The moment you never thought would happen after your divorce is here! You’ve met someone wonderful and you’re now in a serious relationship. But how do you share the news with the kids and most importantly how do you introduce him or her to them as your new life partner?
It’s great that you are asking yourself this question because it shows that your focus is on your children and you are conscious about how your actions might impact them. Though dating after divorce can be a challenging matter, it doesn’t have to be a complicated or stressful one.
Built To Last
The last thing you should ever do is introduce your children to someone who isn’t likely to stick around. So it’s imperative to ascertain that your relationship is built to last. Kids thrive on security, predictability, and stable relationships. The last thing you want is for your kids to get attached and become unsettled when the relationship ends. It’s also important to note that most children hold on to the hope of their parents reuniting so this new union can be seen as a snafu. So unless this person is a constant in your life, it’s best to hold off on the introductions until you are absolutely sure to avoid unnecessary anxiety, jealousy, and anger that might occur.
Slow and Steady
When introducing your new partner to your kids, it’s best to ease them into it. Remember parents…their needs come first so take things slow. A new relationship may be a relief to you but your kids aren’t likely to share the same sentiments. But you know your kids best, so take your cues on their reaction, tolerance, and adaptability to change. Practice patience when breaking the news to them and allow time for them to absorb and adjust. Perhaps start by telling them you started seeing someone and take it from there. Give them a chance to talk about their feelings on the situation. And should there be concerns, practice listening, validating, and understanding. Let them know that it’s normal to feel unsettled about the whole thing. Validate their feelings and never reprimand. They may feel like this new person is coming in to replace their other parent or take you away from them. The most appropriate thing for you to do in this case is to reassure them that nothing is going to change – you will always be their parent, you will always make time for them, and they will always come first.
When you decide it’s finally time for your partner and children to meet, it’s best to arrange a get-together on neutral territory rather than at home. This way it won’t feel like an invasion. Pick age-appropriate activities that your partner, your kids (and/or his kids), and you can do together. Picnic by the beach, trampoline park, bike ride, and zoo are some examples that might work.
Keep expectations low
New relationships take time to develop and build. Never force things to happen and allow things to progress organically no matter how long it takes. Resistance is bound to happen but taking your time can lead to positive, influential, and trusting relationships in the end. After each get-together, chat to your children about the outing they had with your new partner. Then follow up by asking your partner about what they thought of the meeting. Practicing debriefs leads to better communication, understanding, and aids in smoother transitions.
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