I’m moving in with my new partner, how do I tell my children’s father?
My new relationship is going very well, and I want to ask my lovely new partner to move into my home. We have been together for a year now. I have 2 darling girls with my ex – one is 10 and the other is 7. My girls live with me 70% of the time and with my ex for the rest. We separated two years ago and he has said more than once that our separation has frozen him out of the family. He says this because he’s the one who doesn’t live in our home anymore (even though he’s the one who left to live in a new flat the same night he told me it was over!). I can tell that he is jealous of my new partner and one time my new partner bought a bike for my youngest, which my ex was furious about. He is very macho and thinks he is no longer a proper “father figure” to the girls because he doesn’t live in our home. I don’t want to upset him and the last thing I want is for it to damage our co-parenting relationship because my girls will always come first. I’m really worried that he won’t take it well because he’ll think he’s being replaced. How should I tell him?
Thank you for writing to me and explaining your situation. Well done for understanding that your co-parenting relationship is so important to your girls and as you say, “the girls come first”.
After a separation it rarely happens that people move on, come to accept that their relationship is over, at the same pace. One is generally lagging behind the other and is struggling to come to terms with the end of the relationship. It feels that you have moved on and met someone that you would like to settle down with and your ex probably has not. Instigating a separation does not necessarily mean that you recover first and move on quickest.
It might be that you are correct in your ex feeling replaced, this is not uncommon. He might need reassurance that he is just as important to the girls as you are and they only have one dad. He has mentioned feeling “frozen out”, of the family. I would want to reassure him that your daughters have always had a family with a mum and dad, they will always have that family, the only difference to the girls is that you don’t live under the same roof. I would want to ask him what would make him feel less “frozen”.
Regarding presents for birthday and Christmas, it is so much better to give joint presents from both Mum and Dad, this takes away any competitive present buying and stops both of you being played against each other. Your new partner should be encouraged to give token presents and promote shared presents from their parents. It is really about being mindful of how your co parent is feeling as you have a real investment in reminding Dad that he is of equal importance and that the girls love you both equally.
You have not mentioned whether your new partner and ex have met. If they have not a meeting should be encouraged to reassure Dad that he is not being replaced and his status as their father is secure. Please let Dad know your plan for new living arrangements before being discussed with the girls. Likewise, if Dad is thinking about moving in with someone you should be the first to know.
I hope that is helpful,