Carolyn Hax: She doesn’t want her ex’s girlfriend at her children’s events – The Washington Post

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Carolyn Hax is out. The following first appeared on March 8, 2009.

Dear Carolyn: A few years ago, I started a separation/divorce. Only a couple of months after I moved in, my husband started dating someone. It really upset me and I spent the next year trying to recover from what I saw as his betrayal in our “amicable” divorce.

Now our divorce is final and I don’t want his girlfriend to attend our children’s events. I want her to attend with me and show our children that we can still be friends, because the divorce has been very difficult for them. It makes me uncomfortable to have this woman there. The children asked their father not to bring her because it bothers me, but he did not comply.

I refuse to attend if it’s there, and I’m tired of missing out on my kids (three teenagers) activities!

Shouldn’t I find something else to do? Just because they live together doesn’t mean he has to get involved with family matters. How can I make them see this?

Three’s a Crowd: Why is it your ex’s burden to “show our kids we can still be friends”? Why can’t you model maturity by accepting your new relationship?

You know, the relationship that started after you left him?

(We interrupt this tip to point out that keyboards hurt foreheads more than foreheads hurt keyboards.)

Even when you’re the one who decided to leave, it can be shocking to feel erased and replaced. I understand that. I also realize that you could have had an excellent reason for leaving, such as neglect or other abuse. Initiating a divorce does not inoculate you against raw feelings.

However, the day you left was the last day you had any say in his love life. And while reasonable people can debate the timing and aggressiveness of introducing new partners to exes and kids, she’s basically under contract to become your kids’ stepmom. She is family.

Say that your children have asked their father not to wear his promise. I imagine you did it to demonstrate his insensitivity or stubbornness (and I’ll get to that in a moment).

However, your point has the unintended consequence of revealing that your kids aren’t opposed to the bride: they’re upset because you’re upset. The divorce has been, again, your words, “very difficult for them,” but you are putting a lot of pressure on them by boycotting their events and forcing them to defend you. You are inducing them to take sides, perhaps the most stressful thing to ask of children of divorce.

You probably think your ex is the one who forced the problem. But you and he have your own home now. If he agreed to leave his girlfriend at home, he would grant you control of his home. Something I would advise against.

If you want to show your children something valuable, show them a mother who makes the mature decision to take responsibility for her own life and choices. If you want an amicable divorce, be nice. If you want to see your children’s events, go to events. If you want your children to heal, make an effort to heal yourself. It’s time to stop apportioning the blame.

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