Parent Guide To Introducing A New Mate To Your Children

Life & Love | Gerren Keith Gaynor | 08/28/2014 | 09:00 AM EDT

Whether after divorce or death of spouse, bringing someone new into the picture can be tricky when children are involved

When you have children, every decision you make, as a parent, centers around them --especially when it comes to bringing a new significant other into the picture. This can be particularly difficult in scenarios where you’ve divorced, or the other parent is deceased.


Children, whether underage or an adult, are sensitive to the idea of seeing a new person come into the equation, and that’s understandable. It can be easier said than done when telling them that the new woman or man on the block will never replace their mom or dad. Sometimes it’s just not enough.


IS DATING WITHIN AN ALREADY BLENDED FAMILY INAPPROPRIATE?


In the case of a divorce, it’s best that the children are sat down by both parents so that they understand how it will affect the family dynamic; that mommy and daddy will be living separately, but that it doesn’t mean their love for the children is any less.


If the children are adults, however, the adjustment may not be as difficult. The older they are the better they are able to understand the realities of two people falling out of love and moving forward with their lives with other people.


But in a scenario in which a parent has died, things can get tricky. Timing is everything. You don’t want to usher in a new person too soon after a death, as it can be hurtful. The healing process can be a long and windy road, and no matter the age of the child, you’d want to ensure that wound is completely healed before going public with a new relationship. While you may have moved forward and healed, that journey may be longer for the children.


Understandably, life happens. No one should have to live life alone for the sake of their children. Everyone deserves to be loved and to be happy with whomever they choose. However, when you inherit the title of parent, the needs and well being of your children come first.


Ideally, one should take a couple of years to regroup. If you’re coming out of a divorce one year of singlehood should suffice. But no matter when you decide to date again, be sure to take things slow. Feeding the spoon of change to your children is a lot easier when you do things in doses; it’s less painful that way. Just because you decide to date doesn’t mean you have to let it be known to your children. You certainly don’t want to get them all worked up if you’re still in the beginning stages.


SHOULD YOU CLAIM YOUR KIDS ON THE FIRST DATE?


Determining when is the “right time” isn’t a one-size-fits-all and should be decided based on everyone’s personal circumstances. However, a general rule is to do so after you’ve talked it out with your children first. Find out how they’re feeling about the divorce or death, ask them how they would feel if you decided to start dating again. Their reaction should give you an indication as to how you should make your next move.


Change can be difficult, but when it’s done right it can be short, sweet and semi-painful.

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