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Balance between children and relationships

(17 Posts)
ByHappyChance Wed 10-Oct-12 16:27:26

Hi
I'm a single mum with 3 small DCs. Have been separated for almost 2 years now. I do have a boyfriend, have been seeing him for a year, but feel torn between him and my DCs. My DCs get on well with him, and he's started visiting us more. Previously he only visited when my DCs were away, but I found it hard to deal with the fact I seemed to have a double life, and asked that he spend time getting to know me and my family. However my eldest seems to be a bit sad, and upset if he sleeps over. I think its mainly because when I'm on my own, he tends to sleep in my bed, and maybe feels a bit put out that this option is less available when my boyfriend stays. I know that when he stays at his Dad's house, he shares a bed with him, and I think he expects the same at mine. That's ok, but the DCs are only at me exes 1 weekend in 2, and I really don't want to encourage him to do the same at mine, as I want him to be happy in his own room at night.

I like it when my boyfriend visits, as I feel on the nights he doesn't I tend to go to my bed as soon as the DCs are settled, but when my boyfriend stays, we have a more normal night of watching TV etc.

Clearly I want my boyfriend and children to get on.

My eldest also struggles with the fact that his Dad and I are separated, and even though he remembers the fighting, and sequalae of his drinking, he doesn't connect the two.

My boyfriend was coming over tonight, but I've asked him not too, so I can have time with the DCs before they go to their Dads for the Oct holidays. He was like, "Oh! Ok!".

Anyhow, I feel I'm rambling.

Whats the best way of handling this situation?

Many thanks!

janesnowdon1 Wed 10-Oct-12 16:36:19

I think ou are right to encourage your eldest to stay in his own room - the more he sleeps in his own room and not with you the less he will feel "ousted" by your BF. Perhaps you Bf and you could take the kids out for some fun activities to help him bond with them. Perhaps if he spends most of his time with you on visits the children feel a bit superfluous. Your eldest may also be wary of your BF filling his dad's place.

It must be so difficult. How does your BF feel about meeting the DC ? Would he rather have you to himself ? Does youe ex not have much contact because of the drinking?

pinklady1107 Wed 10-Oct-12 16:50:58

Hi

I have been in a similar situation but somehow it's all working out.

With your dc they obviously come first every time, however my eldest would sometimes sulk when she realised dp was staying but I explained to her very carefully that once she was in bed it was my time and it wasn't fair to expect me to sit alone every night. I told her in a manner and tone she understand and she really took it on board. She has become settled with it all now and we even holidayed together this summer. I have no problems from her at all.
So have your dp over tonight because once yours are in bed you can still enjoy some you time.
The other thing we do is routine, dp comes over on certain nights 99% of the time, the dc know which night is mummy's night and which is theirs to have tea with me and some us time. He also mainly comes after bedtime so their routine isn't disturbed, although he mostly goes and says goodnight to them.

It won't always work like this but for now it does.

Also explain to your dp about the children's feelings he may have a suggestion himself?
Hope all goes well xx

ByHappyChance Wed 10-Oct-12 18:13:21

Thanks for your thoughts.
My boyfriend is keen that we all get on together. He has 2 kids of his own.
My ex sees the kids every second fortnight, his choice, he lives a good hour away by car.
My DCs still think I'm "Daddy's girlfriend", which is awkward. They don't seem to understand, I have bought age appropriate story books etc .

ByHappyChance Wed 10-Oct-12 23:00:40

My boyfriend seems to be sulking with me, says he's a bit mad at me. This is the first time I've asked him not to come over. Usually he calls the shots. So I'm a bit disappointed at his sulky behaviour. Thought he would understand, given he has kids himself.
He thinks I'm not strict enough with the kids, and talk to them as friends rather than as a parent. He said that I've allowed my eldest to dictate our lives.
My eldest is defiant, and I do have parenting problems, but I'm trying hard and as you know, it's difficult looking after small children.

ThingsThatGoBumpInTheNight Thu 11-Oct-12 02:09:39

Then he should be more understanding, not less

Tell him to kiss your ass to try and be more thoughtful and empathetic to the situation

izzyizin Thu 11-Oct-12 02:43:16

Young as your eldest may be, he most probably sees himself as the 'man of the house' and feels supplanted by your bf who, as a df himself, should recognise that winning the hearts and minds of children is a more effective strategy than alienating them.

However, as you've described your eldest as 'defiant' I suggest you talk to his school about a referral to an educational psychologist as play therapy, or similar, will help resolve the no doubt conflicting feelings he's experiencing due to living away from his df and having his dm introduce another man to the household who he may fear is intending to replace or negate his df.

ByHappyChance Thu 11-Oct-12 07:57:47

Thanks, funnily enough I was googling play therapy last night. My eldest is a lovely boy, and I have huge guilt issues about taking him away from his Dad that he adores. But he was my catalyst to leave my ex, as he had seen first hand the shouting etc, and developed maternal separation anxiety. I knew that I had to act as I didn't want my DCs to grow up in an oppressive home. I've struggled with sleep, and bedtimes are a nightmare, as he's scared on his own, and I wondered if that was because he associated night time with shouting.
Yes I agree bf should be more empathetic, but he thinks I indulge my children, and should get over my guilt. In a way he's right.
Shall see what today brings!

Turniphead1 Thu 11-Oct-12 08:20:26

Byhappychance - you sound like you are trying your very best in tricky circumstances. You do deserve to have an adult relationship, companionship and so on.

