New Love Interests and the Children

My children constantly talk about my ex-spouse's new love interest. They have even told me that the new person sleeps over. How should I react?

It is important for your children to feel as though they can come to you about any subject. If you react negatively about a new love interest, then they will likely either not get along with that new person, or feel as though talking to you about him or her is a bad idea, particularly if your children like the new person. Either way, your child loses.

Instead, have a positive attitude. If it's a new boyfriend or girlfriend of your ex-spouse, encourage your children to give this person a chance. If it's a more serious relationship, then say things to your child that will let him or her feel good about liking this new person. At the same time, remind your children that they can come to you at any time if there is something about the new person that causes any concern. Not only will it help your relationship with your child, but it might also help your relationship with your former spouse.

If you are concerned about the message it is sending to your child to have a new love interest stay overnight, talk to your children about the choice that your former spouse is making and discuss why it might be a good choice or a bad one. If your former spouse is willing, try going to a counselor or sitting down with a mutual and trusted friend or member of the clergy to work out how to deal with the new love interest in a positive and appropriate way. If it gets to be a real problem or if you are against your child being exposed to adults living as a married couple when they're not, and your former spouse continues to let it happen, then you can seek court intervention. Some judges will see it your way and prevent any adults of the opposite sex from spending the night when your children are there. However, if you do that, you must expect the relationship between you and your former spouse to be damaged.