Introducing the New Partner to the Children
Divorcing spouses who are emotionally far along in the separation process often have “significant others”. The way in which the children are introduced to the new partner is important to the children’s well-being and to the future well-being of the relationship between the new partner and the children.
This type of introduction typically requires the passage of time and a great deal of patience if it is to be done in a way that minimizes risk to the children. Adjustment to the divorce takes time, and the children need time to come to grips with the divorce before they have enough room in their emotions to deal with a parent’s new relationship.
If the introduction is made prior to the children’s achieving some degree of adjustment, they are likely to resent the new partner, despite any wonderful qualities that this person may bring to the relationship. If the children display an adverse reaction to the new person, it is generally a coping mechanism to help them deal with the interruption to their adjustment process.
Asking the children to obey or treat the new person kindly will make the situation worse. This has been known to have a permanently effect upon the relationship between the children and the friend, and between the children and the parent.
Another sound reason to resist an early introduction is that it provides time to confirm that the relationship is solid and likely to continue.
Early cohabitation should definitely be avoided.
The ideas on this page are presented with the permission of Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW, a social worker who lives and works in Canada. Gary has been deemed an expert in custody and visitation matters by the Courts in Canada. You can view his many articles at www.yoursocialworker.com
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