wrote ''she was my first priority.'' Was?
Hopefully, she still is. I think that's her proper place. She
certainly should be a higher priority than someone you barely know. 3)
You wrote that the relationship was ''progressing very quickly.'' Why?
Why the rush, especially given how hard it is on your child? Is he
going anywhere? My experience was that my mother (whom I adore and with
whom I am best friends today) gave me lots of verbal reassurance about
her boyfriends, but her actions said something else. I would have
preferred her to be less physically demonstrative with men in front of
me, certainly in the first few months. I would have preferred her to
make ''special'' time for me that was regular and sacred. I would have
preferred her to never ever
ever let a new boyfriend discipline me. Ultimately, when I
was 16, she married my stepfather. It was rough and I tortured him, but
gradually I became closer and closer to him until we were actually (he
has since died) closer to each other than I was to her. There was a
long period of time when he constantly had to assert that he came first,
which was hard for the family. But he was very loving to me, had other
kids that I adored, and he tried hard to disengage from my provocative
behavior. Once he created his own relationship with me (and once I let
him do that), things got a lot better. I hope you will continue to make
your daughter your first priority, while setting appropriate limits that
allow you to continue your relationship with your new boyfriend. Good
Learned to love the Boyfriend
I have a friend who was recently widowed. I know the Dear Abby
columns say only the grieving can decide when they are ready,
especially after there has been a long illness (which there
was), but when do you think it is socially acceptable to begin
to date? The timing issue will surely come up in polite
conversation, and wouldn't many people think anything less than
six months is too soon? There are children involved too. I
think Dad should sit them down and let them know he is planning
to have a private life, but is it better for him to get going
without any announcements to them yet? If anyone has experience
with this, it would be so helpful to hear it - either from the
point of view of the widower, or from the point of view of
someone dating a widower. In my single life, I have met a number
of widowers, but there had been a signficant time lapse since
their wife's death. Any comments welcome.
From the children's perspective, he should wait one year before starting to date, and at least two years before remarrying. I lost my mother when I was 29, and after 31 years together, my father starting dating about one month after her death. My siblings and I were horrified. He started exclusively dating one woman two months later and married her less than 2 years after my mother's death. We can't stand the woman -- partly because we see her as an opportunist taking advantage of a widower, and she is ''all over'' him physically (too much PDA!), which makes us want to puke. So from my point of view, if you want the kids to like you ..... WAIT! With younger kids, it could be different... they could be ready sooner, or their hate for a new woman could be even stronger, I don't know.
Your msg doesn't say anything about why it matters to you. Are you the one of the dates? If so and you're uncomfortable, wait. If so and you're comfortable, go ahead.
If you're not one of the dates, stop worrying because there isn't anything you could do about it anyway, other than lose your friends by placing some notion of etiquette over their happiness.
When and how to involve the children is a separate question, one that has nothing to do with social acceptability.
Let it be
I started dating my now-wife about 4-5 months after my first wife died. You don't say anything about the age of your friend, but my experience in meeting a lot of other widows and widowers is that men are often ready a lot sooner than women, as long as they are not elderly and married for several decades.
It doesn't mean that they aren't still grieving, but the company of an understanding woman sometimes helps- it did for me. I think men need women more than they sometimes like to admit. Your friend should know that a new relationship will often bring up grief in ways he didn't expect. But it doesn't mean he shouldn't do it. And it's not every woman who is secure enough to take that on.
As for the kids, you didn't specify the ages of his children so it's hard to say what he should or shouldn't tell them. I didn't have any so it wasn't an issue for me.
I'm in a wonderfully awkward situation and I need some
help from someone who's been there, done that. After being
separated almost 5 years from my almost ex husband, I've
finally met a man that I love being around. (I've dated off and
on before, but my boys have never met my past boyfriends.)
