Children and a New Relationship

Adult holding child's hand

The hardest thing of all is introducing a new partner into your children's life. Your children may secretly have been plotting (or at least fantasising about) your reunion with your ex, and a new partner is a stark confirmation that their parents' marriage is truly over. Resistance is inevitable, but follow these simple rules to make the transition as civilised as possible:

- Tell your ex that you have found a new partner. It is very painful to hear this news - possibly somewhat garbled - from the children. It may be a very difficult conversation, but it's best to take the bull by the horns.

Anticipate forensic cross-examination from your ex, and don't be defensive about it. It's only natural for estranged parents to be concerned about a new quasi-parent entering their children's lives.

Take if slowly. Suddenly finding a 'new daddy/mummy' sitting at the breakfast table will shock most children to the core. Initially, restrict overnight stays to the times when your children are staying with your ex.

Gradually introduce your children to your ex by involving them in activities together - day trips out, meals together, trips to the cinema.

Explain at this stage that the new person is very important to you, and you want them to spend more time with you and your family. Reassure your children that they will never replace their real mum or dad…

Never let your new partner distract you from your children; they must not be made to feel that your love for them has diminished in any way.

Even if you're head over heels, resist public canoodling. Unless your children are tiny, it will make them feel very uncomfortable.

Be discreet about bedroom activities, and ensure that you're not taken by surprise.

Be patient. It may take children a long time to accept a new relationship. They will naturally feel that bonding with a new partner is disloyal to their real parent, and it will take time for them to understand that your new relationship may be a positive development in their lives.

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