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Support and advice re introducing my children to his OW please - all perspectives welcome

(42 Posts)
100emotionsin1day Mon 12-Sep-11 14:21:42

A bit of background, and apologies in advance for how long this one's going to be. 'D'H embarked on an affair almost a year ago with a woman he met abroad on a business trip. It didn't take long for me to suspect something was seriously amiss, nor much digging to find out exactly what was going on - which I did, just a few days before Christmas. He left a few weeks later to set up home with the OW, who in the meantime had arranged herself a job transfer and moved to this country to be with him. So, all done with the most incredible haste and drama, and quite frankly some days I feel like I'm still in shock.

Thanks in equal measure to the support of my family, friends, and hour after hour of lurking (and occasionally posting) on Relationships, I feel like I've come a long way from that devastating time, but the past few weeks have been incredibly difficult for me as H and I have begun to discuss the prospect of him introducing our DC to the OW. They are 5 and 7 and we told them very little when we separated - just that he and I were no longer together, but that we were still a family and they would still see daddy all the time.

Right from the outset, I've tried to put their interests at the heart of every decision I make. H and I are as friendly as can be expected in the circumstances (in fact probably too friendly in many ways - good for the kids, not so good for me as it has taken a long time to get out of the denial stage, but lesson learnt...). He is looking after us financially, I'm allowing and encouraging him to see our DC as often as he can, and in fact he has been much more of a hands-on dad than he ever was, now that he realises if he wants a relationship with them he has to work at it rather than leaving all the childcare up to me.

In this spirit, he has respected the fact that involving the children in his new domestic set-up should wait until the dust has settled a bit and we've all had time to adjust to the situation. Until now, he's either spent time with them here in the family home, or taken them out for the day at weekends. Personally, I would like to leave things even longer, because I fear that having only known the OW for a year and been living with her for 6 months or so, the long-term viability of their relationship hasn't really been tested yet. Especially when the reality of looking after two young kids on a regular basis hasn't even entered the mix... However, I know that I need to accept this could well be 'forever', in which case I need to let go and move on, and give the children a chance to be a proper part of their dad's life.

So what am I asking? Well, is it too soon for them to meet the OW? And on a more practical level, given that she lives with my H and the children are eager to see his new place, how can this introduction be done gradually? How do we explain who she is and why she lives with daddy when they can't? I'm very wary of drip-feeding by saying she's just his 'friend' then leaving them to come to conclusions themselves, because I feel I've already had to be dishonest with them about the reason for our break-up, and I don't want to lie to them any more. It's extremely important to me, now more than ever, that they feel they can trust me and be open with me. I'd hate for them to work out the whole sorry story when they're older and possibly then decide they don't want to have anything to do with the OW (or indeed their dad), and resent me for allowing them to get into that situation because I didn't tell them the truth. However, I'm aware that being too honest will lead them to working out that OW was on the scene before H left, which may not benefit their relationship with him in the long run. And although it tears my heart in two, I know that for them to successfully get through this and have as normal and happy a childhood as possible, it will be better for them to have a good relationship with her as well.

Please, any tips, advice, kind words wink would be most appreciated - whether you've been in my situation yourself, or are/have been a stepchild or stepparent. I'm really worried about getting this wrong and allowing my emotions to get in the way at the expense of what's best for my kids...sad

Jemma1111 Mon 12-Sep-11 14:34:10

First of all , would your ex be willing to let you meet this woman?

If you could meet her first it may help you and you could explain to her that no matter what has gone on with your ex and her, as long as she treats your children with respect and makes sure that they have loads of quality time with their dad then there is no problem.

Its best to be honest with your dc's and let them know that although you and dad are not together anymore, he will always love them no matter if he has another woman in his life.

Remember, you are your dc's mum and NO other lady will EVER be able to take your place in their eyes, as I said before, if your kids do meet this woman and she is nothing but kind to them then don't worry!

anothermum92 Mon 12-Sep-11 14:57:36

Message withdrawn

knitknack Mon 12-Sep-11 18:27:27

You sound like a FANTASTIC mum! Your children are very lucky.

FabbyChic Mon 12-Sep-11 19:19:41

You do sound like a fantastic mum, would you not prefer to meet her first?

AnyFucker Mon 12-Sep-11 19:23:50

Blimey, I wish you were my mum

Have you asked this on the Divorce/Separation topic ? I bet they would have some great practical ideas.

