My Boyfriend, His Kids, and His Ex, Part 4 | Two HappyHomes Inc.

CoParenting Community

My Boyfriend, His Kids, and His Ex, Part 4

“Why does my boyfriend put his child before me?”


In the first three parts of this series on co-parenting and dating, we considered the implications and challenges inherent in questions such as “Why does my boyfriend let his ex boss him around?”  This is one of the most popular queries we receive on  Though the questions are gender-specific, our responses are not.  In this next installment of the series, we consider another frequently-asked reader question.


“Why does my boyfriend put his child before me?”


This is one of our least favorite queries to receive, because it’s not always clear if the new partner has unrealistic or selfish expectations about what it means to date a parent, or if the parent is like the one co-parenting dad who only had parenting time on weekends, wouldn’t hire a babysitter, and so never took his girlfriend out on a date.

Dating while co-parenting can require some creative juggling, compromise, and flexibility on the part of the co-parent as well as the person they’re dating.  

Adults should never compete with children, but sometimes people dating co-parents end up feeling like they’re on the losing end of a competition with their partner’s child for time and attention.  There are no easy, one-size-fits-all solutions to this.  It’s important for everyone to have realistic expectations—children have needs and grown-ups do too.  Disappointment is a part of life, and it’s not possible to please everyone all the time.  As a dating co-parent, it’s important to strike a balance, to manage your time so that while your children’s needs (not to be confused with their wants) are your top priority, your new partner is also a priority in your life.  

In the case of the co-parenting dad who wouldn’t hire a sitter, his new partner complained that their weekends were spent centered around his kids.  From his perspective, this was the only time he had with his kids, so understandably he didn’t want to lose a minute of it, and his children expected to have his undivided attention.  From her perspective, weekends were the only time she was free to go out because as a teacher, she couldn’t be out late on weeknights.  There was an opportunity here for both parties to give a little.  The co-parenting dad could arrange for a sitter on occasion, and his partner could go out with him on a weeknight from time to time.  

Parenting is a full-time job, even when you’re co-parenting.  But parents need “grown-up time” to relax, recharge, and pursue interests.  Living a balance, well-rounded life ultimately allows us to be better parents.  It doesn’t serve children well for parents to martyr themselves and allow children to believe they are or should be the center of the universe.  Carl Jung observed, "The most dangerous things to children are the unlived lives of their parents."

In the next and final installment in this series, we’ll look at another common co-parenting and dating query: “How do I know if my boyfriend still has feelings for his ex?”



Deesha Philyaw and Michael Thomas are the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based founders of and co-authors of the forthcoming book Co-Parenting 101: Helping Your Children Thrive After Divorce (New Harbinger, 2013). 


ive been with my boyfriend for six years we don't live together every Saturday and sunday he takes his kids out he rarely invites me and my son along I get on very well with his kids and admire him for bein a great father but I feel lately that im a part time lover all I ask is that once a month or so that we have a family day together im not trying to take him away from his kids I just want to feel as important to him as they are occasionaly am I wrong