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How to Talk to Your Child About a New Significant Other

In many cases, at some juncture in time following a New Jersey divorce, a formerly married individual will begin a primary or intimate relationship with someone else. This includes divorced individuals with children. If you have gone through a New Jersey divorce and have a child or children, that time may have arrived when you have a “special person” in your life. You very well may desire some basic guidance on how to discuss a new significant other with your child or children. There are a number of key points to bear in mind in this regard:

  • Always use age-appropriate language
  • Be prepared to answer tough questions
  • Be prepared for emotional outbreaks
  • Your new significant other is not a conversation participant
  • Emphasize that your significant other does not change the relationship with your child
Age-Appropriate Language

At the heart of effectively communicating to your child that you have a new significant other in your life is the use of age-appropriate language. In basic terms, you speak differently to a five-year-old than you do an 18-year-old as a matter of common practice.

With that said, what oftentimes happens when an “adult subject” comes up, age-appropriate language becomes something of an afterthought. You might end up “talking down” to an older child or speaking in an incomprehensible manner to a younger one.

Prepare for Questions

You need to be prepared for questions that your child very well may ask of you when you break the news about a significant other. Bear in mind that your child may not have questions during the initial conversation on this subject for a whole host of reasons. Therefore, you need to make it clear to your kid that you will be available to answer any questions he or she may have in the future.

Prepare for Emotions

As part of preparing to talk to your child about a new significant other, you need to brace for this being an emotional experience. You child may react to this news with significant emotions, including anger, sadness, or even both. Bear in mind that your child may become emotional during your discussion, may become emotional later on, or may experience heightened emotions for an extended period of time. Do not discount what your child is feeling. Support your child in working through how he or she feels about this development or change in your life.

Your Significant Other Is Not a Participant

Even if your child has met the person who is now your significant other, that individual is not to participate in the conversation about his or her status in your life. Yes, the day should come when your children will interact with your significant other. However, the day on which you break this news to your offspring is not at all a time for this person to be involved or present.

Significant Other Does Not Impact Relationship With Child

A key element of the conversation with your child about a new significant other needs to involve how that change in your life impacts your relationship with your child. In fact, what you need to emphasize to your child – no matter his or her age – is that a new significant other in your life does not alter the relationship you have with your offspring.

On a related note, you need to underscore that your new dating partner is not a substitute for your child’s other parent. In this regard, beyond the initial conversation with your child, you need to visit with your new significant other and make sure that person understands boundaries you desire to establish in his or her own interaction with your kid.

If you desire to file for divorce, or if your spouse already has done so, the importance of legal representation cannot be overstated. You can schedule an initial consultation with our firm by calling us at (201) 845-7400.

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