How Do I Stop My Ex-Husband From Introducing Our Kids to His New Sugar Baby?

QUESTION: My ex-husband has just started dat­ing a much younger woman. He’s got our two kids for the hol­i­days, and I’m ner­vous that he’s going to intro­duce them. She seems nice enough from what he’s told me, but I don’t know if I’m ready for that. How do I draw the boundaries?

CHELSEA SAYS: This is a tricky one, because things always get more com­pli­cated when there are kids involved. The good thing is it sounds like you and your ex-husband are on pretty good terms if he’s told you all about his new younger woman. And it’s a good sign that he’s opened up to you about his new rela­tion­ship, assum­ing he told you about her because he’s gen­uinely invested in the rela­tion­ship and not because he’s just try­ing to rub it in your face or make you jealous.

I think it’s rea­son­able for you to come out and ask your ex-husband about whether or not he’s plan­ning on intro­duc­ing his younger woman to the kids—he might not be ready for that, in which case you really have noth­ing to worry about. If you bring it up with him, then you can openly dis­cuss your con­cerns, and you’ll be able to get a bet­ter sense of where his rela­tion­ship stands with this younger woman.

If your ex-husband is seri­ous about her, he might be able to calm your nerves. After all, I’m sure he has your kids’ best inter­ests at heart, too. So, give him a lit­tle bit of credit. Besides, if this rela­tion­ship with the younger woman is for real, he’s going to want her to meet his kids at some point, which is under­stand­able on his part. Imag­ine if the tables were turned and you had moved on from your mar­riage with a new relationship.

If your ex-husband is plan­ning on hav­ing his new younger woman meet your kids over the hol­i­days, then I’d ask him if you can meet her first. You’re per­fectly enti­tled to have a say over who’s around your kids, and hope­fully, he under­stands that.

TRENT SAYS: Is your issue the fact that it’s too soon for your kids to meet her, or is it that she’s a younger woman? Would it make a dif­fer­ence if she was the same age as you and the two of them had been dat­ing for six months? Or are you anx­ious that it will change the fam­ily dynamics?

While I totally sym­pa­thize with your con­cerns, I’m not entirely sure you can con­trol or pre­vent him from intro­duc­ing his new girl­friend to your kids. That doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be bound­aries. The chal­lenge is find­ing ways to make the intro­duc­tion and tran­si­tion as healthy and smooth as pos­si­ble for your kids’ sake. And I think you should cer­tainly have a say in how the intro­duc­tion goes.

For starters, I think it’s impor­tant that she meets your kids. It’s bet­ter to have a rela­tion­ship out in the open than one that’s hid­den from the kids. At the same time, your kids don’t need to meet her at every instance; they could form some sort of rela­tion­ship with her, and if your ex-husband and this younger woman break up, it could leave your kids feel­ing frus­trated or betrayed.

It’s bet­ter to take the intro­duc­tion slowly and grad­u­ally. After all, your ex-husband needs to real­ize your chil­dren may not want to meet his new girl­friend, or might even feel con­fused or awk­ward spend­ing too much time with her. She’s not their par­ent, and forc­ing the issue could cre­ate con­flicts of loyalty.

And finally, both you and your ex-husband should talk to your kids about any con­cerns they have and explain your deci­sions to date again. You may not like the idea of him intro­duc­ing your kids to his new girl­friend, but it’s impor­tant that your chil­dren feel com­fort­able and val­i­dated around her.  Again, slow and grad­ual. And you can use the same advice for when you meet your next partner!