You are getting a divorce and you want to move on with your life. You are eager to introduce your kids to your new partner, and you are wondering when is the right time.
This is one of those questions of “What is in the children’s best interest?” It is important to think about the child’s needs and perspective here, over your own wants and needs.
Your child(ren) are going through an unsettled time of change and transition, and they need time to process their feelings of grief and loss of the family (and maybe also the home). They will need to work through the Elizabeth Kubler Ross “Five Stages of Grief,” denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
Over the next year your child(ren) will need time to re-establish stable relationships with each parent, separate from the other parent. Some research suggests that a well-adjusted child needs one-two years to readjust after the divorce is finalized. Children who were having a hard time before the divorce will likely need more time to adjust to the new family “under two roofs.”
It is also important to look at this question from an attachment point of view. How stable and long term is this new relationship? If there is a chance of a breakup, it is unfair and unhealthy to ask the children to attach to someone only to have that person leave your life, and therefore also your children’s.
While there is no magic number of months, waiting until the dust settles for the children and until the new relationship is committed and stable is a good idea before introducing a child to a new partner. This can often take many months, and more often a year or two. So patience is the name of the game in this situation. If you try to force the meeting prematurely, you many end up creating a very difficult and stressed relationship between your new partner and your children. Talk with your Divorce Coach or Child Specialist about when the right time would be for your children to meet your new partner.
Stefan Benton is a Divorce Coach in Marin County. www.sbentonmft.com
Photo Credit: Ann Buscho, Ph.D.