Why I’ll NEVER let my ex’s new girlfriend meet my son
Surely I can’t have been the only separated mother who felt great empathy for Elen Rivas after hearing about her Twitter row with Christine Bleakley over Christmas.
Rivas, who was in India at the time, claimed that her former partner Frank Lampard and his new fiancee would not allow her to talk to her two daughters on the phone.
In the end it turned out that Rivas had miscalculated the time difference and called in the middle of the night. However she has previously expressed upset that her girls now call their future step-mother ‘Mummy’.
Elen Rivas (left) and Christine Bleakley (right) came to blows over the children
As the mother of an eight-year-old boy, I know only too well how the thought of another woman ever being a ‘parent’ to your child leaves a very bitter taste in the mouth. And it is something I for one will never allow to happen.
My son’s father, from whom I separated three years ago, now has a new girlfriend. I made it perfectly clear to him from the moment he mentioned he was in a new relationship that my son was not to be part of it.
In fact, I phrased it slightly more bluntly. In an email which was ironing out other issues of access, maintenance, calendar synchronisation, school meetings and the 101 other things you suddenly have to deal with as separated parents, I added a terse line saying: ‘I do not want our son sharing his time with you with third parties.’
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Unbreakable bond: Writer Kelly Rose with her son William
Regardless of whether or not he would have a good time, I would spend the period going insane with jealousy and fury. I did not have a child to have someone else take on a mothering role in his life and I won’t let any other woman even try to take the role.
I am adamant that whatever the future holds, my son will not be raised with step-parents, step-siblings and a host of other people who have been brought into his life as the result of a flight of fancy. If my ex chooses to marry or have more children, I will still insist that any time he wants with his first-born is carried out as it is now — on a one-to-one basis.
Selfish Vengeful Perhaps. But I am mainly motivated by a desire to do what I believe is best for my child — and in my mind that is not having a string of new people in his life who might be off the scene as quickly as they were on it. Or those who come as a package with their own kids, who take priority over my son when he visits.
I say ‘mainly’ motivated because of course there is jealousy
as well. The bond between me and my child is fierce and unbreakable,
but that doesn’t mean to say I would not worry about him growing closer
to someone else. I would hate it if he ever regarded anyone else as a ‘stepmother’ or ‘my other mummy’.
To me, it goes totally against every
in-built maternal instinct: other people in your life are plentiful, but
you have only one mum and dad. And no one should ever try to impinge on
that. I don’t want someone else
picking my child up when he falls over, rubbing his knees better, or
helping him dry his hair after his bath. In fact, the thought of anyone touching him in a maternal way is just too hideous to contemplate.
if my son were to spend time with his father and the girlfriend, there
would be incidents where he would need a mother figure to turn to. And I
cannot let that happen. It works
both ways; I can’t ever see myself entering a long-term relationship
where, by default, a man who is not my son’s father would then take on a
I can’t bear the thought of my son
phoning his daddy and telling him of a super day out he’s had with
‘Mummy and her boyfriend’ or casually mentioning how ‘Uncle so-and-so’
read him a bedtime story. And that is because I imagine the thought of
another man doing ‘dad’ type things would be very hard for my ex to
Family unit: Kelly with her ex, Andrew, and her son, William, when he was four years old
I can still picture the look on his face
when, during one particularly heated discussion over access and
childcare arrangements, I told him that if he continued to be difficult I
would simply move away, get married, have more children and he would
have to deal with another man being ‘Daddy’.
He visibly crumbled. I didn’t mean it, and it was a terrible thing to
say. But it would be even more terrible a thing, in my mind, to put into
Friends have warned me that when my
son is older, he might want to spend more time with his father and ask
to meet whoever it is my ex is then seeing. Obviously when he is a
teenager, I will have little control over that. But now, while he is so
small, impressionable and in need of stability and — most importantly —
his mum, surely there is nothing wrong with my stance
Sarah Hart tells me there is not, but that ultimately things will
change and the issue will need to be dealt with properly: looking at my
feelings as a mother, and then addressing the needs of my child.
For a person going into the situation as the ‘other woman’, Sarah
points out, it can be hard to realise the intensity of the mother-child
bond and she may overstep the mark by accident.
Nearly a third of people in the UK are in a step-family, and 3.8 million children live without their fathers
new partner coming in must try to have as much respect for the mother
as she can, and try to imagine what it might feel like,’ Sarah says.
‘But one has to understand that it would be very difficult if she did
not have her own children.’ And perhaps this is the issue: maybe
incoming partners — particularly if they have not started a family —
just do not know where the boundaries lie with their partner’s kids, or
the hurt they might be unwittingly causing.
One friend told me she went cold when she saw her little girl’s hair expertly braided after a trip out with her dad. ‘It was obvious who had done it,’ she said. ‘His new girlfriend. He had the grace to redden a bit when I said “nice hair” to our daughter. But it really upset me that someone I did not know, who was nothing to do with my family, was doing something so intimate to my daughter.’
This is just the sort of incident that upsets me too, and Sarah Hart tells me it is the same for most divorced mothers. ‘It’s the little things,’ she says. ‘The washing of hair, choosing and buying a child’s clothes, the snuggling up to read a story. The things that to a dad might not mean that much, but to a mum are really important.
‘For men, the biggest fear is often of being completely replaced in their child’s life, but for women, fears are mostly centred around new partners doing the intimate little things — such as holding your youngster’s hand. ’
Which is precisely why I stand firm on my decision that our son should never be introduced to my ex’s girlfriends. Because if I ever heard, as Elen Rivas did, that my child called another woman ‘Mummy’, I think it would break my heart for ever.