Whether you moved on right as the ink was drying on your divorce papers or it took you a few years to get back in the game, introducing your child to your new relationship can be difficult, yet something you need to do. While the approach will vary based on your child’s age, it’s still important you handle it in the best possible way, especially if your child is old enough to truly understand what’s going on, as well as old enough to share his/her thoughts and opinions on the matter. If you’re in a relationship with someone new after your divorce, here are some ways to introduce the new partner to your child.
Ensure it’s for the long run.
Before you introduce your child to your new relationship, be sure the relationship is serious. You do not need to introduce your child to every person you ever go on a date with. Instead, save this for those people who truly matter and who you could see yourself with for a long time. This is safer for your children because it keeps them from getting hurt. For instance, if you keep introducing them to new people all the time, your child won’t have the chance to get close to them, or they may get close to someone, but if you break up, it could hurt your child. Instead, hold off on introducing a new partner to your children until you’ve been together for a while.
Make it natural.
Don’t make a big to-do about your child meeting the new relationship. Instead, keep it as casual as you can. It’s easiest to do the introduction at your own home so that your child can either stay and talk or go back to their room if they’re uncomfortable. If you do this in a public place, such as a restaurant, it could make your child uncomfortable (and put you at risk of having a scene happen). Doing it at home also makes it easy for your new partner to leave if your child is having a hard time with it, and it also allows your child to feel more in control of the situation at hand.
Be honest with your child.
During the introduction, be sure you are honest with your child about the relationship. Introduce the person as your girlfriend or boyfriend, and tell your child how long you’ve been together, how you met, etc. If you try to hide anything by saying you’re “just friends”, it will make your child not want to trust you with other information in the future. It’s also important you don’t make your child feel as if this new person is replacing their father or mother, so don’t make them feel as if they should start to treat this person like them from the beginning.
Don’t let the relationship take precedence.
Once you’ve introduced your child to your new partner, it doesn’t’ mean your partner should be a part of your relationship with your child all the time. Instead, be sure you are spending alone time with your child, such as going out to dinner, going to the movies, etc. If you now start to force this person down your child’s throat, it will make your child resent the individual, and possibly even you. While it’s important for your new partner to be involved in some things, it’s not necessary for them to be around all the time.
You are entitled to having a relationship, and while having a child with someone else can make dating harder to do, it doesn’t mean it’s forbidden. Instead, be sure you are being fair to your new relationship and your child to ensure everyone is happy.