I have recently started a new relationship. I have 3 children from a previous relationship. He has moved in due to a change in job circumstances. Although I’m finding it fine, I haven’t told the older children the complete truth about how long he will be staying.
How would I approach this with them?
Mrs. T’s response
I’m happy to hear you have found someone to share your life with. We all deserve to have the love and support of a partner; to love and to be loved in return is a fundamental desire of us all.
I know you wish with all your heart it will work out well with regards to your children and your new partner, the success of which will take a great deal of navigating. There is much to consider.
Children are more aware than we often give them credit for, so it is vitally important for you to be completely honest with them about your plans. If they feel duped at this stage, they will find it difficult to trust you both in other matters. Plus, as children often do, they can use it against you in future confrontations. Add to that, you will be teaching them to be dishonest with you.
It’s paramount your children feel included in this extremely important life-changing decision
I strongly suggest you sit down all together and put all your cards on the table. Children can be super sensitive to your feelings, and will often go along with something they are not happy with because they don’t want to burst your bubble. However, their concerns about it often become internalised, which then emerges as behavioural problems.
There are three approaches I would like to suggest
Each is equally important and should be done in unison by both you and your new love. After all, it’s his journey too.
1) Tell your children you are going to have a get together to talk about the new man in the house, and what that will mean to them. Give them plenty of notice, and suggest they write down any questions they have, and any fears they may feel. The children can either read these out at the get-together, or if they’re shy, or not comfortable with a face to face Q&A, they could give you the written concerns for you both to go over prior to the meeting, enabling you to still address it. Whatever they say or write it must be taken very seriously. But together, with the inclusion of your children, you can find solutions. You and your partner should also confess your fears too. If everything is in the open it can be worked through. You could make these meetings, regular, once a month, Pizza, pop, and movie night so won’t feel too overbearing; making it warm and fun-filled.
To give you an example, when I became involved in the mental health sector, I was speaking to a mental health worker about job interviews. It is often customary these days for the patients to be a part of the interview process. The worker said he was floored when a patient asked during his interview, ‘How can you reassure me you won’t be abusive to me’? It was clearly a fear for that person. I thought it was a cracking question, which needed to be addressed to make the patient feel safe with that potential new staff member.
2) Both you and your partner would be wise to trawl the internet on the subject of step-parenting. Knowledge is power. You will acquire a whole host of tools to enable the success of your new, blended family.
3) Join an online step parent support group. I can’t speak highly enough of support networks in any area of our lives where we need support from those who best understand what we’re experiencing.
If you follow these three guidelines you stand a far greater chance of success for all the years to come.
I wish for you all, love and happiness.