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Drawing the Line: Significant Others With Children

Recently, I’ve noticed that many DearSugar readers have questions, opinions, or concerns about dealing with a significant other’s child's mother. While I personally think writing someone off just because they have kids is a little over the top, I do think it’s important to understand that dating someone with a child is going to require different compromises and sacrifices. But while accommodating the relationship between your boyfriend and his ex is a necessity, it should not dictate the nature of your own relationship.

Obviously your boyfriend and his ex’s relationship can walk a thin line between necessary and inappropriate, but to tell you the truth, I’m not sure where that line stands. So I need your help on this one — where is the appropriate line between a significant other and his baby’s mama? Is there one or does anything go in this particular type of relationship?


Join The Conversation
Marci Marci 9 years
I have a SO with children, so you know where I stand on this topic.
JaimeLeah526 JaimeLeah526 9 years
I think it's okay for them to be friendly when exchanging the child or on birthdays and holidays. I wouldn't have a problem if they went out to discuss a big event for the child. I'll admit I'd be more comfortable with it if the ex also had a S.O.
GlowingMoon GlowingMoon 9 years
Wow, great posts. I particularly appreciate Petite42's. Cubadog, I understand. Like you, I'm child-free by choice (and I've been married for several years). For me, if a man had children, it would be deal-breaker. I want to be child-free.
cubadog cubadog 9 years
This post is a little all over the place. I have to say I was a little put off by the comment writing someone off because they have kids is a little over the top maybe your own personal feeling. For me I do not want children at all and it is not because of drama with others is because I really want NO children.
petite42 petite42 9 years
This thread didn't get many posts. Maybe it is because the question is vague. But I'll ramble on anyway... I am remarried and share custody with my ex, who's also remarried. We have an ideal situation in that all of us get along, and understand the boundaries quite well. My ex and I have an excellent co-parenting relationship, but also agreed early on that the needs and desires of our new spouses deserved special consideration as well. For example, we have readily made custody changes simply because step-mom or step-dad had something going on in their lives that needed accomodating. We make room for everyone in our extended family. Before I met my DH, I dated other men who were in ex situations, that were not quite so smooth. I never dated anyone who I suspected was having an affair with their ex, but I did date a fair share who were still attached to them emotionally. But, in a negative way. So in my experience, that does happen quite often: even though the ink is long dried on the divorce papers, even though the couple is happy to be divorced, even though the hostility still runs high.... the emotional attachment is still quite strong. And such exes make a habit of pulling each others' strings constantly. And in my observation, you can only pull the string if you are still holding on to the end of it. And if you're still holding on to that string, then your hands are too full to have a healthy, loving attachment to anyone else. I also met a lot of men who were overwhelmed with guilt for breaking up their families. These men spoiled their kids rotten, and jumped whenever the ex demanded it.
Kristinh1012 Kristinh1012 9 years
I think that line between appropriate and inappropriate should be determined first by the parent in the relationship, and second by the new significant other. Regardless of anyone elses opinion, what it all comes down to is what each individual feels comfortable with and finding a good balance for all involved. Being friendly with your "baby Daddy" is one thing. Spending time alone or having to spend the night for any reason is inappropriate to me. But anything having to do with your child is OK
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