When you first begin dating someone who is special to you, it may be tempting to share that connection with your child right away. But it's important to keep in mind your child has already dealt with a change in situation with one father figure, and having to do so again can be even more painful. It is best to give the relationship some time to develop until you are 100 per cent sure where it stands.
Introducing the man in your life as your child's "new dad" can be extremely overwhelming. Instead, first introduce him as a friend until your child begins to get used to his presence. Do small activities together that help build a bond without forcing your child to accept him as a new father figure right away. For instance, having the three of you go to the park for a couple of hours may be a great experience for everyone. But trying to force your new partner into roles traditionally held by your ex — such as reading bedtime stories or picking your child up from school — may be too much for your little one to handle. If you take the time to build the connection slowly, the chances of a successful relationship developing between the two is more likely.
Kids are often smarter than we give them credit for. If your child begins to ask questions about the significance of your partner, do your best to answer honestly. When lies become unveiled, they damage the sense of security a child has developed. Keep open lines of communication whenever possible so your child knows there is always someone he or she can trust.
A child will have a great deal of trouble accepting a new partner if he or she feels that person is taking away from mother-child time. If your child has a regular play date or sleepover at a friend's or relative's, use that opportunity to see your partner. Even after introducing your new beau to your child, ensure you spend the same amount of time with your little one as you always did so he or she doesn't feel excluded and wind up resenting the newcomer.
Before introducing your new partner, make sure you are 100 per cent certain you have taken a solid look at the relationship and feel confident you are both in it for the long haul. Regularly introducing a child to new father figures who then disappear can be very damaging to a child. Losing a person he or she has created a bond with paired with seeing his or her mother upset is extremely painful. If you have any doubts about the person you are seeing, hold off a little longer.
It may require gruelling self-reflection, but asking yourself what is best for your child is the most important thing you can do whenever you are feeling conflicted. You're looking for not just a partner, but a role model as well. When you keep your child's interests in mind, you will far more likely have a successful introduction when the time is right.
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