Not much help from me, sorry, but I think whatever you decide, you will handle it well and I wish you all the best.

MissPricklePants Mon 12-Sep-11 19:32:32

no advice i'm afraid. I picked my dd (28 months) up from exs the other day, he opened the door and there is he newest girlfriend cuddling dd!i was shocked i didnt know he was seeing anybody and did not expect it as i hoped when the time came he would at least tell me that he would be doing that and then i would have been expecting it when picking dd up.

Tillyscoutsmum Mon 12-Sep-11 19:52:19

I agree you sound like a fantastic mum smile

I come at this from a few different perspectives and would recommend being honest with your dc's without telling them more than they need to know and without lying to them directly. Ime, children are quite accepting. If she is introduced as daddy's partner, they probably will not ask (and therefore do not need to be told) when/how she came on the scene. She is merely the lady that lives with him and will spend time with them when they see their dad.

My step mum was the OW. I was never told that. She just lived at dad's house, they got married and eventually had my half brothers. I didn't really question it tbh. I knew she wasn't there in any way to replace my mum but that she was dad's "girlfriend" (and then wife) helped look after me.

I remember finding my parent's decree absolute when I was 18 (I was looking for my birth certificate to get a passport) and she was named on there as the OW. It was a bit of a shock and I was a bit offish with them for a short while but then had a conversation with them and was fine about it.

My mother, on the other hand, introduced a man to us as her best friend's boyfriend. They then married (i.e. this man and my mum) 6 weeks later. It was all pretty confusing to a 6 year old and for years after I thought my mum had stolen him from her best friend hmm. Apparently, she wanted me to get to know him as a neutral person because she thought I wouldn't like him if she'd told me straight away that he was her boyfriend. Crazy !

I now have my own step daughter. I was introduced to her within a couple of weeks of me and (now) DH getting together. So, in answer to your question, I don't think its too soon. It may last or it may not but either way, this woman is part of your ex h's life and therefore will become part of your dcs' lives. I personally think its "healthier" that they start to see you as two separate families rather than seeing your ex at your house.

Dee34 Mon 12-Sep-11 21:39:39

Hi, it seems like you have been doing great in terms of coming to the point you are at now and how you are looking to help your children through this so they are unaffected and maintain good relationship with their father. That is incredible courage and I also agree with previous posters - you are a great mum smile.

I think there is only so much you can do in terms of the actual meeting as ultimately, I guess it comes down to how your H and his new partner faciltate this. But it sounds like you have a good enough relationship with your H that you could have a discussion with him about what would be the best way to approach this for your DC. So for example, they shouldn't be overly affectionate between each other on first meeting your children as this could be upsetting to them, esp if they have never met her or rarely heard her being mentioned. I think some books also suggest that the parent with the new partner be the one to start talking about the new partner before suddenly turning up with her/him to meet the children (and if you know when your H is doing this, you could be aware, so you can re-inforce to the children that they are still loved by Mummy and Daddy and also be there to broach any questions they may have that they may want to ask you specifically or questions they maybe cant ask their Dad directly). Also there seems to be advice on taking things slowly and meeting on neutral ground, so a short play date session at the park or soft play. I guess though as mentioned, each book/bit of advice will have a different stance on it. How would you like things to pan out?

It seems that your ex is being fair wrt money etc and has been doing so even with the arrival of the OW in your home country (big difference from my ex who declared poverty within 2 weeks of his new gf arrivng here). One thing I would say is that it is best to draw boundaries at some point in terms of access to your home, though this works for you at the moment as your H comes to see the kids at yours. I think its good to set these boundaries once your children start going over to your H's for vists etc. Ditto for finances.

BTW, slightly off topic, so please feel free to ignore. But there is lot of similarity in our situations, so I completely, honestly understand where you are coming from. My ex also met someone whilst on a business trip last October, they declared themselves soulmates and she set about transferring here to the UK. I found out on NYE (with lots of twists) but did not suspect a thing. She arrived in July on a Sunday and ex introduced our 2-almost-3 year old DS to her on the Wednesday (before arriving in July, she had spent a weeks holiday and a 10 night holiday here). This was despite agreeing to take things slowly and to consider DS and my feelings. From the following weekend they were spending whole days together (bar naps) and I had to accept it. I also had the issue in terms of well, new partner was suddenly here, living with ex and so would always be around or at least her presence would be constant in ex's house if she was out (I would guess things like ladies bits and bobs, photos of them together etc). I asked ex if we could temp halt overnights until DS got used to her/some period of time. So, the first weekend, as mentioned, ex had DS as usual for the whole day one day at the weekend, but he would bring him back here earlier than usual for the first two weeks. This got later and later as time has gone on (though she has only been here for 10 weeks now). DS also had swimming lessons then, so that meant that he and his dad got some alone time, the rest of the time was spent in the company of new partner as well. There isn't much that I can do about that and I have had to accept that DS is at the very least having a good time with his dad and his new partner, even though it is with someone who knowingly continued on in an affair with my ex.

