I want to bring up a sensitive question that is not asked of me very often, but is one that I feel that is very important to talk about. It does come up however in many relationships if there’s a divorce and needs to be brought to the surface and discussed.
On the topic of how does divorce affect children, the question is: Can I have a new boyfriend or girlfriend spend the night if the kids are already sleeping?
This isn’t a question that I get often because I think that on some level, most parents know the answer, but their own emotional desires and wanting to be connected and feel close to the other person override.
It’s normal to want to rationalize why you are the exception, how your circumstances are somehow different, why this might be okay. But it’s still not OK.
It’s never okay to have your boyfriend or girlfriend spend the night if your child does not know them and does not have a relationship with them.
If they’re small or even older. The age does not matter.
It’s all about honoring the family. Honoring yourself and your children and navigating through the divorce minimizing it’s affect.
So until there is a relationship and discussion and some boundaries are set, never allow your boyfriend or girlfriend to spend the night when your children are there, even if they’re sound asleep (as far as you know).
I know that a lot of parents will say, “Well we can come in for awhile and they can leave before the kids ever get out of bed”. But, there is always potential for that moment when your child wakes up unexpectedly and sees you with someone in your bedroom or wherever.
This could be a huge injury and one that you have complete control over avoiding.
Take no chances!
It’s normal and healthy for you to want to have intimacy with someone that you have strong feelings for and I encourage this in healthy relationships. But, I want to reinforce that wherever you do this, have it be in a place that no child will be exposed to your intimacy and contact.
There will be a time as your relationship grows and your children are introduced that you might have your boyfriend or girlfriend spend the night. This is not something that is ever done without your child having a relationship, knowing the person and understanding the boundaries of such an arrangement.
Dr. SueAnne Magyar-Hill
Founder of Empowering Children Of Divorce
P.S. In our lifetime we will be presented with many ways to make a difference. Here is one of my favorites.