Friday, 27 May 2011

When is it OK for the new man to stay over and how do you introduce him to the kids?

“Hey kids – this is xxxx.  Mummy hasn’t known him long, and he might not stick around.  But tonight I’ll be making him a sumptuous meal and then later I’ll be shagging him.”  is probably not the best approach.

“How do you check that the kids are asleep, without waking them, so that you know they won’t hear you screaming?”  A married friend asked. 

“I’d forgotten that sex could induce screams” squealed another, before spilling her coffee with laughter.

“You could just tell them “Mummy has a ‘friend’ coming over for dinner.”  Then
do it on the sofa before calling him a taxi.”

“Or set the alarm for 6.00am – and boot him out before the kids wake up.”

The suggestions from my friends were numerous and amusing, but sadly not
conducive to a spontaneous and fun frolic.  And with my forty-something hormones in overdrive, a frolic is exactly what I need! 

That said, if all I’m after is ‘a bit of that’, I’m not going to introduce him to the kids anyway.  But going forwards, what if Mr Wonderful turns up?  There has to be a plan.

It’s a minefield.  And not an issue any caring mother takes lightly.

When the Rebound Guy was in toe, I only ‘entertained’ when the kids were away.  As I was aware that he wasn’t going to be a long term item, I didn’t want the kids to get attached, so it suited me fine.  And at the outset of any future relationship, until I’ve established whether it’s ‘going somewhere’ I will do the same.

“How would you feel if Mummy had a boyfriend?” I recently asked my eldest. 

He stopped in his tracks and gave me ‘the look’.

“Don’t panic” I cried “I’m only asking in case I do in the future”.

“Well, as long as he’s nice to us I don’t mind”.  He replied.  “But then, you wouldn’t have a boyfriend who wasn’t nice to us Mum.” he continued.

I was overwhelmed by the sweetness of his response and simultaneously horrified by the enormity of my responsibilities.

What if Mr X is a dream, but the kids hate him?  Would I be prepared to ditch him for their sake – or just skulk around behind their backs? 

Better not to get into the situation in the first place.  But how do you make a sound judgment?  If the new man is “Mr Wonderful’, you don’t want to put him off by treating him as if he’s got an ASBO and sending him home before curfew.

I think that there are some very clear signs of a man’s suitability in this regard.  First and foremost is their relationship with their own kids.

“Don’t judge people by what they say” my Mother always told me “ judge them by what they do”.  And she is right.

A man who has not taken care of his own children and doesn’t spend much time with them, is not going to understand your concerns.  And he won’t be a good role model.

He won’t understand why you can’t “just arrange for them to go to a friends house” at the last minute, or “get a babysitter” during their exam week.

If they’re very involved with their own kids, that’s the first good sign.

Then, it is worth establishing, as best as possible, the nature of the relationship with his previous partner/spouse.

No child is going to like a man coming into their home who doesn’t treat their mother well – and the way he’s treated his ‘ex’ is a good indicator.

Finally you need to establish whether he is reliable.  After all, your kids are not going to be impressed by someone who lets you down.

If, after all this, he still looks like “Mr Wonderful”, you have to just introduce him as ‘a friend’.  See how they get along.  And if you think he’s good to go, you explain it as a sleepover.  Well, we all have ‘sleepovers’ don’t we...?

As important as it is, I sometimes I think we women spend too much time analyzing things.  It’s important to be cautions before introducing a man into the house – but at the same time, we shouldn’t look for excuses to keep him at arms’ length. 

We have as much right to a new relationship as anyone else.  And ultimately, as long as we’re cautious; we introduce the kids gently; and the kids see that it makes us happy; then the kids will probably just wonder why we didn’t do it earlier.

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