Tbh, it isnt so much the amount of time that DS spends with ex's new gf that really grates (though it does upset me a bit), I am more insistent that ex also factors in some time that is just for him and DS. So for them, its swimming, so at least for 30mins of the day ex has him, they will get a swimming lesson in or, they will go to the local pool for a longer session.

Cant really advise about what to tell the children regarding her background to getting together with their dad. My DS is too young and tbh, I would probably sit him down and explain this when he is a lot older and can understand the various concepts a bit better (though again, my main concern in all this is that my DS develops into the type of person who could talk openly and honestly about things with people and who knows that there are certain ways to treat people and to always treat people with respect first and foremost. Sorry, waffling again!).

Not sure I have helped answer any of your questions, but take care.

You are doing so well. Good luck.

xxx

100emotionsin1day Mon 12-Sep-11 22:46:43

Thank you so much everyone.

Jemma, Fabby, yes, I strongly feel I should meet with her first, and H agrees (presumably she does too?). Good suggestions about what to discuss - I've been playing the scene over in my mind constantly, so I need to now focus on what the key issues are and use the opportunity to get her thinking about the DC's welfare (she has no kids of her own, so christ knows what she expects), and to at least attempt to establish some kind of civil communication. Always time to throttle her at a later date after all wink.

anothermum I haven't really spoken to H about how this all could affect his relationship with the kids; I suspect he'd think I was just looking for unforeseeable difficulties for the sake of it. And because the DC seem fine and everything has gone OK so far, he assumes that will continue. Which worries me, because if it doesn't go as smoothly has he expects, he could be pretty ill-prepared to deal with the consequences. It already pisses me off that I'm likely to be the one bearing the brunt of any emotional problems this may cause the kids. You're right though, he's the one who's chosen this path, and I need to fight the temptation to shoulder all the responsibility for their happiness.

knitknack smile. AF I haven't but might well do, and have also considered posting in Step-parenting. Lurking on there has really opened my eyes to some of the difficulties that H and OW may face - quite comforting in a schadenfreude kind of way, I don't think H is going to end up with quite the perfect new life he imagined. But obviously it concerns me because I don't want the kids to be a source of conflict...

MissPrickle angry for you - would it have hurt him just to drop you an email or something to let you know? I've found that one of the keys of good communication is 'no nasty surprises'...

Tilly wow, so many perspectives! If you don't mind me asking, how old were you when your parents split up? Do you remember it being weird or upsetting that someone was sharing a bed with your mum or dad? That's one of my biggest fears about the first time my kids stay over with their dad, that they'll just be completely confused and hurt to find OW there (just the thought of it is nauseating...), unable to express it, and I won't be there to tell them it's ok sad. What do I say to prepare them for that? I know really that H is the one who has to explain it, but I want them to know that I'm aware of the situation and they don't need to be scared or shy about discussing it with me.

Another personal question - how old was your DSD when you met and how did it go? Was there a reason for meeting her so soon? I wouldn't have agreed with you even just a few weeks ago that seeing their dad at our house was a problem, but it has got to the stage where we do need to get out of this limbo - for them to accept that we're not going to get back together, and also for my own sake. I've reluctantly admitted to myself that I'm allowing H to still be too big a part of my life, and I really can't keep kidding myself any longer...

Has anyone got any tips on what gradual steps can be taken when introducing the DC? I've seen suggestions that the first few meetings should be low key, perhaps while doing another activity, keep it short, etc. but what then? One of my specific concerns is that H is very keen to have the kids over to his place soon (as are they) - so how to handle this when she lives there? Would it be unreasonable to suggest she stays out of the picture the first couple of times, or would that just be confusing and delaying the inevitable?

Sorry, another long post - can you tell that I'm thinking about not much else right now wink?

