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Author Topic: Needed: Advice on dating a non-custodial parent
serarose
Deck the Malls


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Ok, I've been dating a wonderful guy, for over 2 months now, who is the non-custodial father to an 8 year old boy (who visits twice a week for the day). I've met and spent time with his son on several occasions, and he's a cool kid; we get along well.

So what do I need advice on? Well, I've never been married, never had kids,never been a typical "kid" person, and never dated anyone who had children before. I feel like I'm in totally foreign territory, and none of my friends have been in the same boat.

I've been trying to find resources/advice, and I've come up with some books and articles on stepmothering & stepfamilies & marrying a father, but they don't seem to totally fit. While my boyfriend and I are both in this relationship for the long haul, I'm not this child's stepmother yet.

So I feel kind of caught: the stepmothering resources are good (I'm not dissing them), but they don't address just dating a non-custodial parent. So, here's where you wonderful Snopesters come in : Has anyone been in a similar position??? Has anyone dated a non-custodial parent and feel like giving me some advice? Know any books/websites, etc. that I should check out? I normally don't turn to the boards and get so personal, but I figure I can't be alone in this here.

Thanks for any time anybody takes to answer, it's very much appreciated *hugs*

Sera"Is there a learning curve for this?"rose

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The important thing is not to stop questioning- Einstein

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ThistleSoftware
Little Sales Drummer Boy


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Do you need advice more on how to act around the kid or how to act with his father?

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Officially Heartless

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Lainie
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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quote:
Originally posted by serarose:
So what do I need advice on? Well, I've never been married, never had kids,never been a typical "kid" person, and never dated anyone who had children before. I feel like I'm in totally foreign territory, and none of my friends have been in the same boat.

Ever had a younger sibling? A niece or nephew? Ever been a kid? [fish]

You don't have to be a "typical kid person," or even like kids, in general, to get along with this child. Forget about kids in general. Concentrate on this one young person. Find out what s/he enjoys. Get to know this child's personality, as you would with any other new person in your life.

I think the biggest mistake people make when dealing with kids is forgetting that they are young humans. It can be hard to remember sometimes, because they can be very weird and messy and annoying, and their logic is different from adult logic, and so on. But that's what they are: young humans.

Oh, and the stepparenting books have probably already told you this, but don't attempt to discipline this child -- leave that to your SO. If he tries to inappropriately put you in the position of disciplining the child, nip that idea in the bud.

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Rhiandmoi
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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I was the kid of a non-custodial dad, and now I have a stepmom. Best thing to remember is that custody schedules are not set in stone. Things will happen and he will have the kids on weekends he is not supposed to, and your plans might need to be rescheduled. And he needs time with his kids both with and without you. I would say roughly 2/3rds of the time without you. Nothing against stepmoms or dad's girlfriends or anything. But even in families where the parents live together kids need time with each parent without the other one. Sometimes it is nice to get rid of the siblings too and have one on one time with each parent.

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AliBaba
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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quote:
Oh, and the stepparenting books have probably already told you this, but don't attempt to discipline this child -- leave that to your SO. If he tries to inappropriately put you in the position of disciplining the child, nip that idea in the bud.
Roger that, Lainie.

Searose, I'm speaking from experience here. I was a non-custodial parent for many years, and dated guys who had not been married, never had kids, etc.

Any time a guy I was dating tried to go all parenty, I knew it wasn't going to work.

The guys that did well were the ones that just took it easy, treated my kids (Laine said) young humans, and didn't try to be either their best friend or a parent. Being friendly, open and not overly-fawning is a good bet.

Also, you do not want to step on the toes of either the children's father or their custodial parent (I'll assume mom). My ex-husband is now re-married, and his wife is a peach. And she scored HUGE points with me the first time my ex asked her a parent-type question when I was sitting right there. She looked at him like he was nuts and said "their mother is sitting right there, why not ask her?" I could have kissed her on the mouth.

And one last piece of advice - don't ever put your guy in a position where he feels like he has to choose between you and his kids. Trust me on that one. It might seem like a small thing to you - maybe wanting to do something with just the two of you on one of the nights he has his kids, or a bigger thing like expecting him to side with you in a disagreement between the kids. Avoid that like the plague. And not just for your own sanity, but for the kids as well - they have enough to deal with without being made to feel as if they're less important to their dad than you are.

And sorry if any of this stuff sounds self-evident - I'm not meaning to be Captain Obvious here. But you'd be surprised how tricky it can be, or how easy and natural. Just sort of depends on all the individual players.

If I'm reading your situation correctly, it sounds like these kids don't need another parent. However, it's great for kids to have an adult in their lives they can trust who isn't a parent. One of my ex-boy friends stayed in touch with my kids long after we broke up - that was their choice, as well as his. And I think it was because he showed them respect.

Anyway, good luck.

