After the break-up, your children may hope that you will reunite with their father. The news that you have moved on with a new partner might be devastating to them. Children may experience a wide range of emotions and behaviors, but moving slowly and giving them time to process the development can result in a better outcome for the whole family.
The news that you are dating again can cause old feelings about your divorce to resurface, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Kids may feel sad or depressed, anxious, worried, angry or lonely when a new boyfriend arrives. They may worry that a new boyfriend will take up all of their mother's time, or that they will not be loved as much. Children may also feel resentful about the arrival of a new adult figure. Talking about how you will handle discipline in your household with your boyfriend, as well as reassuring your children that you will still love and care for them, may help settle their anxiety, says KidsHealth, a website focused on child development. In some cases, your child may respond to your new boyfriend with enthusiasm and excitement for the future. Children may want you to marry your new boyfriend in a bid to regain stability, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Children may start insulting or purposely bothering your new boyfriend in an attempt to drive him out, says KidsHealth. Depressed children may also act out at school or withdraw from hobbies, school activities and friendships. Your children may ignore you or say cruel things to you. This behavior may be motivated by fear and sadness, and a concern that your boyfriend will try to replace their father, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Find a calm time to talk to your children alone about their concerns. Listen and correct any false assumptions, like worrying that you will love your boyfriend more than you love your children.
How Your Boyfriend Can Help
How your boyfriend affects your children also has a lot to do with his personality and his ability to handle the children of a divorced parent. If the children say something cruel to him, he can deflate the argument by saying, "I'm sorry you feel that way about me, but with time, I hope we can be friends," before walking away, says KidsHealth. Your boyfriend should try to learn about your kids and find ways to share in their hobbies. Keeping his visits brief in the beginning stages can help children better adjust, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Usually, children will feel less upset and become more accepting of your new boyfriend with time, according to Boston Children Hospital's Center for Young Women's Health. If your child's depression or anxiety over your boyfriend or the divorce worsens, contact a family therapist or psychologist for help. Your child's physician may refer you to a mental health professional.