I am writing this blog with my very clever 11 year old daughter, because I wanted a firsthand account of what a child thinks about this subject. When you have been married many years and then get divorced, the divorce alone can be troubling, but then add to it new boyfriends, girlfriends the change is even greater. It’s very normal for children to be jealous or apprehensive about new people entering your life. Remember your children have already been through a lot of change and as a parent you should try to be a responsible as you can by not introducing your children to anyone who you don’t believe will be around for long or anyone you aren’t really sure of. Your children will just be confused and resentful of a long line of boyfriends or girlfriends being introduced to them. I think 4-6 months is a good time frame to try to get to know a new partner before introducing them to your children and making them a peripheral part of your family. By doing this also it allows you to get to know each other without the added pressure of each other’s children’s approval. It also weeds out the fly by nights who were never going to stay in your life anyway.
My daughter says the biggest fear a child of divorce has is that somehow their Mother or Father may love the new person more than they love them, that they are somehow replacing them or having time taken away from them with you. To help with this fear tell your child often that no one or nothing could ever replace them or the love you have for them, but that as a parent you need adult support and friendship too and this new person makes you happy and gives you the support you need to be a better parent even.
She says the next most annoying thing about new partners is that they can try too hard, she says her and her friends who also have divorced parents dislike it when the new person wants to be instantly either their new mother or father or equally annoying their best friend. Children are super intuitive and can spot a mile off any one who is trying to hard too fast to enter their family dynamic. I think it’s always better to be a little standoffish be yourself and let kids come to you than forcing yourself into their lives. Children are incredible smart and know for the most part, people who are being genuine or not.
Also troubling to a child is relationships accelerating too fast, as a child it takes time to adjust to new people you should go at a steady pace, introduce your children, wait a while until they are comfortable until you have them stay over the night, until you introduce the two sets of children to each other etc. This is less frightening to your child who can feel overwhelmed by the prospects of combining two family’s all at once, and remember often a child is going through this at both house with two new people and two sets of children at the same time so be sensitive to their needs and adult is how much change you inflict on them in a certain time frame.
My daughter says most children do want their parents to move on and most importantly be happy.Kids inherently love both parents and do want the best for them. I am going to add something that I have noticed about my children, my children often notice things I don’t about people maybe they are more intuitive and better observers, but I think that if your child is consistently telling you they don’t like the new partner and are unhappy when they are around, maybe they subconsciously know something we don’t. I vividly remember showing my daughter a photo of someone I was dating and who she hadn’t met and her reaction instantly was that he was an untrustworthy man. She actually turned out to be totally correct, so listen to you children’s feelings, listen to their needs and make sure they know they are always number 1 no matter who you go on to love or marry one day.