Don’t Even Think About Introducing Your Kids to Your New Partner Until You’ve Tried This!
Posted by: Sue Atkins
In this episode:
- Do You Really HAVE TO Play with Your Kids?
- Giving your Toddler’s Dummy the Heave – Ho! Quick, Simple & Easy Tips That Work!
- Why Postnatal Recovery Matters
Play with me! Some parents delight in this phrase while for others, it stirs an uneasy feeling of dread, guilt, and resignation.
Play is all about having fun! Any activity, organised or unstructured that your child finds fun and enjoyable is considered play. But play is much more than just a fun activity for your child! As your child grows they go through different stages of play development.
While playing, children learn and develop important skills they will continue to use throughout their lifetime. Problem solving, creativity, and willingness to take risks are just a few of the skills developed through play.
Children who use their imagination and ‘play pretend’ in safe environments are able to learn about their emotions, what interests them, and how to adapt to situations. When children play with each other, they are given the opportunity to learn how to interact with others and behave in various social situations.
We all know that children should play as much as possible — according research play is “essential to development because it contributes to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children and youth” and parents who participate in play gain a better understanding of their kids.
However, if you’re someone who finds play equal parts confusing and tedious, evoking the same “Am I doing this wrong?” insecurities you’re neither alone nor a bad parent. After all, it can be tough to know how much play is enough and what games best suit the needs of your child, especially with the emphasis experts placed on unstructured play during the pandemic.
Kids always want you to play for longer – Molly and I played Ludo 3x on a Sunday when her brother was at a football game with his Dad – and I had to call it a day after that as there’s just so much fun 2 people can have playing Ludo!
And if you have more than one child, does each need dedicated play time with a parent? The short answer is, yes. While siblings are critical to reducing “I’m bored” complaints or participating in “parallel play” (when children play similar activities alongside each other without interacting), getting silly with you is an important shared experience.
It bonds you and creates memories that last a lifetime but it also shows your child that you love spending time with them which is good for their self esteem.
The good news is, what constitutes play is less awkward and time-intensive than what you may believe.
Here’s how to approach playing with your kids in a new way.
KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid
Play Can Be Simple
Most parents of young children have struggled to answer this question: How do you play with a child who hasn’t yet mastered communication skills? It doesn’t take much effort.
Think: Engaging babies and toddler with developmental play.
This can be done with sensory toys, preferably ones that aren’t electronic, which allows your child to explore using their hands or mouths. While ‘Peek a Boo’ games can introduce the concept of “object permanence” (understanding that objects can still exist even if they aren’t seen), that’s a developmental milestone usually seen around eight months.
Remember: Young children don’t need constant entertainment — and playing by themselves shouldn’t be overlooked. Allowing children to explore their environments safely can be just as vital as active parent-and-me play sessions.
Children especially little ones like to be near you, but that doesn’t mean you should always be on the floor. My kids loved pots and pans, rolling pins and wooden spoons, or cups to play with in the kitchen while you cook or prepare food all helps them to enjoy exploring and independent play.
Let Your Kids Take the Lead
Play is how children express and process their feelings as Einstein said, children are always being told what to do so play offers them a chance to take the lead which is good for them.
Playing is important but CONNECTING is even more important so it could be you’re better at walking in the park and talking – finding those moments of connection where you feel present with your child. It could be as simple as It’s putting your phone down and listening, maybe your good at telling stories at bedtime, letting the kids potter about in the garden with you as you plant seeds – it’s all about relaxing, engaging and including your kids – no matter how old they are.
Read more here:
It does seem that your husband is rushing things by wanting the children to meet a new partner so soon after the end of your relationship.
What worries me is when people do introductions too soon. How does he know that this new relationship will last? Is it fair on the children to introduce a new person into their lives while they are still trying to come to terms with the huge upheaval they have experienced?
A lot depends on the bond you have with your children. If it’s strong and secure, you really have no need to worry.
Fighting fire with fire and saying bad things about your ex and his new partner is very counter-productive. It simply confuses the children and leaves them feeling very insecure.
Although I am sure that it is hard for you to talk to your husband calmly, perhaps you could encourage him to read some guidance on introducing new partners to children.
If you can persuade him that you are only thinking of your children’s best interests – and not stopping them from meeting the new partner out of spite – he might be prepared to listen.
- Timing is Key – there’s no rush! Timing is essential to healthy family adjustment after divorce. Children need time to adjust to their parents’ split and it can take a year or two for them to get over anger, sadness, and other emotions. If you introduce your children to someone who you are dating casually, this may complicate their adjustment to your divorce. First visit – keep it simple and DO something active to make it less intense.
- Keep in mind that your kids may view your new love as a rival. Just because you are smitten with your partner, it doesn’t mean that your kids will share your positive feelings.
- Consider your children’s needs for security and reassurance. Introducing a new partner to your kids too soon can increase stress in the house and take energy away from your kid’s ability to grieve the loss what’s happened to the family. Be sure to give your kids lots of reassurance that you have plenty of love to go around.
- Ask yourself: Is my love interest a good fit for my family? After all, you might have great chemistry with someone, but they might not be best suited to become part of your family.
- Invite your children’s feedback for ideas about how and when they meet your new partner for the first time. If you’ve been dating someone for a while and feel relatively confident that you are heading toward commitment, talk to your children and explain that you are dating someone who you care about and that you’d like to introduce to them. Ask them if they have any questions. Keep the first meeting short and low key. Going to a restaurant or neutral spot for the first meeting is best. Ask your kids where they’d like to go and don’t invite your partner’s children to join you on the first few visits.
- Be sure to be careful about sleepovers with your partner when you have children living with you. It’s not wise to plan an overnight with your new love interest in your home right away because it can increase rivalry between them and your kids. If you co-parent, it should be easy to spend an overnight with them when your children are with your ex. Having your new partner spent the night should only be an option once you are fairly sure that your relationship is serious.
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