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How successfully introduce your new partner to your kids?

10 Apr

Successfully introducing a new partner to your kids is a minefield find out how to do it successfully and blend your family

Man, woman and little girl having a picnic in a park

With 3 in 4 divorced people going on to remarry, introducing a new partner to your children is a natural and necessary step in blending your family. However, as there are a lot of emotions involved this can be a minefield. I’ve seen a healthy co-parenting relationship overturned by the introduction of a new partner. 90% of the time this is down to the way the situation has been handled and in my opinion is avoidable. 

Below I share my step by step guide on how to successfully introduce your new partner so you can move forward as a happy blended family:. 

1. What are your motives? 

Before you consider introducing your new partner to your children you have to be 100% sure of the relationship. The last thing you want to do is introduce multiple partners to your children, it is hugely unsettling and in some cases even damaging. Part of knowing you are sure is questioning your motives for being in the relationship. Is it because you don’t want to be alone or because you want to replace the nuclear family you feel you’ve lost? Is it to plug a gaping hole in your emotional and romantic life? If any of these are ringing true, then you need to do more healing before you enter a relationship let alone introduce them to your kids. 

2. Enjoy the honeymoon period. 

If you can honestly say this is not a rebound thing but a healthy happy relationship then do not rush into playing house and happy families with your new partner. Instead, make the most of the honeymoon period you are in. One of the great by-products of divorce is getting to fall in love again and experiencing all those firsts you thought you’d never have again. Taking your time also allows your family to heal and adjust to the change.

3. Make a plan. 

Agreeing with your ex on how you’ll handle the introduction of a new partner allows you to think rationally rather than emotionally about the best way to deal with this  so you can both support your children (and each other) in this adjustment. This can be documented in a parenting plan.

4. Tell your ex first. 

The last thing you want to do is blindside your ex and have your children tell them of your new relationship. This is a recipe for disaster, a sure way to alienate your ex. Instead tell your ex first and discuss with them how and when you’ll tell the children. If you have a plan in place all the better, make sure you follow it and show your ex the respect they deserve. 

5. Introduce them to your ex first. 

How would you feel if your ex met someone else and your children were going to start spending time with this person? You’d want to know who they are and not feel threatened by their relationship with your ex or your children.  So, show your ex compassion and respect by offering for them to meet your new partner before you introduce them to your children, this also helps your children feel comfortable.

6. Be mindful of others emotions. 

The difficulty about divorce is although you are both going through it at the same time, you are not in the same place emotionally and healing at the same pace. The same is true for blending your family. Although you might be ready to move on with someone new, it doesn’t mean the rest of your family is ready to accept them. So, go at a pace that works for everyone, not just what suits your timeline. Remember you only get one shot at this, do not push too hard. 

7. Tell your children together. 

If you can tell your children together this will go a long way to help them process and feel comfortable with the change. By providing a united front you are showing your children you’re still a family and this person coming in will not take away the fact you’re both here for them and working together. 

8. Small doses. 

One of children's biggest fears when Mum or Dad meets someone new is that this new person is going to threaten their relationship. When planning the first meeting, arrange a lunch, a playdate or activity that lasts no more than a couple of hours at most. Make sure you spend some time with your child(ren) on your own afterwards. Try to gauge how they are feeling and go from there. And remember if you only see your children with your new partner your children could start to resent them. 

9. Is your family ready? 

If you are reading this thinking I will never get my ex on side or my children are still harbouring hopes that we will reconcile, then consider if this is the right time? You only get to do this once, so it is worth waiting and working on healing your family first. 

Speaking from personal experience, blending a family can be the best thing – but for this to happen you have to bring a lot of conscious thought and action to the situation. I can assure you it is worth it in the end if you follow these steps so good luck and remember it’s not a sprint but rather a process and one which the success of your family will depend upon.

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