How to Appropriately Introduce your Child to Your New Partner

Written by on February 13, 2014 in Child Custody, Coparenting, Parenting

Introducing your child to your new partner can be a difficult situation.  But, it doesn’t have to be.  Here are some tips on how to appropriately introduce your children to your partner.  Of course, every child and every situation is different.   Consulting with a therapist or counselor may be optimal if you are in a particularly difficult situation.

(1)   Timing:

Make sure it’s not too soon after the breakup with your ex.  Children often need time to adjust to the fact that their parents are no longer together.  Introducing your child to your partner too soon may lead to your child to become withdrawn, resentful and/or associate your new partner with the cause of the breakup.  You should wait a reasonable amount of time after your breakup to introduce them to a new partner.  Although each case is unique, you should at least wait a few months after the breakup before introducing your kids to a new partner.

Also on timing, it is important not to introduce the child to the new partner on the child’s special day.  Whether it’s their birthday, a family holiday, a school event, etc.  That special day should be focused on the child only, and not on introducing them to a new partner.

(2)   Serious Relationships: 

Make sure the partner is a keeper before you introduce them to your child.  Only you (and your partner) will know how serious you are.  But, as a general rule, you should be dating for at least a month (if not more) before you introduce your child to this person.   The point here is that you don’t want to introduce your child to numerous people frequently.

(3)   Involving your Ex:

If you have an amicable relationship with your ex (which we hope you do), then it would be best if you and your ex can talk to the children together.  Some helpful words would be:

“Your Mother/Father and I love you very much.  We want you to know that no matter what happens, you will always continue to be our number one priority.  No one will ever be as important in our lives as you are.  Also, even though we are not living in the same house anymore, it does not mean that mommy and daddy don’t like each other or don’t respect each other.  We do.  But, what will happen soon is that we are going to start dating other people.   I want your Father/Mother to find another person in their life.  And s/he wants me to find someone in my life.  We are not dating other people because we are mad or angry with each other.  We respect each other and we each want the other person to find someone they love and are happy with.   We both support each other in finding a new partner.  We want you to know this because, when the time is right, and when we meet that person, you will meet them too.  We both want you to have a good relationship with this person but always know that you are our number one priority.”

(4)   Boundaries Not to Cross:

There are some boundaries that should not be crossed.  For example, you should never encourage or suggest that your child refer to your new partner as “Mom” or “Dad.”  This will make your child feel that they are betraying the other parent or that the other parent is being replaced.  Remember, even if you don’t like your ex, that ex will always be your child’s parent.  You shouldn’t try to take that away from your child.  Also, you wouldn’t want your ex to ask your child to call their new partner “Mom” or “Dad,” would you?  We didn’t think so.

(5)   Conversations your New Partner has with Your Child:   

If you and your new partner become very serious (i.e., move in together or get married) it may be helpful for your partner to speak to your kids about their role in their lives.  Some helpful words can be:

“I just want you to know that I will never try to replace your mom/dad.  I know how special they are in your life and I would never do anything to get in the middle of that relationship.   Also, I would never come between your dad/mom and you.  I know that you are your mother/father’s number one priority.  I’m having this conversation with I want you think of me as just one more person who loves you and cares for you.  I will do everything in my power to make sure that you are happy.  If you ever want to talk to me about anything, I am here for you.”

We wish you the best of luck with your new partner!

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