However, there are a couple of things from your posts that ring alarm bells for me about the current man in your life. You mention that he "normally calls all the shots", has criticised your parenting and seems to have difficulty with your eldest son.

Before you take the big step of integrating this man fully into your life and that of your DC - I think you need to think LONG and HARD in an honest way if there are any similarities here to what went on in your previous relationship. The bottom line is that a lot of us are attracted to types - and whilst during the first flush of romance it's easy to say "oh X is so different to Y" - there may be underlying similarities that may give cause for concern.

For me - that would be my biggest worry. Introducing a controlling man into a household with a boy who is not his own - especially a boy who may have some difficult behaviour due to what has gone on in the home - can be a recipe for absolute disaster as a scan of the newspapers or these boards will reveal.

Yes - you are not talking about living together at present. But for me, unless that was a long term viable goal I would not introduce a man to my kids. Better that we see each other at other times.

Re your son's behaviour - if there was any way you could access some good parenting classes thro the Council or so on - I think that would help. I think your guilt about separating from his father (entirely reasonably) is clouding your judgment and perhaps allowing you to make excuses for any negative behaviour. Now is now - he needs to have clear boundaries and consequences. There needs to be a rule about where he sleeps - that is the same whether your boyfriend is there it not. Clearly if the rule is "you can sleep with Mum anytime John is not here" that's going to store up a whole load of problems ( of Oedipal proportions wink). Yes, he may have Maternal attachment issues - or he could just be being a child, and children often like to control things and call the shots if they spot weakness or parental guilt...

I wish you lots of luck and if this relationship is worth making changes for - then go for it.

ByHappyChance Thu 11-Oct-12 08:45:39

Thanks turniphead
What I mean by calling the shots is that he determines when we see each other, and yesterday was the first time in a year where I had said not to come over as I needed time with the kids.
I'm annoyed he's apparently sulked.
I agree about my eldest being permitted into my bed whenever bf isn't here, I really want him to sleep in his bed every night.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 11-Oct-12 09:25:42

"My eldest is defiant, and I do have parenting problems, "

It's precisely because of the way your ex behaved that you have to assert yourself with your eldest and tackle the defiance rather than give into his demands or make too many allowances. If he grows up thinking he can control others (and especially women) by being badly behaved he'll simply turn into a carbon copy of Dad

Turniphead1 Thu 11-Oct-12 10:41:57

BHC - yes - calling all the shots/determine when you see each other. Either way - that's controlling. As is sulking because you have offered a valid reason why uou would like to see to defer meeting up. Why wouldn't you have a say in that? You are an adult woman - not a child. You really didn't answer my concerns about his personality and the dynamics of your relationship.

Out if interest , are your close family/friends (anyone who knew the details of your ex's behaviour) keen on this new chap?

ThingsThatGoBumpInTheNight Thu 11-Oct-12 10:57:05

Don't forget its you that has chosen this new fella, not your children, so their jury is out on whether they like him or not

And speaking from experience, a child coming from witnessing abuse of their mum by a man, even their own dad, is bound to be protective of you

x

Dahlen Thu 11-Oct-12 11:13:11

In all honesty, I don't think your lifestyle or your emotions are ready for this. I must stress that this is my opinion only and it's based purely on your posts, which are such a tiny reflection of you and your life that I could be completely off the mark of course.

However, a few things stand out: The fact that you go to bed once the DC are in bed when your BF isn't there. And the fact that you see your relationship with your DC almost as in competition with your relationship with your BF.

Although you are entitled to your own life as well as being a mother, it just doesn't sound like either your or your DC have sufficiently processed the breakdown of your previous relationship to a sufficient enough extent to be ready for this one. You don't sound as though you've tried to rebuild your life through another relationship rather than concentrating on things you like to do for yourself.

I'm not saying call off the relationship (though the fact that he's sulking is a major red flag IMO), but I'd knock the staying over on the head. You need to have your DS sleeping in your bed as the exception rather than the rule, otherwise you are feeding the idea that your BF is a threat to his family unit rather than an enhancement. I'd work on getting your DS to accept the fact that you and daddy are over and to be comfortable at sleeping in his own bed before allowing the BF to stay over again.

Go back a few steps. Let your BF develop his own relationship with the DC and earn their trust. It really shouldn't be this hard. If it is, you're either not ready, you're with the wrong man, or both.

Bonsoir Thu 11-Oct-12 11:15:36

Neither you nor your ex should allow your DCs to share your bed as this will only increase feelings of being pushed out when you have your BF over.

It is good for DCs when their parents are in healthy relationships (not necessarily with one another) and provide a stable home. That should be your focus.

ThingsThatGoBumpInTheNight Thu 11-Oct-12 12:01:43

I didn't have any relationship for four years (that DS knew of) when i split with his dad.

I concentrated on building our relationship as mum and son first so it was secure before inviting anyone else in, and that worked for me.

Not for everyone else though and did feel lonely at times, fortunately i had adult company at work, but i learnt to enjoy my own company too, when DS went to GP's for the weekends smile

ByHappyChance Thu 11-Oct-12 12:02:17

Thanks for all your comments, all very fair and valid. I appreciate that.
I do feel in a way I haven't processed my separation, as I still get sad thinking about what could have been, if my ex had not chosen alcohol above us.
My family are wary of him, they are very protective of me, but seem to be accepting now.
I don't really have a social life apart from with my bf, but I do have a good job, and have made a lovely home for us. So we're comfortable financially.
I need to collect kiddos from nursery so will add some more details later, thanks

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