Sons Jealous of Single Dad's New Lady Friend

I desperately need your help. i have 2 sons-a 16 year old and a 12 year old. My marriage failed after 15 years when my wife cheated on me, then after a short time the children decided to live with me at my parents. After 18 months, my sons and I found a place where everything was OK, about another year on after being single I've managed to find someone. We've been seeing each other for about 5 months now.

My children for the last 2 months have been feeling I'm not paying enough attention to them, which I understand. My ex sees our son Mondays for 4 hours, Wednesdays for 2 hours and every other weekend. I just don't know what to do-I've been so lonely but have been there for my kids through a very rough 3 years ish. My youngest son is very emotional and has been picked on for years regarding his weight, and still when problems occur wets the bed. My children don't talk to me even though I regularly ask. My youngest see's a counselor. I just don't know what to do. I love my kids but I've found someone I really like. I really need advice.
Nigel

Dear Nigel,
You have indeed been through a very tough time, and you are to be commended for your dedication to your children.

This could be the beginning of a wonderful new and healing phase of your life. You CAN have both the female attention you need and the close relationship with your kids that they need. BUT you will need to get a some help from a family counselor in order to do this, and I suspect that you'll need to be willing to change a bit as well.

You say your sons don't talk to you even though you regularly ask. It is normal for teens to need some privacy, but they also desperately need to stay connected to their parents. That's why I suggest family counseling. Your kids need a little help to tell you what they need in order to feel safe talking with you.

I know it is hard, as a single parent, to be there for your children and also to get your own needs met. There are only 24 hours in every day, and your boys certainly need you each and every day. Single moms have lamented, for years, that they get one night a week out (usually on Saturdays, because they can arrange for their kids to sleep over at a friend's.) I don't know how much time you are spending with your lady friend, but if your boys are feeling like you don't pay enough attention to them, you probably don't. You may need to set some limits for yourself: Two nights out a week, and also see your friend for lunches or coffee while your boys are at school.

Of course, your friend could also spend some time at your house, but I would be careful about that. Most kids see their parents' new romantic interests as intruders, and they won't see that shared time as time with them. That can happen eventually, but probably not until everything settles down and your children feel they're getting enough attention from you.

My final advice would be to be sure you are spending one on one time with each of your sons every single day. If they don't talk, ok. Just do something together -- play basketball or pingpong, or go for a walk, or do the dishes. And don't give up trying to start the conversations. Click here for a list of questions to ask your kids as family dinner table conversation starters. In fact, you may want to take a look at that entire section of the website, Talking with Your Kids, which has lots of info on listening to your kids and getting your kids to open up and talk to you.

Before I close, I would like to recommend my favorite book for parents of teens: Michael Riera's Staying Connected to Your Teenager: How to Keep Them Talking to You and How to Hear What They're Really Saying

Please do find a counselor who specializes in family communication, for the three of you to see at least a few times. I wish you and your son blessings, and the best of luck for your new relationship.
Dr. Laura

Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids

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