100emotionsin1day Mon 12-Sep-11 23:27:17

Hi Dee, thanks for posting - my last message took so long to type I didn't see yours until now!

You're right, how this goes is really down to H. But for whatever reason - perhaps because he genuinely cares about my feelings, perhaps because he wants to be seen to be doing the 'right thing' or perhaps just because he's realised what a monumental f*ck-up he's made of our lives and needs to start making amends - he has allowed me time to prepare myself for dealing with this and I think will do what he can to take my wishes into consideration. Your suggestions are great - I hadn't even thought about them being lovey-dovey in front of the kids, bleurgh envy!

And thanks for the warning about how things have turned out in your situation. Since we started discussing this, H has always emphasised that it's about him and the DC getting to spend more time together, without him always having to get back to the OW leave after a few hours, so I hope he's being sincere and will respect their need to spend time with him alone. I'll definitely make sure I remind him of this aim - generally, if he agrees to something, he sticks to it. So far, he hasn't let me down, but I'm past being naive smile.

To be honest I'm not sure how I want it to pan out - it's going to be such a big change not always having the kids with me that I can't even imagine what it's going to be like. Hellish to start with I'm sure, but I'm hoping I can give myself a kick and make the most of it too. Following stories like yours has been a great source of support and comfort though; I was astonished to see the similarities in our situations when I first started looking on here!

It is ironic isn't it - I want to teach my kids to grow up to treat other people with respect and to know that what H and OW did was wrong in so many ways. And yet I have to surrender a big chunk of their upbringing to those very people and... I find these contradictions very hard to get my head around.

catsrus Mon 12-Sep-11 23:40:47

hi 100

my DCs are much older - and 2 out of the 3 of them have decided to cut off contact with their dad. The big issue for them was the lies. He told OW last Sept he was in love with her, he told me in Oct he wanted a divorce "no OW". I knew that was a lie, I even guessed who it was and tried to prepare DCs for the possibility of an OW but they believed him (for a while). He is about to marry OW in the next week - and 2 of them have never met her (not their choice BTW!)

My only advice is never lie to them. You must be the person they can trust to tell them the truth, always. Only consider your relationship with them, which should be based on truth - you are not responsible for their relationship with ex or OW. IF it were me I would probably say "daddy has a new woman that he is living with and he loves her very much. He still loves you very much too and I think he always will"

you are the anchor in their lives now - please please don't try to do his job for him! He has to take that responsibility - OTOH don't sabotage his relationship with them - or with OW (who might end up being a really positive factor in their lives!) but make sure they know they can trust you because you will always tell them the truth when they ask.

The positive in all this (in my experience) is that if you are honest, you will end up with a very good and trusting relationship with the DCs. I know they are young, but you will be laying foundations for your future relationship with them. Don't lie and don't "manipulate' the truth is my advice, FWIW.

lifeohlife Tue 13-Sep-11 09:21:42

I'm sorry..I have no advice as I ve not been in your situation. BUT..I just wanted to say that I am so impressed with your handling of this situation.. you sound like a fantastic mum..and someone who has incredible strength..to even begin to think of trying to move beyond where you are at the moment... so I just wanted to say Good Luck and that I hope everything works out well for you.

windsorTides Tue 13-Sep-11 09:40:59

I think some of this thread must be painful for you OP, in addition to the pain you're still feeling sad.

In answer to your OP, I think this depends a great deal on how long this is likely to last with OW. It doesn't sound as though they've been living together long enough just yet for the shine to have worn off, but as you probably well know, relationships that start as affairs often flounder.

If for example OW is much younger, wants her own DCs, starts getting homesick - these things, along with any cultural differences, are likely to cause difficulties in their relationship. These are in addition to the usual reasons these relationships end - the trust issues between two deceivers, the realisation that the grass isn't greener after all etc. What's your H saying about this relationship? Is it one of those cases where he thinks he's met his soulmate, but everyone else is laughing at him and knows it won't last?

There's a lot to be said for waiting this out, before the issue is forced on your DCs.

If you're managing a fairly civil relationship with your H, then it's not unreasonable at all for the time being to ask him to see the DCs at his place, but request that the OW is not around while they are there. I agree you need to stop him coming to your home, for your sake as well as the DCs, but as there often is in these situations, a middle way might be days out with him while the weather holds and short visits (building up to longer ones) at his home, when the weather changes.

