Photo Via: @everleighrose by @valoriedarling
Sometimes we just get married. We're madly in love and that's that. But, we also marry for a plethora of reasons besides love and/or religion ... sometimes we marry for babies, emotional security, financial convenience, health benefits, thinking that's what we're supposed to do, parental expectations and, well, you know the list goes on and on.
It's very likely that many of us didn't have these very important discussions before the knot was tied and ultimately got divorced. Did you know that getting divorced doesn't mean you are destined to die alone? Surprisingly, there are people who think this and that's great if that's what they want ... but it's a hard NO for me, dog. Although Savannah Labrant (above) had different circumstances, she's a great example of someone who found love again and knew she deserved it.
I personally think it's really healthy for your kids to know that you are human and like/want companionship (unlike Dr. Laura who thinks you should never date until your kids graduate from HS - that was the first/last show of hers I tuned into). Why shouldn't we teach our kids that sometimes we fail and then we learn and try again? I am NOT talking about parading your Tinder dates (here are some tips btw) for your children to see. I'm talking about after you're divorced and your kids are well aware that mom/mom and/or dad/dad are NOT going to magically get back together.
After you and your ex have done the hard work showing that you are on the same team, are always there for them and make them feel secure by being good to each other - that's probably a good time to move forward with your personal lives. If you just want to date on your off days and keep it all secret from your kiddos, do your thing but that's not what I'm talking about here.
So here you are, a while later and settled into a solid relationship that seems so promising. Just introduce them to your kids, right ... what could go wrong? Everything could go right OR everything could go off-the-rails wrong. I'm talking emotional melt wrong. Why? Because you didn't DO THE WORK.
It seems so easy ... remember The Brady Bunch? It's not that easy and there's a ton of work to be done before you start that next chapter. Of course, there are many variables unique to every relationship, but there are also things that the adults can absolutely control and facilitate.
Put Your Feelings For Your Ex Aside
When you're divorced, you must put your kids' feelings first. If you can't get over your feelings for your ex and you do and say things that make your kids feel bad about the other parent - YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG. Even if your relationship isn't roses with your ex - fake it till you make it, baby. Give your kids the security that their parents have a solid relationship. This alleviates stress and allows them not to feel like they have to be your peacekeepers or manage your relationship. You are the adults. Figure it out and don't be a jerk.
Be Honest And Open With Your Kids
OMG this is such a no brainer, but talk to your kids together. "Hey kiddos, you know that mom/mom and/or dad/dad are no longer together. We both love you so much and we are always going to be here for you and each other. Do you understand that we aren't getting back together? How does that make you feel? Do you have any questions for us?" This conversation should be had well before you decide on introducing someone btw.
Show Respect To Your Ex
Even after you've parted ways and are 'over' each other, there can always be icky or jealous feelings before either of you even meet anyone. Now imagine bringing someone new in the picture? Sounds fun right? It's not fun, but put on your big girl/boy pants and introduce them properly to your ex BEFORE you introduce them to your kids. Obvs, I'm only talking about someone you're serious about. This will take a whole lot of the mess out of your relationship and show your ex that you respect their feelings. When we just hear that our ex is dating, we probably get a little hot and our cheeks turn bright red. We probably have an image of this person that is a bit unrealistic, so that's why it's so important to introduce and make them human. It's kind of like how easy it is to say something rude online that you would never, ever consider saying in person.
Talk To Your Kids
Your kids are more emotionally intelligent that you may think. Their feelings need to be validated and they should know that you consider them. Talk to them. Ask them questions. Ask them if they have questions. Tell them what's going on in your life. Kids can feel really betrayed when you're living a double life - one with them and one with your partner.
Taking The Next Step
It's up to you to create an emotionally safe and healthy space for your kids to be open to the idea of your new partner in their lives. How could having another person love your kids be a bad thing? By now, you're in a solid relationship with your ex and you work as a team, you and your ex have been clear with your kids that there's no chance for reconciliation, you've introduced your S/O to your ex, and now you're ready to talk to your kids about what's going on in your life. These steps take time and hard work. Anything worth anything takes time and effort.
We are the adults, we must do what's best for our kids. Even if it means swallowing our pride and setting our ego aside so they feel safe, secure and loved.
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