Mar 23, 2013

Should my son have 50/50 shared care?

Category: Family Issues
Posted By: Wendy
Question: My 4-year old's father has just moved to town to be closer to his son.  He moved into a 2 bedroom apartment with his girlfriend of 3 months who moved cross-country with him, and her 4-year old son.  My son has never met his new girlfriend or her son.  My ex husband wants to start sharing time with our son 50/50 with me.  He plans on having the two 4-year olds share a room.  I expressed my concern with this, because the boys have never met.  He says kids share rooms all the time.  Should I be concerned with this new living arrangement for my son?
Dear Wendy,

It does sound like a difficult situation, especially as your son is very young.  I don't know what your relationship is like with your ex husband but I think that the best solution would be to talk through the situation with him and see if you can think together about your son's needs.  Going straight to 50/50 shared care in an unfamiliar situation could be very hard for your son, but you could see if you can agree between you to start slowly so that your son gets to know the new partner and her son and to feel comfortable with them.  You can then increase the time that he spends there as he feels more comfortable.  This way you can keep a careful eye on him and if there is a point when he becomes more distressed or unsettled and take it more slowly. 

I understand that this requires both of you to agree and that might be difficult.  However, the more you can communicate the more likely it is that you can both be sensitive to your son's needs and agree on what these are.  If necessary you could have a few sessions with a family therapist to help you with this.  If either of you are struggling to agree on whether your son is managing or not then it is possible to have an assessment with a child psychotherapist and see how your son is actually coping with the situation.

I do wish you well with the arrangements and hope that you and your husband can agree on a way forward,

Ryan


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