I think if he forces the issue, or there is an "accidental" meeting with OW, or indeed if you decide she can meet them, you need to be honest with the DCs. Keep it brief and say "Daddy's got a girlfriend" and chances are at their age, they won't ask whether she was on the scene before your break-up. If they do, I think you're going to have to be truthful, but just state the facts without emotion. Try to make it your golden rule never to lie to them - and if he does and they ask you about it, don't cover-up for his lies.

MissPricklePants Tue 13-Sep-11 19:01:30

it wouldnt have hurt for him to let me no, i would have let him know if it were the other way round!1 step forward 10 steps back at the moment.

Tillyscoutsmum Tue 13-Sep-11 20:57:51

Hi 100

I was a little bit younger than your dc's so I can honestly say, it really didn't confuse or upset me to see either parent with their partner. I was 4 when they split so would have been 4 when I met my step mum. My step dad came on the scene when I was 7 (and there was a man in between my dad and step dad for a couple of years).

I say this with good intentions because I can see that you are only wanting to protect your dc's, but I really think you may be over thinking it and that you will find your dc's are much more accepting of the situation than you expect. They also have quite short memories and, whilst they will obviously remember you being together, 6 months is quite a long time to a 5 year old. They've had some time to get used to dad not being there and they will need a little bit of time to get used to the new (to them) situation as well. Just explain to them that it is daddy's girlfriend and she lives with him (and sleeps in his bed) and that if they want to talk to you about it or ask you anything at any time, then they can.

In terms of gradual steps in introducing dc's, I think a couple of meetings initially on neutral ground (maybe a lunch out somewhere or a couple of hours at a park/soft play). After they've met her a couple of times, they could go out somewhere with their dad and then go back to the house for tea/lunch with both of them. My contact with my dad always including a bit of time just the two of us and I make sure DSD has the same now with her dad.

DSD was 15 months old when I met her so not really relevant to your situation. In some ways, it is/was much easier for her. She's never known anything different. She lives with her mum and step dad half the time and me and her dad (and 2 half siblings) the rest of the time. She's almost 8 now and I was talking to her at the weekend about "her two families" and how she felt about it all. Apparently, its great because she gets twice as many presents and Christmas and Birthdays smile hmm

Good luck with it all x

steelchic Tue 13-Sep-11 23:23:25

Hi 100
I really admire you.
Our situations are similar my met OW before Christmas. They now are living together and she is pregnant. Our DC's (11 & 7) no nothing about her. We did do all the family stuff and he saw the kids in our home whenever he wanted.
I know we need to explain the situation to the DC's sooner rather than later but we have put it off waiting for the right time esp for the 11 year old who has just started High School and is having quite a hard time (hormones raging etc).
I wish I had your strength, but it kills me inside to think that the woman who helped wreck my family will be playing happy families with my kids. I don't think I could ever be civil towards her and I dread the day I have to meet her.
I guess I'm just bitter as I was sterilised after my DS as we decided our family was complete and also at 48 im too old.
Good luck I hope it works out for you

MonarchoftheGarioch Thu 15-Sep-11 00:08:33

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Patienceobtainsallthings Thu 15-Sep-11 10:25:47

Just to say share my experience , i had a text message at midnight one sat in july to say my X was introducing them to his gf the next day ,he was telling me to give me my place because im a great mum(lmfao) and i had no right to know who they were with or what he did with them when he had them.He has been sporadic with visits and maintenance since we split nearly 2 yrs ago (im being generous ),gf wasnt involved but was a barmaid in the pub and helped him cope with the split ,he is 42 she is 21 smileAnyway ds 6yo arrived home to tell me daddys gf wears lots of red lipstick and dd was covered in her perfume (which to be honest smelt quite nice lol)Since i found out in Feb this year he was def with her, i have spoken about daddys gf to the kids briefly ,mainly because i thought he may turn up with her on a sunday morning without warning.Daddy has since effed off again and we ent seen him since july.So i guess what im saying is trust your kids ,they will be cool if they have a calm and patient mum,look after yourself as you are still healing .I do everything i can to have peace in my head ,stress free and happy .Whole lot easier since i stopped loving my X ,i have no jealousy towards gf .My biggest worry was what they were seeing when they were out with their father but i have to let go and know i cant always protect my kids and they will always have me around for a while yet if they are confused.im glad i didnt fight the meet up though ,didnt make it an issue,im glad i got it over with ,its not such a big deal ,just all part of divorce ,I just had to dry my eyes and get on with it.If anything i wish my kids had 2 yrs of regular visits with their father now under their belts ,weekend visits ,holidays and special days birthdays xmas etc all planned ahead ,its the stability and reliability i think that is emotionally important through times of great change .Finding their new "normal" and settling into it.My kids have this with sports after school and at the weekends it helps them alot ,take care xxxxxxxxxxxxx

