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Talk about ex introducing new partners to son

Boston Herald logo Boston Herald 3/6/2022 Jann Blackstone
Families of divorce. Photo Getty Images © Provided by Boston Herald Families of divorce. Photo Getty Images

My ex and I divorced a year ago. We met each other when we were in high school and though we often had different opinions on various things, I thought I knew him. Our 7-year-old son recently told me that over the last few weekends my ex has had a different woman spend the night every time he visits. I am shocked and I’m not sure what to do. What’s good ex-etiquette?

So many red flags, starting with getting your information from a 7-year-old. Granted, he is your 7-year-old and I’m sure you think he would never lie to you, but a 7-year-old’s perception is vastly different than an adult’s, and this causes more problems between co-parents than I can count.

This is the reason I always suggest parents who hear stories from their children check out the story by talking to the other parent. Young children often do not understand what they see and may misreport, or the adults add their adult perceptions to what was said and misunderstand.

To prove my point, I often tell the story of a mother and father who ended up in court because their 5-year-old told his father, “Mommy was sleeping with Billy.” (Billy was mom’s boyfriend.) It turned out it was true, but they had just fallen asleep in front of the TV. Dad jumped to conclusions and believing mom’s moral judgment was in question, filed a petition for full custody. Mom’s written explanation in her response to dad’s filing wasn’t enough for dad. When it was clarified in my office, dad immediately dropped the petition, but simply asking mom firsthand would have saved a lot of time, money and embarrassment.

Some parents have trouble questioning how the other conducts their single life. Understandable, and if not asked correctly, you’ll probably be shut down very quickly with an “It’s none of your business” reply. That’s why it’s so important to have a conversation (and an agreement) about how and when you will both introduce new partners to the children.

So, two things. One, come to an agreement when and how you will introduce new partners and honor it.

Two, most parenting plans build in enough alone time that a parent can date when the child is with the other parent. Use that time wisely. That’s good ex-etiquette.

Dr. Jann Blackstone is the author of “Ex-etiquette for Parents: Good Behavior After Divorce or Separation,” and the founder of Bonus Families, bonusfamilies.com. This column was provided by Tribune News Service.

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