How do you react when you discover that your children are spending a lot of time with your ex-wife’s new boyfriend? SingleDad.com founder, RJ Jaramillo, shares his firsthand experiences.
Most newly divorced men come to the realization that their new life as a divorced dad comes with a consequence: you and your ex-wife will move on and begin new relationships. In this case, I am talking about my own personal experience and how I felt like I was being replaced by my ex-wife’s boyfriend. Learn from my experience and pick up a few tips from suggestions below on how to overcome a little anxiety and realize that your children are better off by having your love and support in their new environment.
STEP 1: Make an Introduction
It is perfectly normal for you to be curious. The name of the “new guy” will start to float around at your pick-up times and in conversations with your children. The best advice I can offer you is to communicate with your ex in way so that you share not only your own feelings, but your support of your children and your concern for everyone’s general happiness. Ask if you can meet the guy in a brief, informal way. Make sure you leave the option for your ex-wife to be there. If you are still at the stage of hostility or anger over the breakup, I do not suggest a meeting. In fact, you can disregard this article altogether. However, if you are at the point where you can think of your children and their best interest; then pursue the meeting. In my own experience, I not only had a great time having lunch, I was able to find common ground and a general understanding and respect for this man. We had the talk about communication and co-parenting and he was very understanding of his supportive role. We also exchanged cell numbers and email addresses to openly discuss any miscommunications involving the children. Keeping the lines of communication open was one of the best results of our introductory meeting.
Step 2: Stay Positive
It is easy to be negative and critical of the man that is around your children. For example, my son approached me with a science award for a project that he recently completed with my ex-wife’s boyfriend. The certificate is sitting on my bedroom wall and I am proud of his achievement. Don’t think for a second when he told me what he made and who he made it with that I wasn’t a little bit jealous or slightly taken aback. The bottom line is the award was about him; not me. Remember, your child did not choose the divorce, you as parents did and it is not your child’s fault for the split family lifestyle. The best advice for any single dad in this situation is to remain calm and supportive on just about every subject that comes along. Since my children are 16, 14, and 10, I have a distinct advantage in the communication process. It is much easier to talk in adult terms for me and they understand my feelings. Once you establish this trust with your children, you will be happy with the results in your overall co- parenting relationship.
Step 3: Be Respectful
No matter how easy it is for your ego to get in the way, always be respectful before, during and possibly after the relationship has ended with your ex’s boyfriend or girlfriend. You have to remember that as a parent, you are setting an example for your children on how to treat people. Your children are very in tune to what’s going on, so make sure you support your ex and offer yourself as a resource, because you never know when you will need the favor returned. I can remember the first time I was emotionally upset by a break up, one of the first people I called was my ex-wife. It wasn’t a “reconciliation call,” it was merely a need for support when I didn’t know what to do.
I guess the bottom line is that there is a moment for every single parent when it is time to move forward and Make Life Happen Again. You have to remember that there are a lot of people involved in a life as a single parent and that we all move forward in life. Your children need to be loved and supported. And when your ex-spouse moves forward with their life with another partner, you have to remember that it is in everybody’s best interest to fill it up with happy, loving and supportive memories.