How to introduce a new partner to your children

After a divorce or separation heartache, you meet someone and fall in love again, making you feel terrific.

However, this time, things are different. You also have to consider your children. You have become a package deal to your new love.

Naturally, you are eager to introduce this new wonderful person to your children.

However, your children might not be keen to meet this new person in your life, as many children are wishing and holding on to the possibility that the parents will eventually get back together again.

Firstly, your children need to adjust to divorce or separation and understand that the parents will not get back together again. That could take as long as two years.

Here are some guidelines to make this work and go smoothly.

Use the word ‘Friend.’

When telling about the new partner to your children, use the word ‘friend’, not boyfriend or girlfriend.

The first rule is not to introduce the people you date casually to your children. Too many new ‘friends’ confuse children.

Introduce only a ‘friend’ that you have been dating for several months already and considering becoming life partners. And that you are committed to each other. Preferably, you have been together for over six months and met each other’s friends and families.

Before you tell your children, tell the children’s other parent first so that she or he feels confident about your new relationship.

Tell the children why you like this ‘friend’ so much. And you would like them to meet this new ‘friend’ one day. Of course, you want your children to be excited to meet this new ‘friend’ and like her or him as much as you do. However, your children might feel differently.

Keep in mind that many children see the new person as their rival or rival of their mum or dad.

They might get angry, jealous, confused and sad. These are natural reactions. They might not have the right words to express these feelings, so encourage them to use writing, drawing, painting or play dough to get these feelings out. Be understanding and validate these feelings.

Your child might reject the new ‘friend’ at first. This is because they might be afraid that this new friend will take you away from your child/ren and that they no longer have time to spend with their child/ren.

Tell your children frequently that you love them and that there is plenty of love for everybody. Tell your children that they are the priority of your life. This new ‘Friendship’ is not diminishing your love and commitment to your children.

First meeting

Keep the first meeting short and casual with the new ‘friend’ and children. Have the first meeting on neutral ground, at an outdoor fun venue and around some activity, so there is no chance of awkward silences. Then there is less time to feel uncomfortable, or the conversation becomes strained. That is why restaurant meals are not a good idea at first; you all sit around for long periods, which can become unbearable for your children, and they can start to play up. These restaurant meals can come later when a trusting relationship is formed.

Keep repeating these short, sharp and fun meetings often so your child/ren can form a relationship with your ‘friend’. In the beginning, you have less talking and more doing.

Keep the physical contact with this new ‘friend’ minimal in these meetings. Preferably you do not have any physical contact in front of your children.

With these short casual meetings, trust will form. The children will accept the ‘friend’, and everyone involved starts getting comfortable with each other. You will have fun together, and you can start moving forward in your lives.

After several meetings, casually discuss this new ‘friend’ with your children. Let your children freely tell you what they think about it. And accept what they are telling you. Do not criticize or get angry if they do not like your ‘friend’.

Only then can you invite the ‘friend’ to your home when the children are home. The sleepover will come much later as you need to consider and work through the nudity, privacy etc. Of course, you do all these adult things when your children is not home with you. Enjoy.

Do not rush or force the relationship. It will backfire. Slowly does it.




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