Wednesday, January 28, 2015

HOW OLD SHOULD HER CHILDREN BE BEFORE SHE INTRODUCES THEM TO HIM?: ADVICE FROM MISSY

QUESTION FOR MISSY

Hi Missy,

I'm divorced and have two children from my marriage.  Hilary is a bright and sensitive six year old who goes to a private school.  Henry is three and an energetic boy and I'm a stay at home so I haven't put him into pre-school.  Their father pays child support but doesn't spend much time with them, though our agreement was that he could see them any weekend or day they have off from school. I didn't see him much when we were married which was why we ended it.

Then there is Hugo,  who I've been seeing for about a year.  I met him after my divorce.  He's married without children and much older than me.  Hugo gives me the money to pay a very sweet and competent sitter when we go out or for a weekend trip, but I meet him elsewhere.  He has never been to the house when the children have also been there.  I've showed him pictures and I talk about them to him but I've been thinking that he really should meet my children and they him.  Henry in particular doesn't seem to have much of a male role model in his father.  Any ideas?

Bessie
Florida

MISSY ANSWERS

Bessie, I really had to think about this one and here is my advice.

First, one of the reasons people such as yourself who are dating shouldn't bring their dates around the house or take their children on dates with them is that the children are often wanting their parents back together,  and are also having anxiety about things like what that man is doing locked up with mom in her bedroom or who might be their new step-mother or step-father. 

There is no good reason to stress your children with your adult relationships. 

With so very many children of divorce out there it's now common for the children to discuss their issues together such as what they really think and feel about the people their parents date with others and they do so on the school playground as well as the tree house. 

So the general rule is that people shouldn't introduce their children to any but the most serious suitors, the ones they might marry or are engaged to.  Some parents interpret this to mean someone they are sleeping with!  No! Your child does not need to know about your sex life, just who you love and have a strong committed relationship with.

I think greater boundaries are need.

Of course adults have a right to their adult relationships but it will be years before your children understand that.   About the time you tell them about the birds and the bees they will get more curious about what you've been up to and with whom and may be even more opinionated! 

As is you are counted on to be discreet but you can't count on your children being discreet and your relationship, no matter how committed or in love you are, is not serious as in about to be engaged to be married.

I sense that you want Hugo, who is not a father, to try on fatherhood and maybe fall in love with you even more by falling in love with your children.  So what I think would be best is that, if you can find an opportunity to do so that isn't too contrived, you might take your children to an event or activity where there are a lot of children and adults around and Hugo might meet them in passing, just to say hello and see their smiling faces.  (One of my friends did this though, and darn if sweet little Melissa didn't take a full blown crying, screaming, and kicking tantrum on the lawn!)

Other than that, it's up to Hugo to advance this relationship since he's the one who has to get out of a marriage to marry you.  When, if ever, he is ready, he can ask you to meet your children.

Missy

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