To a child, the ideal family dynamic is having both mommy and daddy together. With the likes of television and movies portraying such imagery, it is a common insecurity a child must cope with.
This is no cake walk for a child’s development, as they try to understand the reasons why their parents are separated. Depending on the age and maturity of the child, it may require outside counseling or at least a minimal conversation as to clarify why the parents are no longer together. It is up to both parents to reassure their child of their primary focus, maintaining a loving environment.
Once, and only upon clarifying the conditions of the separation to the child, then is it time to introduce the concept of a new adult figure coming into the picture and another addition to the family structure. Do not for one minute underestimate your child’s ability to comprehend the situation; kids today are a lot more developed then parents credit them with.
When you do decide to bring a male or female figure into the picture, it is the responsibility of the parent to reaffirm the significance of their bond and discuss the boundaries of someone new coming into the equation.
The parent and new partner must keep a constant line of dialogue to ease the transition for the child, especially if they are an only child used to all of the attention. The grownups must truthfully articulate their relationship to the child, and make certain that the child feels comfortable to express their own thoughts and feelings; even if it may not align with the adults.
What Would Simeon Do?
There is no one definitive way to address a new partner with your kid, but there is a certain level of respect an adult must pay to their child for not giving them the ideal picture perfect upbringing they long for having.
Make it known to your child that a new partner is not a replacement to their mother or father, but a new companion for you; one whom too wants to share new experiences and enrich the family with love.
Be flexible with your child’s emotions and allow them to vent any thoughts or concerns. Express your empathy for their situation by showing compassion and an understanding that things may take time to get used to.