Introducing your children to your new partner
Knowing when to introduce your kids to a new partner will depend on factors like their age, your circumstances with their other parent, how your partner feels etc
To navigate through this here are some things to bear in mind:
Before you introduce anyone new into your children’s life you need to know that your new relationship is stable. This doesn’t mean you necessarily have to have been seeing each other for a long time, just that you aren’t on/off all the time, rowing a lot and that the relationship doesn’t cause you a great deal of emotional anguish. Above all your children want you to be happy – happy parents make happy children – and if your new partner makes you happy they are likely to welcome them with open arms.
The other parent
Even though the children’s other parent may no longer be a part of your life they are still a part of your children’s whether they see them or not. The introduction of a new partner into their lives can confuse and upset them particularly if they feel very loyal towards their missing parent and they might act out for a while. It is important that children understand what is happening and they may need reassurance that their mum/dad is not going to be replaced. If they have witnessed a painful break up they will have been affected by that too. Children aren’t just miniature adults and they are often deeply affected by things so it is important to be sensitive to their needs and provide lots of reassurance when needed.
It is easy to get swept along on the wings of romance and to think that everyone is going to be happy for you that you have found love. If you have kids the chances are that there are also other people like grandparents involved in your children’s lives. People will usually act more favourably to your new partner if you have talked to them about the situation first rather than presenting it is as a done deal. You may think it is none of their business what you do with your life but in the long run it is better to have them onside especially if your kids don’t respond well to your new partner.
Your new partner’s feelings
The other very important person in all of this is your new partner. Talk to them about when they would like to meet your kids and don’t be offended if they want to hold off for a while until they are sure of their feelings for you. Not everyone is comfortable around children especially if they haven’t had any of their own. They may also have concerns about what might be expected from them in terms of roles. Like every other aspect of healthy relationships open, honest communication is key. Don’t assume they are going to love your kids like you do – they are going to have to form their own relationship with them and that will take time.
There is no rush. If you have met someone you like take your time getting to know them away from the family home first then start talking about them at home. Tell your kids stories of things you did together or funny things they said but avoid making them sound like a superhero.
When the time is right let them pick you up at the house so your kids get to see them just for a few minutes. Next time maybe they can stay for half an hour and then extend the visits over time as everyone begins to get to know each other. Problems usually arise when things are done too quickly and people’s feelings are steamrollered because you are too blissed out with your new love to see that not everyone is on board with the changes. Take time to build firm foundations on which your new family set-up can grow.
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