These days there are more people re-partnering with children and creating new families. The big question is – when is the right time to introduce this new person to my children, family and friends?
Stepfamilies are one of the largest and fastest growing demographic groups in Australia, with research suggesting that one in every four families is a stepfamily. It is a huge job to come into another formed family unit and become a new part of it. Many issues may present, and you may be carefully scrutinized, especially if the last partner did not behave appropriately.
Comparisons will be made; it is that simple. Comparing you to the previous partner is what happens. How you look, your personality, your job, family and background may be carefully scrutinize by the kids, family and friends. It is a tough transition.
Depending on how long you have been single can make a difference to the time to wait to introduce a new partner. Ensuring your new partner is ready to meet them all is also paramount.
There are a few things to remember before deciding on when to introduce your children to this new person:
1. Are they angry your last relationship ended?
2. Do they think there is any chance of reconciliation with you and your previous partner or their parent?
3. Is this new person transient or a permanent partner?
4. Will the children feel this new person is taking your attention away from them?
5. Is this new person a person you want to be with for a long time?
All these questions need to be considered before introducing them to your children. Family and friends are adults; they understand relationships are transient or permanent; our kids, however, do not. It is our children we must protect.
When we start dating, your children may ask you where you are going. Simply tell them you are going out with a friend. They don’t need details and remember there is adult business and child business; they should never cross over.
Introducing your children to someone you are casually dating is not recommended. Children do not understand dating or relationships. They see you as just mummy or daddy when young and this to them means a permanent partner. If they develop an attachment to a casual friend and that person leaves them it may devastate them to lose another person they connected to. This is why we need to protect our children, regardless of their age.
When introducing a new partner to our kids I suggest it is only after some months of dating and even then ensure this introduction is casual and slow:
1. After at least 2 – 3 months of dating to ensure you know this person well
2. Tell your children this person is your new friend
3. Do not show affection and definitely no sleepovers for a while
4. Allow the children to get to know this new person you care for
5. Spend time all together in activities the children enjoy so they can see this person as someone fun, caring and a person who you are happy with
6. Only after the children feel comfortable should you display affection
7. Advise them prior to your friend sleeping over and discuss any concerns your child may have
If there is animosity with your partners ex, which unfortunately there often is, this can exacerbate any situation or problem you have with them. If the biological parent is against the new relationship, the children already view the new partner with apprehension.
It is important the lines of communication remain open so your children can express how they feel about the choice of your new partner. If they have any fears, discuss them openly.
If they sound negative, it may be they are simply scared of you and or for themselves, depending on how the last relationship ended.
Our children are great barometers, listen to their words and feelings. Make sure you continue to spend quality time with them and not all your time with your new partner. Your children need time with you and not always with you and the new partner.
Play it cool, keep it slow, do not rush the progression of your developing relationship.
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