The following is a query to Child Caring writer Barbara Meltz during a Q&A with Boston.com readers:
Question: Hi Barbara, I'm in the process of ending a very long-term relationship with my boyfriend. I am very close with his 5-year-old daughter though, and for about a year I've been the only positive female role model she's had.
How do I say goodbye to her? Thanks so much for your help! This is so difficult!
Barbara Meltz: Dear Stuck, you've just summed up why all the child development specialists urge divorced or separated parents not to introduce their new love interest to their children, no matter how old the children are or how promising the relationship appears to be.
I know that doesn't help you, Stuck, but it's a reminder to all those parents out there...Anyway, in your situation, there's no right or wrong way to deal with this. If she were older, I would suggest that you consider maintaining a relationship with her that has nothing to do with her father.
But she's too young for that and, from what I know, those after-the-break-up relationshps tend to peter out after a while anyway. The issue for the child, of course, is that she forms attachments and then the people disappear, making her more and more relationship-adverse each succeeding time, including, potentially, in her own friendships.
For her sake, I hope you will be able to have a conversation with your boyfriend, urging him not to involve her with future girlfriends. In the meantime, you are going to have to tell her that you won't be able to see her anymore because you and her dad are no longer boyfriend/girlfriend.
Readers, agree with Barbara's take? Got another idea? Have your say in our comments section below.