Ali "I child-proofed my house but they still got in" Baba

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medtchva
Deck the Malls


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I think AliBaba's advice is excellent. I second it.
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Four Kitties
Layaway in a Manger


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What AliBaba said, plus this from Rhi:
quote:
Originally posted by Rhiandmoi:
And he needs time with his kids both with and without you. I would say roughly 2/3rds of the time without you. Nothing against stepmoms or dad's girlfriends or anything. But even in families where the parents live together kids need time with each parent without the other one.

I'd add some of the same advice you should follow whenever meeting any new person, either child or adult: don't try to pretend to be what you're not. If you don't like to play GIJoe or whatever, don't try to fake it. Kids know. Work to find something you both like.

Four Kitties

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serarose
Deck the Malls


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Thanks to all above, I totally appreciate it. Alibaba, Rhiandmoi, Lainie, and Four Kitties your words are totally what I need to hear.
Rhi, I totally second that my boyfriend and his son need time with just the two of them. My boyfriend and I have talked about it and he's made it clear that thier days together are important time for both of them,and that they are a priority for him ( I don't think I'd want a boyfriend who didn't think his kid was important). I don't think about making plans that might conflict, and I'm happy when he asks me to hang out with them.

Alibaba, your advice may seem obvious, but it's still good to hear someone say, "I've been there, here's something to keep in mind". Yeah, I think he's great kid, but in my mind he's got a mother and a father who both love him, and great grandparents, I'm just another adult who cares about him stepping into the mix. My boyfriend hasn't expected or asked me to discipline him and honestly, I really do think that's his job as the parent. I mean, I wouldn't like it if someone I didn't know came into my life and starting telling me what to do, why would I expect a kid to?

Oh, and Four Kitties, I'm learning the kind of stuff his son is into. Even though I'm not a video game player, I now know more about the Legend of Zelda than I ever could have imagined [lol]

Thanks again, and feel free to keep the wise words coming. It can only help [Smile]

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The important thing is not to stop questioning- Einstein

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kmcm
We Three Blings


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I was a single mom, with custody of my daughter. My advice is this. No matter what your BF has told you about her, or their relationship, or her parenting skills, or anything else, always treat her with respect and in a friendly manner.

When my daughter's dad started dating, if it looked like it would become serious he would eventually introduce me to her, because (and maybe it's just me) i felt better knowing who was going to be in my daughters life when she was with him. I never gave him my opinion on who ever it was, never tried to influence his dating habits, or anything like that, but the girls who just dismissed me as his ex wouldn't rate very high in my book because i figured that she would be just as dismissive of me (even if it was just body language) to my child.

So if you ever meet the mom, respectful and friendly, and it always impressed me when she would ask things about my daughter, likes, dislikes, etc, as if she was genuinely interested in my child as a person and not just as add-on to her relationship with her dad.

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Troberg
Angels Wii Have Heard on High


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Not that I have any experience at all in this area, but why should I let some minor detail like that stop me?

Start off by being a playmate to him (not in the Playboy sense of the word!). Let his father handle the tough parenting bits. I don't mean that you should spoil him rotten, just focus on being a "fun" person to be with, while still behaving responsibly.

That will probably win over the kid as well as the father. The other people involved is of lower priority, but will hopefully be happy if the kid is happy.

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/Troberg

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serarose
Deck the Malls


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Thanks kmcm. I don't know if I'll ever meet my boyfriend's ex, but if I do, I will def keep your advice in mind. I don't know her, and whatever I may have been told, I have respect for her. She is the mother of a great kid and someone who is always going to be a part of his life.

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The important thing is not to stop questioning- Einstein

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kmcm
We Three Blings


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quote:
Originally posted by serarose:
Thanks kmcm. I don't know if I'll ever meet my boyfriend's ex, but if I do, I will def keep your advice in mind. I don't know her, and whatever I may have been told, I have respect for her. She is the mother of a great kid and someone who is always going to be a part of his life.

That's an awesome attitude to have. If you and your boyfriend are planning a longterm relationship, you will more than likely meet her. Best of luck with everything.

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Of course this land is dangerous! All of the animals are capably murderous. Especially the penguins.

i'm a figment of my own imagination, sometimes i don't exist

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dfresh
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My step-mom's advice about going with a non-custodial parent: be aware that custody can change very quickly.
After the divorce, my mom had full custody, Dad just got visitation. Step-mom was cool with that, and liked us being around for that one weekend a month, 2 weeks in the summer thing. Then, Mom got killed in a car crash. Suddenly, Dad was custodial, and step-mom had two severely traumatized kids move in (well, one move in, the other in the hospital not expected to live.)

Yeah, odds are it won't happen. Heck, you might be cool with having kids living with you to help raise (step-mom was, and is a very cool woman.) BUT, it can happen. And yes, that story was enough to get a couple of her friends to STOP dating non-custodial parents (which I think was a good thing for the kids involved.)

