I'm 6 months pregnant and have separated from my partner. When this baby is born our other kids will be 4 and 1. It was an amicable separation and we are still good friends.
He recently met someone new while on holiday overseas and she is now pregnant, due 4 months after me. They are looking to continue their relationship and have the baby together.
I would like to have a positive relationship with this woman as her child is is my childrens siblings but am not sure what is appropriate.
What's your advice for handling this situation and how can we best explain it to our 4 year old?
I think I'd keep things as simple as possible, offering no information the four-year-old doesn't ask about. I'd probably break down the information into the following "clumps" (ideally, doled out casually, and at different times):
"Daddy and I are not together any more, but he will always be your Daddy."
"Daddy has a new friend, x."
"Daddy and his friend, x, have a new baby."
I could be wrong in my thinking, but I would expect my children's father to spend time with just my own children, without the "extra" child present a good part of the time. I'm not saying don't let your children meet the baby or be with him occasionally; but I think (at least while they're younger than school age) they need things kept as simple as possible, and they need time with their father as before. By the time they get to be school age the other child will have become a part of life, and I don't think the father has to be quite so careful about trying not to confuse a preschooler with too many complications.
Again, I could be wrong, but I, personally, would not turn the triangle of adults and the mix of children into "one, big, happy, family". That's not saying not to be civil to the new partner, but I think children need the "roots" of their own, one mother/one father (even if they eventually need to share one parent with another partner and child).
Now, to be really candid: If I had a "partner" who had another child on the way when we also had a child on the way, I would see my children's father as having seriously questionable judgment and aim to limit their exposure to him a lot more than I would if I thought they had a responsible, mature, father. It wouldn't be a matter of being vindictive. I'd just worry about the influence such a person would have on my children. I wouldn't want to deny them the chance to see him, but I'd aim to limit the time to some extent.
Lisa, that is a very good way to see it. Children must be considered above any squabbles the adults may have.
Lisa - that's such good and sensible advice - I agree with earnestshub - children really should be the main focus - so often adults concentrate on the 'Me' and forget what harm they do to young minds with their squabbling!
It says alot about you as a person and as a mom that you want to put your issues with him aside and even befriend this other woman for the sake of the well being of your kids.
Children are such literal creatures, you have to be very careful about any platitudes or analogies you make to them. Being up front and honest would be the best way to go, in my opinion. Let them know you're willing to answer any questions they have, and then be willing to do it no matter how hard the answers may be.
You're in a difficult position, but you seem to be handling it very well. Kudos to you!
lxxy, earnest, Shalini - this is certainly a sticky situation. This was one of those situation that make a wonder if he's got any ideas that may be at all sound. The only reason I went out on a limb was I thought as many ideas as possible may be helpful to Loren.
maidouxixi, thanks for your nice words. You're right that I've been blessed with a very close family.
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