So when is the right time, after bereavement, to introduce a new partner to your children?
Every situation is different and demands a unique decision, with the age of the children being fundamental. A mature son or daughter, who is also in a loving relationship, may be able to relate empathetically and actively encourage us to seek happiness with someone else.
On the other hand, a much younger child may be confused and think the new person is going to steal us away. They may also think we are trying to replace their mother/father. Explaining that this is not the case is an important step and must be done in such a way that they can fully understand the situation. Children of any age might feel threatened, angry and confused about your interest in someone new and it is obviously important to respect their feelings.
If you ensure, every step of the way, that no one will ever replace their mother/father, they will hopefully begin to come to terms with the idea of someone new in your life and theirs.
Taking things slowly and encouraging them to talk about anything they are worried about is the way to go: ‘What would mum/dad say if they thought you were going out with someone else?’ is a typical question and we must be ready with an appropriate answer. Older kids will hopefully understand that even in dire situations we eventually move on if we can, for the good of everybody.
Constantly reassuring our children that we love them, and that they are important, will help create the understanding that we are on their side and what you do with your life includes them and that they will always come first.
If your new partner also has children, it may be that all of the children are more interested in assessing each other rather than the new partner. Arranging a meeting when you can get together as two families might help younger children to understand that they are not alone in this situation. Providing some sort of treat like a meal out to a favorite restaurant or an outing that will provide a useful distraction, like bowling, for example, will help them to think of the new family in a positive way.
One last thought. Meeting someone new and feeling romantic and euphoric about the idea of falling in love again can be quite exhilarating and can lead us to behave differently. We must definitely not be overly tactile with our new friend in front of our children, or let ourselves be too distracted in their company when our children are around. Involve your family as much as possible with dialogue and down to earth conversations when you are all together. Eventually, when they see how happy you are, they will start to feel comfortable in this new scenario and hopefully come to terms with the idea of someone new in your life, and theirs, too!