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ASK DR. JILLIAN: How do I introduce my kids to my girlfriend without messing it up?

Raising Kids |

I am divorced and want to introduce my kids to my new girlfriend. How should I do it while respecting their feelings for their mom?

Start by asking yourself these questions:

How soon is it? How serious is it? How would the kids feel about it? How would their mom feel about it? If it’s early, not serious and potentially devastating to the kids or your co-parent, it’s definitely too soon to have your kids meet your new partner. If there has been at least a year since the marriage ended, and the new relationship has been serious for many months, it’s reasonable to expect that your new partner and kids could be ready to meet. Consider the feelings of your children and your co-parent when you choose the timing and manner of telling them.

Tell your co-parent first.

It’s not fair to put your kids in the position of having to tell their mom potentially delicate news like this, nor is it fair to have her learn this info from the kids. Take the high road and tell her before you tell the kids, so she can ask any questions directly to you and not have to use the kids as informants. The best-case scenario would be that by showing her, and your children, this respect and consideration, she may even condone the relationship to your kids and help them feel good about it too.

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Start slowly.

Once everyone is on the same page about the status of this relationship, take your time introducing your new partner to your kids. Organize fun activities that you can all do together – hikes, movies, etc. – which are less awkward and intimidating than meals where you have to sit facing one another and talking. Activities take the pressure off everyone a bit and give you a shared experience to start building a relationship upon.

Only the parents are parents.

 Ensure that everyone involved is clear that this new partner is not present as a parent. They are your friend, not a new disciplinarian for your children. Your new partner should not try to take on this role, and they should consistently respect this decision. You are the parent and you are the one in charge of raising your kids.

Take it slow!

We said it before, but we’ll say it again. There is no need to rush this situation. If either partner – including you! – is hurrying it along, you need to look at why that’s happening as it could be a symptom of larger issues in the relationship.

 Be kind.

It may seems simple, but that doesn’t mean it’s not relevant. Be kind to your co-parent, your kids, your new partner and yourself. Relationships are complex but being considerate and thoughtful all around can help create a tone of kindness that makes things at least a little easier for everyone.

 

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