Divorce is not a comfortable situation, especially when kids are involved. For most divorced parents, getting back into the dating scene is not top on their to-do list. They have not only their feelings to consider, but also those of their children.
However, after some time, life does go on. You will likely seek companionship and solace in the arms of a new partner. Which begs the question, how do you inform your kids about your new relationship?
Here are a few tips to help you navigate divorce and new relationships with kids:
Timing is Key
Divorce procedures are an emotional roller-coaster for kids. When caught in the crossfires of a separation, younger children tend to feel sad and confused while teenagers feel betrayed. It may take them a while to regain emotional balance, and springing your new relationship on them will only confuse them more.
After your divorce, give your kids time to heal before you introduce a love interest to them. You and your ex-spouse can even make this a negotiated provision in your custody agreement.
How Old Are Your Kids?
Younger kids are usually possessive of their parents. If your kids are ten or younger, they are probably holding on to the hope that you and your ex-spouse will reconcile. They may feel sad, angry, or confused if you ambush them with the introduction of a significant other.
Adolescents, on the other hand, may be more welcome to the idea of you dating. However, they may still view it as a threat to their relationship with you and may pull away.
The best way to go about this is to read off your kids’ vibes. Ask them age-appropriate questions about how they would feel about meeting ‘someone.’
If they are uncomfortable with the idea, don’t push it. Give them time then try again.
Who Are You Dating?
Is it a serious relationship, or are you keeping things casual? The period after a separation is a tense one. Both you and your kids are grieving and trying to mend yourselves. If you introduce a new love interest to your kids every three weeks, you may damage or delay the healing process.
Before you introduce someone to your kids, ask yourself:
- Is the relationship long-term?
- Is it a good fit for your family?
- Is your significant other willing to build a relationship with your kids?
- Will your kids accept the relationship?
If your response to any of these questions is No, then hold off the introduction for now.
Don’t Deny Your Kids Attention
Your children are likely to view your date as a rival. If the relationship is casual and you have joint custody, date when your kids are with your ex-spouse and focus on when they are with you. Don’t expose your children to your love interest unless you are confident the relationship is permanent.
Keep The First Meeting Short
If your children are comfortable with meeting your new partner, make a short introduction. Arrange to have the first meeting in a neutral spot where both your kids and your partner are comfortable.
Be careful about displays of affection and physical contact. Remember, you want your kids to ease into the idea that you are seeing someone new, so don’t spook them.
When introducing new partners to your kids, both you and your ex-partner need to be on the same page. Should you need knowledgeable advice or assistance, consult with a Wilmington Divorce Attorney at Speaks Family Law today.