Dating After Divorce With Kids: Let’s Talk About Sleepovers

dating after divorce with kids

By Jackie Pilossoph, Creator and Editor-in-chief, Divorced Girl Smiling site, podcast and app, Love Essentially columnist and author

One of the most complicated aspects of dating after divorce with kids is deciding when and how often your new guy (or girl) will be around your kids. Is it going to be one of those relationships that you keep separate from your kids and only get together when the kids are with your ex? Or, is he or she going to start sleeping over every night and become part of your family?  Or, perhaps, will your relationship be somewhere in between?

The first night my boyfriend ever spent the night at my house while my kids were there was about two years into the relationship. Yes, we took things kind of slow. I was worried the whole night and barely slept. ‘Is this affecting my kids?’ ‘Are they going to feel sad that the man in our home isn’t their dad?’ Meanwhile, they had been begging me to have him sleepover. But still, I was a wreck. I actually ended up sleeping in my son’s bed with him, and let my boyfriend take my bed! LOL.



I realize that is the ultimate extreme of being overprotective, but I have seen the other extreme countless times—the mom (or dad) who lets a boyfriend/girlfriend of 2 weeks practically move in, and the selfishness of it really makes me cringe.

There are many factors to take into account when it comes to dating after divorce with kids and sleepovers:


1. The amount of time you’ve been divorced
2. The amount of time you’ve been dating the guy/girl
3. How old your kids are
4. If your kids are adjusting well to the divorce
5. What’s going on over at your ex’s house—in other words, do the kids need to start having sleepovers with your boyfriend if they are having them with dad’s girlfriend, too?


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6. If your kids actually like the guy (or girl)
7. How serious is the relationship? What’s the long term plan? Is this just a guy you’re having fun with or do you plan on marrying him?

In my opinion, the time after your divorce is a time in your life to be very unselfish in certain aspects and really focus on your kids. And that means being very thoughtful in deciding if sleepovers are right.

In dating after divorce with kids, I’m not against the sleepover, and I don’t expect people to do what I did, but I wish men and women would take a less selfish approach and think the sleepover through a bit more, before they let someone into their bed with their children two rooms down.

 Here are the advantages and disadvantages of sleepovers:


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1. A sleepover really allows the kids to get to know your boyfriend/girlfriend. So, if you are pretty sure you are ending up with him/her, it’s a good way to get a picture of how life is going to be.

2. For those dating after divorce with kids, sleepovers can be fun. My kids still beg me to ask my boyfriend to spend the night. They love their dad a lot, but they see it as something fun and different, and they enjoy being around him. I think I can credit that to us taking our time and not having sleepovers often. Less is more when it comes to sleepovers!

3. The person sleeping over can really bring something to the table, in other words, he or she can be a positive influence on your kids, and not take the place of their mom (or dad) but be another role model, support person for them in the future, which can be a lovely thing.


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1. The kids might begin to resent the guy/girl for taking their parent’s time and sharing their bed, especially if it’s early in the relationship.

2. What kind of example are you setting if you have multiple men/women spend the night? Meaning, are you one of those people who allows sleepovers in every relationship? Ask yourself how many different men/women have slept over with your kids there in the past three years? If it’s more than two, that’s really selfish (just being honest.)

3. Your kids are (or have) suffered because of your divorce. Not faulting you for getting a divorce, but just keeping it real. They need you and your full attention. Having a sleepover cuts into the amount of attention and the time you spend with your kids.

In closing, I think sleepovers are okay, if it’s the right person, the right timing, and if you handle it the right way. Talking openly with your children and making them feel like they are part of the decision is such a nice idea. I’m not saying let your kids rule your personal life, but let them feel like their feelings on the situation matter.

Lastly, PLEASE close and lock your door if you plan on being intimate, and keep things quiet. Do you know how uncomfortable, even traumatizing it would be for your children to hear or see you having sex? Yikes.

Like this article? Check out “9 Signs of a Healthy Romantic Relationship”


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    Editor-in-chief: Jackie Pilossoph

    Divorced Girl Smiling is here to empower, connect and inspire you. Jackie Pilossoph is the creator and Editor-In-Chief of Divorced Girl Smiling, the site, the podcast and the app. A former television journalist and newspaper features reporter, Pilossoph is also the author of four novels and the writer of her weekly relationship column, Love Essentially. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism and lives in Chicago with her two teenagers. The author of the novels, Divorced Girl Smiling and Free Gift With Purchase, Pilossoph also writes the weekly dating and relationships advice column, “Love Essentially”, published in the Chicago Tribune Pioneer Press and the Chicago Tribune online. Additionally, she is a Huffington Post contributor. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism from Boston University.

    11 Responses to “Dating After Divorce With Kids: Let’s Talk About Sleepovers”

    1. Doug, Chicago

      Loved this post today … very, very topical for me this weekend, as I have long been conservative on the topic but got a steady drumbeat of conflicting input from both girlfriend and kids. Everybody has their own notion of “right” and wants their way. I tend to have less fixed notions about “right” but want everyone to be happy … a sure recipe for a lot of unhappiness (certainly my own). Loved all the factors you listed. You have a great way of seeing all sides and giving relatable examples and scenarios … you certainly saw many aspects of my situation! Thank you as always!

