For many people, just the thought of entering the dating scene again after a divorce is terrifying. And that’s without the issue of having to introduce a new partner to your children. As if dating isn’t hard enough all on it’s own, now you have to consider whether or not your kids will get along with your new love interest. Scared yet? Don’t worry, you’re not alone and there’re ways to get through this.
Is this Mr. Right, or Mr. Probably…
First, be certain that the person you’re introducing your kids to is someone you’re planning to date for an extended period of time. (And the only way to know that is to date them for an extended period of time first!) Some experts say there should be as much as six months of monogamous dating before beginning introductions. In other words, only introduce your children to your new partner when you two are serious about the relationship.
Bringing home a new person every few weeks won’t help your children from a stability standpoint, and they deserve to feel safe and secure. In addition, young children may develop attachments to each person you bring home, and then suffer the loss when the relationship doesn’t work out. Give everyone the time they need to adjust before bringing them together for the first time.
Mr. Right will need a proper label…
Labelling a person doesn’t sound like a nice idea, but kids need to know how that person fits into their life, and the only way they can figure it out is from the way you introduce them. If your children are very young (infant or toddler aged) then the simplest option would be to refer to your new partner as your friend. This is an easy concept for children to grasp, and it doesn’t upset their simplified concept of parental roles being fulfilled only by their known parents.
Older children will need more than that, though. Preteen-aged kids can still be told that you are friends and that you like each other and want to spend time together, much like they do with their friends. (For most elementary aged kids, the terms “boyfriend” and “girlfriend” have little real meaning, and are often considered “gross”!) However, teenagers are a different ball game entirely.
Before you even consider the introductions with your teenager, you may want to start the conversation. Asking a question like, “How do you feel about the possibility of me dating someone?” will open up the topic for discussion. Always be honest with your teenagers about your intentions and feelings. You don’t have to give them all of the details, but if you lie to them and they find out, it’ll ruin any chance you had of making this relationship work for everyone!
Remember, talking to your teen and asking their opinion is not the same thing as asking their permission. That wouldn’t be healthy or appropriate. You’re still the parent, and it’s your job to set boundaries and provide a positive role model, even when you are embarking on a new relationship.
Life after divorce can be challenging!
Parenting is hard. Parenting after divorce is often even harder! So when you’re faced with challenges, like modifying your custody agreement, or changing visitation schedules, be sure to get help from some of Mid-Michigan’s most respected family law attorneys. At The Krozek Firm we’ve helped countless people navigate the divorce process and whatever life throws at them afterwards. We can help you too! Call 866 766 5245 and talk to a skilled family lawyer today!