Finding love again after a divorce or separation can be unexpected and exciting, but if you have children, you might understandably be concerned about introducing them to your new partner.
You may also be cautious about how this will affect your co-parenting arrangements with your ex.
It’s really important to think carefully about when and how you will introduce your new partner to your children and maybe even your ex-partner too.
Here are my top tips for telling your children about your new partner:
Be Sure About Your Relationship
I already know what you’re thinking – this is easier said than done! How can we ever be certain about a relationship, especially if you’ve recently been through a break up or marriage breakdown?
Ultimately, what I mean is don’t rush. You may be ready to move on but your children might not be.
Everyone deals with change and loss differently and at their own pace. Your children may have coped with your separation from their other parent but it might be too soon to introduce them to a new partner.
Be sure that your relationship with your new partner is stable and that you are both prepared for the potential emotional impact of bringing another person into your family unit.
Remind Your Children Their Other Parent isn’t Being Replaced
Your children have already gone through a big change learning to accept that their parents are no longer in a relationship and living together.
It’s important to let your children know that your new partner is not replacing that parent or taking on the same role.
Of course, over time your partner may become a parental figure for your children and they may even think of them as a third parent, but this needs to be gradual and when your children are ready.
Reassure Your Children That They Are Your Priority
Let your children know that even though you have another person in your life who you love and care for, they will always be your top priority.
Your children might have been your sole focus and now you’re in a new relationship, your focus may shift slightly. Your children need to know that they are still loved and their needs are the most important thing.
No child wants to feel that their parent’s new partner takes precedence over them but they also need to understand that your love can be shared with someone else. It is all a learning curve and you must be patient and let your children process this change at their own pace.
Keep an Open Line of Communication
Your partner will need time to get to know your children, and your children will need time to get to know your partner. It’s important to communicate with your children and your partner about how things are going and any issues anyone has with the introduction of your new partner to your family.
Make sure everyone involved feels they can discuss anything with you, including the negative stuff.
Tell Your Ex about Your New Partner
It’s vital that you’re the one to tell your ex about your new partner and you should even consider introducing them. The last thing you want is for your ex to hear about if from your children or through the ‘rumour mill’.
I cannot sugar coat this tip. It may not be an easy conversation, especially if you are the one who is moving on first but it has to be done, like ripping off a plaster. Just think how you would want to be treated if it was the other way around.
Ideally, you should try to talk to your ex before telling your children. Speak about how you plan to tell the children if you haven’t done so already and let your ex know that you’ll tell them that your new partner won’t replace them. Be open to discussing any concerns that your ex may have.
Your children should not be a part of this conversation and it is important that you don’t talk badly about the other parent in front of your children, no matter what their reaction is.
It’s common for separated parents to have disagreements when new partners are introduced. If you need help knowing your legal rights as a parent, get in touch with our Family Law Solicitors.
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