100emotionsin1day Thu 15-Sep-11 10:53:28

Thanks for all the messages since my last post - I'm so sorry to hear how many of you are in similar positions right now. I'm starting to feel so cynical about every marriage and relationship (and men in general!), but I hope that fades in time...



windsor your point about how long his new relationship is likely to last really is the crux of my dilemma. Being honest with myself, I think this is not just short-term. H certainly does appear to think he's found his soulmate; the OW is younger than me, but not much, and works in a similar industry to him, similar outlook, etc, so on paper it would appear a reasonable match if they were both young, free and single... But of course there are all those issues you mentioned that will put a strain on them - trust, guilt, cultural and language differences (and indeed lifestyle changes for OW in particular) - quite apart from the inevitable decline in the freshness and excitement of the whole thing. Then add kids.



Your post has made me think I do need to ask a few questions about how things are going between them though. H has been remarkably (and uncharacteristically) tactful and rarely mentions OW - and I haven't asked, not wanting to open myself up to any more grief - but I'd like him to be honest with me and himself about where he believes this will end up.



Tilly you are not the first person to suggest I'm over thinking something wink. I agonise over the most inconsequential things, so this one is really making my brain explode! H's attitude, on the other hand, is just get on with it and it'll turn out OK, so I often feel like I'm having to compensate for his lack of caution (should really have seen this one coming, huh?). You're right, I think the kids will accept and forget (sadly I think my youngest one has already forgotten what it was like to have daddy live here)



steelchic, catrus it astonishes me how quickly some men get remarried and start a new family. If things are so perfect with this new partner, then what's the bloody hurry, what are they trying to prove? I do fear OW getting pregnant sooner rather than later, which is I suppose an argument in favour of introducing the kids now. 'Here's daddy's new girlfriend' is one thing; 'here's daddy's new girlfriend - oh and by the way here's his new DC too'... I just couldn't bear it. 



steelchic I hope you find a good time to speak to your DC about it soon and that they cope OK with it (and you). I absolutely agree with you, the injustice of the person who broke up your family getting to then be a part of that family is mental torture. It drives me crazy thinking of H and OW all loved-up and happy when they've left such misery and hurt in their wake...



Anyway, thank you all again for your support and advice. I've desperately needed to get my thoughts down and unscrambled, it has helped so much to be able to do that here. Will keep you posted...

glasscompletelybroken Thu 15-Sep-11 10:53:59

Hi, I had been seeing my (now) DH for 8 months before I met his 2 dd's. They were 3 and 6. He has them for half the time. He had been divorced for a year when we met. For the first meeting we went out for the day which was a good idea as the focus was on the day out. I was introduced as a freind and then gradually spent a bit more time with them, at the house. I wanted to meet my DH ex but she didn't want to meet me at that stage. She had already made her mind up about me and decided that I was allowed to cook and clean for the children but nothing else. I wasn't allowed to brush their hair, read them stories or take them to the loo - to name just a few things on the banned list. If we were out for the day and there was no family/disabled loo we had the ridiculous situation of DH taking them in the gents as I wasn't allowed to take them in the ladies.

I think we did everything right and slowly and the only problem was DH ex who made all kinds of problems which we are still living with now - 5 years later. If you tell a 6 year old and a 3 year old that they don't have to take any notice of daddy's partner then that doesn't make every day life very easy!

I think you sound so lovely and normal that these kinds of issues won't occur. The main thing is to go slowly and for all the adults concerned to show each other respect in front of the children and make it a positive thing. I don't think the children need to know any of the history of their relationship, that's between the adults. I'm not suggesting you lie to them but just don't tell them she was the OW in your divorce.

