Think Twice Before Introducing Children to New Partners at Christmas

Dated:   

  • Wait 18 months before introducing new partner to kids, women argue
  • 50% of men disagree, claiming it doesn't matter
  • Londoners wait the shortest, people in the North West the longest


Young Child

A new survey has revealed huge differences in the ways men and women approach the subject of introducing a new partner to young children.

A potential new stepparent is one of the most contentious issues that divorced and separated parents face, so family law experts at Simpson Millar asked 1000 men and women how soon they would consider it acceptable to introduce a new partner.

When asked how long following a divorce or separation parents should wait before introducing children under the age of 5 to a new partner, almost a quarter (21%) of women struck a very cautious note and said 18 months or longer. Conversely, male respondents were far less concerned with more than half (51%) of men thinking that a delay was not necessary at all.

The result has prompted a leading family lawyer to issue a warning for former couples not to jump the gun and risk a row just before Christmas.

Emma Pearmaine who is Director of Family Services at Simpson Millar says: "Clearly, the thought of young children meeting a new boyfriend or girlfriend is an emotional one – especially for mothers as our survey suggests.

"This reflects what we see as a law firm that specialises in family disputes – especially this time of year. Introducing a new partner over the holidays, or on the big day itself, is the number one trigger for last-minute rows amongst newly divorced parents. When emotions run high and shared plans are cancelled at the last minute, there is very little anyone can do to help and, ultimately, the children become the biggest losers."

Emma urges people to be sensitive to their former partner's feelings, and to talk through plans involving shared children well in advance of the Christmas break.

The national survey which was carried out in November 2015 presented some marked regional variations too.

In the South West, 27% of people felt waiting a full year was best. 22% of people in the North West opted for 18 months or longer. In contrast, 17% of those asked in the North East felt just three months was enough, with only 11% choosing 18 months or longer. London boasted the highest number of participants who said a single month is enough to wait, with 13%.

Emma adds: "Naturally, couples want to spend Christmas together, but my advice for those divorced during 2015 is to try and arrange a separate time without the children, if emotions are still raw.

"Our survey shows that some adults don't mind how soon the children meet a new partner, but many do and it is guaranteed to cause problems if this sensitivity is ignored. Communication is key; broaching the topic several weeks before Christmas gives everyone time to digest the prospect, and to suggest alternatives that everyone is happy with if necessary."

Q: How long following a divorce or separation do you think parents should wait before introducing children under the age of 5 to a new partner?

Full Gender Breakdown

Average Men Women
1 Month 5% 6% 5%
3 Months 9% 8% 10%
6 Months 15% 14% 16%
1 Year 16% 11% 21%
18 Months or Longer 16% 10% 21%
It Doesn't Matter 39% 51% 27%

Regional Differences

East Midlands East Anglia London North East North West
1 Month 3% 4% 13% 9% 4%
3 Months 12% 8% 17% 17% 6%
6 Months 6% 17% 20% 13% 13%
1 Year 19% 14% 9% 15% 16%
18 Months or Longer 9% 19% 15% 11% 22%
It Doesn't Matter 51% 38% 26% 35% 39%
South East South West Wales West Midlands Yorkshire & Humber
1 Month 7% 4% 5% 1% 3%
3 Months 10% 6% 3% 5% 7%
6 Months 11% 11% 27% 18% 21%
1 Year 18% 27% 8% 14% 15%
18 Months or Longer 16% 6% 11% 20% 16%
It Doesn't Matter 38% 46% 46% 42% 38%

Age Breakdown

18-24 25-34 35-44 45-54 55+
1 Month 4% 10% 8% 3% 2%
3 Months 7% 12% 11% 9% 6%
6 Months 8% 17% 21% 17% 11%
1 Year 13% 16% 17% 20% 15%
18 Months or Longer 18% 9% 16% 15% 20%
It Doesn't Matter 50% 36% 27% 36% 46%


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