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YOURLIFE : He can't choose between his lovers.

QI AM a single father coping as best I can with my two beautiful kids, a son aged five and an eight-year-old daughter.

Their mum decided she preferred her drinking and druggie friends to her family and we haven't seen her for more than two years. I am in the process of getting divorced and I think we will all be better off without her.

But I've got a couple of problems. One is whether I should allow their mother to see them. She has told my sister she is getting treatment and wants access.

But my real dilemma is over the two women in my life. I am seeing one who is wonderful with the children. My daughter adores her and I am very fond of her, too, but though we have sex, it isn't too exciting.

The other woman is a barmaid at my local and I have fallen for her big style. We've only had sex a couple of times in the back of my car because my other woman was babysitting, plus this woman is married.

She's going to leave her husband if I give the word. The only thing is she says she isn't good with kids, though she's willing to do her best with mine for my sake. Which do I choose?

ATHE short answer is neither. You are a long way from being ready to wholly commit yourself to any new woman, not least because your divorce isn't yet finalised.

Let's tackle the first problem, the issue of whether you should or shouldn't allow your kids to see their mother.

On the whole, it is better for children if they continue to have contact with both parents, even when one has behaved as badly and irresponsibly as you allege your wife has. You may no longer love your wife, but it doesn't follow that your children don't still love her or she them.

Her decision to go for help with her addictions will not only benefit her, but your son and daughter as well.

If you and she can come to some amicable arrangement whereby she gets to visit the kids, possibly at your home or perhaps the house of someone where you can be sure they will be supervised, so much the better.

I know it won't be easy for you, but you have to think about the kids.

Of course, any decision to deny access isn't one you can make off your own bat. Your wife has the right to challenge you in the courts and whatever they decide will not be in YOUR interest, but what they believe is best for the kids.

Think long and hard before allowing it to get that far. An agreement worked out by compromise and conciliation, possibly with the help of Family Mediation, is infinitely preferable than involving lawyers.

When it comes to your own romantic entanglements, again everything should be done in the children's interest rather than yours.

Bringing into your home a woman who doesn't much care for kids and who is still married doesn't sound too promising to me.

You seem, maybe understandably, to have nothing but contempt for your wife and you must know how you felt when she walked out on her family. But is this woman, who seems perfectly willing to dump a husband after a couple of gropes in the back seat of a car, all that much more admirable?

I can't quite see that myself. So maybe I am doing her a disservice and she'll turn out to be a wonderful stepmother to them and companion to you. But you have to wait until you both know each other a lot more. Something based purely on lust isn't likely to last.

Neither do I think you should rush to do anything about the other woman in your life either, the woman who was babysitting while you enjoyed your sordid wee adventure.

Your reasons for choosing her to share your life are only slightly more valid than your reasons for wanting the barmaid. Her main attraction is as an unpaid nanny and housekeeper, as well as someone to keep you warm in bed - until someone more exciting turns up. That isn't fair on her, your kids or you.

So, the advice is to wait. No one expects you to live on your own for the rest of your life, but neither is there any need to rush into anything permanent with either of these women.

Take your time, then you can begin to look around for someone whom you can love and who will love your kids as well.
COPYRIGHT 1999 Scottish Daily Record & Sunday
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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Burnie, Joan
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:May 8, 1999
Words:772
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