My Father Has a New Partner: What Should I Do?

Managing the breakup of a couple with children isn't easy, especially when one of the parents already has a new love relationship.
My Father Has a New Partner: What Should I Do?
María Alejandra Castro Arbeláez

Written and verified by the psychologist María Alejandra Castro Arbeláez.

Last update: 02 December, 2019

Divorce, in most cases, is a painful process for children. It’s difficult for them to understand that their parents aren’t going to continue together. Divorced adults are usually open to new relationships, and introducing a new member to the family can be a real challenge. Children can be haunted by the realization that “my father has a new partner.”

With this statement comes a series of dilemmas as to how they should behave in such a situation. Explaining to them that there is another person with whom their father is going to share his love life may be more difficult than it seems.

How and when to tell children that their father has a new relationship?

We can’t know exactly how a father’s new partner will affect each individual child. It’s important to handle the situation wisely and identify when it’s the right time to break the news to them.

It’s not recommended to inform the children at the beginning of the new relationship. It may be better for them to get to know the person first and consider it a friendship in order to generate empathy between them.

Wait until there seems to be certain stability with the new partner. After that, you can choose the ideal time to introduce them to the children and other relatives. Before doing so, it’s also recommended to talk with the children about the subject in a general way. In this way, you’ll have an idea of what they think about it and what may affect them the most.

It’s important that you consider the opinions of all members of the family. This will be decisive for their emotional stability in these cases.

My Father Has a New Partner: What Should I Do?

The child’s age will determine how the child will assimilate the phrase: “My father has a new partner.” This will also influence how the child will come to terms with the situation.

You’ll do well to engage in a calm conversation where you can cite examples of other couples in similar situations. This will help your child to understand what happens when there is a breakup of the family nucleus and new love relationships begin.

“My father has a new partner” – a difficult reality for children to assimilate

Children, faced with sudden and challenging changes in life, may feel a little overwhelmed. This is especially the case because of the pain they’ll have suffered after the breakup of the family nucleus and the end to the family life they had known. One of the most frequent fears in the children of divorced parents is that they’ll now take second place in their father’s life.

Both parents may have many feelings during this painful process. That’s why it’s important to let them see that, despite the end of the relationship and the possible arrival of new people in the life of the parents, the love for them will always be the same. It’s essential to avoid making negative comments about the ex-partner in front of the children.

This process of adaptation must be accompanied by supervision and psychological support, if necessary. We mustn’t, under any circumstances, use imposition as a strategy for the introduction of the new couple.

Far from achieving receptivity, it will mean they form their own opinions about the person, without them ever having met them.

My Father Has a New Partner: What Should I Do?

How do I approach the subject with my child?

The information given to children should always be transparent. You should express it in such a way that they can handle it without difficulty according to their stage of development. This means that you must use suitable language for their age.

We must explain to them the reasons behind the breakup with great care. For this reason, we suggest talking about the subject in a positive way. You should emphasize the best things about their relationship with their father. You can also highlight what this new person could mean in their lives.

It’s also important that you always make it clear to them that their father will continue to play the same role in their lives. He’ll always be there for them, and they can feel free to socialize with the new person he has decided to share his life with.

The acceptance process may be slow, but the idea is that they’ll be able to understand it naturally and in their own time. Happiness and family harmony will largely depend on how everyone handles the situation.

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This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.