Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

Kids and new boyfriend, really need advice

(66 Posts)
Mintychoc1 Tue 05-Jul-16 21:02:24

I have no idea how to handle this, and I wondered if anyone could share their experiences.

I am a single mum to 2 DSs (age 10 and 7), conceived using donor sperm so no legal father. Up until a few months ago I was happy with just my work, friends and DCs - I have been out for about 5 evenings in the last 10 years - my whole life has revolved around my kids, with work being the only other thing that took up my time.

However I have recently started seeing someone, just over 3 months ago. I really really like him, it's going very well, and I can see a future in it. He comes round after the kids have gone to bed, about 3 evenings a week, so they have no idea he's there and it doesn't affect them at all. However, I thought it would be a good idea to gradually introduce the idea that I now have a boyfriend (I told them about him after about a month), and the kids have met him briefly on a couple of occasions.

DS1 is 10 and is finding it very hard. He is a worrying about everything - will we get married, will we move, will we split up, what if they don't get on - and he is basically really angry and upset with me. It's not helped by the fact that he is in going to secondary school in September, so massive changes ahead - the timing is awful.

Obviously if my kids had a dad that they saw, then this wouldn't be an issue, as I'd have plenty of opportunity to do what I liked when the kids weren't with me. But I have no one else who can look after them apart from grandparents when I'm working (they can't manage any more than that).

I don't know what to do. Should I end it with the new man, even though I really like him? Should I continue to only see him for a few hours in the evenings when the kids are in bed? Should I keep arranging for us to do low-key things all together intermittently?

I try to reassure DS1 that I will always love him and put him first, but he doesn't hear me. I've also tried to explain that there is no way we'll be moving or changing our domestic arrangements, it is very early days etc.

DS2 is younger and generally more chilled, so he says he's not bothered about any of it.

I'm very upset about it, as I don't know what to do, and I don't want to upset my kids.

LadyStarkOfWinterfell Tue 05-Jul-16 21:07:59

Don't end it but don't rush your ds either. He's never seen you in a relationship, this is bound to be a huge adjustment! But he will adjust, just take it super slowly.

Mintychoc1 Tue 05-Jul-16 21:14:05

Thank you. I'd planned to take it slowly, but it's come to a head recently as there are a couple of events this month that we're all going to be at, so meeting is unavoidable. I actually thought it would be a nice way to do it - to spend time doing something we all enjoy, rather than a contrived meal out somewhere. But DS1 feels his "family time" is being invaded despite the fact that he's out with his mates all the time these days so "family time" has all but disappeared unless I force it!

ImperialBlether Tue 05-Jul-16 21:14:27

I agree with LadyStark. I'd just tell your son that he has his friends and you have yours. You have the right to see your friends, just as he has the right to see his. He's at an age where a lot of children suffer from hormonal swings, so if it wasn't your boyfriend it might well be something else. In the meantime spend as much time as you can with your son doing ordinary things to reassure him that a gentleman caller doesn't mean the end of his world!

Mintychoc1 Tue 05-Jul-16 21:18:30

Thank you. Luckily we have a family holiday booked next month when he will have a full week of my undivided attention!

ButIbeingpoor Tue 05-Jul-16 21:33:55

Imperial hit the nail on the head when she stated the friendship comparison. Is your DS1 mature enough to accept your BF as your friend for now and hopefully later when he sees that your family dynamic hasn't changed ( well not for the worse) you can introduce the idea of er a romantic element to your friendship. You'll know best.

Mintychoc1 Tue 05-Jul-16 21:48:34

When I did the preliminary "mentioning the name" he figured out straight away it was a boyfriend rather than a friend, and that's what seems to bother him. Interestingly a male friend of mine who he'd rarely met came on a weekend away with us a few months ago (to a big football match), readily agreed on by both DCs. They loved it - liked him, loved having him around, wanted to see him subsequently - so it's the boyfriend aspect that's the problem.

ImperialBlether Tue 05-Jul-16 22:44:39

I think I'd keep them separate for a while yet and when they meet I'd make sure my son didn't feel threatened, eg the guy doesn't tell him what to do (unless your son is treating you badly, in which case I think it's good to step up and say something.)

springydaffs Tue 05-Jul-16 22:47:29

I brought up my kids moreorless alone. I've always worn red lipstick but when one of my boys was a similar age to your boy he suddenly got anxious about me wearing lipstick and he repeatedly asked me to stop wearing it. He was genuinely distressed about it. At one point we were watching Blind Date shows how long ago this was and he almost begged me to NEVER go on that show don't worry I wasn't tempted

No idea what's really going on but it may be something along the lines that he feels like the man of the home and feels protective towards you?

If I'm being absolutely honest here I didn't stop wearing red lipstick. Worried now... but when do we not worry about our kids? Never.

springydaffs Tue 05-Jul-16 22:48:13

Not just feeling like the man of the house/protective, also not wanting things to change. That's a big one.

