My children stay with me and are with their father at times. Most of the time my kids are home and desperately want me to be home rather than letting them spend time with their dad. At the same time, I don’t want to introduce the kids to my boyfriend until we’re sure we’re moving forward. And the kids aren’t even ready to accept a new person into their lives. I feel like I’m in the middle of everything.
A: First, let me say that I appreciate your honesty. It is not uncommon for parents to look at their children and feel exhausted and anxious; often they just won’t admit it. In your letter, you have many problems happening at the same time: you have a new relationship that makes you feel relaxed and calm, you prefer his company to that of your children, the children prefer your company to that of their father , the kids haven’t met your boyfriend, and you feel like you’re in some kind of vacuum with all of this.
When you have so many problems, you have to start with one thing at a time. For example, you might decide it’s time for your kids to meet your boyfriend.
It looks like you’ve been separated for about a year and been with your boyfriend for around the same time. It can be a decision you can make together. Maybe he doesn’t sleep at first, but you bring him into your life so you can enjoy both halves of your life together. If he is a relaxing and calm presence, he can be good for the whole family dynamic. Just make sure you sit down with him and really think about it. What are the limits ? When will you tell your ex? What is the message to children? If you’ve had a tricky divorce, consult with your lawyers to make sure every decision you make is within the parameters of your custody agreement.
After talking to your boyfriend, sit down with your kids yourself and tell them about your boyfriend, while letting them know where they fit into this scenario. “Bill has been an important part of my life. He’s a good friend, and we’ve been dating for a while now. I want you to meet him, and how you feel about it is the most important thing here.
Kids can handle a tremendous amount of change, they just want to know that they are still the most important people in your life. To make sure your children feel safe, chosen, first, and loved, use clear communication and boundaries. Bring your boyfriend slowly, give your kids time to process, and have family get-togethers to find out how it’s going.
I’m not suggesting that your kids decide who you date, but there are plenty of stories that say, “Well, everything was fine, and then my mom’s boyfriend came along, and he was bigger than us. “
It’s about doing the hard work of creating a life for yourself that puts your happiness and your children’s emotional security at the top. They do not oppose each other; it just takes time.
As for how much your children are stressing you out, know that you deserve support. Please find someone who can help you connect with your children in an easy and authentic way, whether it’s a therapist, coach, group, etc. kind and firm parent. You don’t need to be hung up on their every word, but creating easy ways to visit them fills their attachment cups in a big way. Getting food, gambling, reading books, playing old-fashioned board and card games, making hoops, watching shows or movies—all of these are easy ways to connect with your kids. But you need a plan. I suggest having family meetings, so your children can work with you to solve problems and make arrangements. (Meetings seem like more work until you realize how much time and angst you’ll save with them.)
For now, choose one problem to work on and slow down. There’s no rush, but your brain can freak you out. When you feel like you’ve hit a wall, that’s a sign you need help! Good luck.
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