Inside His Head: My ex-husband introduces our kids to all his dates

Relationship advice from husbands

Dear Inside His Head,

My ex-husband has started dating and apparently he thinks it’s ok for our kids to meet every woman he sees for more than a week. I’m NOT happy about this. It’s confusing for them and just isn’t appropriate. If he starts dating someone seriously, I can see him introducing her to our kids, but not for a long time. As guys yourselves, what could I say to make him understand that’s not ok?

He even left the kids with one woman for a few hours. He doesn’t even know her well enough himself, so why would he think it’s ok to leave our kids with her? I’m beyond frustrated and would like to know how to approach this from a guy’s perspective…

Inside His Head husbands answer anonymous questions from NWA momsGRAY: Well, as a guy I’m not sure I can explain why he’s doing this because it’s very irresponsible. It could be that he feels like this is being honest about his life with the kids or it could be that he wants whoever he’s dating to see that he can be a dad, but either way it’s not working.

Mostly it feels like he’s not wanting to miss out on a date simply because he’s supposed to be spending time with his children and they should never be sharing time with women who, for all intents and purposes, are utter strangers.

At best seeing him with a new date is going to make them feel awkward and at worst it’s encouraging them to form unhealthy ideas about relationships. The unspoken rule is you don’t introduce your kids to anyone you’re not serious about. They’re already adapting to how you and your ex have changed everything, so no point muddying the waters further with a revolving door of dates.

Kids have to be involved in the picture at some point, but that point should be when he feels he’s in a relationship with real substance and the potential to go the distance. Seeing every date he has is damaging their image of him as a parent. As parents we hope to teach by example and though there can be wonderful lessons in our failures, having date after date not work out isn’t teaching them anything.

Keep dating separate. Simple as that. It’s not that you have to keep dating a secret, but quite another thing to make your children share time with a stranger every time they need to spend time with a parent.

Anonymous panel of husbands answer questions from NWA momsMAVERICK: Well, from this guy’s perspective he’s out of line but it’s unlikely he’s intentionally being so cavalier with your children’s emotional stability or safety.

I’m going to give your ex-husband the benefit of the doubt and simply assume he’s being thoughtless.

While this is a pretty stereotypical statement, he likely hasn’t really considered what his actions mean to his children. Some men, even though they love their kids dearly, haven’t come to the realization that their children are actually people who are capable of being confused and hurt by new relationships that can occur after a divorce. Men, like women, can be pretty self-absorbed.

Assuming you’ve got a decent relationship with him, your best course of action is to be direct but be fair and outline your concerns in the context of the children. Make sure your concerns don’t come off like you’re attacking him as a father or the women he’s seeing as individuals. If you make it adversarial, he’s doing to disregard all the logical things you bring up and write it off to you being controlling or even jealous. 

At your first opportunity, mention to him it might not be such a good idea for either of you to be introducing your children to anyone you’re seeing until you’re certain the relationship is going somewhere.

Note that the kids are going through a transition and the more stability you both can provide the better. Also, point out that it’s likely best if either of you leave the kids with someone you don’t know well, for both the children and the other person’s benefit.

Tell him that you won’t introduce the kids to anyone who you’re not really serious about and you won’t leave them alone with anyone without an established track record of trust.

The bottom line is your children’s emotional and physical safety should be the main priority of both of you going forward. Try to get him thinking about this without making him seem like a bad dad or that the women he chooses to date as rivals or all ax murderers.

The children will tie you two together for the rest of your lives even as you both seek new destinies but their happiness and well-being has to be the bedrock of both your futures going forward.

Good luck.

Have an anonymous question for the guys? Email it to us at mamas@nwamotherlode{dot}com

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