Our expert says:
Dear Concerned Granny,
Actually, you seem to be handling things quite well so far. it's actually quite common and typical that when under any form of stress, children "regress", that is, they start behaving in a more immature way. It's as if, as they climb up the ladder of development, when they find that life around them is becoming difficult, hard to understand and predict, and hard to handle, they climb back a step or two down the ladder, to an easlier stage which they had mastered, and when they felt safe and secure.
Thus, we may see stressed or woried children start to wet the bed again, years after that ceased to be a problem. And we may see them revert to actions that used to be comforting --- like thumb-sucking, and teddy-cuddling. If the new daddy in her Mom's life seems a threatening figure, she might decide that her Teddy should be a safe girl, rather than a more hard-to-handle Man.
It's hard to know what 's best to do if their time with the mother and her bf is a real problem for them. If one has serious reason to believe that whatever's happening there is seriously risky or bothering the children, I suppose ( you'd need legal advice here ) one could return to the court and seek a change in the mother's visitation rights, perhaps stopping these, or requiring her to visit them at your home and not have them stay at her home, while the bf is there. But, such action can in itself cause problem if the mother gets more angry about this, and could increase the degree of tension and unhappiness they experience.
A good safeguard is keeping communication open, and ncouraging the kids to feel safe to talk to you about what happens and how they feel about it. It may also be useful, if there may be a squabble about custody and visitation setlements in the divorce, to record, and keep notes of what the children say, and how they show their reactions, to time spent with the mother and her bf.
It's important to explain to them that while, sadly, the adults ( their Mom and Dad ) are having problems between themselves, this does not mean that anyone has stopped loving and caring for the children, and that great care wll be taken to ensure that they remain loved and cared for.
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