Q: I’ve been divorced for four years. I have a new “friend” and we are being careful to portray the relationship as cordial in front of my daughter until we agree that the relationship is permanent. My friend often travels to Europe for work. He has asked me to go with him next month for a week. I am conflicted because my daughter is going through puberty, divorce (her father is divorcing again), moving, and her dog was recently attacked and had to be put to sleep. I’m afraid this is not a good time to go away.

My mom has volunteered to watch her and says, “Go for it!” My friend says, “No pressure. I’d love for you to go, but it won’t change my commitment to you if you say you can’t right now.” I really would love to go, but as I said, I’m very conflicted about the decision.

A: Ah, the ultimate ex-etiquette dilemma: the kids or a new love. Divorced parents often face what you describe, but you don’t have to put yourself in that position. Get clear right from the start where your priorities lie — and it sounds like they are with your daughter. Accepting that will make future decisions easier.

We aren’t saying sacrifice the possibility of a lovely new relationship by being overly anxious about your children. Just get clear about what comes first and you won’t have the anxiety connected with making the decision.

Your new partner will know where you stand, as well, which will make it easier for him to make decisions about his life, and figure out whether he wants to be with someone who has a child.

We are reading between the lines, and it sounds like you’re saying you know it’s not a good time for your daughter, but your mom raised you and you came out OK, so you don’t feel too guilty leaving your daughter with her.

Understandable, but, you have to ask yourself — is your mom as sensitive to the things your daughter is going through as you are?

Does she understand the impact of the losses you have mentioned? If your friend says, “No pressure,” and often travels to Europe, why not put it off until next time?

By then you may know whether your relationship is “permanent” and if it is, you can openly plan for a vacation without worry.

Finally, it seems you sense your daughter needs order right now.

We all have an inner voice that tells us right from wrong. You know your daughter, and if you are hearing that this isn’t a good time for her, then you should listen.

Your partner said, “No pressure.” Accept the gift.

Jann Blackstone-Ford and her husband’s ex-wife, Sharyl Jupe, authors of “Ex-Etiquette for Parents,” are the founders of Bonus Families (bonusfamilies.com). Reach them at: