Divorce and introducing a new partner, when is an appropriate time to introduce the children? It is common in many divorcing family situations for one or both parents to become involved with a new partner. This can obviously be a very confusing and dismaying experience for children. Many children will feel a sense of competition for their parent’s time, feeling deserted and betrayed by the very parent whose help is so strongly needed during periods of great stress and turmoil. It is not uncommon for children to feel rejected as the parent becomes involved in a new relationship.
- For younger children, there is often a reaction of intense jealously and resentment.
- For adolescents, the reactions include, anger, anxiety, outrage, embarrassment, dismay and sometime envy. Many adolescents, especially girls, become sexually active at an earlier age or with greater frequency than their age mates. Adolescents may also begin to worry about their own futures as lovers and marriage partners more so than is normal at this age.
Remarriage often brings with it a sense of relief for those children with an abusive or absent other parent, but will also bring new problems. For some it is a sign that the desired reconciliation of the parents is no longer possible. It can provoke intense resentment. Stepfathers who, not surprisingly, attempt to take on the role of man of the house may often be met by a “You’re not my Daddy!” reaction. Problems are likely to be most intense and enduring for adolescents. Young children usually adapt better to stepparents, though this may take a year or two.
Divorce and Introducing a New Partner: What To Do
A single parent certainly is entitled to a personal social life, including a new partner or special person. When there are children in the home, however, it is important to be sensitive to their needs, anxieties and possible jealousies. With a divorce and introducing a new partner it is best to proceed slowly. Give them a chance to get to know the new partner and to develop a sense of friendship and trust. Parents should continue to reserve regular time alone with the children.
If a new partner is to spend the night, prepare the children by reassuring them of your continued love and affection. Discuss the situation with your new partner so he or she will also be sensitive to the children’s emotions and worries.
Remarriage also requires special preparation. Discuss all decisions with the children, no matter what age they are. They need to be allowed to express their concerns (and hopes) so that the parents and new stepparents can proceed as sensitively as possible.
New stepparents should expect some initial rejection. Research shows that only a few stepparents are sensitive to the need to cultivate a relationship with the children gradually, and to allow for initial resistance and suspicion. The situation will become progressively more positive and rewarding for all, though a good relationship may take a year or two.
Your specific situation may be somewhat different from the norm; please call, 734.927.9782, the Canton Michigan Divorce Lawyers and Canton Michigan Family Law Attorneys at Stelmock Law Firm, PC to discuss your matter. We represent clients in the Metro Detroit area (Canton, Plymouth, Northville, Livonia, Westland, Ann Arbor, Novi) and throughout Wayne, Washtenaw, Oakland, and Livingston counties. The firm’s office is located at 8556 N. Canton Center Road, Canton, Michigan 48187
By: Robert J. Stelmock, Attorney, GAL, Parenting Coordinator & Mediator at Stelmock Law Firm, PC