How do you introduce your children to your new partner?

By Kimberlee Sweeney

This can be a tricky one, and an all-important next step.  If you want it to go well get it right the first try.

In my parenting plans click here I recommend this be one of those much-needed clauses. Don’t let things go unsaid or it could be presumed you are on the same page. To pre-plan is the best preparation to avoid future conflict when separating, as at some point one of you will have a new partner and want to introduce that new person into the children’s lives. I advise all my coaching clients who are separating, to discuss this when putting together their personalised parenting plan, as it’s often a topic that can cause unnecessary  disagreement,  as the reality is that this is going to have to happen eventually for you both!

If you are not the first to re-partner, try not to let jealously and anger rule your decision making. Try and ask yourself what would you want to do if you had a new partner in your life making you super happy? Also think about what is best for the children in all decision making.

With emotions still running high in those first 12-24 months, bringing a new partner into the mix can be an area that needs some negotiation.  It’s best in most cases to pre-negotiate the terms in your co-parenting plan.  You can work on a personalised parenting plan with your divorce coach. click here to book your first appointment with me, to explore your options around separating.

What is the norm in this situation I hear you wondering? Really there is no norm.  It’s about being respectful to your ex-partner, your children and your new partner and having discussions with them all before you make introductions or major decisions.  So get it right, if you want your new relationship to flourish, if you want happy well-adjusted children and if you want your ex off your back! Get it right!

So, what is first?

Starting with your new partner, ask them what they are comfortable with. They might not even be in a big hurry to meet your children. Enjoy the honeymoon phase I say! Personally, from experience with clients anything sooner than three months is too soon. And by three months I do not only mean, out of your previous relationship, for obvious reasons (children and ex’s) but also how well can you really get to know someone in the first three months?  Take your time and enjoy getting to know each other before you bring each other’s children into the mix. That’s the reality these days. Often both new partners have children from previous relationships, and this is something else to consider:

Q. Is this going to work if we combine all our children as time goes by?
Q. Will our children like our new partners and will our combined children like each other?
Q. Are my children resilient enough to have someone new in their lives, post separation?

There is a lot to think about when there are children involved and clearly this is not a process you will want to rush.  Make sure you get to know your new partner well and have identified ways in which you could become compatible long term.  For example, have you discussed what each of your life goals, values and expectations are from a relationship and are you both on the same page. Talk about any ‘red-flags’ and areas of contention before you even consider bringing your children into your new relationship. If it doesn’t work out you will regret putting the kids through it all and quite possibly dragging your ex into the mix.  Children tell the other parent things that concern or excite them. Once you have introduced your special someone into their lives they have every right to talk about this with either of their parents.

After discussions with your new partner and feeling confident you both want the same things moving forward, then it’s time to call the ex and arrange a sit down chat or ph. call, BEFORE you talk to your children.

HUH …Why? What about?

Letting your ex know you are seeing someone is both respectful and strategic.  You could consider asking your ex if he or she would like to meet your new partner before the children do. As long as all parties can be trusted to be grown up and keep calm, this can work well. If you don’t think your ex is capable of this then don’t offer that as an option. Do tell your ex a little about the new partner to help put their mind at ease and support the children in this new transition. Keep it simple for both your ex and your children. You could   mention how  long you have known each other, what your new partner does for a living and how many kids they have. Your Ex doesn’t need to know everything.  Don’t push buttons and say how amazing and wonderful it all is! Keep  to the basic facts.

What not to do

Do not, have a sleep over when the kids first meet your new partner. That’s just not cool; especially if things don’t work out and suddenly a few months in you have a second new friend to introduce the children too. Make wise decisions that include careful consideration of your children’s feelings and welfare is first and foremost. Do not go ahead and introduce your children to your new partner without asking your new partner first and without preparing the children’s other parent for this either.

If you are the new partner being introduced to the children, allow the relationship with the children to develop slowly, don’t expect the children to love you or even like you initially. Aim for a relationship where you respect each other and treat each other fairly. Don’t step into a parenting role with them. Leave this to their parents, and keep put of co-parenting discussions in the early days.

A few key points you could discuss with your children’s other parent:

It should come from you first. Ask each other for that respect and trust to say and do the right thing by the children.       When you have done this then it’ time to tell the children you have a special friend you would like them to meet.  Listen to their responses. Don’t rush this process.

Consider introducing children to new partners on  neutral territory outside of each other’s homes such as at a park, beach or a sports game. Or arrange a fun day out so you can all bond over doing something fun. Allow the children time to get to know and bond with your new partner before overwhelming them with new their children too. Slowly slowly….. if you want this to go well.

Talk calmly with each other about not bad mouthing new partners in front of the children. Issues may arise but can be dealt with maturely together as parents. The same goes for the children coming home and only having negative things to say. Help them sort through their feelings and emotions so they have a better understanding of how this new person will fit into their lives.

Talk to your ex about what you both would like around the children’s birthdays / parties / Christmas, etc and how much involvement your ex is comfortable with the new partner attending. This avoids awkwardness or arguments leading up these types of events.  The kids should also have a say in who they would like at their parties also and each of you must respect this.

Communication as always is key.  The biggest take away is to not make your kids hang out with your new partner every time you see them. As they are spending only 50% or less of their weeks with either parent now they really cherish having you to themselves. Yes they have to get used to sharing you but take it slowly. Otherwise they may get resentful of you and your new partner. Keep it balanced and give them quality time.

If you are still struggling to cope/ deal with your ex-spouse and communicate effectively, consider some coaching with me. I help people to have open, honest and more respectful communications and show them how to put move towards a happier brighter future.

If you would like to see what a personalised parenting plan could look like for you and your family, book a session with me to help you work on your ideal parenting plan and I will walk you through the process of putting one in place, as amicably as possible. Don’t let the courts decide the destiny of your children and how you both parent them. Get it right with your divorce coach, before it gets to that stage.
To book a one on one coaching session with me, click here

Kimberlee Sweeney
Divorce and Separation Coach
Relationship Coach
Mentor
www.degreesofseparation.co.nz

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