Introducing a new partner to the kids

Dating can be a challenge for many in the best of times, but it has likely never been more complicated than when they are divorced with children. While it may seem like more trouble than it is worth to some, people do manage to do it and find fulfillment in a loving relationship.

Once the relationship endures the awkward early dates and settles into a healthy and steady rhythm, the next step for them may be to introduce their new partner to the children. It is a big step, but it is an essential hurdle for many stable relationships with children involved in moving forward. The question is: How to do it?

Planning can smooth the process

Parents have their wants, but it is part of the job description to put the needs of the children first. The mom or dad will need to put some thought into how to facilitate the introduction best. It is also smart to discuss the matter with the partner to get their ideas – they should feel as comfortable as possible.

At this time, the parents may wish to establish some ground rules, particularly regarding the children’s response. Family therapists generally recommend taking it slow and let the partner build their relationship organically over time.

Preparing the family

Each family is different, but generally, these tips help to prepare the entire family best. If the children seem to have bounced back from any initial anger or sadness regarding the split, the parents can start this process by speaking with the children in general terms about the possibility of mom or dad dating someone new. Things to consider include:

  • Young kids: They may be more open and quickly attach, but this makes it all the more careful about introducing a partner who soon disappears.
  • Older kids: They may be less interested or forgiving in meeting this new person.
  • Ex-spouse: Ideally, the relationship with the co-parent is a functional one, and the ex can provide support. At the very least, they should get a heads-up only to know what the kids are experiencing in the other home.

Expanding the idea of family

Blended marriages where couples have children from previous marriages are common. Those that work best often have active co-parents where parenting fits the needs of the entire family as they move forward to meet new people and explore opportunities. If all goes well, the family will expand as partners, and even potential step-siblings enter the picture for an extended family unit.

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