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Elliott, LPCC, NCC
Elliott, LPCC, NCC, Psychotherapist
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 7662
Experience:  35 years of experience as a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, National Certified Counselor and a college professor.
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whats the best way to handle first sleepover of a girlfriend

Customer Question

what's the best way to handle first sleepover of a girlfriend post-divorce with one's kids?

He is father of two children, boy, age 11, girl, age 8.

Father is divorced one and half years. This is serious relationship with woman the kids have known for past year and whom the kids like and get along well with. They get excited to see her and they know and like her kids. That is, to date, all is going well.

Father has partial custody of his kids; has them at his house half the week. All contact with girlfriend in kids presence has been platonic, to date, even though the kids know her to be dad's girlfriend and like her a lot.

Is it okay to sleep in same room? If so, what does one say? Sleeping in separate rooms or having one adult sleep "on the couch," gives wrong message, we think, to the kids. This is a very serious relationship in which marriage plans have been discussed and which the children know of, but very abstractly. Again, they seem very happy with the relationship and comfortable in her presence. In this particular sleepover, only the father's kids are in the picture, not the woman's (2) kids.... although a summer vacation might involve all four and the same questions apply in how and when to sleep in same bedroom.

All meetings with children have been handled sensitively and we've let a year go by without any sleepovers, but we feel it's time. However, we want to continue to handle everything in the best possible manner, without giving mixed signals.... like acting like it's entirely platonic and the two adults will never share a bedroom.

Any advice will be appreciated.

Thank you!
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Parenting
Expert:  proexpert37 replied 3 years ago.

Hello and Thank You for using Just Answer. The two adults in question can share the same bed in the same room. They have been together a year which is an adequate amount of time for the kids to understand and accept the relationship. Since everybody seems to be getting along well and marriage is in the near future, sharing the same bed would be alright. However, if the two adults in question do not feel comfortable until marriage to share the same bed with the kids around then that is perfectly fine as well. It seems like everything has been carefully planned out with the kids' best interest in mind. If the adults do not think that the children will be able to accept the bed sharing without questioning minds, then wait until marriage. It is really a matter of personal choice in the end.

 

Have a wonderful day!!!

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Thank you

Of course kids will be curious. All the kids in question are pretty precocious and inquisitive.

Without promising marriage is in future, best way to talk to kids who will ask why and maybe more? (in the case marriage does not work out.... )

My inclination is to be direct and non-defensive : "so and so is sleeping in my room" then if questioned why: This is what grown ups who have been togerger as a couple for a long time do like so and so and I have been."

thoughts?

And perhaps:

then, any more personal questions answr with "i understand you're curious but that's personal and those questions I'm not going to answer. I'm sorry."
Expert:  proexpert37 replied 3 years ago.
Hello and Thank You for responding. To ease the children into the adult sleeping situation, you can have one adult sleep in the same room with one child then the other adult with the other child...on the floor couch or separate beds. When the two adults finally sleep together in the same room, keep the door open UNTIL you are married. That way, there wandering thoughts will be decreased as they see that you are simply sleeping in the same bed.Laughing
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
I'm sorry it's taken me this long to hit accept. It was holiday weekend and haven't been online.

My concern about your response is that the emphasis is not on teaching the kids about appropriate boundaries and that there will be shifts in their habits re. privacy once the two adults are sharing space, but on reassuring the kids that "nothing is going on." I'm not sure that that's the best way to reassure the kids....it seems to indicate that the adults feel they are doing something wrong if they have the door closed and also, that marriage is what ultimately would make the whole "closing the door" all right.

I realize I'm turning to you, the parenting expert, for advice, but the approach of everyone sleeping apart or to keep the door open to prove to the "inquisitive minds" that "nothing is going to happen" might be the wrong message to send, in my opinion.

I was hoping to get help with setting the appropriate boundaries with the kids.....what to say about the adults' need for privacy, where the kids can accept/respect the adults' separate relationship and the adults can show sensitivity to the kids who might feel left out or have questions that might go unanswered because they are too personal, and not the kind of questions adults should respond to in detail to with children.

I tried to elaborate my concern/question with greater clarity.... I hope that helps. Given the above added info, do you have a different opinion or words of advice?

Thank you in advance.
Expert:  Elliott, LPCC, NCC replied 3 years ago.
Seeking expert testimony is a sign of strength. A personal relationship with a caring professional is proven clinically effective

Dear friend,

I think that your actions should mirror your beliefs. If you feel that sleeping in the same room and same bed with your mate, then you should do it without explanation and fanfare.
Let the kids be in a comfortable place, tell them goodnight, and then go about your business, which will ultimately lead you to going to bed and closing the door, as is your preference.

Since this is normal behavior for you, then it requires absolutely no explanation at all.

If the children do ask, which I doubt, then just tell them that you love each other and sleep together because you are so special to one another.

You don't have to create problems when there are none. You are obviously moral and decent people and live by your own high standards.

I really don't see a problem occurring unless you act like you are doing something wrong or act furtively and deceptively.

Great blessings to your new family,

Elliott Sewell, LPCC, NCC
Elliott, LPCC, NCC, Psychotherapist
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 7662
Experience: 35 years of experience as a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, National Certified Counselor and a college professor.
Elliott, LPCC, NCC and other Parenting Specialists are ready to help you

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