Dear Dr. Jann: My ex-wife and I have been apart for 3 years. In that time, she has introduced our girls to about 4 different men. I’m concerned that she is not putting our kids’ interests ahead of her own. Our girls are 8 and 11. What do you think?

Dr. Jann: Everything we do as parents is a model for our children’s future. They watch everything we do—and it registers. It’s human nature to find a new partner after a break-up, but kids need consistency in order to feel safe and secure. If you introduce multiple partners, your children will soon learn not to invest their feelings because relationships are transitory. They could very well take that into their own lives and have difficulty forming lasting relationships when they are older because they’ve never seen a long term relationship in their own lives.

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Another important component to consider is if these men have children, as well. If your kids get close to them, then the parents break-up, the kids will now go through two more divorces—one with the boyfriend and another with his kids. Too much “leaving” can be deter a child’s ability to adjust.

My advice to your ex is to date when the kids are with you. Have all the fun she wants on her own time, but when the kids are around, her time is with them. When she meets someone whom she feels may become a permanent fixture, that’s when she should introduce the kids to him, and eventually to his kids. Not before, in the best interest of the kids.


About Jann Blackstone

Jann BlackstoneDr. Jann Blackstone specializes in divorce, child custody, co-parenting, and stepfamily mediation and is often called the “Relationship Expert for Today’s Relationships” because of her “real life, down-to-earth” approach to relationship problem solving. She is the author of six books on divorce and parenting, the most popular, the Ex-etiquette series featuring Ex-etiquette for Parents: Good Behavior After Divorce or Separation. She is also the author of the Ex-etiquette syndicated column and a frequent guest or consultant on television and radio talk shows, including Good Morning America (ABC), The Today Show (NBC), Keeping Kids Healthy (PBS), the Early Show (CBS), and The Oprah Winfrey Show. She has been the featured expert in many magazines, including, Child, Parents, Parenting, Newsweek, Family Circle, More, Good Housekeeping, Redbook, BRIDES, Woman’s Day, and Working Mother Magazine.

In 1999, Dr. Jann founded and became the first Director of Bonus Families®, a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization working to change the way society views stepfamilies by supplying up-to-date co-parenting information via its Web site, counseling, mediation, and a worldwide support group network. They prefer to use the word “bonus” to the word step. Step implies negative things; however, a “bonus” is a reward for a job well done. “Bonus…a step in the right direction.”