How to Help Your Kids Deal with Dad’s New Girlfriend

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You’ve been divorced for some time now, and you and your children have reached a point where the upheaval and strife of divorce have passed, and your new life feels fairly stable.  Your ex comes by to pick the kids up for the scheduled visits, everyone is getting along, and support is being paid in full and on time. You think, finally, we’ve overcome that horrible divorce and the kids and I are ok!

Then your ex breaks the news – he and his girlfriend are getting serious, and he wants the kids to meet her. What do you do?

  • Don’t react immediately.

There should be no doubt in your mind that hearing this news will bring up all sorts of negative emotions for you. It does not matter how long you’ve been divorced, or how well you are getting along with your ex now – your initial reaction is bound to come from some lingering anger or resentment, or at the least, disappointment. Divorce is never easy.

Take a breath. Tell your ex you’ll talk to him tomorrow and that you just need some time to absorb the information. Remain calm and perhaps you can even congratulate him.

Perspective is everything. Remember that you and your ex are still co-parents of your children and that the children’s needs must come before any residual negative feelings you have about your ex and how your relationship ended. Under no circumstances can you indulge in whatever negative knee-jerk reaction you had. Take some time to inspect the reasons why you are reacting this way, and remember your priorities – you need to put the kids first.

  • Talk to the kids about this.

Once you’ve calmed down and feel ready, sit the kids down and tell them the news in as emotionally neutral a way as possible. Ask them how they feel – you might be surprised! If you have more than one child, each child will likely have their own take on the situation.  You might have one child happy for his dad, another angry with him still for leaving, and another completely indifferent.

Regardless of their initial reactions, they need your help to figure out how to deal with this.  Remind them that your ex is their father, that he thinks this person is important enough to introduce them to, and that he as well as the rest of you have the right to move on with life. Also, regardless of any negative feelings they might have about their dad having a girlfriend, she is an innocent party in this and deserves a chance to get to know them and have them get to know her.

  • Find out what sort of person the girlfriend is.

Any responsible parent needs to know what sort of people their children are spending time with. 

Have a conversation with your ex about her, and ask reasonable questions like, how long have you been dating?  How did you meet? What does she do for a living? Does she have children? All of these will give you clues as to what sort of person his girlfriend is.

If you are satisfied with his responses, the next step is to arrange the first meeting. If for some reason you are not satisfied, you need to have a good reason to object to the children spending time with her.  The same standards will apply to her as apply to parents, and if she is unfit in any way – for example, being addicted to drugs or alcohol, or having an unmedicated mental condition – you have the right and responsibility to petition the court to forbid contact.

  • Have a family meeting so everyone can meet in a calm, controlled way.

The best thing you can do for all involved is to schedule a time for everyone to meet.  For example, you might invite your ex and his girlfriend in for some coffee when they arrive to pick up the kids. You’d be surprised what you can learn about a person by just engaging them in a bit of small-talk.

In this way, the children see you interacting calmly and civilly with your ex and his girlfriend, and this will calm the children down and go a long way to allaying any fear or trepidation they are feeling. With the adults providing positive behavioral models for the kids, it is more likely that they too will approach the situation civilly and calmly.

You have the power, and the responsibility, to help your children through this awkward situation. Now you have the tools to do so.

About the Author

Veronica Baxter is a blogger and legal assistant working and living in the great city of Philadelphia. She frequently works with busy Philadelphian appeals attorney, Todd Mosser Esq.

About Author

LaDonna Dennis

LaDonna Dennis is the founder and creator of Mom Blog Society. She wears many hats. She is a Homemaker*Blogger*Crafter*Reader*Pinner*Friend*Animal Lover* Former writer of Frost Illustrated and, Cancer...SURVIVOR! LaDonna is happily married to the love of her life, the mother of 3 grown children and "Grams" to 3 grandchildren. She adores animals and has four furbabies: Makia ( a German Shepherd, whose mission in life is to be her attached to her hip) and Hachie, (an OCD Alaskan Malamute, and Akia (An Alaskan Malamute) who is just sweet as can be. And Sassy, a four-month-old German Shepherd who has quickly stolen her heart and become the most precious fur baby of all times. Aside from the humans in her life, LaDonna's fur babies are her world.

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Krogerfeedback
3 years ago

Keep living your life.
Spend time with your friends. Dealing with your dad’s girlfriend can be stressful. …
Find a new hobby. Having a new focus in your life can help take your mind off of your worries.
Try out for a sports team or join a club at school. …
Make a list of the good things in your life.

Mary Flores
Mary Flores
2 years ago

When I decided to file for divorce without a lawyer I wasn’t sure how to explain our children that their father is seing another woman. Bitterness, resentment, even a desire for revenge are natural feelings for a divorced woman. However nowadays I just want him to be happy because our sons deserve that!