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SuperMouse's avatar

Would you allow your children to be left alone with someone you haven't met? (See details)

Asked by SuperMouse (30738 points ) April 5th, 2010

My ex-husband has a new girlfriend with twin 13 year-old boys. These boys have been left alone with my sons (ages 11, 10 and 7), taken them to the park, and are planning to go camping with them. I have never met these boys, I know 13 can be a challenging age and I am nervous about the impression their behavior might have on my kids – especially the 11 year-old. I have asked the ex to set up a time for me to meet these young men, but he thinks I am just trying to make trouble for him. What do you think? Would you want to meet these kids? FYI, the ex isn’t a bad guy, but I can honestly not say that I have a ton of faith in his ability to assess people’s motives and behaviors.

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30 Answers

spiritual's avatar

Yes I think you are just right in wanting to meet these boys. Anyone who will have close contact with your children and be able to exert an influence on them, you have every right to meet.
Try and explain this to your ex, go for a meal or something with them. Your children, especially the eleven year old will be easily influenced by older boys.

Just_Justine's avatar

I think you are very wise. You have a right to protect your kids, and like you said you are not sure how they are. Peers can exert loads of influence on each other. Perhaps just say you are keen to meet them as they are a part of your kids life, as opposed to saying you are fearful. Which will put his defences up. Never doubt your own parenting skills. :)

chyna's avatar

I would insist on meeting the kids also. You know you trust your own judgement and even a brief meeting with them could set your mind at ease.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

Surely you’ve left your kids “with people you haven’t met” before. You haven’t interviewed all of their classmates, have you?

I don’t think that you’re being unreasonable or overprotective, but I think there’s a better way that you could accomplish the same ends: Offer to have their kids over at your house for a weekend or so. You’ll get to meet the boys at that time, and you’ll be in your ex’s (and his SO) good books for giving them the time to themselves.

Exhausted's avatar

@CyanoticWasp I completely agree. What an awesome approach!

john65pennington's avatar

Meet the boys first, before any other decisions are made. this is a lot of responsibility for this young of an age. their intentions made be good, but you will never know it, unless you meet them and ask them several questions. this will satisfy your mind and you can enjoy your time together…...relaxed!

Just to be on the safe side, before you go, why not buy a prepaid cellphone for your eleven year old son? he will keep this with him at all times and you can call him to checkup on the situation. your son can also call you in an emergency. its really cheap and worth it for peace of mind for you. john

wundayatta's avatar

My first reaction, before I read the details, was “haven’t you ever had a babysitter you never met before?” But I see it’s not about that.

I don’t know what happens to relationships between couples with children after they divorce. I hear that many relationships are strained. I hear there are custody battles. There must be situations where the two parties never even talk about the children, but they pass them back and forth as custody changes. Obviously a more amicable divorce would allow for more continuous parenting.

What I’m saying is that I think the legal system assumes that each parent is able to care for the kids properly, unless they say there can only be supervised custody. If you never spoke to your ex, you wouldn’t know how he was treating the children except for what they told you.

I assume your ex loves your kids as much as you do and wants to see the best for them, too. It seems like you don’t trust him in this area. I think you have to get used to it. Your fear is more about your ex’s ability or the different decisions he makes than it is about the safety of your boys.

And think about it. Why would the stepbrothers mother be any more sanguine about you taking care of her kids than you are of her taking care of yours? It goes both ways. I think you should consider your motives here and your feelings. It may be part of growing up as a parent, and learning to let your kids go, little by little.

wilma's avatar

I agree that you should meet the other boys. It sounds like they will be spending a lot of time with your sons. Try to be tactful in how you approach your ex. Keep it light and friendly.
I have been in your shoes

wilma's avatar

@wundayatta I never had a babysitter I had never met before.

wundayatta's avatar

@wilma Neither did I, but I know a lot of people do. I think they get them from agencies that supposedly vet them first.

sweetteaindahouse's avatar

My question is who lets two 13 year old boys take 3 younger boys camping by themselves.

SuperMouse's avatar

@sweetteaindahouse their father is going on the camping trip as well. These boys have taken my children to the park and the ex seemingly plans to leave our boys with them when he and the little woman go out.

SuperMouse's avatar

@wundayatta answers like that are one of the reasons you are one of my all time favorite jellies!

Likeradar's avatar

Hurm. I mostly agree with @wundayatta.

I agree that you’re being a good mom by wanting to know who your children associate with.

On the other hand, since you and your ex share custody, haven’t you sort of given up the right and ability to know everyone they spend time with when they’re with their dad? And lets say you just don’t like these 13 year olds once you do meet them- what could you do about it anyway? I’m sure you don’t expect to meet sitters their dad chooses and the parents of children he knows but you don’t.

If you believe your ex is being neglectful or allowing illegal or delinquent behavior, alert the appropriate authorities. If not, well, unfortunately I think your children spending time with people you don’t know is something you’ll have to get used to.

cazzie's avatar

My husband’s ex left her autistic son with me, alone, (hubby was away too) for an entire week. It was my first month in the country. I didn’t know the language, or even the emergency numbers to call. I had to ask and write down things to say, phonetically, to him, so I could get him to stop, come and eat…..and understand the few phrases he said. I had only met her for about a 10 minute visit once, but we couldn’t talk much. She spoke very little English…..

