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Love/Relationship Columnist Author: Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC Last Updated: Sep 7, 2017 - 10:10:41 PM

Taking Care of 3 Children...And Your Boyfriend?

By Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC
Dec 6, 2009 - 12:04:11 AM

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( - Right now in the United States for the first time there are more single families than married families—it's close with single mom families running at 51%. Some of these women are living with men who are not working. The benefit is that the men stay home with the kids, while the women work. Many times it is not that these men cannot find jobs, they just prefer to stay with their girlfriend’s kids because it is less stressful and they are good with the kids. Women are frustrated by this, but they don't know what to do because she can avoid daycare and the kids may be really attached to their mom's boyfriend. However, at the end of the day Mom may feel like she is getting used. Her boyfriend laments that he cannot find a job and, although he may begin a job, he cannot keep it. Last week I worked with a couple where the boyfriend had six jobs within the past three month.

As you read this you may wonder what kind of a woman would put herself into this situation. It happens very easily and before she knows it she is in the middle of it. Day care would be cheaper than feeding, housing and clothing her boyfriend. The problem is she gets attached to having a partner—someone who says he loves her and also seems to love her children.

For many of these single women their choice of a boyfriend is only as good as their self esteem. If they were abused or hurt from their child's dad these women pick up boyfriends who continue the cycle. These boyfriends may be conniving with not treating the children well, but threatening them with "secret pacts" not to tell their mom. This can be a matter of life and death for the child (and mom in many cases). If you are in this situation you understand the trap it is and how difficult it is to get out. Below are a few tips that may prevent you from getting into this messy trap. Or if you are in it, there are a few solutions to getting out for you and your children.

Tips for avoiding the trap and getting out

1. To avoid this trap never, never let anyone move in to your home and don't move in with them until you are married. You and your kids have been through enough. They have you and as long as you are safe and happy they will make it.

2. If you have someone in your home who is "free loading" off of your income give him an ultimatum. For example, "You have 6 weeks to find a full time job".

3. Day care is cheaper than a live in boyfriend. Put your child in a safe place where the environment is safe, secure and offers additional learning and socialization for them. If your boyfriend is so good at caring for your kids then maybe he could work in a day care center.

4. If your child's dad is not around then find a role model for them that you don't sleep with—their grandfather, brother, or even a godfather. You don't want to get a man involved who may break up with you. Children don't understand that the boyfriend left you, not them. This creates instability in your kids' life.

5. Use your girlfriends more. The most secure single women ways network and use other friends for help with transportation and activities. This brings a sense of community and kids feel secure. Make sure to have healthy male role models, though, since kids need the influence of men in their lives.

For more information go to:

Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC, is featured on TLC’s new series, Big Medicine which completed season one and two. She is also a contributing expert for Cosmopolitan magazine, Women’s Health, First, and Seventeen magazine. Mary Jo has a syndicated column (Note to Self) in the Houston Chronicle, is a Love/Relationsips columnist to and “Ask Mary Jo” in Houston Family Magazine. She is an intimacy and sex counselor, and specializes in empowering relationships. She has worked with the Pelvic restorative center at Methodist Hospital since 2007.

Mary Jo is a popular speaker across the nation, with multiple repeat requests to serve as key-note speaker for national conferences. Her dynamic style is particularly engaging for those dealing with intimacy issues and relationship challenges, or those simply hanging on to unasked questions about sex in relationships. She was recently a major participant in a symposium for young girls dealing with body image and helping girls become strong women. Rapini is the author of Is God Pink? Dying to Heal and co-author of Start Talking: A Girl’s Guide for You and Your Mom about Health, Sex or Whatever. She has appeared on television programs including Montel, Fox Morning News and various Houston television and radio programs. Keep up with the latest advice at

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