Question of the Week

Question of the Week: “How Do I Support My Boyfriend During Divorce and Custody Drama?”

This question comes from BB&W’s very own, “R. Kamaria”:

I really love my boyfriend. He is one of the most caring, loving and sweet human beings I’ve met. He also is divorced and has three biological children with his ex wife. I’ve dated men with kids before but this experience is unique because they were married. We are experiencing some baby mama drama. My boyfriend has been honest with me and admitted his faults in their relationship. He even admitted to having a bad temper at times. But the ex has all of a sudden gone Jekyll and Hyde since we are in a relationship. I’ve met the kids and have hung out with them on three occasions. Their mother and I actually met months ago at a singles event. I was hosting the event. My now boyfriend and I had only gone on one date at the time I met her. We got along well then (before she knew I was in the picture). But when she came to pick up the kids from my boyfriend’s house, she was agitated, cold and didn’t even look me in the eye. I tried to be nice and polite. She constantly texts my boyfriend saying she isn’t comfortable with me around the kids because she doesn’t “know” me (despite the fact that we met and hung out for 2 hours last year during a singles event). I don’t know what to do. She said she’d like to meet to discuss “boundaries.” She’s sent me Facebook emails about her wanting to protect her kids. But I’m not sure if I want to meet up with her now. I feel like she’s going to try and lecture me. Should I just wait or have my boyfriend arrange a meeting? I’m not a parent so I don’t know what to do.

At little more background:

I hope this situation improves because I am so tired of the ex bullying my man and keeping the kids from him. She was really upset that we threw a party for their 5 year old and invited his family. They had an awesome time. She doesn’t like his mom and was upset. I’m trying to be understanding Chris. But to see my boyfriend in such pain is tough. He actually wants to see his children and be involved. She’s the one that divorced him and moved out so I don’t get it.

Hey sweetie! First, it sounds like your boyfriend’s ex may be beginning to harbor some jealousy about your relationship, coupled with a dash of feeling threatened by the possibility of you encroaching in between her relationship with her babies. Women are fiercely protective of their children, so I don’t want you to be surprised that she isn’t welcoming you with open arms. When she met you at that party, she wasn’t sizing you up as a potential step-mother to her children, and might have thought you and your boo’s relationship wasn’t all that serious. Now that she realizes it is, you’ll going to experience a lot of surprising and potentially offensive behaviors coming from her, so steel yourself.

My recommendation for keeping the peace is to stay out of it. Make her understand that this is not a competition for the affection of the kids, and they your only interest in them at this point is friendship, not step-motherhood. Because the reality is that if and until your boyfriend asks you to marry him, this isn’t your fight. Be supportive. Be empathetic, and try not to flex. Easier said than done I know, but the more you push for involvement in their custody situations, the more vindictive and punitive she may become, which will only serve to cause stress between you and the man you love.

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