As I've told you, Ex and I continue to see the Child Therapist to lay the ground rules for good co-parenting. Each session is contentious, but so far we've both taken CT's decisions to heart and have agreed to abide by the plan. That has not been easy, let me tell you. Still, we both feel that establishing healthy patterns now is better than trial and error.
That said, one of the most contentious issues that will ever come up in co-parenting is when to introduce your child to a new significant other. It is widely thought that children, especially at a young age, can become attached quickly, so the potential for another "father or mother figure" to appear, then disappear in their lives is cause for concern.
Everything I've read points to erring on the side of conservative on this one. If you're not sure, wait. Being a rules guy, however, I decided to ask CT to lay some guidelines for Ex and me to follow. Have to admit, they are pretty hardcore. CT explained that in an ideal world, this is the way to do things if you have your child's emotional best interest at heart. It means some sacrifice and compromise on your part as well as your new partner, but in the long run, CT claims that children adjust best if the following guidelines are used:
- The relationship should be important with the possibility of long term; if so, 6 months of waiting is an appropriate amount of time to date before introductions;
- After 6 months of dating, it is then acceptable to ask the other parent to meet your new significant other before this new person is allowed to spend ANY amount of alone time with your child. Keep in mind this meeting is out of courtesy only. You don't get a say in your Ex's dating life unless your child is in harm's way;
- The title for these significant others should be as such: Special Friend, Boyfriend, Girlfriend, etc. There is no substitute Mother or Father;
- There are to be no sleep overs dates when your child is with you until the significant other has actually moved into the specific parent's apartment. (This one is aimed at us because we have 50/50 custody and have plenty of time to do sleep overs on our off time. Extreme, yes, but again, is what CT thinks is healthiest for the child);
- The significant other should be "available" for a committed relationship (i.e. the relationship is monogamous; significant other is not involved with someone else in any way);
- In regard to how the significant other treats your child, either parent may offer feedback for the two biological parents to work out any glitches in the relationship to the child's benefit;
- It is important to note that many biological parents are jealous of new partners in an Ex's life and particularly jealous of their involvement in their child's life. There are natural emotions to be dealt with and understood (individually and never in front of the child) but not to be catered to.