Introducing Your New Partner: Focusing on Children
Introducing Your New Partner to Your Children
After a divorce it is natural to start dating again and looking for a new partner. For some, the new partner may be a reason for the divorce. Despite all the relationship experts offering opinions, we all operate on our own schedules. Even if you are ready to make the introduction to your children might think otherwise.
How you see it: I am so excited to find someone new who treats me well and who is going to lift me and my children up as we work together as a functional family with unconditional love and support.
How your kids could see it: This new person is going to try to take over and be my new parent. I don’t want a new parent. I want my parents to get back together. I was fine with the divorce, but now this?
Keep it short. Once children know you are interested in someone they will likely tell you something appropriate and then sit back and take notes.
Every Family is Unique and Kids All React Differently
Is your new partner a good fit for your family? What will your parents and siblings say about the new person you are dating? Do they have concerns about you making the introduction to your children?
Everyone is unique. What works for some families might not work for others. When your siblings warn against you introducing a new person too soon, are they re-living the experience of another? For many of us growing up decades ago when divorce was not common, the trauma our friends experienced affected many of us.
However, kids are resilient and pay attention to the steady beat set by other children. For many young boys and girls today, divorce, remarriage, blended families and parents living together without being married may all seem normal.
Will Your New Partner be Viewed as a Replacement Parent?
The day you let your children know you are dating again, their hopes you will reconcile with your former spouse are crushed. It is common for children to hold onto the dream that their parents will get back together. Like so many movies made about a kid’s dream, all they need to do is have their parents in the same room and that magical spark will make them fall in love again. In some of those movies the kids create problems and act out, so both their parents must get involved.
One day your children may wake up and realize how much they love both their parents and their new partners. When kids realize that their mom and dad just want to love and be loved, and that love does not take away from the love for their children, the kids become more okay than we as parents might understand.
Will Your Kids See Your New Partner as a Rival to the Other Parent?
Expect children to compare everyone to their other parent. Comparing people and situations and judging outcomes is a way kids learn. Think back to first being a young adult and figuring out your identity. Many of us proclaim to be better and more able than our parents. There is a natural desire to want more for ourselves and to resolve every problem our parents faced when raising us.
When your children are getting to know your new partner, they are probably sizing them up in their head and comparing them to their other parent. So, as they may see a rival, and they play out that rivalry in their heads, what they are really doing is figuring out how they really feel about everyone involved. This is a good thing. Letting children figure things out on their own makes them strong.
Introducing Your New Partner Over the Holidays
To children of all ages, holidays are special. Many of us think about our families and recall what happened on holidays. When you have a new significant other and introduce them to your children, you are creating a memory. How your new boyfriend or girlfriend is received will be remembered.
Some people will invite a new significant other to a larger family or friends get together and invite a new friend. Kids are smart and will pick up on whether the new friend is someone you know from work or a social group or if the friend is something more.
Does Your Ex-Spouse Endorse Your New Partner?
Ex-spouses are naturally going to have some temporary animosity towards the other whom they once loved enough to marry and have children. Moving forward in life, keep the focus on the children. We might not love the new people with whom our exes saddle up, but being respectful and finding the positive qualities helps everyone get closer to a new normal.
Remember that an endorsement does not have to mean anything more than you respect and acknowledge an ex-spouse’s new partner. By moving slowly towards mutual respect, the children will naturally respond and if their father or mother tells them to be polite and respectful, the new person must not be so bad.
Giving Your Kids Security and Reassurance
One thing you can give your children in abundance is reassurance and a sense of security. Let them know that everything is going to be okay and your new partner is not going to redirect their lives. Reassure your kids that they are the most important thing in your life. While it may not be the most obvious sentiment to younger children, let them know everything you do is in their best interests and that they will always be safe and secure.
Mark L. Scroggins and the Team at Scroggins Law Group Want Your Family to be Happy.
Mark L. Scroggins, principal and founder of Scroggins Law Group frequently talks about the importance of spending quality time with children and prioritizing their needs because time moves quickly, and they grow up fast. Going through a divorce can be challenging and you too can get a fresh start.
Scroggins Law Group, PLLC serves families in Dallas, Collin and Denton Counties with all divorce, child custody and family law services. What matters now is what you do moving forward. For a confidential consultation for divorce and family law strategy, call Mark L. Scroggins, Board-Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. (214) 469-3100.