Daddy has a new girlfriend

What are the right things to say and do to support your child?

Daddy has a new girlfriend!

Remember the feelings of anticipation and hope with that new life growing inside of you. You dreamt of being the perfect parent and having the ideal family. Then this tiny bundle was born, and your feelings made the world move slower, and your heart beat faster. This little person, your responsibility. While it was one of the hardest things, you have ever done, the reward was unspeakable. The love you felt had no bounds, and there is nothing you would not do to keep your child safe and secure.

Your parenting styles are different, but you worked together. With the same core values of bringing up a happy and healthy child.  As a couple, even though your backgrounds were different and the way you were brought up, you found common ground. One the disciplinarian and the other fun, loving and playful. Your child was safe, feed and warm and growing into a lovely person.

Then one day, everything changed

You and your partner separated, and are living in different houses. You have tried your best to get along, and for a short period, everything seemed amicable. There is still so much to sort out. Then one day your child returned home to you and said ‘Daddy has a new girlfriend’. Your immediate response is anger. How dare he! You’re so annoyed, and the child can see it on your face and how tense your body has now become, your response automatic.  It is evident from your retort that you are hurt. But the volcano of emotions bubbling up leaves you complexed. What is your number one reason for being so hurt? You knew this day would come but do not expect it, so soon.

How should you respond and protect your child from the emotional encounter that is about to transpire? And for you, the thought that this woman could replace your position in your children’s life…. Silly but you did think it for just a quick minute.

You and your ex-husband are no longer together.

So trying to control the outcome of this situation is pointless. The child’s father will not listen to you, and his new girlfriend will take pride and place in his thoughts. We have all been there when fresh love blossoms and we only see the good. This is the position; he finds himself in. His endorphins are stronger than his reality.

For some reason, my experience shows that men seem to move on a lot quicker than women. The consensus is they struggle to be alone. True or False, I am unsure. This may not be true for all men, but with my clients, it would be 75%. The issue with ex’s moving on quickly especially during the negotiation of parenting rights and financial settlements means everything just got a little bit harder. It adds another level of complexity.  The emotions stirred up by knowing your ex-partner has moved on can be hurtful. As you mourn the loss of your marriage, hopes for the future and in some case breached verbal agreements on putting the family first. Not only that but adding a third wheel,(being the new girlfriend). This addition in my experience means someone else has just become part of the divorce party.

If your child’s father is starting to talk about their new partner in front of the child/ren, it signals his intent to slowly conditioning the kids for an introduction to the new women.

If you are both on talking terms and let’s hope you are for the sake of the child, then he should respect you enough to make this decision together. Discussing when might be the best time to introduce the girlfriend with you supporting him in discussions with your child. It would also be hoped that when the time comes for you to find a new love, that he would reciprocate. If you can’t agree on a way forward, he may take it into his own hands and just introduce the new person into your child’s life. There is nothing you can do and being upset, will only inflame the situation. When you both decided to leave your marriage, this was always going to be a ramification.

Kids are smarter than we give them credit for and deserve our respect and honesty.

The best way forward with your child is to be truthful and explain that you have never been in this situation before and maybe you can support each other. You can say, ‘This is new for me and l also have a lot of confused feelings.’ watch this video for additional supportThen by putting yourself in the children’s shoes, they will be wondering and worry about what will happen next. How they may be affected, and if their relationship with their parent will change, if at all. There was every chance the children may have thought that one day their parents may get back together, and that dream has just been swashed by the revelation that one parent has a new partner.

There is a duty of care here for both you and the child. You need to worry about your own feelings and how you are reacting. If you are struggling with the concept that your ex-husband has moved on, please seek a professional and address those concerns. It is so important not to carry the burden which can be lessened by the help and support of a counsellor. Even though you may be angry about the situation you find yourself in, remember to be calm in front of the kids. Don’t be condescending or talk negatively about the other parent as this will affect your child.

I have a resource which has been developed in conjunction with our child psychologists team, helping your kids survive divorce and answers the most common questions, we regularly are asked. Grab yourself a copy and be prepared for whatever may come your way.

I have also added the following links, which you may find helpful on recent SBS television shows addressing kids and divorce and stepkids.

One of my ‘Army of Angels’ whose expertise is in stepfamilies explained ‘Going through a divorce is hard enough, but you never gave birth to your child thinking one day you would be handing them over to another woman to help raise.’

If you would like any further information, please contact me.

About the Author:

Tanya Somerton is the ‘Divorce Angel’, whose business is to facilitate a seamless and amicable divorce and separation with the aid of her ‘Army of Angels.’ Tanya provides a step by step process which limits cost and conflict that sees you achieving your most financially beneficial outcome possible, now and for the future.

She is also the author of The Jelly Bean Jar – Empowering independence through Divorce. If you are looking to prevent any mistakes and save money this book is a must. Purchase your copy here