August 30, 2009,
M.A. asks from Milwaukee, WI on August 29, 2009
When to Introduce New Boyfriend?
I have recently separated from my husband. He is not my sons biological father, but has been around since he was born. My son calls him "Papa", and they are very close.
My husband and I will be divorcing very soon, it is all final, just need the paperwork. Very amicable, no drama or fighting. I have started seeing someone else, a friend whom I have know for the last 7 years or so. He's been around my son in a friend context with other people, but I am (obviously) not comfortable having him sleep overnight at my house when my son is home, or being at our house when it is just me and my son. My question is when is it ok to have someone sleep over, or at the house when it is just you and your kid? I don't want to confuse my little guy any more than he probably already is, but eventually I'm going to have to deal with this issue. I want to have a relationship and get married again (someday), so I am not just dating whoever, only upstanding guys that are interested in a family life and committed relationship. But I don't want my son to get attached to someone else, and then have everything fall apart again. I was thinking maybe having him (my boyfriend) over for dinner and a movie after about 6 months exclusive dating? And then maybe having him hang around a little at the house, and then move up to having him sleep over? This must be a common problem. When is it ok? Help!
So What Happened?™
Thanks everyone! I think it is the best to wait for the commitment (engaged or married) to have sleepover too. I for sure am not going to wait until my kid is out of the house to have a relationship, I am not sure if that is healthy even if experts reccommend it. I`m not religous, so I don`t worry so much about the sex before marriage thing, I just want my son to grow up respecting himself and women, and staying true and happy.Since this guy has been around my son so much in a friend context (we are in the same circle of people ) we will probably keep doing that, but not have any time just the three of us for a long time. Lots of great advice, thanks!
S.K. answers from Minneapolis on August 30, 2009
In your son's best interest and in the interest of having this next relationship strong and healthy, I would advise that you slow down. You are right about not having the boyfriend hang out with your son until the relationship is solid and stable. As far as having him spend the night - statistically, break up and divorce rates are higher in couples who live together before marriage. This next relationship will have a greater chance of lasting if you don't "play house" before you are married, especially with your son involved, who is going to attach quickly.
My MIL had a live in boyfriend when my BIL was a teenager. So my BIL started having girls over and they spent a lot of time in his room with the door shut. My MIL put a stop to it and said it made her uncomfortable. So my BIL turned it right around and said he was uncomfortable with having mom's boyfriend spend the night, and he had a point.
1 mom found this helpful
M.M. answers from Milwaukee on August 30, 2009
I have heard people give the advice of dating at least 1 year without any issues (break ups and getting back together) and then slowly introduce them as a significant other. As for spending the night, I would definitely wait until it is a committed relationship at least as long as your son is around.
I am not going to say that all relationship activities should wait until you are married as that is your choice, just be aware of how you behave around your son is what he is going to learns is normal in a relationship. So what would you like him to hold as a relationship norm. He looks to you and your actions to teach him.
You definitely want to make sure that it is a stable relationship before you introduce him as a boyfriend or what ever you would like to call it. It's hard on kids for someone to come into their lives and they connect and then disappear when things don't go well. take things very slow, that's just the way it's got to be. Things are never as easy as they were when you were without children, but they make it all worth it.
J.S. answers from Appleton on August 30, 2009
Very wise question. Some people may think I am old fashioned but I have seen a lot of relationships such as you described. The best thing for you is not to allow anyone to sleep over until you ARE married again. And the best thing for your son is to not be introduced to any of Dates/boyfriends until you are engaged. This will make this person very special to your son instead of just another one of those guys. If he is the right (I hate using that term) guy it would take much time for the two to bond. You don't want to go through another divorve either so be patience and make sure you know what you want (what you can and can not tolerate in a person/relationship and weigh out the differences. Remember, you want what is best for ALL. Best wishes. J.
C.D. answers from Omaha on August 30, 2009
No matter how easy the divorce is going to be, it is going to be a great shock to your son and you will both suffer during the change. Maybe I am old fashioned but I would not reccomend any type of sleep over or even meeting the new gentleman until a total committment is made, such as an engagment. Then given time for all of you to test the waters as a family. Don't introduce different men to your son as this will cause more difficulty and confusion for your son.
L.H. answers from Milwaukee on August 30, 2009
You sound like you have a good head on your shoulders about this. Take cues from your son too on who he likes and doesn't like. is he still going to stay in your son's life. This may play a role too.
D.K. answers from Sioux City on August 30, 2009
If I were you I would consider how I wanted my son to view marriage and dating. In my house we believe that the relationship between my husband and me is profoundly important because it teaches our children how to be honorable. We want our children to be very carful about who they get involved with. Their spouses have got to be special people so my husband and I try to model that. I want my children to have a spouse that will cherish them and always want what is best for them. My children know that to get to heaven is the greatest gift and anyone who would ask them to go against their morals, would not want the best. In return my children are learning that the my relationship with my husband is totally self giving.
I would say sleep overs are out. They don't reflect how important your relationship is with the man you intend to marry. Your son already has a father and a step father. Do you want him to think that he can be replaced so easily when he has children of his own? You need to be the wife and mother you would want your son to choose for himself when he grows up. If you replace men easily, that is the role model you are giving him for a wife and mother for himself and his children. You and your son deserve the very best and until you find that I would say it is better to stay single.
