Before you introduce your children to a new love relationship, think about the experiences that your children are undergoing. Remember that your children are loyal to both parents, and they are wary, if not downright distressed, about how the future will unfold for their family. If you have a significant new relationship, many experts recommend that you wait to introduce the new partner to your children until your divorce is final. If you absolutely can’t wait, or if you are carrying on in secret and it is driving you crazy, talk with the children about your friend prior to their first meeting. Leave plenty of time for them to get used to the idea and to come back to you with questions. Introduce this person on a gradual basis, and in neutral territory rather than their home. Allow the children time to develop a friendly relationship with this person on its own merits. Click here for more information on how dating after divorce affects children.
If possible, wait and see if your new relationship develops into a serious one. Children do not need a parade of new faces passing through their home or life right now. And you do not want them to become numb to each new partner, so that when you have found one you want to be serious about, they do not take you seriously. Click here for another great article.
Don’t be surprised that your children will reject this new partner at first because of a sense of loyalty to the other parent. Children often feel that when Mom or Dad have a new friend that their other parent is being displaced. Or, more importantly, that they are being displaced. They have more difficulty if the new partner has children, as they fear you will replace them with the new children. Go slow with this introduction phase. Let the relationship between the new partner and your children evolve with time. Under no circumstances introduce this new partner as your new love, or give them a cutesy name like Aunt or Uncle. If your new partner is rushing you, or won’t give you adequate time, take a hard look at the relationship. It is not likely to be one which will enhance your life, or your family life, for the long haul.
Excerpted from Your Divorce Advisor: A Lawyer and a Psychologist Guide You Through the Legal and Emotional Landscape of Divorce (Simon & Schuster/Fireside 2001). For more information: http://www.yourdivorceadvisor.com/.
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