Being single later in life can be difficult, but having children adds a challenge to pursuing a new partner. Whether you are divorced or lost a partner, bringing someone new into the dynamic of your family is scary.
Often children do not act positively towards their parents dating someone who isn’t their other parent, but it is essential for some people to move on with their lives. If you believe the person you are dating is good for not only you, but your family as well you may be considering introducing your partner to your children.
This can be hard to navigate on your own, so here are some things you should consider before taking that big step of introducing a new partner.
Choose the Right Time for Introducing a New Partner
As with most things, timing is key when it comes to letting your children meet your new partner. Depending on why you are single, your kids may have some resentment, sadness, and even anger over you dating someone in the absence of their other parent.
Additionally, relationships can end as quickly as they started, and problems can arise when you don’t even expect them. Even if you think you are absolutely in love with this person, you could still break up. You want to be absolutely sure that your partner is going to be a permanent person in your life for a while before introducing them to your kids.
Consider the Age of your Children
You should also consider the age of your children, for example, children under the age of ten are likely to feel confused, angry, or sad about your relationship. In fact, a study conducted by researcher Constance Ahrons, Ph.D. spent 20 years following children of divorced parents.
The study found that a majority of these children did not understand their parent’s new courtships, and thought that they were confusing and strange. That said, you should consider how well your children are going to understand who this person is and what role your partner will play in their lives.
If you have older children, they will be more likely to understand why you are dating a new partner, but they still might not be as accepting of it as you would like. Dr. Ahron’s study also found that children who are teenagers find physical affection to be uncomfortable, so keep this in mind when everyone is together.
Remember as well, that no matter what age your children are, your relationship with your new partner is going to mold at least partially, your children’s perception of what relationships should or shouldn’t be like. If you are going to introduce them, make sure you know the person and your relationship well enough to trust the influence it will have on your kids.
Be Patient About Their Reaction
It is essential to remember that your kid’s response to meeting this brand-new person may not be as warm as you hoped, if at all. You need to be prepared to handle their negativity, even if it is irrational and unfounded. Avoid getting angry at your children, they are dealing with complex emotions about a situation that is difficult for young people, especially kids.
They may also see your new partner, and your relationship, as a challenge to their other parent and the relationship you had together.
Lots of children hope that there is a chance their parents get back together, and when you bring a new person into this you run the risk of disappointing them and ruining their hopes of the family being reunited. This could cause them to lash out, even toward your partner.
While it may be frustrating to deal with this kind of behavior, take into consideration how they are feeling, and the fact that they are not as equipped as you are to be dealing with such big emotions.
You want to have patience, while also setting boundaries about what constitutes appropriate behavior. Allowing your child to be mean and disrespectful towards anyone is not okay, but going easier on your children about the situation might ease tensions in the long run for you and your new partner both.
Veronica Davis is a writer, blogger, and legal assistant, who writes for a Philadelphia divorce lawyer.