How to Bring Your New Significant Other Into The Picture
When parents are not in a romantic relationship with each other, it’s inevitable that one or both of them will eventually move on and start dating someone else.
Out of all of the things divided families must adjust to, many parents report the most difficult being the adjustment to new people in their ex’s and their child’s life.
While in some situations, the drama may be unavoidable.
Many dads complain of their child’s mother “not liking” and/or not wanting their new significant other around their child. For many moms, this is a sensitive subject, and if not approached delicately, it could lead to unnecessary drama. While, in some situations, the drama may be unavoidable no matter what you do, due to the personality and attitude of the other parent, sometimes, your approach can make a great difference.
When I first became the “new woman” in my husband’s life, we experienced a lot of this, mainly due the mindset of all parties involved:
Her: “I don’t want that new woman around my child.”
Him: “She better get over it, my relationship is none of her business!”
Me: “I don’t care if she wants me here or not, I’m here!”
This is a common attitude I see in my daily work with parents. In hindsight, we realized that problems could have been minimized, if not completely avoided had we taken a different approach.
Here are three things you should consider to lessen the natural resistance you may experience from your child’s mother when you make it official with your new lady.
1. Stability. It’s also important to remember that children need stability and consistency as much as possible. Your child’s stability is already a little shaky because he or she now has two separate households. So, when bringing new people into your child’s life, it is important to be very mindful of what your child is already dealing with to minimize disorder.
Although there is no specific time limit that determines how long you should date the new woman before you introduce her to your child, a good rule of thumb is that in order to meet your child, you and that person should be at the point where you are ready to take your dating relationship to the next level. Now, I’m not saying you have to “put a ring on it” before she can meet your child. But, it’s a good idea to wait until the two of you decide to be in a committed relationship (i.e. “boyfriend/girlfriend”) and that person must also be committed to accepting your child.
2. Make sure you and your new lady know her role and boundaries. Even if your child’s mother continues to be actively involved in your child’s life, it is still important to understand that any woman you bring into your child’s life will play a significant role. Although the new woman’s role is not to be your child’s mom, children watch and learn from everyone around them. For this reason, she should be ready, willing, and able to assume a positive role in your child’s life based on the relationship that she has with you. The more of a positive role your new lady plays in your child’s life, the less your child’s mother can reasonably claim that she shouldn’t be around your child.
Her Boundaries: She should also understand and respect the fact that your child has a mother and act accordingly. Under no circumstances should you direct your child to refer to the new woman as “mom,” “mommy” or any variation of that title; this is the ultimate sign of disrespect to his or her mother and can cause a lot of major problems. You tell me, do you want your child calling the new man “daddy?” I’m guessing not.
3. Be strategic in your introduction. The best approach to take when bringing a new woman into your divided family is to show your child’s mother the same respect that you would like her to show you. Lead by example; doing so facilitates the greatest potential for a positive relationship with your child’s mother. Consider how this new woman coming into the picture would make your child’s mother feel and try to minimize the reluctance she may have for this change by being respectful to the relationship that your child’s mom has with your child and that once existed between the two of you.
Prior to introducing your new woman to your child, talk to your child’s mother about it. Let her know that you have been dating someone and that you are now at a serious place in your relationship that includes introducing her to your child. Explain that out of respect for her and in consideration of your child’s feelings and understanding, you wanted to wait until you knew this person was in it for the long haul and wasn’t just a thing for the moment.
Ask her if she would like to meet the new woman first before you introduce her to your child. She may say yes, she may decline, but by putting the ball in her court and giving her the option, she will see that you are consciously making an effort to co-parent with her and make sure she’s aware of and may be involved in major decisions that will essentially affect your child. I know this seems like a lot, but it’s a very important part of harmonious co-parenting.
This also reassures your child’s mother that you are not trying to replace her role.
Even if your child’s mother did not show you the same courtesy, remember, always lead by example. Show her the right way to co-parent and hopefully she will eventually follow. One of the key characteristics of a good co-parent is the ability to be the bigger person no matter what the other parent does. Do not expect her to lead your divided family in the direction that it should go, as that may be unrealistic at this time. You may have to step up and be proactive! You want to neutralize as many potentially negative situations as possible.
By communicating your intentions to your child’s mother beforehand, you are starting off on a more positive note than you would if you were to all of a sudden have some new woman around your child without notice, and your child’s mother found out from a third party, or worse – your child.
This also reassures your child’s mother that you are not trying to replace her role as your child’s mother and may even encourage her to take the lead in getting to know your new woman and incorporating her into your divided/blended family.
– This article originally appeared on The Good Men Project