He's a great guy (and a parent himself), but my boys are
feeling like they are ''losing'' mom, not gaining an adult in
their lives. Recently, he has been spending the night a
couple of times a week, but my boys have woken up for
various reasons in the middle of the night (which they
haven't done for years) and have wanted to come and
cuddle in my big king bed. I don't want to exclude any male
in my life from night time cuddles, but want to do what is
best for my sons. So help me out here: do I only have him
stay over when the boys are at their Dad's (3-5 weekend
nights a month); or, hire a sitter and go to ''his place'' for a
few hours; or, try to create some middle ground - i.e., if the
bedroom door is locked, they have to wait - if the bedroom
door is closed but not locked, they may come in - but can
expect that my boyfriend will be there (both of us with
pyjamas on by the time we unlock the door) and that we can
all cuddle together. Or does someone have another great
idea that keeps everyone happy? P.S. this is the best sex
I've ever had in my life and my boys are 9 and 10 1/2 years
Hoping for the best
You don't say how long you've known your new friend, or when
your boys first met him, but I wouldn't push them in any way to
become buddies with him; they'll get to know him at their own
pace. (And I think expecting that you'll all cuddle together
right now is premature.) Even after 5 years, your boys may still
wish and dream that you and their father will get back together;
finding a new man in your bedroom might be proof to them--I
mean, upsetting proof--that this will not happen. (Imagine
yourself at their age. Would you really be happy to find your
mother or father with a new person?)
You might consider just having your friend over when the boys
are with their father overnight, and, as you mentioned, hiring a
sitter some afternoons and evenings. But I'd be sure to have
frequent weekend where it's just you and the boys.
Good luck to you and your sons and your new relationship.
I was in this situation when my boys were about the same age as
your sons. I had a big advantage though - my boys were at their
dad's half the week so I had a lot more time to work with!
First of all, your boys are old enough to understand the concept
of knocking before entering anyone's bedroom, and waiting to be
invited in (or not). It's a basic privacy rule at our house, and
this rule became really important to my boys when they got to be
teens, which yours will be soon. Family members need to always
respect each other's privacy. I think a talk is in order
explaining this: if mom's door is closed, that means she wants
privacy. If your door is closed, I'll knock and wait for you to
tell me when I can come in (and then do it, every single time, to
set the example.) You don't have to give a reason why you want
them to always knock first (and believe me, in a few more years,
your sons will not want to explain to you why *their* doors are
Second, for now, I would try to maximize time at the boyfriend's
and minimize times the boyfriend sleeps over. Can you increase
the days the boys are at their dad's? 3-5 days/month is not very
much. When your boyfriend does stay over I think you should give
your boys a heads up. ''John is staying over tomorrow night and
I'll want some privacy after we go to bed'' or something like that.
Does your boyfriend feel OK about the night-time cuddles? My
boyfriend was really uncomfortable about appearing to be the
''other dad''. He said his role was more like benevolent uncle, so
he sort of stood in the background, friendly but not really
parental. So he didn't do the kinds of things usually reserved
for the mom or dad, like cuddling in bed or disciplining. My boys
have a good relationship with their now-stepdad. he is a super nice
guy, so that's one reason, but also, they were able to see their
dad a LOT, and have a good relationship with him, and never felt
that their step-dad was trying to be usurp his role.
I only have one question, and one suggestion, for you.
How would you feel if you found your mother's door locked, because
she had a new guy in her bed?
Your boys are permanent, and your responsibility until they are 18. If
you can find a way to have the ''best sex of your life'' without it having
any repercussions for them, go for it. No man should be in your bed
while your children are there. If he's a ''new'' boyfriend they probably
shouldn't even spend time with him out of bed -- in case you decide that
Since he's a parent too, I'm a little disappointed that he doesn't seem to
feel that way himself.
I'm sure you'll hear other opinions, too.
I was in a similar situation, though I was the new partner and
had to get used to my partner's (now husband) 9 year old son
being with us overnight. It's hard for kids to accept a new
person in their parents life, so we really eased into this. We
spent alot time together doing fun stuff, getting to know
eachother, before we ever had an overnight. Even so, it was
challenging when we moved in together. My partner started by
sleeping in his son's room with him -- I'm not sure if this was
the right thing, but it was comforting to the child. Then, when
we were a little more accustomed to being in the same house, my
partner moved into our room and his son got accustomed to it.
His son never really felt comfortable crawling into the bed
with the two of us, so I would sometimes vacate the bed in the
morning so they could have cuddle time together. Good luck
with the transition.
