Keeping in contact, for a child's sake.

Hello, some advice please.

I separated from my son’s father when foolieboy was 6 months old. I didnt date seriously until my son was 2. I dated a very nice man, we will call him Bill, for over a year. There was talk of marriage, but eventually I realized it would not work. Bill is a very nice man, but it would be a mistake to marry him. It took almost two months to actually break it off, and I did, with no regrets.

Well, almost none.

Foolieboy took a shine to Bill. Foolieboy and Bill had a great “independant-of-Mommy relationship”. Its been a strange summer. I started dating someone else almost right away, and Foolieboy only asked a few times about Bill. Then my dad went into the hospital, I had to change babysitters twice in a three week period, my new boyfriend went on the road for work for 6 weeks, and suddenly Foolieboy is is coming into my bed at night, crying for Bill.

“If Bill is not your special friend any more, maybe he can just be my friend.”

“I want to invite Bill to my birthday party, Bill is my best friend.”

“I very miss Bill, I would like to go to McDonalds with him.” (Note, while I do take my son to McDonalds occasionally, Bill took him more often. Sometimes without telling me and at a frequency I strongly objected to.)

For the past week, its been daily mentions of Bill. We broke up in April, have had no contact except a flury of emails right after, concerning getting stuff back etc. He does send me emails, I havent responded to, mainly because I havent seen the purpose when I had no intention of pursuing the friendship. My thought is still, no playdates for Bill and Foolieboy, but what do Dopers think?

(And I realize its very much in Bill’s court but he expressed missing the boy very much in serveral emails.)


I’d suggest letting them be friends and letting the relationship evolve on its own more slowly over time. That is, I don’t think Bill needs to play Daddy forever because he chose to date a single mother, but on the other hand, your son might just need his relationship with Bill to play out a bit longer. Chances are good that over time, Bill will get distracted with his own life and more slowly move out of your son’s life, but then again he may chose to be there, as some sort of male role model, in your son’s life forever. If the two of you can remain civil, or even better, friends, then this would be a very good thing for your son.

My mother dated a wonderful man for about a year just after her divorce, when I was 6. I had known him for longer (long, Springeresque story), but he lived with us for that year, and I got quite attached to him. He stuck around in my life even after they broke up. He took me to father-daughter dances, joined the Indian Princesses with me, taught me how to drive a stick shift, and listened to me bitch and moan about math in college. He was the first person I called, even before my mother, when I found out I might be losing my baby (I didn’t, thank Og.) He is, in every way that matters, my father, as is the man who gave me half my genes (who lives in a state too far away to have done all that stuff with me). I have two great, fantastic wonderful fathers, and I love them both. I’m so grateful that my mother saw the value of my relationship with Dave, even though she recognized he would not make a good husband for her. Dave is part of our family - he checks in on my housebound grandmother at least once a week and he and his wife and kids and grandkids come to our family holidays, and my kids know him as “Grandpa Dave.”

And, of course, let this be a lesson to you about letting your son get attached to men you date. I’ve also been a single mother, and it was a painful lesson. I got to the point where I wouldn’t even let them meet for six months, and that was a really good thing, I think.

Thanks, Whynot, and its part of the reason Im being VERY CAREFUL in my new relationship. However, its very difficult to spend time with someone when you have a two year old, without involving said child, esp since Bill was very busy and sometimes all we would have would be an evening drive, or going out for a quick supper.

Your story gives me something to think about, although Im still weighing the options. And you were a bit older when this happened, as opposed to ages 2-3.

But thanks, as always for your input.

I’m glad WhyNot shared a positive experience. Dave sounds like a great guy, exceptional even. :slight_smile:

It sounds your son experienced a temporary disturbance in his equilibrium. Dad in hospital, boyfriend on the road, change in babysitters – a lot of changes for a little one to handle.

But things will even out again, and I don’t think it’s a good idea to ask Bill to hang around, especially since you said you weren’t interested in maintaining your friendship with him.

Oh, I know, believe me. Seriously, I think one of the things we should be emphasizing to girls in high school pregnancy prevention classes is how frickin’ hard it is to date when you’re a single mother. Not only will 80% of men not touch you, but those that will - well, there’s always that sick thought percolating in the back of your head, wondering if he’s more interested in your kid than you, not to mention the worry about your kid becoming attached.

My son was 2.5 when his father left, and I was dating pretty soon afterward. Luckily, my mother babysat a lot - since we were living with her, it was more that I waited until he was asleep before going out, rather than it being actual work for her. But yeah, not easy. Is there a babysitting co-op or some friends with kids whom you could casually swap babysitting? A couple of friends and I rotate the kids most Saturdays, so two of the three of us can have a life at one time, and that works pretty well. The kids, of course, love/hate each other like siblings, which is another advantage.

And you should weigh your options, and do what you feel is best for you and your son. And I won’t lie, when I started dating, I did let my son get attached more than I like to admit. I was young, and frankly I loved “the kid test” - seeing how my amour du jour got along with my son was a huge compatibility test for me. And if you guys were talking marriage, you probably didn’t rush it at all. But yeah, just because you’re done with the relationship doesn’t mean your son is. He seems to be pretty clearly articulating what he needs right now.

So amazingly exceptional, you have no idea. Heck, just for dating my mother he deserves canonization! :smiley: I don’t mean to predict that all men, or even many men, will be as devoted to the children of the women they date as Dave is to me. I know I got something extra special out of life, and I’m truly grateful for that. I suspect most men - most people, not just men - in a similar situation would see the kid a few times right after the break up, then sort of taper off never to be heard from again. But that in itself might be easier than an abrupt, unexpected ending, y’know?

Yep. The tapering off would give the kid time to get used to the new situation, and it’d help the kid understand that it’s not his fault – not that a three-year-old would think that, but an older kid might.

My stepson (who needs a smack!) has had two long-term relationships with women who have acted as mommies to his daughters (ages 6 and 4). This is in addition to their biological mom, who they rarely see. Neither of these women have spent any time with the girls since the breakups. I can’t begin to imagine how the girls feel.

I just told my son that Bill wasn’t my good friend anymore. I have never spoken negatively about Bill to Foolieboy or in front of him. But in the several months since I broke things off with Bill, some of my sense “It wasnt the right relationship” has metamorphised into a slight anger that it had to come to that. Things I told him weren’t working for me, and things he refused to deal with, month after month. So to an extent that has put a damper on my wanting to continue being friends with Bill, despite of all his good qualities. Fear that this would spill over and be visible to my son, is one reason Im reticent to re establish contact. Obviously I would be involved in any get togethers they would have, even if it was minimal.

Ive never had to deal with exes in much capacity before, so this is all new. Throw a young child into the mix, and Im more confused. I don’t think talking to Bill about the whole thing would work; if I call and talk to him, I have to be prepared to meet with him, etc. Arrgh. I really would like a relationship such as yours and Dave’s Whynott, but Im concerned, because I really am completely “meh” on the subject of ever seeing Bill again.