“Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children.”
~ Charles R. Swindoll
The first is if the relationship has become exclusive and has a good chance for permanence.
So many of my patients in the past waver between wanting their children to know quality people that may enhance their lives even when they might not last long.
However, children get attached, and even more so when their parent is. They then must grieve the loss of that person while their parent is also in conflict and potential sorrow.
Given all the alternatives, it is better to keep a relationship with a new partner separate from your children until it appears that it’s going to stick around.
The second important issue is whether or not your new relationship was sequential, overlapping with a prior one, or simultaneous.
The relationship between the last partner, especially if he or she is the parent of your children, is crucial in how your children will accept a new person. If there is animosity existing there, your children will be suspicious of anyone usurping that other parent’s role, especially if it occurs too soon. Those initial rejections can become permanent and often seriously undermine the new relationship.
The third factor is how you introduce your new partner to your children.
The golden rule of thumb is to let your children “choose” that person. That means they meet him or her in a group with others several times over a long period. You will have the best chance for a future successful blend if your children ask you to date the person because he or she “seems so nice,” even if you are already dating on the outside.
The fourth question is whether or not your new partner has children of his or her own, or has never had them.
Also, whether that new partner likes and understands your children and what to expect of the stages they are in. Step-parenting is difficult even in the best of cases and teens of the same gender as the chosen new partner have the hardest time with someone new.
Again, if the relationship between the exes is mutually respectful and caring, and those ex-partners support the new relationship, the children will have a much easier time.
Lastly, new relationships need time, privacy, and energy.
Children are demanding, especially when threatened with potential sharing of a parent they need. The behavior of the children around strangers can be a make-or-break it factor is a new relationship thriving or failing. When children are having issues, they can seem much more difficult and potential threats to a new partner. Make sure you’ve had enough time to know each other well before you inadvertently sabotage the mix.
All taken, these are crucial issues to be faced before considering sharing children with a new partner. Time is not so much the factor, but events, attitudes, and relationships, prior and current.
Dr. Randi Gunther – www.randigunther.com
Love is a wonderful thing. It can revitalize your senses and instill hope where it once dissipated. The one down side to feeling such bliss is that it can make you act impulsively and your children often pay the price.
In order to know that it’s truly time to introduce the kids to your mate, you must differentiate between LOVE and COMPATIBILITY.
Love is the magical feeling described above. It can make you feel invincible and as a result, convince you that if you feel “like this,” it must mean that the relationship has legs.
Unfortunately, this is only 50% of the equation. The saying goes, “Love is all you need,” but this is a flat out lie.
You must also be compatible with your partner.
Meaning, sharing common interests, ideologies, plans for the future etc. Do you communicate well? Are you sexually in sync? Does your partner exhibit any deal breakers?
Some issues can of course, be re mediated, addressed and improved upon.
Until you have ultimate clarity on these core issues, it would be unwise to introduce your partner to your children.
Children need consistency and stability and while this can be achieved through many different avenues, one of the most vital will be the choice you make to bring your significant other into your child’s world.
When you do, make it a joyous time by illustrating that this relationship is no flash in the pan, not just because of the love you feel, but because of how deeply compatible you truly are. Your children will thank you for it.
Allison Cohen, M.A., MFT – www.lifeissuespsychotherapy.com
This is a subject that requires some prudence and delicacy.
There are no hard and fast rules. The variables are many. I know of cases where it has been soon after a break-up and I know others who have been dating for many years while still not introducing the children to the “new” man.
So, what are the important considerations here? Well, the most important is the children’s well being.
Here are some questions you could ask yourself:
- How well adjusted are the children to the separation?
- How settled do they feel in their current circumstances?
- Have they had sufficient time to adjust to Mum and Dad not living together?
For many children, they will resist a new date and make it difficult for Mum or Dad to see someone new.
If this is the case, it is kinder and more respectful to their world, to take it very slowly. It might be that you let them know that you are seeing someone but that you do not intend to bring this new person into the family, at least for an undefined period of time.
It could depend on the ages of the children.
After all, the children don’t need to know everything and may be more comfortable accepting that Mum goes out with a “friend” from time to time and not need to know more than that.
Then again, if you are committed to having a long-term life partnership with this new person, it could be that you help the children adjust to this idea and gradually respectfully in incremental stages, expose them to this new person.
Margie Ulbrick, LLB/BA/GD SOCSCI – www.margieulbrickcounselling.com
I recommend that mothers be pretty serious about the person they are dating before introducing them to their children.
For anyone to know if the relationship will be permanent takes time—often months and mothers should wait.
The children are most likely disturbed by the breakup of their parents and having a revolving door of dating partners sends a message to kids—relationships are not permanent. Meeting assorted people can also be confusing to young children.
Before moms introduce a dating partner to her children, she might want to stop and ask herself:
–What’s my rush?
–Will my children understand the role this person plays in my life?
–How will I answer their questions…and they will have them.
–Is this person going to be in our lives a year from now? Permanently?
And then there’s talking to them about the person not replacing their other parent if mothers decide to introduce.
Dr. Susan Newman – www.susannewmanphd.com
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