Not only is it natural for a person to move-on post-divorce but also, it is healthy. When a person has children, however, moving on is often easier said than done, as many children of divorce struggle with the idea that their mom or dad has a new love interest. This leaves many parents to wonder, when and how should they introduce new partners to their children?
For parents to understand why it is necessary to proceed with caution, it is important for them to understand what children experience in these types of situations. HealthyChildren.org explains a few common concerns for children of divorce.
Considerations parents should make before introducing a new love interest
For a divorcee, a new and healthy relationship may be just what the doctor ordered. However, while for the parent the relationship may indicate a bright and happy future, for the children, it could cause feelings of loss, anger and confusion. Though several factors play into how a child will react to a new love interest, HealthyChildren.org warns that some reactions are more common than others:
- The new relationship may remind children of their once happy and intact family units.
- Children may struggle to share their parents with new partners and become overly attached or jealous.
- Some children may feel “replaced” and struggle to understand where they belong in the new dynamic.
- Some children may feel disloyal to their other parents if they “accept” one parent’s new partner.
While these reactions are normal, there are steps a parent can take to warm his or her children up to the idea of a new person joining the family.
Rules for introducing children to a new love interest
DivorceMagazine.com explains that timing is the number one concern parents should make before introducing kids to a new partner. It is common for children to hope for a reconciliation between their parents for as long as one to two years after the divorce. While it is okay for a parent to date during this time, attempting to get the kids involved too soon post-divorce can only aggravate their sadness, anger and confusion, as well as complicate the adjustment period.
The publication also warns that children may view a parent’s new love interest as a rival. It is unrealistic, and even unhealthy, to assume a child will like a new parent’s partner just because the parent does.
Additionally, parents should ask themselves if a new partner is a good fit for the family. Just because a person has great chemistry with another does not mean his or her children will.
Finally, parents should solicit feedback from their children. They should let the children decide how, when and where they want to meet the new partner, as doing so gives children some semblance of control, which can go a long way toward ensuring the first meeting is a successful one.