Divorce and breakups are incredibly difficult for all involved, but especially so for kids. Their families and lives change so much, and it can be so hard for them to process! In ideal situations, parents will come together and work together at making it as easy as possible to co-parent their kids after the end of a relationship. But at some point, one or both of those parents may move on and find someone new. It happens, and it's absolutely OK! Families come in all shapes and sizes, and kids who have multiple parents and parent-type folks in their lives are so incredibly lucky.
However, getting to that point can take some time, and every effort should be made to make the transition as easy as possible on the children in the situation. If you're back on the dating scene and have met someone you feel strongly enough about to introduce to your kids, here are some tips for making that happen in a way that puts the interest of the kids first.
Timing is everything!
While you may be more than ready to get this show on the road, it can take kids a lot longer to process a divorce or breakup and be ready for someone new to come into their lives. Lots of kids hang onto the hope that their parents will eventually reconcile, and introducing someone too soon after the end of a relationship can cause pain and confusion in your kids. In an article for Divorce Mag, Terry Gaspard says it's best to give your kids plenty of time to adjust to their new normal before changing that normal again. It may seem like a long time, but a year or two can mean a world of difference for your kids.
Don't introduce your kids to all your casual dating partners
We are all for you going out and meeting and dating a bunch of people! But you should really keep that part of your life separate from your parent life, until you've met someone who is worthy of meeting your children. Too much inconsistency can wreak havoc on kids, and threaten their sense of security. And besides, according to Gaspard, you really want to make sure that the person you introduce to your kids is a good fit for your family. Even if the first person you date after your split fits the bill, wait until it's serious to make the introduction.
Talk to your kids constantly
You should already be talking to your kids on a regular basis about their feelings. But this is especially important after a big split. It's a very traumatic experience for kids, and they need an outlet to express some of their frustrations, fears, and feelings. When you introduce a new partner to your kids, keep those lines of communication open at all times. Bringing a new person into their lives can stir up a lot of emotions and fears, and you want to make sure that you're addressing them and dealing with them as they surface. Reassure them that it's OK if they're not sure about this new person, and encourage them to take their time to get to know them and find a level of comfort with the situation. Kids will share more if you share with them, so make sure these are back-and-forth conversations.
Introducing your kids to your new partner is a huge step, and a lot can go wrong. But if you do it right and make sure that your kids are the focus and their feelings are the priority, it can turn into a really amazing situation for everyone involved.