What happens when you or your ex meet someone new and want to introduce them to your children? This is often a difficult transition but it’s likely to happen at some point, and it will require a lot of self-awareness and control. It’s natural for this next step in your co-parenting journey to feel daunting or overwhelming and for feelings of insecurity or anxiety to arise. We’ll discuss a few tips from people who have ‘been there and done that’ to help you to navigate this new chapter.
Where possible, discuss introducing new partners to your children with your ex before it happens. Put yourself in their shoes – how would you feel if they introduced someone to your children without knowing? In a co-operative parenting relationship, it’s important that you both have a say and know what’s happening, even though there is little that you or they can do to prevent it. This leads us on to our next tip…
It’s natural to feel protective over your children but, unless there are danger signs, there’s not much you or your ex can do to prevent a new partner from being introduced at some point. Successful co-parenting relationships all have one thing in common – you both accept that you can’t control everything.
It’s OK to request that you meet the new partner before they are introduced to your kids but if that isn’t possible, try to trust that your ex wouldn’t introduce the children to anyone unsuitable. Accepting that you have no say over each other’s new partners can be hard.
While you can’t stop new partners from being introduced to your kids, it’s important to have an open dialogue to establish boundaries. Let your ex know what you are and aren’t comfortable with and vice versa. Having these conversations prior to the situation happening will help to ease any emotional reactions in the moment. You could even build them into your parenting plan at the point of separating. Being clear and transparent with each other will help grow your co-parenting relationship and set the foundations of your blended family off on the right foot.
It’s natural for negative feelings to arise when your ex introduces a new partner, but don’t share these feelings with your kids. Use other support networks like close friends and family and make sure you do it out of earshot from the children. Your children don’t need to know if you dislike the new adult in their life and belittling them in front of the kids won’t help you in the long run.
Try and look at this new person as an opportunity rather than a hindrance. You are not being replaced, but rather providing your children with another adult who may become a source of love and guidance in the future. If you can work together, your children may well come to benefit from the experience.
It may be difficult knowing your kids are with someone else, and you may feel lonely or jealous when they are away from you. You can mitigate these feelings by keeping busy or using this time for some self-care. Do something or see people that you wouldn’t normally have time to do or see.
There are many helpful co-parenting tools at your disposal, like the amicable co-parenting app. The app helps you to define and communicate your boundaries, schedule shared events to avoid confusion and conflict, and message your ex securely through the messaging function. All the tools were created to help avoid tension and miscommunication that may arise during very common co-parenting milestones like introducing new partners.
We hope the above tips help you navigate co-parenting when new partners are introduced.
Rebecca Jones, amicable Divorce Coach