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Randa Roo
Deck the Malls


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quote:
Originally posted by kmcm:
When my daughter's dad started dating, if it looked like it would become serious he would eventually introduce me to her, because (and maybe it's just me) i felt better knowing who was going to be in my daughters life when she was with him. I never gave him my opinion on who ever it was, never tried to influence his dating habits, or anything like that, but the girls who just dismissed me as his ex wouldn't rate very high in my book because i figured that she would be just as dismissive of me (even if it was just body language) to my child.

So if you ever meet the mom, respectful and friendly, and it always impressed me when she would ask things about my daughter, likes, dislikes, etc, as if she was genuinely interested in my child as a person and not just as add-on to her relationship with her dad.

See, that's great advice, in theory. I tried it. For over a year. However it can become increasingly difficult to be nice and friendly to someone that so obviously hates you. I tried going the friendly route with my SO's ex, and it didn't work. She didn't want any part of it. She sees me as nothing more than an interloper or a homewrecker. (Never mind that they'd been divorced for 2 years before I even met my SO, and she left him...)

So for my bit of advice, if you and the ex just can't get along, just let it go. You can still be polite, but don't go out of your way to make friends if she's not willing to do the same. You'll save yourself a LOT of tension, stress and heartache that way. I can't tell you how many times she drove me to frustrated tears, wondering just what I did to make her hate me so much. Sometimes it's simply easier (for me, anyway) to avoid having contact with her whenever possible. The added stress of her jumping all over me at the drop of a hat is just not worth it. And, the most important thing, even if his ex is the raging-est bitch on the face of the planet, don't EVER talk bad about her in front of her kid or when there's even a slight possibility he might overhear. The most important thing to remember is that that's his mommy. I'd be pissed if someone was trash talkin my mom!

Lastly, in this looong winded reply which has turned into a rant (oops, sorry) Kudos to you moms who actually care who is involved in your children's lives and don't dismiss us as 'just the ex's girlfriend.' Cause really, no one likes to be dismissed. It just causes hurt feelings and upset in an already stressful situation.

ETA: Disclaimer: I am aware that my situation is probably the exception rather than the rule, or so I hope, so don't let anything I've said scare you off, serarose. You sound like you've got a good head on your shoulders and I think that you've got a great attitude about the ex. You'll be fine. Good luck!

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'I'm the decider... I decide what's best.'

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serarose
Deck the Malls


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Like you Randa, I'm trying to have a good attitude about it, though I don't think all moms are as cool with dealing with the woman dating thier kid's dad as kmcm [Smile] I don't know if we'll get along when we meet, but I'll try my best to follow kmcm's advice.

Ultimately, if the woman just doesn't like me or want to try to get along, then I'm just going to have to step back and let it go like you said Randa. You can't make people like you if they just don't want to. We'll see. I'm the first woman my boyfriend has entered into a relationship with since he and his son's mother ended (5 years ago mind you..wayyy before I came along) so it might be a learning process all around, for both her to deal with her ex dating and me to deal with her.She'd had boyfriends since their split but anytime the dynamic changes it can be an adjustment for all concerned.

Dfresh, I think your stepmom sounds like a cool person, and it's obvious you like her. I get the point about being willing to be flexible, 'cause things do happen. I know that someday my boyfriend does want his son to live with him full-time,so I'm gearing myself up for someday (hopefully when he mellows- dear god the boy's such an Energizer bunny I get tired just watching him run around!) [lol]

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The important thing is not to stop questioning- Einstein

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Tequila Mockingbird
I'm Dreaming of a White Sale


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Reading through this topic, I realise that I was a bit of a brat when my parents broke up [Roll Eyes]

When my mum started to date again, she discussed it with me and I thought that I'd be fine with it but even before I'd met the guy - I hated him. I didn't speak to him much and if he came to the house I'd stay upstairs in my room. It wasn't until I realised that he wasn't supposed to be a replacement for my dad that I started to like him. He's more of a friend than a stepdad.

I went through the same with my dad - but that's a whole different story, with me not being happy with his choice in women... [Roll Eyes]

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I got in a fight one time with a really big guy, and he said, "I'm going to mop the floor with your face."
I said, "You'll be sorry."
He said, "Oh, yeah? Why?"
I said, "Well, you won't be able to get into the corners very well"

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Gale
Let There Be PCs on Earth


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Make sure that some of that time his son is over, you are no where in the picture. Give them some time alone.

Don't try to be the fairy godmother who does all the cool stuff. Card games are pretty good things because you can always have a deck of cards in your purse, there's some skill involved, and no money. PErsonally, I miss a rousing Friday night game of spoons.

Personally, I'd give the books a miss unless a problem crops up. The psychobabble is hard to shake once it creeps in your system.

I agree that you should leave the parenting to the parents, but if you have rules in your own place, you need to get them out front right away. J & J could jump on the furniture, interrupt, and generally act like hellions at their mother's house. They spent a lot of time at my place where feet were not allowed on the furniture and interrupting is not tolerated. We just had to have it out right in front: MY furniture, MY house, MY rules. At their dad's place, I just bit my tongue.

He'll like you better if you treat him like a person. Not an adult, but a person.

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