Dear Dr. Jann: My ex started dating someone a couple months ago. He introduced her to my daughter in front of my house without any warning to me or my daughter. The following weekend, they all spent the day together. When my daughter came back to me she was very excited because Elena had invited her and a friend to a Taylor Swift concert. My daughter is 9 and has never been to a concert. I asked my ex if he was going. He said no, so I asked for his girlfriend’s last name and contact information. Of course, he said no and thought I was out of line. Was I?
Dr. Jann says: No you were not out of line! Actually, HE was out of line for giving you no warning that he was going to introduce the children to his new girlfriend and then his girlfriend inviting your child to a concert without his discussing it with you prior to the act. Granted, it was probably a gesture of goodwill upon meeting your daughter, but since you’ve never spoken to the girlfriend, it takes on the look of bribery — and creates a feeling of “sides,” not cooperation.
It’s common practice for parents to get contact information from adults who take their children to special activities. It’s not out of the question to exchange cell numbers in case of emergency or confirm their destination and what time they will return, even offer a few dollars if they need extra money for food. It would be another story if dad was going—but, since he’s not, expecting to at least have the contact information with whomever is driving the car seems like an understandable request.
Dad probably thinks that your asking is invading his privacy, but there is very little privacy when kids go back and forth between homes. At this point, if this woman is going to be a permanent fixture, we suggest Dad set up a meeting so you can meet her—or at least talk to her on the phone — as soon as possible. It can be short and sweet, but necessary if he’s not going to be around when they are together. This is not your parents’ break-up. Life is just not the same for kids — and parents — whose kids are going back and forth. Sometimes you have to extend that branch of peace before you are officially ready—but you do it for your kids.