How to introduce new partners to children

Year Published: 2021

Associate Cheryl Haywood comments on how best to introduce new partners to children, according to her experience in family law.

Quite often, the introduction of a new partner can be a catalyst for arguments between separated parents. Ultimately, this is a matter that needs to be handled sensibly and sensitively to ensure that the children are protected.

Here is some guidance to ensure that the introduction goes as smoothly as possible:

  1. Do not consider introducing a new partner to your children unless the relationship has subsisted for several months or longer and you are sure the relationship has longevity. Children may become attached to a new partner and become disconcerted if this person then disappears or is replaced with someone else.
  2. However difficult the subject is to raise; I recommend you speak to your ex-partner first. Tell them you have a stable partner you wish to introduce and ask for their support and assistance in raising this with the children. If this is news to your ex, there may be an unexpected emotional response and it is important this occurs away from the children.
  3. Speak to your children before the introduction, ideally with your ex-spouse, to pave the way. Make sure the introduction isn’t a surprise.
  4. Be prepared for the children feeling conflicted. It is not uncommon for children to manage the introduction well but feel guilty and disloyal for welcoming the new partner at a later stage. Both parents need to ensure the children know they have emotional permission to like and spend time with the new partner.
  5. Children can feel overlooked if they are used to having your undivided attention so it’s wise to focus on child-centred activities with them whilst they adjust to the new setup.
  6. Children can struggle to express their feelings verbally and disruptive behaviour is a common response with young children. You may need to be more tolerant of this whilst their emotions settle.

For more information regarding any aspect of family law, please contact Cheryl Haywood on 01260 282314 or [email protected]

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