Being a newly single mom, I understand your situation. My kids
are 11 and 7 and their Dad left us two years ago. I just started
dating once I was officially single in January and am having a
great time! I only have my lover come to my house to spend the
night when the children are at their Dad's. They have enough to
deal with, as he is living with the girl he left us for. I have
to respect their right to have no interaction with another adult
in their living space at their primary home so I keep that part
of my life separate. I remember when I was a child, how creepy
it was for me when my Mom had her boyfriends stay at the house.
Just keep their feelings in mind. Good luck.
Divorced with kids
I recently ended a 2 year relationship with a man I was hoping
to spend the rest of my life with. We've talked about the
future and everything seems beautiful except for one thing...he
loves me but barely likes my 5 year old son from a previous
relationship. It's very unfortunate that a bond has not been
built. The only way they connect is through soccer, but not
much time outside of that is spent with him and my son, it's
usually the three of us. He can't seem to get past the fact
that''he gets on his nerves''. It hurt to hear that.
I'd like to know if anyone out there has been through this and
what anyone could recommend. Because part of it is that I'm not
sure he's ready to handle the full weight of being a parent. We
don't want to lose each other but I don't want my son to get
hurt in the end if a relationship never transpires out of our
If your boyfriend is willing, I suggest parenting classes. BOTH
of you should attend. He will learn to cope with the issues
around parenting, co-parenting and being a new parent addition
to your family. You will learn how to support him and your
coming from experience
I would not consider marrying a guy who says my son ''gets on his
nerves''! What kind of a father will he be? I think it would only
lead to misery for everyone involved.
My husband has a 5-year-old who lives abroad with his mother. He
stayed with us for about a month while we were still dating, and
that was definitely a testing point for our relationship. Luckily
we had a great time together, and I felt confident to take our
relationship to the next step and get married; the last thing in
the world I would have wanted to become was a ''wicked step mother.''
I'm sure there are other guys out there that will make a good
father to your son.
A ''not so wicked'' step mom
This is a tough one. I was a single parent myself until
recently. I married when my son was 12. I dated my husband for
three years before we married, and he and my son get along well
as buddies, although I know my husband finds that my son gets on
his nerves at times. One thing my husband is having a difficult
time with, although he has good intentions, is the
parenting-role, both nuturing, being authoritative (you just have
to, sometimes) and making those occasional sacrifices. It
definitely takes a while to figure out how to be a parent. Most
of us had the luxury of starting out with a newborn and growing
into the job with the growing child.
All I can say is, perhaps you and the guy can remain friends
until your son is a bit older and is more interested in adult
activities, or maybe you have to give up on this guy and try to
find someone who is already a father and has had that crucial on
the job training.
I am a firm believer that once you have children they MUST come
before a new partner. You cannot be too cautious getting into a
relationship with someone and if they show any sign of not
accepting and loving your child then you must let them go. Your
child always needs to know that they are the most important
thing in your life and when you bring someone else into your
life you are distracting from that.
My mother raised me alone after my father died when I was only
1. She was very young and dated off and on through my
childhood. I know she loved me but it is very confusing to a
child when different men come and go. These are very formative
years and the relationships your child experiences will affect
them the rest of their life. Your child knows that your
boyfriend doesn't care for him/her and that is not someone you
want as a father figure.
If he really loves you he should be open to going to couple's
counceling with you. Maybe a good therapist could help shed
light on what's really bugging him - something tells me it's not
really your son (personally).
I'm confused...did you ''recently end'' this relationship or are
you still with this person? You say one and then go on to talk
about how to deal with the fact that your partner does not like
your child. In any case, you are a package deal and I would not
be with someone who did not like my child.
Just my opinion
I feel for you in this situation where everything seems great
except for one thing, and that one thing is sooo important! You
say that you already ended the relationship, that's one solution
and if you want to stick with that I don't blame you at all. The
fact that you wrote, though sounds like you want advice on if
you did the right thing by ending it? You are very wise to put
your son and his feelings first. I would stick by that bit of
truth and see what happens. It's possible you could stay with
this man but just not let the relationship develop into 'the
rest of your life' kind of union where you live together or get
married. I certainly wouldn't want to live with a man, even the
biological father of my child, unless they thought my kid was as
wonderful and precious as they truly are!! It's possible that if
you don't push things, a relationship between them will develop
as your son gets older. Hope that helps.
My mother married my stepfather when I was seven years old. He
(according to my mother) was not really interested in becoming a
parent to me but he 'loved her'. I annoyed him.
