If you have been bringing up your children on your own as a single parent, and then meet someone new, with whom you want to spend time, have a relationship and maybe even marry or live, it goes without saying that this is bound to impact on your children’s behaviour in some way.
Time for Change
Life has a habit of changing just when we have got used to things the way they are. A positive change such as meeting a new partner should be celebrated; it is an exciting time and a positive step in the life of you and your children. However, although you may be on a permanent high, your children may not react in quite the same way and some careful handling and family management may be needed.
Gentle Steps to Success
In the early days of introducing someone into the lives of your children, you may find that they are quite excited by the new arrival. Children are very resilient and often respond better to change than adults do. What they may not be happy about, however, is the fact this is new, exciting person might try to ‘take’ you away from them.
Time to Share
Your children might not be that keen on sharing you with this new person in your life, and this can be the root of many problems associated with single parents finding a new partner. Your children will have been used to having your undivided attention at meal times, bed times and at weekends. It’s likely that you will have spent time watching TV together and doing other activities, such as walking, swimming and cycling. All of a sudden the dynamics of your family unit have shifted and things have changed dramatically.
No matter how lovely your new partner might be, and how much they embrace your family situation, consider your children and allow time for you all to still be Together As A Family. There is no doubt that there will be ripples of objection and concern from your children.
Fear of the Unknown
Children may like the idea that mummy or daddy now has a new partner in their lives, but there will still be a certain amount of uncertainty and concern around this new situation. Helen met her new partner Richard when her children were 10 and 13 and she had been on her own for several years.
Helen said: “To be honest, I hadn’t even considered that I would meet anyone else, I figured it would be me and the boys forever and then along came Richard! The boys and I have had a very close relationship and spent most of our time together. I had only ever worked part time so we had all been together a lot.
“When Richard came along I was so happy but so worried at the same time. He doesn’t have any children either, so that presented its own concerns. I wasn’t sure how we would all get on together and there were a few tricky moments. Richard was brilliant, though, and realised that boys and I needed time together, too. I would urge anyone in my position to take things slowly and establish a few ground rules. We have been seeing each other for a year now and we are all a happy, but different, family!”
Coping as a Single Parent
For more information about coping with your child’s behaviour as a lone parent, read our article Single Parenting: Child Behaviour and the Home.