How to introduce your kids to a new partner after divorce

Dating post-divorce can be difficult -- especially when your kids are involved. Learn how to ease any tension between your child and your new partner following separation.

Introducing your child to someone new
Getting back into the dating game after a divorce is difficult. But when you find someone new you want to spend a lot of time with, introducing him or her to the most important people in your life – your children – can be even harder.

Every child will react differently to their parents moving on and starting to date again, but you can make the transition a little easier on everyone by taking baby steps.

Marion Goertz, a registered marriage and family therapist in Toronto, compares the process to introducing a new puppy to your family. "Take your time," says Goertz. "Be certain he's a keeper and don't use your kids as screening devices – their hearts can't and shouldn't bear the burden" of helping you choose a partner.

Be sure this person will be in your life for the long term
If you – like many parents back on the dating scene – have been seeing someone under the radar, there's no need to rush to introduce him or her to your kids.

"A new committed relationship shouldn't even be considered until three years after the split," says Goertz. "It will take at least that amount of time for you to get to know who you are again and to begin to trust your own judgment and the character of a potential new full-time partner."

Similarly, during that first three years your kids will still be adapting to the changes that resulted from your divorce. However, once you've found someone you're confident will fit into your family, slowly introduce him or her to your children.

Talk to your new partner about your kids

As you're getting to know someone new, tell him or her how important your kids are to you. Make it clear that the kids come first.

Keep the conversation positive. Goertz suggests telling people you're dating that it's important to you that your kids' lives not be disrupted and that you'll tell them you're dating when you feel the time is right.

Your new partner may be just as uncomfortable with the situation as your kids, so you may need to calm his or her fears as well and ease that person into getting to know your family.

Page 1 of 3Find out how to appropriately coordinate a meeting between your child and your new partner on page 2.

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