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Tips for introducing your new partner to your kids

During the holidays, many children of divorced parents meet those parents' new significant others for the first time. If your kids live some distance away and are visiting you over winter break, you likely want to introduce them to your new partner. Even if your kids live with you, with everyone off of school and work, it might seem like a good time to plan an outing. Perhaps you want your new partner to share in some of your family holiday festivities.

If this relationship is serious enough that you're comfortable with your kids getting to know and possibly becoming attached to the new person in your life, the next step is to determine what this first meeting will involve. Keep in mind the following things:

  • Designate a clear time frame. Don't plan a daylong event. If things don't go well, that can be excruciating for everyone. Plan something with a designated start and end time.
  • Make the activity age-appropriate and enjoyable for your child(ren). If you've got kids of different ages, find something they'll all enjoy. If they're doing something they like, whether it's watching a favorite movie for the hundredth time, playing a board game or going to a local arcade, and your partner seems to be enjoying it, they're more likely to warm to this new person. If they're being dragged along to an art exhibit you both want to see, they're more likely to resent it -- and this person.

It's important to manage your expectations and not to place too much pressure on this first meeting. Even if your kids don't get off to a good start with your new significant other, that doesn't mean they can't eventually develop a close relationship. You might just have to take things more slowly than you'd hoped.

Kids are likely to be wary of anyone who's taking some of their parent's time and attention -- or whom they think is trying to replace their other parent. They may do their best to test them to see if they'll stick around. It may help to talk with others to find out how they've introduced new partners into their kids' lives. Your Phoenix family law attorney may be able to recommend some support groups in your area for divorced parents.

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