    2. Veronika

      I’ve been dating my divorcing boyfriend for eight months, he has four years old daughter ( met her two months ago) and not friendly ex. I’m going to stay over night soon (we don’t live at the same city, and we both have busy schedule) ,my boyfriend thinks if we’ll sleep in the bed and his daughter will tell her mum about it she will get absolutely crazy. For me is the most important person his daughter not his ex. I really need to talk about this with my boyfriend again but I don’t want her making the rules, I do resprect her but there are lines. His daughter really likes me, I’m her new best friend so there shouldn’t be any problem from her site.What do you think about this situation?

    3. Katrina

      Great discussion and story. Perfect timing. I am a widow and have a 13 yr daughter. Finally after 8 years I have a decent man friend. We visit alone at his house when my kid is at school. But it is summer and he is visiting for 4th of July. My daughter and I are excited about his visit. But he cant drink and has to leave and make a 50 min ride back to his home. Which is how our visits usually end. I am thinking of asking him to spend the night. I will have to discuss this with him and see what he thinks. My kid is an only child and nothing will be ok with her, so, what ever I do She will just have to suck it up and go along for the ride.

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    5. mel

      I having the same problem my bf of 4months i want him to stay over on my vacation ive know him 2 1/2 yrs as a friend now as a bf dont know if its ti early my kids are 14 and 8. We are talking about living together soon so this is a serious what should i do

    6. Steve

      Hi Everyone. Don’t over complicate your life.when it comes to this topic. Being divorced for 10 years, I can relate to your challenges. Been there. I’ve done lots of different things and can say this. Save the sleepovers until marriage. You and your mate will be better off for it as well as your kids. Got any queations, Google what the Bible says about sex. Follow his plan. Nothing says you can’t get married ASAP right? And if you are totally in love…why wait. Blessings

    7. Nisrin albaghdadi

      I really like your post and I have questions also I know this post old but I was searching for answer, I been dating my boyfriend for 6 months and he been sleeping over night most of the time for the last 3 weeks, I notice my 2 kids age 7 and 5 and 10 don’t sleep through the night, they love my boyfriend so much and he is good to them but I’m really worried I asked there therapist he said was no issues with it but I’m really confused I need an advice please, I was single for 8 months after my divorced there dad not spending enough time with them and they always ask about him so can anyone give me advice please? Thank you in advance

    8. Leigh

      I love this post. I am the person that isn’t going to push it on my child and after years would still be worried about the child. Her father and I have been apart for three years and I still do not bring anyone around her. He brings every person he sleeps with around her and that’s my biggest reason for not doing it. I asked him not to do this and he just lies about it. Even went so far as to call his child a liar to her face (she was 4) when the child said a lady was over for the weekend. The child became upset and cried about it. She tells me all the time not to believe her dad now. It’s so sad.

    9. Ava

      I just wanted to say I didn’t see any kids on here so I just wanna say I’m a kid and im 10 and just please wait till marriage for any intimate things because it stresses me out when my mom brings her “boyfriend” even my mom says she doesn’t like him she still does stuff she shouldn’t with him so yeah it makes me sad because I hate that she had to bring another man into the peaceful house I’ve already gone through so much! I hope this tells parents how we feel. please put feedback.

    10. Marcia

      I am 52 and have been divorced for 10 years. I have a 15 year old daughter and I am in a relationship with a widower who is 66 years old, has 3 grown up kids and 4 grandchildren. We have been in a relationship for 5 months. This is my first serious relationship since my divorce. I sleep over his house when possible for me, however, I feel like is time to let him sleep over my place. We both have been talking about having a future together. I also spoke to my daughter about it and she told me to wait longer before doing this. I want to marry this man and even though it has been only 5 months I am sure this is the person I want to spend the rest of my life with. He thinks in the same way. My daughter is always with me and never sleeps over her father’s house. She also doesn’t see her father very often. Due to the current world situation with the corononavirus I don’t want me or my boyfriend to be driving late hours at night to see each other. My boyfriend and I dont have much more time to waste in life. We love each other and we have solid plans for a life together. Please let me know your opinion.

      • Tricia

        I am in a similar situation, but with a 15 year old son, and after much careful thought I would tell you to have him over. I can understand your daughter’s opinion, but maybe her concern comes from a place of not wanting share your home and your life with someone else? She is old enough to understand, and while she should be part of your consideration in taking this next step, she is not the gatekeeper to your life. Much like my 15 year old son, she has a life of her own, with friends and social outlets, and will continue to grow up and move on. Ten years is a long time to be on your own without a serious relationship, I’m guessing that she has just become too accustomed to things being the way they have always been and does not want things to change. Life is all about change, and if done with the proper care and love, it can only be good for both of you.


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