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The Dreaded New Significant Other, Part 2

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The Dreaded New Significant Other, Part 2

The Dreaded New Significant Other Part 2 by Melissa Burns

Part II: The Conversation About Concerns

{3:18 minutes to read} In my last blog, The Dreaded New Significant Other, Part 1 – The Possibility, I talked about the challenges parents sometimes face after a separation or divorce when a new person comes into the picture. I also shared a “best case scenario” about a mother who was grateful for her ex-husband’s new girlfriend. In this article, I will discuss the concerns from Part I and how parents can address them. 

  • The Children’s Feelings About Seeing One of Their Parents with Someone New

This is a common concern for parents. Some children may reject a new person, especially if they sense that the other parent is hurt by the new relationship. This can cause a conflict for the child; an outcome parents want to avoid.

Parents can have an honest conversation with their children, in an age-appropriate way, that lets the child know that it’s okay to like the new person and that the parent in the new relationship is aware that this may be an adjustment for the child. Children usually have questions, and by answering in a unified way, parents can help their children adapt and accept a new relationship.

  • The Values of the New Individual

Parents should try to provide consistency for their children in both homes. This means agreeing on bedtime/curfew, having the same rules about screen time, and having similar expectations with regard to household chores. Consistency will reassure the children that their parents are still a team.

This also sets guidelines for a new person to use when they are spending time with the children.

  • How Their Children Might Be Treated in Contrast to the Significant Other’s Children, Should There Be Any

This is a tough but common challenge that parents face. It is also one that parents should rely on each other to mitigate. Sometimes, this may mean compromising with regard to rules, to provide consistency for all of the children involved. It may also require all of the parents involved to have a conversation about how to address differences in parenting styles.

Remember: It may not be easy for the new person either! They are probably nervous as they try to figure out how to become part of your children’s lives without upsetting anyone. In the end, parents who are willing to validate each other’s concerns and have thoughtful, child-centered conversations may find that a new person can be a very positive addition to their children’s lives.

What concerns do you have regarding your ex-spouse’s new significant other? How do the two of you address those concerns?

Melissa Burns

16 Pearl St., Suite 201
Glens Falls, NY 12801
Phone: (518) 529-5200

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