DEAR ABBY: I am going through a nasty divorce. My sons, ages 4, 11 and 12, live with my husband, 1,000 miles away. They will be with me for summer vacation. This will be the longest stay they will have with me, and I'm not going to lie -- I am excited and nervous at the same time.
My problem is, my children do not know I have been seeing someone, and we live together. How should I break this to them? They didn't get to meet him during the holidays when we were together. My new beau, "Sean," thought it would be a bad idea, and I took his advice.
I have asked Sean how he feels about this, and he said he loves me very much, but he is scared of my boys. I'm fearful of how my children will react once I introduce them. I am afraid they will want to go back to their father. My soon-to-be-ex-husband said he has told them I left them for a new beau, which is not true. How can I introduce them slowly, and what can I anticipate for a backlash with the children? -- TREADING LIGHTLY IN THE SOUTH
DEAR TREADING: Because you and Sean are living together, it's a little late to introduce Sean "slowly." Consider calling your older boys and saying that you will want them to meet "someone special who has made Mom very happy" and you are excited that they will be with you.
Suggest to Sean that if he's not used to relating to kids, he should schedule an appointment with a psychologist who can offer him suggestions on what to do. He should also sign up for parenting classes if time permits.
Once your boys arrive, schedule plenty of one-on-one time with them. Because of what your almost-ex has told them, it's important they know they are most important to you, and you did NOT leave them for anyone.