Hey Dave! I just read your article about newly becoming a single father and I really wanted to know how you handled your ex-wife when she started dating again, knowing that person was going to be around your kids more than you. My daughter is only 18 months, me and my ex-wife divorced back in June and I believe she is already seeing someone. I know that it was bound to happen but I feel more like a babysitter than a father at this point and just need advice on how to cope with this.
Thanks for your note. Divorce is definitely tough, especially when there’s a little one or multiple children involved. I’ve been there too, and my ex is now remarried, so I got to watch a wedding transpire too.
In terms of your situation, I think the basic reality is that you just need to let go. She has no control over your life any more, nor do you have any control over her life. Well, child safety is relevant so if you were dating a volatile alcoholic (or vice versa) then that would be an issue, or someone who hit your child, but otherwise, part of divorce is letting go of control.
In terms of you feeling like a babysitter, well, my question to you would be whether the schedule has changed because your ex is seeing someone? Does she call you up and say “can you have the baby Sat night, I have a hot date with Mr. Studly”? (I sure hope that’s not how she would phrase it!) If you already have a schedule where the little one’s with her during the week and you weekends, for example, then there’s no reason that should change. And you’re the other parent, you’re not a babysitter when it’s your baby. Trust Samuel L. Jackson in that regard!
Finally, keep in mind that every minute with your daughter is your gift to her. It’s your chance to really focus on her and turn that into a positive, into the highlight of every week. That’s how I really looked at it and was always glad to have my kids, even extra afternoons or evenings, because I enjoy spending time with them. That’s true even a decade later, actually!
Hope that helps out. Deep breaths, get solid exercise and find someone to vent at so you keep your cool. And good luck.
Hey reader: what advice would you add to this given the situation?