If you're a divorced parent who's ready to look for a new significant other, you have to consider not just whether someone is right for you, but whether he or she is good for your children. There's no way to know that until you've introduced them. When there's someone in your life whom you want your children to get to know, you need to be careful about how to incorporate that person into your children's lives.
Do it in small doses so that your kids don't feel like this person is being forced on them. A dinner is a good first step -- either at home or in a kid-friendly restaurant. You want an environment where the kids are comfortable.
Find something that your new mate and your kids both enjoy ñ- such as an evening playing video games, an outing to the zoo or a movie you'd all like to see. If you do something that your new boyfriend or girlfriend doesn't enjoy just to make the kids happy, they'll sense it.
It's normal for children to be cautious and even less than polite when they meet the new person in your life. They may wonder how much of your time and affection this person is going to take away from them. They may feel like you're being unfaithful to their other parent. That's one reason why you should refrain from showing too much affection -- and physical contact, in particular -- towards one another in front of the kids.
Your New Significant Other Isn't Your Kids' New Parent
You can assuage some of your kids concerns by assuring them that this person isn't meant to be a new parent or to replace their other parent in any way. It's essential to continue to support their relationship with your co-parent.
Your significant other needs to tread cautiously. Romantic partners should never discipline your kids or criticize your parenting in front of them. Neither should they be too affectionate or talk down to them.
When your children start asking about this person when he or she isn't there, you can start increasing the time you all spend together. If that time doesn't come, or if your kids and your new partner really can't get along, despite all of your best efforts, you may want to bring a child or family therapist in to try to help you resolve the issue -- assuming that you and your new significant other want to continue your relationship. Your family law attorney can likely provide some recommendations for professionals in your area who can help.
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