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Introducing Your New Love to Your Children

August 28, 2019


You’re divorced or separated and you’re dating someone you’re serious about. You want to introduce your new partner to your children. You want this introduction to go well. After all, these are the most important people in your life. How do you make it a success?

Constance Ahrons has written a book that covers this.[1] She says factors you’ll want to consider include how long you’ve been divorced or separated, the ages of your children, and the level of commitment between you and your new partner.

A threshold principle is “Easy does it.” The weight of opinion is if your new squeeze isn’t serious, don’t introduce him or her to your children at all. If your new relationship is serious (i.e., you’ve been dating long enough to start really knowing someone), you have everything to gain by going slowly.[2] Introducing your loved one to your children too soon may trigger insecurity or even rivalry.

The introduction should not be heavy or emotionally laden. A group setting, something casual and informal, usually works best. Maybe you’ll have several such group get-togethers with this casual tone.

Let your kids know they have only two parents — one mom and one dad – and neither of them is being replaced. For their emotional security, kids need to know there’s enough love to go around, and that your new love interest does not replace your ex or displace them. While this may be obvious to you, they need reassurance. To help with this, you may want to let your ex know; after all, you are the parents.

Post-divorce or post-separation, your top missions are healing yourself and helping your children heal from that experience. You want to give yourself and them a “soft “landing” if you can.  If you try your best and that doesn’t happen, be gentle with yourself. Yes, you control what you do; however, you don’t control how others respond.

[1] We’re Still Family: What Grown Children Have to Say About Their Parents’ Divorce (Harper Collins, 2004). In this book Dr. Ahrons interviews 173 grown children whose divorcing parents she had interviewed twenty years earlier.

[2] There are views to the contrary. For example, Michele Zipp writes in favor of introducing your new partner to your kids sooner than later. You can read her article here.

This post was originally published on 2/3/17.

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