Personally….. I still think she was nuts to do it. It was really hard and stressful for me and she didn’t know me from a bar of soap…. (pardon the pun) This wasn’t the one and only time…. this was a trend that carries on to this day. She doesn’t believe she should be inconvenienced because of his father’s travelling… so their son shows up at our place and I look after him. We’re buddies now.

Scooby's avatar

At the end of the day your boys will grow up & be influenced by many things in their growing years, especially through school, you can’t vet all the students to see it any one of them might impact on your kids negatively it’s just a fact of life, it will happen, as long as they know right from wrong & you’ve done your job properly why worry?? I’m sure your EX is as well capable of looking after the boys best interest as well as you, why else would you have chosen him as a mate in the fist place?? :-/ besides you can’t be with them all of the time & neither can your EX……..
“Boys will be Boys”

partyparty's avatar

I understand your concern, and agree with @CyanoticWasp that a good idea would be to have these children over to your home.
But the end responsibility is with your husband when your children are with him.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

My ex has 50% custody of my first – that, to me, DOESN’T mean he gets to decide who the kid gets to hang out with – the custody applies to my ex not to random people and I want to be aware of who is going to be in the presense of my child when his bio dad takes him. For example, my ex’s step dad is an evil person, an alcoholic and when he’s around I tell my ex to remove my child from his grandma’s house and that if he doesn’t and this continues that I will take him to court. So far, my ex has the mind to listen to me and he knows that I mean business, esp. given that he only gets to see his kid once a week, if ever and isn’t at all involved. It is not okay by me and if I were in your situation I would meet those boys first.

rahm_sahriv's avatar

I don’t have kids. If I did however, I would not let them go with ANYONE that I hadn’t met and sized up, especially at the age you say your children are.

davidbetterman's avatar

I have asked the ex to set up a time for me to meet these young men, but he thinks I am just trying to make trouble for him. What do you think?”

I think after his response I would especially want to meet these punks children.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

It’s my personal belief that if at all possible, exes with kids should be amicable and keep in unison when it comes to their kids’ activities, new partners and kids that come with them. I wouldn’t let my kids go anywhere until meeting the new kids. To me it’s different than your ex and his gf taking all of them someplace, the adults (your ex) would hold the responsibility then, someone you know and have history with.

sweetteaindahouse's avatar

@SuperMouse Okay, that makes sense now. You should be able to meet them even if your kids weren’t being left alone with them.

dutchbrossis's avatar

I agree with @Likeradar

@sweetteaindahouse 13 seems like a fine age to be a baby sitter or be able to take them to the park or something

Likeradar's avatar

Those of you who are saying she should definitley meet the kids (btw @SuperMouse, I have a lot of respect for you and don’t mean any of this as attacking you)… At what point in a divorce/shared custody situation does that become excessive?

Should both parents meet and approve all babysitters?
Should the other parent have to meet and approve new step-relatives who may care for the kids?
Should both parents meet and approve any neighborhood families the kids might be spending time with?

In my opinion, as long as both parents are deemed fit to have unsupervised custody, the parent responsible for the kids at the time get to make the decisions about those things. What do you guys think?

SuperMouse's avatar

@Likeradar no offense taken After consulting with my boyfriend (who raised his children after a challenging divorce and custody battle) and contemplating this entire situation, I have landed on your side of this question. Even if I do meet these boys, what exactly am I going to learn about them? When we meet they are of course going to be on their best behavior – perhaps even Eddie Haskell like – in order to make a good impression. As much as, as a mom, I would like to wrap these guys in bubble wrap and protect them from everything, that is impossible. I gave up my right to micromanage everything their father does when I divorced him. I am just going to have to take it on faith that he has their best interest at heart.

>>Mouse takes a deep breath!<<

Likeradar's avatar

@SuperMouse You sound like a wonderful mom. Your boys are lucky. :)

Likeradar's avatar

@SuperMouse And also, as a side thought (I was thinking about this q driving to work this morning), even if you met these boys and they behaved like little turds, what could you do? Make your ex break up with his girlfriend and find a woman with more acceptable children? Forbid them from all spending time together? Giving up control must be really hard in this situation. It sounds like you’re thinking logically about it though. :)

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Likeradar There are no baby-sitters in our lives – if my ex is using a babysitter instead of himself, he will no longer see his child because that’s not the point. And yes I have to meet new step relatives caring for the kid, obviously. I know children are highly influenced by random people and they’ll learn enough shit throughout their lives without me having to introduce them to people I don’t ‘approve’ of early on (when I believe their development is at its crucial point – ages 1 through 6). This probably has to do with the fact that I left my ex and don’t have much respect for his parenting tactics or his instincts. This is a man who says ‘kids are easy, maybe I’ll have another one’ when he spends at most a couple of hours with our son.

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