Parents and their children have different challenges to face when a divorce happens and adapting to life with your new partner can be one of the hardest to face as a child. Your child has likely long-entertained the idea that you and your ex will get back together and realize that this was all one big understanding, seeing their parent dating someone else can be devastating at first, but there are ways you can help to make the experience a positive one for all parties involved.
Don’t Move Too Fast; Help Them Understand That This Isn’t a Betrayal
Introduce your new partner to your children slowly, try to understand that they will likely have some concerns about their parent dating someone else and they may feel very conflicted. In many cases, children will see their parent’s return to dating as a blatant betrayal of their family unit, take small steps to assure them that this is not the case and give them time to adjust to this new situation. Have open and honest (and age appropriate) conversations with your children about the reality of the situation and reassure them that while you and your ex are no longer together romantically, you are both still their parents who love them dearly and that nothing can change that. By moving slowly and being honest, you can help to create a stronger connection between your new partner and your children and avoid blindsiding them with an uncomfortable situation.
Make Quality Time Count
Do your best to make the time you arrange for your children to get to know your new partner be interactive and focused around them doing things they enjoy. If your child wouldn’t want to do something alone or with you, they surely won’t want to do it with your new boy/girlfriend. When they do spend time together, a game or organized activity is likely preferable to something more passive as this can help your children learn to talk to your new partner and get to know them without it feeling forced. In addition to this time spent as a group, you want to make sure that you continue to spend quality time with your child on your own so that they don’t feel as if your new partner has completely intruded upon your relationship. Acclimating your child to the reality that parents dating after a divorce us normal can be very tough but if you take it slow, are always honest with them, and listen to what they are feeling about the situation, it doesn’t have to be miserable by any means.
Be Encouraging but Also Realistic
If you’ve found someone new that you love it may be hard to take things slowly, but try to see where your child is coming from, this is a big adjustment for them and it will take some patience from everyone involved. The same can be said for your new partner, they may not be used to having children around and can become overwhelmed with the prospect. A resistant child and an overwhelmed partner could easily lead to conflicts arising so do your best to take things slowly. Expect your child to be resistant at first, but don’t let that discourage you too much, empathize with them and encourage the bond being built between your child and your new partner.