“Guess what? Dad has got a new girlfriend!” I sincerely hope that none of you, my dear readers have ever said this to their children following your separation. But what do you say? How should you introduce a new partner to your children? This series of blogs will address some suggested dos and don’ts of navigating this very tricky event.
At least once a week a divorcing client says to me “I’ll never get involved in another with anybody again”. Heartfelt thought it is when made, pretty much nobody holds true to this claim. In fact, most break it within a year of making it. Please remember however, the process of separation and rebuilding has not only been affecting you, but your children as well.
Children want their parents to be happy and when introductions are done properly, usually don’t have a problem with you moving on and finding happiness with a new partner. But don’t expect them to simply accept whoever you’ve chosen just because you love that person. Mediators see it all the time…. People meet a new partner after separation and fall madly in love. The way they see it, they’re no longer the young and impulsive person they were when they fell in love the last time and now their life experience makes them to be better able to vet new partners. They are happy for themselves, and want their children to be happy for them too. They feel that if this new person wasn’t up to snuff, they wouldn’t introduce them to their kids in the first place and they believe their children should understand and respect this.
Well, it’s all well and good for you to think that way, but your children won’t necessarily share this view. The introduction of a new partner needs to be done with empathy and compassion for the perspectives of your children. It needs to be done slowly, and in stages. Remember, your children are quite likely still playing a little bit of catch-up from the fact that mum and dad aren’t together anymore, let alone the idea that you now love somebody else.
“Guess what? Dad has got a new girlfriend!” are words that should never be uttered (and this is true from EITHER parent). In the next few blogs we’ll look at some of the reasons why this is so, and some alternative methods for ensuring Mr or Mrs Right are as loved by your children as they are by you.