While you and your family, particularly a child – whether he/she/they is 2 or 22 - adjust to your lives post-divorce, there's one significant adjustment you're going to have to handle sooner vs. later when someone new enters your life: How to tell them you're dating. For a child, especially a young one, learning that a parent is dating again can be super scary, induce anxiety, and do their project and worry about the future. However, most divorcees suggest not introducing someone new that may be long-term until about six months with your new partner.
1) Take it slow. Children may act out when they find out you are dating someone and sometimes immediately think - is this replacing my true "Mom, Dad, Mommy, Daddy"
You need to be able to state; clearly, you feel comfortable enough with your new partner to introduce them to you.
2) Quick Introductions. Quick introductions mean 1-5 months in. Some people want their children involved in every aspect of their world, whether young or older. Ensure you understand how your children feel about this before introducing someone so quickly. I learned the hard way it was waaaaaay too soon - when I did an introduction in my early divorced years.
3) Begin with an opening statement of love. Tell them how much you love your children (period). Next, ask the question, "How do you feel about meeting a new person in your life? Or do I want to introduce you to someone special in my life? Are you at a place you want to meet them? Discuss with them, do not just tell them this is happening.
4) Make it clear that your new partner is NOT a replacement.
Convey and reinforce that your kids will always have your ex as their true parent. For
some children, it's hard not to see the person their parent is dating as a "new" parent or
a substitute for mommy or daddy. Remind them that you and your former partner will
continue to co-parent as a team, and that the person you're dating won't ever replace
5) Settle anxieties if they are present. Reinforce that this is someone you are introducing to them, they are not moving in, etc. Awareness and clarity for kids are critical to the future conversation. The vagueness of post-divorce life may be a lot for a child at any age to feel comfortable with, hold, hug, and reinforce how much you love them.
Note: You will, at some point, date again, whether casually or seriously. Think of your kids. You may be pleasantly surprised by how they react.
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Have a great day!
1) Have you talked to your children about fellow suitors?
2) How did it go?
3) What worked and what did not?
4) Do you feel comfortable moving forward in your relationship?
5) Stick to your word. What did you promise your children and partner?