With Valentine`s Day around the corner and the shops filled with love hearts, chocolates and balloons, it can be easier than ever to be swept away in the first blush of a new relationship.
But if you have recently separated or divorced, whilst a new romance is a happy and exciting time for you, it can be an unsettling and worrying time for your ex-partner and your children.
However head over heels in love you are feeling, it is worth taking some time to think about the impact your new relationship may have on others close to you.
Whether your ex–partner still has feelings for you or not, a new relationship can be a source of conflict, which if not handled properly can lead to problems with the arrangements for the children. Inevitably your former partner will be concerned about how your new relationship will impact on the children.
Your children too may need some time to adapt and may initially feel jealous or insecure now they have to share you with someone new. Don`t forget that many children continue to harbour secret hopes that their parents will get back together and a new partner can bring this hope to an end. It is not uncommon for children to feel worried about how the other parent is feeling and concerned that if they like the new partner this may cause further upset. These conflicting feelings can be very confusing and unsettling and can lead to the children being reluctant to leave the other parent or even saying that they don`t like the new partner .
So what can you do?
Be patient: Take things slowly. Children need time to adjust to the separation of their parents before being introduced to a new partner.
Communicate: It will definitely help if you keep your ex-partner informed, particularly of any plans to introduce the children to your new partner. If possible talk through any concerns and be prepared to offer assurances about your new partner`s involvement with the children. Be willing to listen.
Be sensitive: Only introduce the children to someone you are in a long-term relationship with. Do not rush the children but let them take time to get to know your new partner gradually. Remember the children will not feel the same as you do about your new partner and will still need some time alone with you, particularly if they do not live with you.
Reassure: Both the children and your ex-partner will benefit from assurances that the new partner is not a substitute parent ,replacing mum or dad and that you and your former partner will continue to have joint responsibility for the children`s parenting .
If you are experiencing difficulties regarding the arrangements for the children, particularly if a new partner is involved, seeking early advice from a specialist family lawyer can prevent a small problem becoming a major headache.
For more information or advice contact Alison Winterbottom in our Family Department.