Dear Barb—Caught in a Compromising Situation!

This is the first time I have written into a column like this, but I really need some advice.  I met this wonderful woman and we have been dating for a month.  She has a five-year-old son, whom I have never officially met, but we have seen each other under somewhat awkward circumstances.  I usually don’t stay overnight unless her son is at his dad’s, but the other night things got hot and heavy so we decided I would stay over and leave really early in the morning before her son got up.  Well that night there was a loud thunderstorm and her son woke up and came into his mom’s room crying.  Kara got him out of the room quickly and brought him back to his room.  She stayed with him for a while and I got my stuff together and left as soon as she came back.  The next day Kara told me her son didn’t mention it.  We are hoping that he didn’t see me.  What is the right thing to do in this situation? I don’t want to be responsible for traumatizing the kid.  Thanks, Darren. 

Hey Darren:

That’s a big oops!  Children walking in on their parents having sex can be traumatizing, but it seems like your friend handled it well and since her son didn’t mention it the next day it’s probably a good sign.  Some people freak out when this happens and the child will definitely end up feeling traumatized.  This may be an indication that it is a good time for you and your friend to have a discussion so that this doesn’t happen again.

To begin with, you should decide together whether it is time for you to be introduced to her son.  If you decide that this isn’t what you want to do, then you should take better precautions so that this does not occur again.  Until your relationship is serious, the best resolve would be not to sleep over when the child is in the house.  There are rules that people who are dating and have children should follow.   For example, the general consensus is not to introduce your child to your partner until you have been dating at least six months.  This is the length of time it takes to even begin to know a person.  Children should not be exposed to every date or short-term relationship you are involved in.  It is not healthy for children to become attached to a new person every few months, and then that person leaves their lives.  This behaviour could lead to commitment issues as an adult.  Take your time and stick with your routine of only staying overnight only when the son is with his dad.

Thanks for writing, Darren.