With a divorce, the kids come first.
Single parents understand that children need mutually strong relationships after a divorce to help them move on. You and your kid are a team.
In time, many divorced parents will begin dating again. There will be concerns about when to tell your new boyfriend about your kid, or you might wonder how your boyfriend will react to the information. These concerns are valid, but focusing on your child’s reaction is even more important.
Here are five considerations to make before introducing your kid to your new boyfriend.
1. How long has it been since your divorce?
Time heals most wounds, but just because it’s been long enough for you doesn’t mean it’s been long enough for your child.
There is no set amount of time you have to wait before dating again, and there is no set time you have to wait to tell your child, so you’ll need to feel this out yourself. Pay attention to how your child acts when the divorce is brought up, and how they feel about where your family is headed.
2. Don’t introduce a new boyfriend too soon
You need to assess the relationship you have with your new boyfriend before introducing them to your kid. Do you see this relationship lasting a long time? Is your boyfriend willing to make a long term commitment to a partner with a child?
It can be confusing and painful for a child to have new men entering and leaving their life. Wait until you’re certain your relationship with your new boyfriend has a future.
3. Your child doesn’t know your new boyfriend
Your kid is seeing a new man entering your life. Someone they don’t know yet.He/shewon’t know what to expect from this new man, and until they get to know each other better you can expect your child to be reluctant, or even act out.
Children of divorce often harbor fantasies that their parents will get back together, and a new relationship often brings the hard truth down on your child. Be prepared for some growing pains.
Slowly introduce your boyfriend into your relationship with your child. Instead of having their first interaction in your home, which your child considers a personal and private place, spend time together doing an activity your child enjoys at a location where another person won’t be an intrusion into the regular schedule.
4. Your child doesn’t want to lose you
Your child is also used to the idea of “you and them.” Adding another person into that equation threatens the relationship you have with your child. Continue to spend quality time with your son or daughter while your new relationship begins. Show your child that your love and friendship with them will not be changing.
You can gradually introduce your boyfriend into your family environment, but don’t try to force your child to like him. These things take time. If he’s a good guy and likes children, their relationship with strengthen over time.
5. You need to communicate
The best way to deal with these issues is with open communication. Children aren’t always prepared to talk—it’s hard to know how. You’ll need to be the instigator when talking about feelings.
Explain to your child why you have a new boyfriend. Explain to them that this doesn’t change the relationship you and your child share. Let them ask questions, and ask questions of your own to help your child express what they’re feeling inside but aren’t sure how to say.
Let the relationship between your child and new boyfriend grow over time.Keep the situation transparent—and keep talking about it. Leave a comment to share any tips you’ve got for introducing your child to your new boyfriend.
Author Bio: Jack Martin is a freelance writing living in Seattle. When he’s not writing about travel or relationships around the web, he manages a music blog.