Divorce or the breakup of a long term committed relationship of any kind is rough on the adults. But when there are children born of that union you have much more than one other person to consider when introducing friends and family to a new love. Your children must come first. A mindful parent should realize this. Even when in the throes of a whirlwind courtship or a more slowly moving friendship that is turning into a new commitment. Others in your friend and family constellation will also be watching. Simply concerned that the children are protected from any unnecessary angst as you open your life to new experiences.
So, when should you involve your children in the new love life you are excited to be creating for yourself? The following tips can give some guidance. But remember every family’s situation is unique and you may need to modify your approach according to your children’s needs. It may be your new relationship but your kids are your eternal touchstones and must be valued and handled as such.
Wait Until Lust Burns Into Love
You may be swept away by the new man or woman in your life. However, realize that your children are not parties to the adult appetites that begin many relationships. You must be able to concentrate on your kids and their reaction to this new person in their life. This is hard to do when you are infatuated. If the relationship is one that will last, and your new partner shares a level of concern that his or her inclusion in your family unit will be beneficial for the kids (and shouldn’t he or she?) waiting a bit should be no problem.
Take A Slow But Steady Approach
It is often best to introduce your new love first as a good friend. Also include him or her in some larger, group events with your kids before you make it clear you are a couple. This allows you to gauge how your children react to him or her in a low-pressure situation. As time goes on begin limiting the size of the group. Begin spending some time with just you, your kids and your new significant other. Avoid public displays of affection until your kids are comfortable with this new person. Then tell them you are in a relationship before overt expressions of affection.
Wait Until The Ink Is Dry
It is smart to wait until your divorce is final or all details of an ex-partnership agreement are worked through before the big reveal. This gives your kids time to adjust to life without their parents living as a couple. And to move past any serious drama that the breakup engendered. Remember your kids did not ask for any of this turmoil. It is the maturity you bring to this new relationship that will make it more acceptable to them.
Give Your Ex A Heads Up
It might seem that you owe your ex nothing at this point, still take the time to talk to him or her. Let him or her know you are moving toward introducing your new girl or boyfriend to your mutual progeny. Done without rancor this can help your children. They can get some answers about this new situation from both parents. Resting assured this is not being done behind anyone’s back (even if it started out that way).
Think About Family Counseling
Especially if your kids seem resistant to this new person in theory or after the first face to face consider waiting for a full on integration of your new love into your family unit until after a professional has helped you and your kids work through some concerns. Especially if your marriage or relationship broke under the weight of an affair with this new love make the effort to put your kids first and answer their questions. Since you may seem to have replaced their mother or father with a shiny, new relationship your kids will need reassurance that you are forever committed to them.