As a result, my mother pulled away from me and I spent
after-school time, weekends and holidays with babysitters and
relatives. I became very sad and did not do well socially or
academically. It wasn't until I became an adult that I made the
connection. If I had been allowed to stay with my parents
weekends and holidays I would have felt resented and like a third
wheel. I understand that you need to 'live your life' but PLEASE-
Don't fool yourself into thinking that your child will not be
affected by you choosing to bring someone into the family who
isn't interested in him. I still resent my mother for leaving me
out of the equation when she chose to remarry. It was an
extremely selfish move on her part.
You chose the well-being of your child over your own
relationship with a man who wouldn't/couldn't be his
''daddy''. I have a lot of respect for you, for doing this for your
child. I am impressed that your friend could admit his
reluctance or inability, instead of pretending it would all ''be
Its a tough time for you, but your child will thank you for this
later, and you sound like a good mommy.
I'm a single mom with a 2 year old. I've just started dating someone
and my toddler is really making it difficult. She is very different
with him and quite rude and demanding of my attention. How do I know
if she's this way because she's jealous or because she really just
does not like him? And it does make a difference to me.
Unfortunately there is no father involved so I have no choice but to
have her around us during this stage of our courtship. Has anyone
been in this position or have any advice?
I have been going through the same thing with my daughter, who just turned
three. She would be aggressive with him (like kicking him, or pulling his
hair!), and would get very cranky with me when we were around him. Things
were very difficult for the first five months or so, but have mellowed
considerably since the beginning. The one thing I think has helped is that
we invite him over to do things that are ''kid-centered,'' like dying Easter
Eggs, or going to Habitot or Kindergym. It helps them to form a connection
when he shows up to do fun things with us that are just for her. I think
this helps her feel less threatened by his presence, and helps her to accept
that he is her friend, too, not just mommy's. Also, I sat down with my
daughter one day and just talked it through with her. I explained to her
that some kids have mommies and daddies that live together, and some parents
live apart. And if the parents live apart, they still need friends in their
lives to love them...etc. This helped to give her a frame of reference, so
when she expresses aggravation at my boyfriend, I can remind her of the
conversation we had about how mommies and daddies need other adults to love
them too, that we need hugs, etc. This really helped settle a lot of
questions and worry for her. If you would like to email me about this, feel
free. Good luck.
A few considerations on the matter: You mention that your daughter's father
is not in the picture. Does she have any interaction with him at all, or
with other positive male role models; grandpa, uncles, friends, neighbors?
Have you had any previous boyfriends that she DID like? Or is she just now
dealing with a. sharing you for the first time with someone else along with
b. having someone of a different gender in the house? If a and or b apply,
her behavior seems understandable! Just food for thought.
I was in your shoes about 10 yrs. ago. I was a single parent for 5 yrs. and
tried never to have him around while I was ''checking out the market''. His
biological father was never involved but we did talk about one day him
having a ''daddy''. When I would go out I would leave him with usually
grandparents. I did have a couple of good friends that I could leave him
with also. I don't think you should involve the child in this relationship
unless you know it will be long term. Also remember, children are very good
judges of character. Please pay attention to the story in the news about
the mother slain right in front of her children, which is something no child
should witness. I know this is way out there, but it obviously is the way
it is many times. I also did sometimes (because I was young at the time)
put my social needs before my sons needs. Not too much, but when I look
back I feel bad. There was a time I went to Reno or LA or someplace a bit
far and left my son for a weekend. Well when I called he thought I wasn't coming back. Just
be careful. Also when I did become engaged, my son was 5. He wasn't
demanding of my time, but again there are so many things going on in a
childs life at that age. He had a new school, new house, new dad. This was
all very hard on him and started him out on the wrong foot in school. He
was very good for us at home, but would act out at school, with other
authorative figures. Because of these actions and the fact that he had
started school with officials who were not understanding, he now has a paper
trail that most school officials immediately look at and don't ask why, just
put him in the same boat as when he was in kindergarten. Even though his
behavior was temporary, it has been very hard to get that away from him. I
know this may be futuristic for you, just thought I'd shed some possible
light on it. Good Luck,
this page was last updated: Nov 22, 2008
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2013 Berkeley Parents Network