How To Be A Better Dad : Our Time, Kids Time
SingleDad wants to help you understand Single Parent Dating from a Man’s perspective. How To Date a Divorced Dad is the Q&A Single Parent Dating Advice section on SingleDad. Our topic this month comes from a member asking about setting boundaries with dating and custody time. Read more.
My name is Dale and I am a 46-year-old Divorced Dad with a 9- year old son. I started dating a single mom, we’ve been dating for over six months. She has three kids of her own and has joint custody like me. We met while watching our sons play on the same soccer team this past spring.
Things have been going pretty well so far, however, I have to ask you and other members about a situation that came up between the two of us. So about a month ago, I had a weekend without my son due to a work related conflict. My ex-spouse agreed to watch my son that weekend, making me alone and available to see my girlfriend. When I told my girlfriend about my availability, she asked me to stay the entire weekend at her house, with her family. I hesitated to answer because I didn’t know how to explain how I was feeling at the time. I think I made more of a mess when I said that I could stay late, but had to get home to get caught up with other commitments.
What I really wanted to say is that I wasn’t comfortable sleeping over while her children were in the house. We normally spend our time without the kids and sleep over each others homes, but never in front of the kids. It’s not that I don’t feel committed to my relationship; I just don’t feel comfortable staying over when the kids are there.
Furthermore, I am worried that if this continues then it might become the norm for her to come over to stay the weekends with me and my son and I am not ready for this to happen. I like my “kid time” with my son all to myself. How do I explain, “Our Time, Kids Time” are two separate but equally important times for a Single Parent without hurting anyone’s feelings?
Am I wrong for feeling this way
Let’s take one step at a time. First of all, your feelings are valid and I can help walk you through the process. You seem like a loving and committed boyfriend and I can relate to your situation. I had a wonderful Single Mom that I once dated and she had kids about the same age as mine. My situation sounded very familiar to yours in the case that she wanted me to stay over the weekend when she had her kids and I did not have mine. Unlike you, I took the bait and slept over that first night… and never fell asleep. It was probably the worse night of restless sleep I ever had in my life and it had nothing to do with romance. My head was filled with anxiety and I never felt comfortable the whole evening. I should have had the courage just to say my feelings that night and drove home. Not a happy ending if you know what I mean.
Anyways, enough of my story; the bottom line to your situation is to do what I failed to do which is to have a conversation. Have an honest conversation about the facts. Start a conversation reiterating your commitment your relationship and that you want to share how you are feeling about, “Our Time, Kids Time”. Don’t forget to let her know that you are sharing your feelings and that they do not reflect what she is doing anything wrong. It’s very important to “own” your feelings and not project what someone is making you feel. Got it?
Let your girlfriend know that you cherish your joint family time when both families are together, but you do not feel comfortable staying over at her house while her kids are with her. It’s not that it wont happen in the future, it’s just not now. If she asks you for a time frame, be honest if you have one or don’t. Your six-month relationship is heading in the right direction and you should feel confident sharing your feelings about the future.
As far as your concerns on your custody time, this is another subject. Remember, no 2 people are always on the same page at the same time. What may feel comfortable for one person, does not always make it comfortable for the other. Ask with intent of addressing your current feelings, and about the quality time you spend with your son. It may not be every time you see him you need to be alone, but set boundaries to the possibility that you want some alone time and ask how to share that request without her feeling hurt or wronged.
Please keep me posted on the outcome of your conversations.
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Richard “RJ” Jaramillo, is the Founder of SingleDad.com,
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RJ is self employed, entrepreneur living in San Diego and a father of three children. The mission of SingleDad is to help the community of Single Parents
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