Kissing in the Field
Kissing in the Field

His Plus One


If you find dealing with the new person in his life challenging, we’ve got some tips for you here!



When she’s rude or disrespectful to your children


His significant other says something to your children — about you or otherwise — that you feel is out of line.


  • To get her to stop.

  • To help your child cope if it does happen.


Your conversation should start with your ex - remember that he is the parent and she is his “surrogate.” (Plus, getting into it directly with his significant other probably isn’t going to accomplish anything other than making you more upset.)  Remind him that this behavior is hurting your children the most and ask him to make it stop. 


If he won’t deal with it, or it still doesn’t stop when he does, then speak to your child directly about what she/he is hearing.  Your child may need to hear from you that what’s being said isn’t true.  If it’s bad, consider seeing a child psychologist to arm your child will tools for how to cope with the behavior. 


Also, maintain a written record of what is said, and copies of any text or email exchanges, in case you want to share them with your lawyer or a Guardian ad Litem later. ​


  1. To your ex

    It’s not ok for Cheryl to say negative things about me to the kids. I wouldn’t let anyone speak badly about you to our children, and I’m asking the same of you. She needs to understand this is really hurting them the most. While I can’t control what she says, you can control what you do and don’t allow in front of our children.


  2. To your child

    I bet that was upsetting to hear. But what she said about me isn’t true. If you want to ask me any questions about it, I promise to give you an honest answer. 



When she oversteps with your children


You feel his new partner is crossing the line with parenting your children or you are just having a hard time with her involvement.


  • To establish boundaries with her behavior towards your children.

  • To reach an agreement with your ex about what is and isn’t ok.


Practice acceptance.  Hard as it might be to see another person “parenting” your child, you’re not going to be able to stop it.  Some judges refer to step-parents as “surrogates” - meaning they can do all the things that the other parent can do (drive your kids to school, help them with their homework, even chaperone school field trips.)  But that also means if it wouldn’t be ok for the parent to do it, it’s not ok for the surrogate either. 


If you feel the behavior is really crossing the line, speak to your ex - the actual other parent - not the “surrogate.”  Remind him that the two of you are the only people who should be making major decisions for your children.  Ask him to be respectful of your parenting role as you are of his. This conversation should be more about the two of you as co-parents than it is about her. 


  1. I’m not comfortable with how you handled Caitlin's doctor appointment yesterday.  You made the appointment weeks ago but didn’t tell me about it until the day before.  By that time, I could no longer cancel a work meeting.  I also didn’t know that you weren’t going to be there and that you sent Kelly instead.  Decisions were made at that appointment that should have been made by us as parents.  In the future, please give me notice of any appointments as soon as you schedule them. I’m not suggesting Kelly can’t go in your place to routine appointments, but if it’s one that a parent needs to attend, please make sure one of us can attend or reschedule it.

  2. I realize that Kelly is a constant in your life but right now, I’m finding it challenging and stressful to be at the same events. I believe the kids can feel my discomfort. I am asking you to give me some time to adjust to this new situation, and wondering if for the next few months we could try to limit the events (such as a soccer game or school play) where we bring our new partners. To help make this work, I’m willing to skip a couple of events and you can bring her to those. This won’t be forever, but I hope you can work with me on this while this transition is happening.


When Your Ex’s Significant Other is Rude to You


Your ex’s new partner is unfriendly or disrespectful to you or you just don’t get along


To have a workable relationship with her if you’re going to need to be in each other’s company or if she’ll be spending time with your children


Be classy.  You don’t have to like her, but she will be around your children, and may have influence on them. Don’t speak badly about her, as your kids need to be able to form a relationship with her without worrying that it will upset or irritate you.  

Be the bigger person and if you can muster it, invite her to have a cup of coffee.  If she doesn’t change her tune, stay cordial anyway (note we didn’t say nice). Your children are watching. 


If you end up in a custody fight with your ex (which can happen years down the road even if not today), how you act will matter much more than how she behaves.  No matter how unfair that may feel, she’s not the parent and isn’t held to the same standard.  And remember you can’t control someone else’s actions, but you can control your own.


  1. We’re both in an uncomfortable situation, but I’d like to make the best of it. it’s my goal for us to have a decent relationship and to be able to communicate with each other, especially for the children.  You seem to care about them, and I appreciate that. 

  2. We got off on the wrong foot.  I apologize if I had any part in that.  We’re going to be in each other’s lives through the kids, and I want them to know that it’s ok to have a good relationship with both of us. 

  3. I think it will be healthier for everyone involved if we can stay respectful in our interactions. I intend to do that and ask that you do the same.


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