Introducing the Kids to Your New Flame (Part 2)

By Contel Bradford

Note: This is Part 2 of two-part series on tips for introducing your new partner to your children. Click here to read Part 1.

Breaking up is never easy. Especially when that breakup involves emotion, divorce and children.  I’ve dealt with my own “macho man” complex, but all it took was four words to leave me balling in the corner like a baby: I want a divorce.

It can be a rough ride, but finding love again is very possible. If things are going well, the time will come when you teeter with the idea of introducing your new flame to the kids. Piece of cake?  Far from it. Making her feel accepted and your kids feel comfortable is no easy feat. However, you must put forth a valiant effort because the way you handle the introduction will impact all parties involved. It’s enough to bring on the little gray hairs far too early.

Of course nothing is etched in stone, but here are a few practical guidelines that will help you pull off a smooth introduction.

 

Behavior Monitoring

Giving both your new flame and kids a good briefing on etiquette before the introduction is highly advisable, especially the kids. This will help to ensure that everyone is on their best behavior.  Make sure your children understand the importance of at least saying hello and being responsive.  They don’t have to like her to be polite and respectful.

You also need to be aware of your behavior during the first meeting. It’s a judgment call, but I wouldn’t recommend getting too cozy with your new woman in front of the children. This means no kissing and cuddling. Things will be more relaxing if you treat your partner more like a friend, rather than a lover.  Keep it cool, give everyone their due attention, and things should go much smoother.

 

Prepare for the Worst

This is one secret I didn’t want to reveal, but there is a great chance of you putting together the perfect plan and still coming out with disastrous results. The emotions of a child are very complex and wide-ranging depending on their age. For example, your 4-year-old son may act shy or withdrawn upon meeting your new mate. On the other hand, your 14-year-old daughter may act indifferent and perhaps even a little rude.

Maybe your new partner freaked out, maybe your kid wasn’t ready quite ready, or maybe you just blew it. The fact is that you now have a problem that must be addressed. There is no easy fix, but try to remember that the first meeting is often a matter of survival, making sure everyone gets through and lives to tell about it.

 

Take it Easy

Regardless of how the initial meeting worked out, it is essential to take things slow and try not to force your new girlfriend on your kids, or vice versa. There is no need to have them around each other all time. So if possible, keep the family gatherings to a healthy minimum in the beginning. You need quality time alone with your children and would probably like some time with your woman as well. How they react still matters, but while the kids will always be your first priority, you need to express to them that your happiness is also important. If anything, encouraging open communication about the subject will help you maintain a strong relationship with them.

When it comes to introducing your new flame to your kids, a father must walk a very fine line and finding the right balance isn’t easy. The key is taking baby steps and keeping some flexibility about yourself along the way. They may never care for each other like they care for you, but if she truly is the one, both sides will be more willing to form a rapport all parties can live with.

 

Note: This is Part 2 of two-part series on tips for introducing your new partner to your children. Click here to read Part 1.

 

 

Contel Bradford is a professional freelance writer, journalist, and published author of multiple books. He specializes in many areas, including legal, divorce, and family-related topics. You can learn more about his services by visiting www.contelbradford.com.

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4 comments on “Introducing the Kids to Your New Flame (Part 2)

    Children come first
    I have to say that from experience in this exact same situation, that the children must come first.
    I have only introduced my daughter to one girlfriend in ten years! The only reason I have is because I am certain that my current girlfriend is the love of my life. I really think that children should not be confused by a string of different partners. Wait as long as you can before introducing them to a new romantic partner, that is my advice. Maybe I was too strict about it, ten years is a long time but I honestly never felt that the right moment came until I met my current lady.

    This may help
    Great article. We have a children’s game that has been found to be very helpful with improving kid’s behavior. Your readers may find it helful for kids who have parents in the divorce process.
    ticketstoregame

    kids should never have to be put in the back seat- unless you want to damage your children.
    I must disagree with the comment made by Sky. I am dating a man going through an ugly divorce. He is an excellent father, and this is one of the qualities I value most in him. I have not met his girls yet because we are both aware that this will be a trying task, and with the wide range in their ages ( 21, 16, and 9) will have to be handled differently for each child. I come from a broken home, and was not made the first priority by my own father when he remarried. I took a definite back seat, and it ended with my father and I becoming estranged by the time I was 14. The feelings I have from this are still something I face at the age of 29, and my father has now seen the errors of his ways. His 2nd marriage ended badly, and he now realizes he cannot get the time back with his daughter. Nor can I forget the pain I have endured by growing up knowing I did not have a father I could count on. Children should never take a back seat. I am not saying the children should be more “important” than the new relationship or spouse, but a common ground has to be established. Instead of taking a back seat, all parties need to sit in the front seat together.

    Kids first priority? Really?
    I realize I may get flamed for this, but I find it interesting the ease with which the author makes the statement “Of course, your kids will always be your first priority.” Perhaps this is the case in a new relationship, but as things get more serious, as many of us hope they will, your relationship with your girlfriend/fiancee’/new spouse necessarily has to take priority, or else the relationship is doomed. So, if you are in more than a casual relationship (which you should be in order to introduce the kids in the first place), the kids have to learn to take a back seat.

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