Q. Do you think it’s strange that my boyfriend does not want me to meet his ex-wife? They share children together, and there have been several times where he has gone out of his way to make sure that we don’t meet, even if it would be natural for us to do so. I have been with him for almost a year and I spend time with his children fairly regularly. He claims that she knows about me, but I find myself doubting that. Even when I have told him that it bothers me that I haven’t met her, he shrugs it off.
Well, if he’s trying to keep you a secret from his ex-wife for whatever reason, then having you spend time with his children doesn’t exactly seem the wisest way to do that. But who knows? It bothers you, so it’s worth bringing up again. First, figure out exactly why it bothers you: You feel less legitimate as his girlfriend? You worry there’s some secret ugly part of his past marriage that you don’t know about? You worry they’re still involved? You don’t like the awkwardness of avoiding her? It will be harder for him to dismiss your being bothered when you convey exactly what the bothering looks like, and how it makes you feel. Then it’s reasonable for him to find ways to address that, even with a meet-and-greet with Ex. He also should level with you about his reasons. If he still doesn’t seem to care that this matters to you, then that’s an issue that’s even bigger than whatever’s going on with his ex.
I don’t care for her child care
Q. I hired a friend of mine (who has kids similar ages to my 16-month-old and 3-year-old) to watch my children part time while I work. The situation went well for the first few months, but I’ve noticed that my 3-year-old doesn’t seem to do much of anything while he is there besides play with her child. I would be fine with that for some of the time, or if he was over there for play dates, but for 15 hours a week, I had expected more outings and educational experiences. I’m thinking of stopping the arrangement, but I don’t want to damage the friendship.
I’m unclear if your expectations were ever discussed — “watching” a child is not necessarily synonymous with “creating a preschool experience” — but if they weren’t, then now is the time. And even if they were, she still deserves the chance to know she’s not meeting them. So, stuffing your dissatisfaction isn’t doing her a favor. Bring it up in friendly but specific terms. “I love that my kids get to play with yours so much and I know they have fun here. But I’ve been thinking the older one is getting to the point where they need more structured outings, and more planned educational experiences. Is that something you’d be interested in providing? Or does it make more sense for me to look elsewhere?” You can keep it very objective about the type of child care you’re looking for. Don’t make it personal when it doesn’t need to be.
Send your questions for Baggage Check to Dr. Andrea Bonior at firstname.lastname@example.org. She may answer them in an upcoming column in Express or in a live chat on Tuesdays at 1 p.m. at washingtonpost.com.
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