Presented by the Stepfamily Foundation.
Written by Jeannette Lofas, Ph.D., LCSW
- Go slow. Do not involve the children at first.
- Plan the first meeting with the children. Keep it short.
- When you first present "significant other" introduce as "just a friend." Children are threatened by displays of affection, especially those with any kind of sexual overtones.
- Biological parents: talk to your children about your friend...what she/he is interested in and knows about, and how you both are friends. For example, "We work in the same field...", or "We both jog/ belong to the same church...." etc.
- If dating with children involved: plan events so that they are NOT "child-dominated."
Conversation should be directed and managed by the biological parent and other adults.
- Biological parents: give your attention appropriately to all.
A frequent complaint of dating partners is "He/she turns his back on me...only the children seem to exist when we are all together."
- Do not ignore manners and discipline.
- Dating couples: wait to share and compare feelings and insights until after the children have left.
- Codes of acceptable behavior must be developed jointly by the seriously dating couple.
Repressed anger about the biological parent's "indulgence" and "not seeing actions of children does occur." Children do pick up hostility between the couple and may "act it out." Make an agreement to talk about it later, and not in front of the children.
- Be kind about the biological parent's need to play "catch up" when she or he hasn't seen the children.
Biological parents, do be aware of this need to play catch up. The result could be over indulged children.