Before you kiss your new partner, look over your shoulder…the kids may be watching you.
After a divorce, it’s natural for parents to enter the dating scene again. In fact, a new relationship may have formed long before the divorce became final. Not uncommonly these days, separated parents begin living with new partners or at least openly dating them – before the bonds of matrimony are dissolved on the first relationship.
While modern society permits such lifestyles, children are often more resistant to change and may initially reject new parent figures. In fact, it may take a long time for a child, torn by a divorce, to warm up to mom’s new boyfriend, or dad’s new girlfriend.
Meanwhile, parents who suffered through a lousy divorce and perhaps years of abuse or rejection before that, may be extremely eager to forge a new romantic relationship. But here’s the warning: Slow it down! Do not express affection for a new partner too quickly or too openly in the presence of your children. Allow your outward expressions of affection to evolve gradually as the relationship between the children and your new partner evolves. Too much too fast may imperil your claim for custody of the kids or may hinder your right to visitation and parenting time.
Especially with young children, be very careful not to display romantic affection too soon. Avoid any inappropriate touching, and, needless to say, keep bedroom doors locked to avoid accidental intrusions. Children who are still trying to sort through the impact of a divorce, or who still miss an absent parent, can become entrenched more deeply in their feelings of resentment and rejection if they are exposed prematurely to a new romantic relationship.
Children who dislike the “new boyfriend” or the “new girlfriend” also tend to tattle-tale to the other parent, reporting household fights, misdeeds, and unusual lifestyle activities that involve the new partner. None of this bodes will for a custody case. So, before you kiss your new partner, look over your shoulder, Pause for a moment, and think about the kids.