Since our divorce was finalized in June of 2010, my former spouse and I for the most part have gotten along quite well. Sure, there are those moments of tension and frustration that creep up at times and until recently a phone conversation or face-to-face meeting would clear things up. But yesterday the conversation took at downward turn over a request I made for another man to stop texting my children.
After my ex-wife introduced our children to a man she has been dating for some time, he quickly began building a relationship with the children. From the outside looking in this is nothing unusual. The kids tell me he is a nice guy with a great dog.
While texting may sound innocent enough, I have two primary concerns. The first time my children met this man was the weekend of September 27, only a few days after his divorce was final. Two weekends later he saw the children again and started texting them the following Monday. I believe it is too soon for this type of daily communication to begin.
The conversation thread with my 14-year old son dealt primarily with sports; who was going to win this weekend’s football games or the World Series. With my 10-year old daughter the conversation was about sweet nothings and how he wanted to take her to her favorite restaurant for his birthday dessert.
“Good morning Sweet Pea,” was how he would begin a morning conversation with my daughter. With my son, he chatted about batting practice. “Hit’em long and straight,” he wrote and then talk about how tall and big he was getting and how lifting weights might help him fill out.
But my focus was quickly drawn to comments made about my son finding a place to lift weights in the Kansas City area, which happens to be where he lives. It appears to me the two adults have been discussing long-term plans that involve her relocating to this area with the intent of taking the kids with her. That opens another can of worms that will need to be addressed separately.
There are multiple and complex issues here. After discovering the text messages when monitoring my sons phone for appropriate comments with friends, I in turn texted the boyfriend and immediately requested he stop texting with my children. He quickly responded and offered a short apology. We agreed to talk the next week.
The following Monday morning my ex-wife called to discuss the situation and soon the conversation went south. She wanted to clarify if my request was just for the time the children were with me or was I asking him to stop texting the children entirely?
Have friends of mine, even female friends texted our children before? Yes they have, however the tone of the conversation (mainly about music, church or horses) never involved a reference to relocating to their town or rose to the frequency of them texting the kids every morning before they go to school or at night before bed.
Their dating relationship is certainly no concern of mine. But when young children, whose emotional maturity has not yet reached the point where they can process and deal with such complex relationship matters, then that’s where the contact needs to be restricted or end.
You may be wondering if and how the issue was resolved.
My former spouse was upset that I even made the request for her boyfriend to stop texting demanded to know if my request only applied to when the kids were with me or all the time and furthermore, my response would determine what how she would handle this and other legal issues we are trying to resolve.
In a separate conversation with him he told me he respected my role as the children’s father, but after talking with the children’s mother felt it was okay to text the children when they are not with me.
My preference and hope this is not indicative of how parenting decisions will be made as long as his guy is in the picture. Yet I wonder why a man who was introduced to my children less than a month ago and who has three children of his own believes texting my children is a necessity at this stage in this young relationship?