Patienceobtainsallthings Thu 15-Sep-11 13:14:29

I totally agree that the biggest thing is remaining calm and civilised infront of the kids ,whatever happened between me and their father,he is still and always will be their father.It takes huge emotionally maturity to co parent and fwiw I also think ur overthinking this.I do not say this as a criticism if anyone had told me 2yrs ago this would be my life I would have passed out .But life goes on .You don't have to overanalyse things it will drive u mad.its just another "first" be cool xxx

Patienceobtainsallthings Thu 15-Sep-11 13:17:51

And then when you do the handover that day all cool and tranquil you can say How good am i ,how bloody strong and fabulous am I !
I know i did xxxx

Smum99 Thu 15-Sep-11 13:57:11

I do have both perspectives here - my ex met someone quickly after we split so wasn't the OW however he did do the introductions without discussion with myself. Looking back had he told me ahead of time I would have completely over thought it and placed conditions on the meeting and made it an issue however it did just happen and DD was completely fine. I think it boils down to how much you trust your ex to parent properly and also how you believe your children will react to hearing/seeing something they are not sure about. Would they discuss it with you? Life will bring up challenges for them and it's about how they resolve those complex emotions rather than avoiding the emotions all together. i.e it would be completely natural for them to feel jealous about a new half sibling but you would hope that they could be talk about it so that they start to feel comfortable (like you would if you had a new baby and the older siblings felt pushed out).

I do however agree that children need a period of time to adjust to new situations and I think it's plain crazy that someone could end a relationship and just jump into another without the period of healing that is needed.
My other perspective is DH's ex - she cannot be without a partner so has jumped from man to man and has Dcs with each partner. All partners are introduced immediately and the last one moved in straight away. DSS14 is horrified by it all but seems to be managing (as he's able to talk about his concerns).

I would say that being a step family will cause issues in their relationship. Life will not be the wonderful stress free situation your ex might have thought. Blended families need superior communication skills and buckets loads of tolerance and patience, it is absolutely not easy so don't think your ex is going to have a pleasant time. (might just help you get through the tough times!)

I completely agree with being truthful - never ever lie to children, DSS was hurt by the lies his mother told and it has shaken his foundation..What else is she lying about?

I think you are doing a fantastic job though - your emotional maturity is shining through and this will help your Dcs. Good Luck

nje3006 Thu 15-Sep-11 14:46:06

I wasn't an OW but I was the new partner of a man with 4 children. He and his ex had been divorced 5 years when he and I met. I met his children within 3 months of meeting him. He and I discussed it a lot, we wanted to be sure we felt solid before I met them. 3 months is no guarantee of anything but 6 years later we are still together.

I did meet BM at that first meeting. I did it in ignorance, I wouldn't do it again. I don't think she has any 'right' to vet me any more than my partner has a right to meet any new partner she has.

The last 6 years have been awful with her, just horrible. She is still bitter and angry about the divorce 11 years later even though she remarried 2 years ago. Biting our lips has been hard, not retaliating or answering back has been difficult.

Some of the things you mentioned specifically:
- how will the children feel about their father being in bed with another woman. I'm not sure whether this is projection on your part - is this how YOU feel? DP's children were all fine, his two youngest used to climb into bed with us when they were here, stopped as they got older.
- DP has always shown me affection in their presence. To do otherwise is not to be honest about how the relationship is.
- thinking that as she has no kids of her own 'christ knows what she expects' is pretty insulting. Being childless doesn't necessarily make her clueless although I get that having an affair with your husband makes you question her judgement.
- yes to a first meeting somewhere neutral. I think I would have been very insulted if DP had asked me not to be present in my own home when his children visited. Whatever your thoughts about her, it's her home too now and if you try to insist on this condition, it's a very easy one to refuse and where do you go from there...?

As for being honest with the children, I'm an advocate of honesty. Children see through dishonesty and it's something they find hard to forgive in their parents, whatever the motivation for hiding the truth. Children are also more accepting of the truth about a situation PROVIDED. So in your shoes yes I would definitely tell them that she is his new girlfriend. I wouldn't necessarily say that he had an affair. You'll be surprised at the number of children who eventually work this out for themselves. But if they do ask you, I would tell the truth, that yes the relationship started whilst you and he were still together and no, that is not right.

If and when they find out about the start of their relationship, the children may be fine about it or they may be really angry with their dad and/or OW. That's not for you to sort out, that's for him and her to negotiate - it's a consequence of their affair that they will have to deal with.

It's not your job to smooth out the relationship between the children and their dad but it is your job not to place obstacles in its way or be in any way disrespectful of OW. If the children raise it with you, you can say that having an affair is wrong but focus on the behaviour rather than the people.

Who knows whether this relationship will last? But if it doesn't, it's another lesson for the children and another consequence he will have to deal with.

JMO.

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