There are many circumstances that may put us in a situation where we need to introduce our kids to a new partner in our life. Toby Baker is a dad and theater enthusiast and he shares tips on how to help your child adjust to a new partner.
Introducing your child to a new significant other is a major step, both in your relationship with your partner as well as with your kid. Remember that change doesn’t happen overnight; your child is unlikely to warm to your new relationship status immediately. Carefully manage the budding relationship between your child and partner to help your child adjust.
Treat This Similarly to Other Childhood Fears
Parents are sometimes baffled by their children’s reactions to meeting a new significant other. Keep in mind that a fear of strangers is normal in young children, according to Kids Health. Consider treating your child’s fear of a new significant other in the same way you would treat her fear of the dentist. Kool Smiles recommends you give your child time to warm up to the idea of visiting the dentist, and similarly, it’s important to introduce the topic of meeting your partner weeks before it happens. For example, don’t mention you have a special friend you’d like her to meet at an upcoming cookout. Set a time and place to help your child prepare for the first meeting and ask you questions.
Create a Sensitive Timeline
Every relationship is different, so there is no firm rule on when it’s appropriate to introduce your partner to your child. Single Minded Women suggests assessing whether you see your relationship being long-term, whether you’ve observed your partner interact with other children, and determining if your significant other is emotionally open to children. Repeatedly introducing your child to new partners can be very confusing for him, so make sure you’re confident about the longevity of your new romantic relationship before involving your child.
Carve Out Alone Time With Your Child
In many cases, children become hostile to a parent’s new relationship because they are afraid of losing your affection. To alleviate these anxieties, carve out some special one-on-one time with your children, sans partner. Take your kid to a baseball game, grab some ice cream or play together at the park. Demonstrating that your child is still your main priority may reduce hostility toward your partner.
Although you may be head-over-heels for your new partner, it’s important to move slowly where your kids are concerned. For the first several meetings, let your significant other and children interact in an informal group setting, preferably in a neutral location. A neighborhood block party, Fourth of July barbecue or friend’s birthday party are less threatening than a formal dinner at your home. Talk to your kids about your new partner, but assure them that they only have one mom and one dad, and that will never change. Discussing these fears directly and keeping an open line of conversation reduces anxiety about new situations.
Talk to Your Ex
If you share custody of your children with your ex, give a heads-up that you’ve introduced the kids to your new significant other. When co-parenting, this is relevant information about your children’s living environment. If your children feel uncomfortable and anxious about your new relationship, having another adult to talk to may help them adjust. Of course, consider your custody arrangement and cordiality with your ex before discussing your new relationship. Telling a toxic ex that you’ve introduced the kids to a new partner may cause more trouble than good.
Identity Magazine is all about empowering women to get all A’s in the game of life – Accept. Appreciate. Achieve.™ Every contributor and expert answer the Identity 5 questions in keeping with our theme. As a team, we hope to inspire and motivate ourselves and inspire you to get all A’s.
What have you accepted in your life that took time, physically or mentally?
Balancing being a single dad and my career has been the most challenging thing in life, but I wouldn’t change it for anything!
What do you appreciate about yourself and within your life?
I deeply appreciate my family and friends for sticking with me through the good and bad.
What is one of your most rewarding achievements in life? What goals do you still have?
My children are the greatest blessing in my life. My goal is to see them live a happy and successful life
What is your not-so-perfect way? What imperfections and quirks create your Identity?
I can be a bit serious at times and need to really learn to let go any enjoy life
How would you complete the phrase “I Love My…?”
I love my family and career