Parenting: Adjusting to a new spouse
As a single parent, how to introduce your new partner to your children.
Navigating the dating scene is a daunting prospect for anyone, but even more so when you add a child and a painful divorce in the mix. Six years after divorcing, I remarried, so I know firsthand the joys and challenges of this experience.
I did not date anyone until my divorce was final. After a two-year divorce process, I found myself staring down the road to single life – well, single life plus one. My daughter was my whole world and I really couldn’t imagine finding anyone special enough to fit into that world until I met Dan.
And so it began – our courtship and, more importantly, the beginning of his relationship with my daughter as well. I worked so long to protect my little girl, but now I was exposing her, emotionally, to someone I believed was special, but I was just getting to know him myself.
At the beginning of the relationship, I wasn’t sure how much time my daughter should have around him. As I realized what a wonderful man I’d found, it became easier to integrate him into our lives. I’ve watched him embrace the opportunity to become a dad to her and for her to embrace him as a dad. It truly has been the most beautiful thing to be a part of, though not without bumps in the road. We’ve seen it all. Dan and I got married and blended this family; my daughter learned that there is a new adult in the house to consider and obey. The good news is that we have learned things that made us stronger as individuals and as a family.
Tips for adjusting your family to a new spouse
Think before they meet – You never know when Mr./Mrs. Right is going to show up in your life, and we all know that it is easier to find wrong ones than right ones. When you are dating someone, be sure to get to know them and assess their staying power before introducing them to your children. The more times you have convinced your child(ren) this one is different (in a good way) but they turn out to be a disappointment, the harder it will be for them to trust when the real deal comes along.
Communicate, communicate and communicate again. Talk to your child(ren) by yourself and as a couple. Find out what they are thinking and why they feel the way they do and then address it as family. You are all in this together now and it is important that all of you learn to talk to and trust each other.
Spend the time. It is important to not only to spend time as a new family but also with each parent and child on a one-on-one basis. Encourage your partner to spend time with each child separately and build his/her relationship with each of them.
Remember, it’s new. Don’t forget to spend time together as a couple as well. It is easy to forget that you too are entering into a new relationship and you need to take time to enjoy each other during some one-on-one time.
Are you a parent who is dating or remarried? What tips would you add?
This post was written by Amy Winters-Sakowicz.