S.G. answers from Rapid City on August 30, 2009
I guess it depends on what morals you want to show your son. You have had 2 men in your child short life, the biological father and the step father who he grew close too. I am not saying you can't date, but do it respectfully. I don't know if the guy is part of the reason for the seperation or not, but beings he is in the picture at such a early time in the break up, chances are it is a rebound type situation. After all, you fell in love with your husband and married him all the while knowing this friend so who's to say that it will last. When my nephew was 2 his parents split up and his father's best friend came over to visit his mother. When he mentioned it to his grandmother, she asked if the friend came over to see him... my 2 year old nephew said "no... just to sleep over with mommy" Is this the kind of life you want your child to witness? If you want to have him stay over, please do it when your son isn't there.
P.P. answers from Minneapolis on August 29, 2009
I've heard it is best not to date and to focus on your child. I have heard to wait until you are serious and have a ring and a date. I think it's best to wait until you are married.
C.G. answers from Davenport on August 29, 2009
I think the waiting 6 months to slowly introduce him to your sons life is great. However, I don't there is any appropriate time to have "sleep-overs" unless your marrying the guy. Everyone is looking for Happily Ever After, but lets be real!!! This new relationship could turn into something long term, but that doesn't mean it will be forever. As he gets older, explaining "sleep-overs" is going to be very difficult.
L.P. answers from Des Moines on August 30, 2009
When it is ok for a non married man to spend the night with a married mother? Or even when is it ok for a non married man to spend the night with a non married woman? Look at what you want to teach your little one. If it is ok for him to have lets say a 16 year old girl spend the night at his house (your house) then I say go for it, if you are not okay with that scenario then I suggest no sleepovers until your married and it is with your husband.
S.P. answers from Minneapolis on August 30, 2009
My daughter is 8 and her father and I have been separated since she was a few months old. However, we have worked EXTREMELY hard to maintain that the three of us are her family unit. We have weekly "family nights," where we go out to dinner and be together as the three of us. Her father and I also talk nearly every day about the day, about issues, whatever.
Our rule was always that our daughter would not even *meet* another individual until it was very serious, and then we would discuss it (her father and I) about how it was going to work, etc. before she met the other person.
In the last couple years, her father has begun dating a woman and it has become very serious. He waited over a year to introduce this woman and has moved really slowly with introductions, etc. Recently, we just began dealing with this issue of sleepovers. I am forcing this to move more slowly than he would like, but to me, it is VERY important that my daughter:
a) be very comfortable and feel very safe about the entire situation
b) have the most stable situation that she can be in
c) know for absolute certain that the 3 of us are still her family unit - and that this other woman is becoming part of our family, but not replacing it
d) learn about the importance of commitment and an appropriate speed of relationships
It took me a long time to be ok with him having sleep overs with this woman at his house - and I really do like, enjoy, and respect this woman. Recently, he planned on the two of them sleeping at her house, and I am not ok with that. It takes away from her time with her father and from her security about knowing where she's going to be.
My personal choice for myself is that I am not going to date until my daughter is older or potentially even out of the house. At least not visibly. My focus is keeping the two of us going and strong and making sure that she is happy, healthy, and learning the lessons about life that I want her to learn. My preference would be that she wait until she was at least in college to have sex. I also want her to see that a woman can be happy and successful without a relationship. At the same time, I am grateful that her father is in a committed, healthy, strong relationship that she can see and learn from how to make that work. I wish, however, that they were not sleeping in the same bed in the same house with her until they were either living together or married.
Does your son see his biological father? He already has two men in his life - to introduce a third too soon or men that pop in and out after only a year is going to be really hard on him. I would wait as long as you can and then go very slowly. Your son needs to be your priority. However, there is nothing stopping you from dating, etc. when your son isn't around.
S.W. answers from Minneapolis on August 30, 2009
This is another area of parenting where there are no "rules", just your judgment of what is best for you and your child. You will be the one to decide when a relationship is strong enough and the person you are dating is dependable enough to bring him gradually into your son's life.
My daughter (age 7) has met my boyfriend this month for the first time after we have been dating for over a year. (I have been divorced for 2.5 years.) I have kept the two meetings so far casual and short. Before that I talked with her about him, showed her a picture, and she was present when I talked with him on the phone. A friend of mine, however, met her current fiance at a family event with her children present, so they were a unit from day one.
I believe it is one of my jobs as a parent to teach my daughter about healthy relationships. I won't do that by "not dating until she is out of the house"!! Moving on with our lives is important, too, as long as we balance our personal needs with the needs of our children, we will make choices that work for our family.
C.K. answers from Minneapolis on August 30, 2009
When you are married to your current boyfriend, that is the time he should be sleeping over at your house with your child around. Pretty simple.
E.S. answers from Madison on August 30, 2009
I think that your concern for the situation shows that you are a great mom. Best of luck. You are aware of the situation and conscious that what you do affects your son. Continue to seek advice, trust your judgment and love your little boy. He is very lucky to have you.
A.W. answers from Sioux Falls on August 29, 2009
There are several leading experts who will tell you that you should wait until your son is grown, out of the house, and on his own. Seems like a long time! So, hearing 17 years probably isn't going to help you much!
This kid needs some stability, and he needs it from you. I would get some time with a family counselor before making any decisions. They have so much experience, and see people at all stages of life transitions, so their time is going to be very valuable for you.
Sleep over? As in a slumber party? "Sleeping over" means doing married things, so when you are married, then he can sleep at your house. Please, don't teach your son that the cart goes before the horse.