Single Parents And New Relationships

One of the things that are often overlooked in a single parent situation is the child’s role. We all understand our position in the family. The child of a single parent is no different. Attempting to introduce a new partner for yourself can be a bit of a challenge and may be met with resistance.
As the parent, you may see a relationship not only as a partner for yourself, but also as a way to bring a mother or father figure into the family for the child’s sake. The child will always view it as someone taking your attention from them.
The strength of the relationship that they may form with this new family member will not change this. In fact, this is usually the basis for a poor relationship with anyone that is “intruding” on his or her family.
Unfortunately, the older the child is, the harder this transition will become. Talking to the child will not help ease this transition. Only time and attention may help the child to accept the addition of the family member.
As a single parent, there are always feelings of guilt. Usually this stems from not having another parent available for the child. In the case of bringing another parent figure into the home, this guilt may be from not spending as much time with the child, or from not having the energy to do the usual things any more, or even because of changing the routine that was previously followed.
It is important to keep in mind that the child feels these changes as well. If you expect the child of a single parent to adapt to the new family structure, it must be done gently. The child is used to having the parent to their self. The intrusion that they feel cannot be ignored.
Introducing someone else into your family should be done slowly, preferably before they move into the home. It is for the sake of a calm family life that any relationship with a single parent should move especially slowly.
It is best to plan outings that include the other person and allow the child or children time to adjust to having this person sharing your family time. If there is a special activity that has been a part of the routine of your lives, include this new person and see how the child(ren) react. If things go smoothly, you may plan to include them the next time as well.
Have them come over after work and spend the evening, creating the family environment without the threat of permanence. Have them stay until the children are asleep if possible. Spend several months doing this at least a few times a week.
As long as things have gone well, you can increase their involvement with the kids and start having them stay over on occasion. Don’t announce when this will be (except maybe the first time to get a feel for what the reaction will be).
By moving slowly, the relationship will have time to build between each member of the family. You will be giving the child(ren) the opportunity to adjust to the change, and you will get a real feel for how things may go once the other person moves in.
It is important to remember that the child should be as excited to have this new person in their lives as you, the parent, are. Once you move someone into your home, it’s too late to take things slowly. Move too quickly and you could have a fight on your hands for years to come.