LadyStarkOfWinterfell Wed 06-Jul-16 07:49:40

It's just worry about change to the status quo and worry about losing/sharing you. I can't imagine how my ds (8) will respond if I ever introduce a man into our dynamic and he can vaguely remember his dad living with us. Since then we are mostly two and adding a third would upset the balance. Doesn't mean I never would but I owe it to him to be really sensitive about it if I'm changing his world in such a fundamental way.

TheNaze73 Wed 06-Jul-16 08:48:14

It's a real tough one. I'm cautious by nature & would need to know that someone was potentially 'the one' & I mean that in a practical way, not a floaty Mills & Boon way before if introduce anyone to my girls. No easy answer here op but, children I think have to come first

tigermoll Wed 06-Jul-16 09:07:42

I might have a bit of controversial opinion here, but....

You decided to have two children without a father. You expected them to have a life with just you as their parent, and created a family in which it was just the three of them. Your children were (presumably) happy with this.

Now you have suddenly decided that it would be 'even better' if they were happy about a boyfriend being part of the family. It seems really unfair to me -- they are expected to do without a father and be fine with that, then instantly adjust to having a man on the scene when it suits you.

I bet you worked really hard to be mother and father to them, to make sure that they didn't miss out by not having a dad, and never encouraged them to think of your family as 'second best' because of the absence of a father. Now you seem surprised and dismayed that they have taken you at your word, and weren't secretly longing for you to get a boyfriend all along.

People often say 'you can't just stay single to keep your children happy' but I think sometimes you should consider it. Not forever, just while they still live in the family home and have LITERALLY NO SAY in the other adults who live there.

Footle Wed 06-Jul-16 09:19:40

Oh for goodness sake, tigermoll ! The OP has been growing and changing just as her children have. What kind of broody hen mother will she be if she just hovers over them for the next ten years ? The younger boy is happy with the evolving situation anyway. The older one will adjust - she's being very careful and loving in her attitude to him, and his own life is opening out as well.

tigermoll Wed 06-Jul-16 09:33:34

The younger boy is happy with the evolving situation anyway. The older one will adjust

The younger one says he's ok, and isn't displaying as much distress as the older one. Younger children are frequently more pliant and less ready to rock the boat than older children, partly as a survival strategy, partly because they often have the older sibling displaying their distress 'for' them.

And yeah, the older one will 'adjust' because that's what children HAVE to do to the adults around them. They'll 'get used to the idea' and find out it wasn't so bad, and everything will be OK. For the adults.

The OP has had a boyfriend for THREE MONTHS. That is not very long. Already she expects her children to be fine with this massive upheaval and says plaintively "Should I continue to only see him for a few hours in the evenings when the kids are in bed?" as if that was an unrealistic option. Why not do that? Why this rush to have him part of the family?

I try to reassure DS1 that I will always love him and put him first, but he doesn't hear me

He hears you, he just doesn't believe you. Because he's told you loud and clear what putting him first means to him, and you are wringing your hands about it, and still 'wondering what to do'.

I've also tried to explain that there is no way we'll be moving or changing our domestic arrangements, it is very early days etc

Again, a very mixed message. You say with one breath that you promise that the domestic arrangements wont change and then add 'not yet, anyway'. So you are telling your children that things WILL change, but refusing to say when or how. This is probably extremely worrisome for them.

Surely this one is a no brainer, OP? You say that your see your boyfriend three times a week when the kids are in bed. That seems like quite a lot. Can you live with that for the next year and then reassess the situation?

(One more time: you've been seeing this guy for THREE MONTHS and you are considering turning your kids' lives upside down so you see your boyfriend more. THREE MONTHS. Give yourself a bit more time.)

Mintychoc1 Wed 06-Jul-16 09:38:05

Thank you everyone.

Tigermoll I hear what you're saying, but my boyfriend is certainly nowhere near being "part of the family". His relationship is just with me, and will stay that way for a long time, but I would like to have occasional (maybe once a month?) get-togethers with him and my kids as well, so they can gradually get to know him. He certainly won't be staying over any time soon - maybe after a year or so.

My kids accept not having a father as it's all they know, but DS1 has said on quite a few occasions that he wishes he did, and he wishes I would get married. Obviously the reality is very different from the theory for him, but I certainly don't think he's massively attached to the idea of us being a trio for ever.

Thank you Footle you're right, we all grow and change, and this is all quite a surprise for me as I thought I was done with relationships!

I think I'll just try and take it slowly and allow DS1 to rant talk about his anxieties whenever he wants to. I really don't want to end this relationship because it's going so well. Boyfriend has kids in their late teens and they too are struggling with the idea a bit. I feel guilty that we've managed to shake the world of 4 young people between us - I never meant for that to happen.

tigermoll Wed 06-Jul-16 09:47:14

I feel guilty that we've managed to shake the world of 4 young people between us - I never meant for that to happen

Oh well, as long as you don't MEAN for that to happen, it's fine. But what can you do? You 'really don't want to end the relationship' so I guess everyone else can do the hard work of adjusting, so you guys can be happy RIGHT NOW.

