After a divorce or separation, a time comes when new relationships start forming. For some this might start soon – even before the separation - but for others it can be years before they feel ready for another personal relationship.
Whenever it happens, it’s worth bearing in mind that new relationships can have an impact on your children and your ex. While it can be an exciting time for you, it might be unsettling for the other people in your life.
When parents start new relationships, it can be tough for the children. They might feel:
Some children will of course feel very positive about new partners, seeing it as a sign that their parents are happier and getting on with their life.
See the final section below for tips on supporting children through a difficult transition.
If you and your children feel delighted or even relieved when your ex meets someone new, you can skip this section!
But if you are upset, shocked or surprised to hear your ex is seeing someone, you may need to call on friends and family to give you some support to adjust to this new development. You may wonder how the new relationship will affect the children. If you and your ex are on good terms, you may be able to talk through these worries together.
If you don’t have this kind of relationship with your ex, or if emotions are running high, the introduction of a new partner can be fuel to the fire. If one parent insists that the new partner should spend time with the children and the other parent doesn’t agree, successful parenting arrangements can fall off the rails.
If your children start complaining and criticising the new partner, or even if they just want to spend more time with you, or if they alarm bells can start ringing.
Your initial reaction might be to plough in and give your ex a piece of your mind, or even to make the contact conditional on the new partner not being there.
Take a moment to consider an alternative explanation. You’re hurting. Your children can see that you’re hurting. What do you think their response to this might be?
If you are worried about the impact a new partner is having on your children and you are sure that they are not telling you what they think you want to hear, then ask to speak to your ex.