Braving the rocky shores of dating post-divorce, you’ve navigated your journey by holding the compass of what parents need to know before getting serious with a partner. You’ve been relentless in your pursuit of self-betterment, acutely aware of your self-worth, and, as a result, magnetized a committed relationship with a person who has stirred your emotions deeply.
But now that you’re a parent, you’ll find that settling down with someone is very different from how it was before you had a child. In reality, you’re operating on a totally different level when it comes to romantic encounters.
You have kids to think about, even though this new relationship should satisfy you completely, and the opinions of others shouldn’t matter much. About 60% of second marriages result in divorce when both parties have children; how this connection affects them is just as essential as how it will affect you.
No matter how flexible and strong our kids are, they need to feel as safe and at ease with your partner as possible.
As a divorce guide, I get a lot of questions about how to settle down with someone new when you have kids. However, I always give the same few pieces of advice to anyone who asks.
Don’t be afraid to prioritize your kids.
When I was dating my second husband, I was afraid he would remember how hard it was to raise a 2-year-old and run away. At that point, his daughter was 10 and much less likely to ruin plans with a rage tantrum or a diaper blowout. We made plans for a big night out not long after we started dating, but my daughter got sick, and we had to cancel. I thought he would roll his eyes and say how hard it is to have a child that young, but instead he said, “Please don’t feel bad about canceling. Our children come first, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
You might want to reevaluate your relationship if your partner always puts herself first, even over the kids. They shouldn’t have a say in major decisions, but they do need to know they can count on you in an emergency. The right spouse will cherish the time they spend with you and respect you all the more.
Don’t try to force your partner to get close to your kids.
In your movie, your kids will fall madly in love with your new partner at first sight, and he’ll be bringing them to the park and treating them to ice cream in no time. I regret to inform you that this is not always the case. It’s wonderful if your partner is excited to meet your children. However, you should act on your own schedule, not your spouse’s. Even if your kids hit it with your partner straight away, they’ll still need time to adjust to the shift. Tensions may arise if they believe their time is being stolen from them by this other person and if their other parent makes statements that force them to choose between you and this other person.
Don’t worry if you don’t get the happy finish right away, and don’t try to make it happen. Even if your kids aren’t very friendly at first, that’s fine as long as your partner is patient and knows that these things take time. Slowly and carefully bring your new partner into their lives so that they don’t see this new person as a threat.
If your partner is too pushy with the kids or doesn’t care about what they need, you should rethink your relationship. You don’t want to rush something as important as meeting your children’s new partner.
Don’t ignore your instincts.
When your new partner meets your kids, you must use all your parental instincts. How do they connect with him or her? Does it feel normal or forced? Does their way of being strict make you feel bad? Don’t you like the tips they give you about raising your children? Trust me, these things are important. If you don’t pay attention to them now, they will come back to hurt you and your kids in the future.
You should fully and deeply trust your gut during this time in your life. Pay attention to what your kids say. If time goes by and they still don’t like your new partner or keep complaining, listen to them. Children are great at figuring out who is who.
If your partner seems great for you but is impatient or jealous when you spend time with your kids, wants you to treat them differently, or makes them feel uncomfortable, respect that and leave. You can always find another partner, but if your partner hurts your children, you might not be able to fix the damage.
You should never let your love for your relationship come at the expense of your children’s mental health, but you do deserve all the love in the world and a fantastic partner who offers it to you. What benefits you should also benefit others; this will make everyone’s lives much more satisfying.
Meaningful articles you might like: What Can I Do If I Disagree With My Partner’s Parenting, How Parenting a Kid with a Speech Delay Can Be Lonely, The Advantages and Disadvantages of Authoritative Parenting