How do I introduce my children to a new romantic partner after a divorce?
Posted: April 6, 2017
Dr. Brian Stress, Psy.D.
Please remember that the children do not dictate when parent's divorce, or not, which may results in them feeling helpless during this process. Forcing any relationship on your children may unleash resentment and may provide your children with the ammunition to get even with you for perceived injustice they have endured. It would be understandable that your children may be scared that they are going to be forgotten or replaced by your new partner and possibly their family.
Introducing a new romantic partner to your children can be complicated. I suggest that you introduce the new romantic partner to the children in an environment where the children feel safe and have the choice of interacting with your new partner, or not. Introducing your new romantic partner at a meal, at you and your children's home, provides the children with home turf advantage. The children should not be forced to interact with your new significant other for extended lengths of time in an environment where they have no control. It may take some time for your children to process that their mom or dad is seeing somebody else besides their ex. As the children develop trust and respect with your new romantic partner, more and more time may be scheduled with the children and your new significant other. Asking your children how and when they would like to interact with your new significant other may also be beneficial in developing an appropriate relationship between the two.
It is the obligation of your new romantic partner to use their maturity to develop an appropriate relationship with your children. Providing your children with respect and the time to get to know your romantic partner is the key to the beginning of an appropriate relationship between your new romantic partner and your children. If your romantic partner is not mature enough to interact with your children in a respectful and non-demanding manner, they may not be the partner for you at the time. Remember that your children did not sign up for another adult to boss them around! Forcing a relationship on someone generally results in even bigger problems.
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