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6 Tips on Introducing a New Person into the Lives of your Children

Aimee Pingenot Key | February 2, 2023

Family playing together

Dating after a divorce can be a daunting experience, especially if you have children. Many parents are unsure about the best way and time to introduce children to new dating partners in a way that encourages the new relationship while helping children to feel safe and secure.

The following are six tips newly divorced parents can take when introducing a new person into their children’s lives.

  1. Reassure children that their relationship with you will not change.

    Your children need to know that their relationship with you will not change because you are beginning to date. If your child feels secure in their relationship with you, they are less likely to feel threatened or afraid of a new person. It is important to put your children first and not place a new relationship ahead of your parenting time. Quality time with you reassures your child they are important and that you are paying attention to their needs. Ideally, spend the time you have with your child without your significant other present until your child feels comfortable sharing his or her time with someone else. This includes refraining from talking or texting someone new while your child is awake or with you so that your focus in on your child.

  2. Encourage your child to express their feelings about your dating.

    Listen and show concern, do not overreact by correcting, yelling, judging, or criticizing them or their feelings. The goal is to help them express their needs and feelings about the situation without making them feel guilty for telling you how they feel. Don’t ignore it or try to gloss over it just because you are uncomfortable or disappointed with their feelings. Listen to their needs and be attentive to them, even if that means taking a step back or going slowly into a new relationship. If you can tell your child is not yet comfortable with your dating someone, now may be the time to have your child talk to a play therapist to help sort through the complexities of family and dating dynamics.

  3. Don’t introduce casual dating partners to your children.

    Children become attached easily and may be confused by seeing multiple people come in and out of their life. Children don’t understand adult relationships, so it is wise to be discreet so that you will avoid causing confusing and stressful feelings in your child.

  4. Don’t force an introduction on your child.

    Never force your child to meet or accept someone you are dating. Give the child time to get to know the new person in your life on their schedule, not yours. If handled correctly, given time, your child will be more likely to accept the relationship and be open to being a part of it.

  5. Be positive about the other parent and ensure your new partner does the same.

    Children learn more by example, so make sure you and your new partner only speak positively about the other parent and never bad mouth or talk negatively about him or her. Your child will not accept a new person in your life if they speak poorly of the other parent. Respecting a child’s feelings and being sensitive to them will go a long way in the child accepting your new significant other. Even if the other parent does not follow this advice, your child will be more comfortable with you and a new relationship if you both model respectful and positive communication.

  6. Don’t allow your date to discipline.

    Your children will respond to you better than your boyfriend/girlfriend. You are the parent, and while your child should follow your rules around a new partner, only the parents should be involved in your child’s discipline. Is it essential for you to set boundaries for your children and teach them how to behave appropriately and to also set boundaries for a new partner when interacting and correcting your child.

In summary, when you introduce a new partner to your children after a divorce, it is important to be sure that your children feel comfortable with the situation. Give them time to adapt to their new environment and let them know they are the most important people in your life.

To learn more about how to prioritize your children’s needs in divorce, contact Aimee Pingenot Key at (214) 617-2053.

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