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Ask CounselorJules Your Own Question

CounselorJules
CounselorJules, Family Counselor
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 614
Experience:  Licensed Professional Counselor
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I am not a parent. I am dating someone that has been divorced

Customer Question

I am not a parent. I am dating someone that has been divorced for two years. They share custody of a soon to be 6 year old boy. Recently his ex bought a house two doors down from his without discussing it with him until the contract went through. Is this healthy for their son?
Submitted: 8 months ago.
Category: Parenting
Customer: replied 8 months ago.
I think that I should add that for almost a year they have lived in the same neighborhood about 3 miles from each other.
Expert:  CounselorJules replied 8 months ago.
Good afternoon! Thank you for the question. I will be happy to assist you regarding your concern. Divorce and Co-Parenting is such a subjective situation. I would love to be able to help you with your question, but if you don't mind, I would like a bit more information about the relationship between the adults? Are they amicable now? Do they share custody? What can you tell me about that? I think it will help me provide a thorough answer :) I am also curious if you are possibly a bit anxious about your boyfriend's ex living so closely to one another or that much more closely? Are you afraid that this will lead to more interactions between them?
Expert:  CounselorJules replied 8 months ago.
I am going to be traveling, but I will be able to respond in approximately 20 minutes, if not sooner. If you would rather not wait, I can accept a phone call service. I just did not want you to feel I was inattentive if I wasn't able to respond immediately :)
Expert:  CounselorJules replied 8 months ago.
I wanted to be able to prepare a thorough response for you. Hopefully, the information will provide some clarity and be of service to you. A few things to consider would be whether or not the parents will be able to establish specific boundaries. I am not sure if the little boy is aware of the potential move, but if he is not, I would refrain from mentioning it until it is more concrete. You would hate to raise hopes, especially if there has been a past pattern of lack of follow through or broken promises. Also, depending on the custody arrangement, his visitations may actually become a bit easier. I use a website called "custody exchange" to help parents set up developmentally appropriate schedules for the child to maintain a sense of security and promote healthy attachment. A divorce can be traumatic for a child, but with civil and mature co-parenting he will be able to develop emotional health. The boundaries set should also discuss specifics about time exchanges and appropriate notifications of possible changes, so that the child is aware that the closeness in proximity cannot be manipulated at any time-- like he receives discipline at one house, he cannot think about going to the other parent's home to avoid repercussion. The importance of creating a sense of cohesion related to their parenting standards should be noted. On the possibility of whether or not anything could affect him adversely, I can think of whether or not the child will "worry" about the well-being of the other parent more often, because there could be more interactions being neighbors. I could also see the possibility of exposure to more critical or negative statements or a feeling of "judgment" or being in a fishbowl by the other party. Basically, if you guys are playing in the yard together and then mom drives by, could he potentially begin to worry if mom would have her feelings hurt that you guys are bonding? Kids really do process things like this. That will be important in how you and your boyfriend and his mother all communicate and manage your own feelings around him. Kids sometimes internalize the possibility of whether they contributed to a divorce in any form, despite any reassurance that they may receive. The proximity may lead to some anxiety about their own actions or choices. I could understand the possibility of it creating an adjustment concern. The other thing, is if this move could potentially affect your boyfriend, or the ex, or YOU in an adverse manner..... That would definitely hurt your relationship and the child's emotional health. Negative statements made about any overnight guests will have to be extinguished, any extracurricular activities may have to be monitored, etc....I am sending a website that may be useful to help establish more specifics for a co-parenting plan.http://www.childreninthemiddle.com/coparentingplans.htmThe only reason I feel like I can actually give tips for successful coparenting is because I practice them myself! I have a 6 year old daughter and an 8 year old son. They were 4 and 6 when their father and I separated. We split custody and have a schedule that others may consider confusing, but it is effective in providing ample time with both parents and we are able to go only short periods without seeing one another.....They also facetime the parent that they are not with every morning and every night. However, having said that, I don't want to see my ex husband on a daily basis or think about him even being in my neighborhood. We divorced for a reason. I am disclosing this because I know how my own anxiety is affected, which also affects my children. My children also recognize any slight bit of tension between us and recognize that although we are amicable, that we don't especially enjoy hanging out :) Both my ex-husband and myself have remarried new partners and the children have bonded well with their "bonus" parents, but I believe that they are intuitive and recognize feelings much more than adults do. Kids pick up on "energy" and tension around them..... I guess that part comes back to maturity of parents as well. You guys will really have to reinforce how loved the child is by all adults involved and you may even have to have a sit-down meeting together. I hope this has been a realistic and honest answer. I hope you have found it to be useful :)
Expert:  CounselorJules replied 8 months ago.
I just wanted to follow up and see how things were going or if I could provide any more clarity for you. My goal is to provide excellent service. Please let me know if there is anything that I can do to provide a satisfactory answer. Thank you! Jules
Expert:  CounselorJules replied 8 months ago.
I do not want to burden you in any way with emails, but I did want to follow up and check and see if there was any additional help that I could offer. I wish you the best with this situation. Thank you, Jules

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