So all of this is about you wanting a day out once a month with him and the kids? Really, just that? If so, let that one go and continue with your evenings after the kids have gone to bed. The children wouldn't enjoy these days out anyway, so I don't see why you should foist them on them.

And remember, it's been THREE MONTHS. All this angst and upset and 'maybe in the future we'll live together' and expecting them to change their worlds for someone you've known three months. In fact, it only took you a month to tell your kids that you had a boyfriend. You talk a good fight about not rushing things, and not doing overnights for a year, etc but your ARE rushing this.

LilacInn Wed 06-Jul-16 09:55:04

Totally agree with tigermoll.

You really rushed this OP. Three months is nothing. The kids should not even k ow he exists.

Get a child minder and see this man outside of your children's home. Do not kid yourself; they know he is there after they are in bed, even if they play along and pretend not to.

Mintychoc1 Wed 06-Jul-16 09:58:44

Tigermoll I think you're being quite harsh in your tone. I welcome advice and constructive criticism but you're implying that I'm being selfish which I don't think is fair. I'd be interested to know what your situation is, as you seem very ready to judge mine. I don't mind being told that I'm doing things wrong, but you seem almost angry with me, yet I don't even know you and I've never done anything to hurt you!

iPost Wed 06-Jul-16 10:07:12

tigermoll

I bloody love you.

Wish there were a time machine I could chuck you in so somebody, anybody could have spoken plainly, for our sake, with our parents.

I have no illusions that either would have listened. But it was so scary that every single adult seemed so ready, willing and able to set us on a back burner of "children are all inherantly resilient and will adjust eventually" (<---- well that turned out to be a really crap prediction) in order to make a priority of parental wants over children's needs.

Just hearing one adult stick their neck out and speak up for us would have been quite something.

ThePigeon314 Wed 06-Jul-16 10:07:41

I haven't read the thread because I find the advice on these threads can be so ridiculous. Advisors starting position is that you're a candidate for the Jerry Springer show.

OP, In 9 years, I introduced one man to my kids, but when I posted here looking for advice I got reprimanded for something, I can't remember what exactly. Anyway, it didn't work out but they're fine. They were fine (if inconvenienced slightly) by his occasional presence and they were fine when he disappeared. But I think it was important to open their minds up to the possibility that I would like a relationship. I never thought that a man with an adult daughter whose biggest vice was peanut butter flavoured ice cream was going to be a hugely negative influence on my kids though. My then 9 year old son saw that guy in my bed and he wasn't upset by it.

I'm dating somebody else (very early days) but if it gets off the ground I'll just tell my kids that I'm in a very new relationship but we're still getting to know each other and so it might work and it might not work.

ThePigeon314 Wed 06-Jul-16 10:10:19

mintychoc I know I for one have a spring in my step atm, and I'm more 'playful' with the kids. Less on their case about unloading dishwasher etc...

ThePigeon314 Wed 06-Jul-16 10:15:32

It might even be the same posters who are still dealing with their own childhoods who gave me a hard time who are back giving you a hard time now! It was laughable. In about 8 and a half years my DC had been introduced to ONE man, who identified strongly with being a father himself and quote ''doted'' on his adult dd. But I was in the minds of some posters a tracksuited gold-toothed benefit blagging 4x4er I think. I'd already had about 8 years of being single for my kids// because of my kids under my belt!

So tune out the melodrama and only ask people who KNOW you and know how responsible you are. The posters here can't give you advice beucas they're mixing you up with their parents' generation

WannaBe Wed 06-Jul-16 10:28:51

None of this is about how soon you have introduced the kids to this man. It's about the fact that they have never had a man in your life and now after ten years you are wanting to introduce one into their lives, even if not as a father figure, as a partner who is in your life.

It would not be dissimilar to being a family and then splitting from a parent and having to get used to living without one parent. The family dynamic for them will have changed. They have been your absolute priority for ten years and now you want to introduce someone else into that mix.

It would be good if they accepted it but reality is, they don't have to. They're able to make their own decisions and they don't have to like this man or what he represents to you.

The decision you have to make is how you are planning to react to that.

Of course over time things may calm down. But TBH for starters I would stop the visits after bedtime. They know he is there, and your ten year old is reaching an age where he knows what you will be doing.

Nothing wrong with them knowing you have a boyfriend who you see sometimes, but going behind their back sneaking him into and out of their home while they're in bed isn't the way to go about it.

Give it time. Stop him coming round, meet elsewhere when they're at school/hire a baby sitter etc and then see what happens down the line.

Mintychoc1 Wed 06-Jul-16 10:30:17

Pigeon that's exactly how this thread is making me feel - like I'm one of those mothers who parade a succession of men through the house, allowing them to discipline my kids after 5 minutes, then moving on to the next man a few weeks later.

I felt strongly that I should give my kids a very secure home-life, so I have had no social life at all for 10 years. DS1 is now out more than he is in, as all the local kids call round and they almost live at the park playing football, so I started to think I could have some adult time again.

I do genuinely want advice - I'm not just after people validating what I'm doing - but I also feel quite harshly judged here, and I wonder if there are experiences behind that judgement that don't actually relate to me.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now