As a family lawyer, clients often ask me what they should do when their former spouse introduces their children to a new boyfriend or girlfriend. My client may want to prevent the children from spending any more time with the new boyfriend or girlfriend, or even with the former spouse.
If one parent introduces the children to a new partner without having discussed this scenario with the other parent and incorporating it in their parenting plan, it is normal for the other parent to be concerned about how the new partner will treat the children and how it might affect the children’s relationships with their parents. It is also normal to be concerned that the children will become attached to a new partner who is not in a serious relationship and that the children will be hurt when the relationship ends.
However, if one parent has a negative reaction when the other parent introduces the children to a new boyfriend or girlfriend, the children may be upset, hurt, or confused. They may be upset or angry with their parent for criticizing the other parent or they may feel that the parent who introduced them to the new partner did something bad. They may feel guilty for telling their parent about the other parent’s new partner. Young children may be confused about the roles of the adults in their lives
If one parent prevents the children from seeing the other parent as a reaction to the new girlfriend or boyfriend, the children may feel loss or anxiety because they miss their parent. This may materialize in anger, sadness, clinginess, or a wish to no longer see one of their parents.
After separation or divorce, it is important to recognize:
- Relationships will occur with other people
- At some point, these relationships may become serious; and
- An introduction to the children of that relationship will become inevitable.
Your parenting plan can, and should, include a strategy for introducing these relationships to the children should they occur. It is important for the children’s health and well-being that they have a relationship with both parents and they’re sheltered from their parents’ feelings regarding each other and the other relationship.
You can find helpful resources on our page “Resources for Helping Children Deal with Divorce and Separation.”
We hope this article answers the question “My ex-husband introduced our kids to his new girlfriend without telling me. What should I do?” Should you have any questions or require mediation services in developing a parenting plan that has your children’s interests at heart, please contact us at 604-449-7779.