Starting out on the romantic treadmill following a divorce or separation can be a scary time but it can be much more scary and complicated when you have children. It can be difficult just finding some time outside of the home to meet anyone new let alone going through the trauma of inviting that new special other into the family circle.
Single mothers often became very wary of introducing a new partner into the fold concerned that their new partner will be put off by their children’s behaviour or that their children will not like the man.
It’s important that you take time to communicate with your children. This will depend on their ages obviously but if they are old enough you can explain about your situation as a family.
The most important thing for your children is that they can see that you are happy but remain secure in your love for them. It’s a time of change for all concerned so small steps are important and you can then monitor their transition as you progress with your relationship. Your children will have probably been through quite a lot of emotional upheaval so will be a little apprehensive and sometimes obstinate in their acceptance of anyone new.
You have to be very clear to them that your new partner is not trying to take the place of their father but is there to support them and you and for you all to make a new life.
Do make sure that you are confident about your new partner and his role within your life before introducing them all. It will only be more unsettling for them if you meet lots of different people as they will need stability.
You might be worried that your children will not take to your new boyfriend, but whatever happens you can’t force them to. If you try, they will only dig their heels in and refuse categorically to bond with him at all. You will no doubt feel very torn and in the middle because you love your children and want them to be happy and you may well be on the way to falling in love with your boyfriend and it’s important to you that they all get on.
You can’t force your boyfriend to suddenly become step parent of the year either. In the early stages, he needs to be a friend of the family and not a disciplining parent. It may take some time for him to ease in to the role but providing you take your time, he may well love being a ‘father’ to your children.
In the early stages, you might find that your children resent the fact that you have a man in your life who wants to take you away from them even for some of the time. They might cry, sulk or worse, try to sabotage your dates. You might be tempted just to throw the towel in and give up on your attempts to date but don’t do anything rash. You all have to move on with life and embrace change. Give your children your emotional support and lots of love and encourage them to talk openly and honestly. They need to see that you really care about them but that you also have to have a life outside of the home. They won’t understand your adult friendship but you can equate it as similar to their friendships and that everyone needs a good friend. Keep calm at all times, even when it’s the last thing that you feel like being. It’s not their fault that they feel unsettled. Whatever happened to break up the family unit, they will dread more upheaval but if you stay calm and positive, they will see that what is happening is the right thing to happen. Your children look to you for example and they rely on you, they may be feeling lost and afraid.
In time, if you have chosen wisely, your romantic dates might lead to your boyfriend becoming a special and cherished part of the family and also, as time progresses, your children may well grow to love him as much as you will but don’t rush these first vital steps.