My ex is already dating and he wants to introduce our children to this new woman. I don’t want her to have anything to do with my children,” says Katie.
Katie’s ex-husband Tom is moving on with his new life and that new life includes a new woman. Katie finds being replaced so easily to be infuriating. She also has a myriad of fears about Tom’s new girlfriend becoming a part of the lives of her children.
Anger and fear shake Katie to the core. She isn’t prepared for this part of the reality of divorce. How dare he want to bring this new woman into the lives of their children?
But, it is going to happen whether she likes it or not.
Life in Two Homes
If custody is shared, your children will be blessed to have time with both mom and dad, but this may not always be easy on you. Like it or not, your ex is going to move on with his or her life. And, that likely means dating.
This will happen whether or not you are ready. For the best interest of your children, keep the following four things in mind:
- Check Your Own Emotions. When your emotions and reactions to your ex’s new love interest surface, ask yourself if those emotions are strictly about the well-being of your children. Or, are you feeling emotions such as anger, resentment, hurt, or even lingering feelings of love toward your ex? Are you concerned the new woman or man will replace you with your kids? It can be helpful to acknowledge your own thoughts and emotions so that you don’t let them muddy the waters regarding what is best for your children in their relationship with their other parent.
- Be Realistic about What You Control. Your divorce settlement may set parameters on what is acceptable behavior for those times your children are around their parents and a new love interest. (Such things as no overnights with the children there.) And, of course, your children need to be safe. Beyond that, you cannot always control what happens when your children are with their other parent.
- Think Beyond Today. Anyone your ex is dating could end up being your children’s step parent. The more you can do to develop a cordial working relationship with that person, the better off your children will be.
- Model Respect. Like it or not, it is in the best interest of your children to get along with the significant people in both of their parents’ lives. Why? Because at the root of it, kids need a positive relationship with each of their parents. You will be helping your children if the things you say and the way you act models civil respect for your ex’s new significant other. If you are hostile or resentful, your children may feel a need to choose between you and your ex. That puts your kids in a difficult spot and is not a loving thing to do.
Having another adult enter the lives of your children beyond your control can be unsettling to say the least. Yet, it is a part of the reality of divorce. Remembering the four points above can help you to monitor your own reactions so that you support the positive adjustment of your children.
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 NIV
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