I have a new girlfriend and nobody knows about her yet including my Ex-wife and my kids. I am afraid to tell them about her. She is a bit odd and quirky, tats and piercings but wonderful, kind and caring. Everyone in my family is very traditional and I am afraid of what they might say to her. Christmas is coming and I want to see my kids and I want to include her. The kids are very close to their mother. What should I do?
I think you know that you need to tell your family soon.
Christmas is only a few weeks away. Have you asked yourself why you have kept this a secret so far?
Your secrecy and hesitancy can set up unwanted suspicions which can add tension to the discussions you need to have with your family. Any divorce challenges the ability to trust between family members.
Everyone will need to adjust to this new family configuration.
Children are a long time giving up hope of their parent’s reconciliation so introducing a new girlfriend needs to be done with care and compassion.
There’s still some time until the holiday. Plan to tell them very soon and arrange a meeting for your children before the holidays begin. Holidays are emotionally charged at any time but post-divorce you are re-framing a family tradition.
Begin with telling your ex-wife. She should be given that courtesy.
In any divorce there’s already been enough emotional pain. Everyone benefits if you can reach a level of decency and respect. Your new relationship will impact the family as your children will be spending time with you and her. She should not have to hear the news second hand.
Plan what you will say. Speak to her directly either in person or on the phone. Keep the message simple. You have a new girlfriend and some might find her appearance a little different.
Be matter of fact as body art is relatively common and perhaps you are being overly sensitive to what your family might think.
A conversation between you and your children should be next. Be open and honest. Although your girlfriend has probably experienced it before, children are naturally curious and may ask questions about her appearance when they first meet her.
Give your children a few ground rules beforehand. Remind them about their manners. As long as everyone remains polite, the stories about her body art might be good conversation starters. Plan a short, first get together in a neutral place and limit the PDA’s on the first meeting with your kids.
Your children love both their parents. Divorce is a child’s worst fear. Introducing a new girlfriend is another big step. Being mindful of their sensitivities will help alleviate any awkward moments. They could well worry that a new girlfriend displaces them in your world and will need assurance that your relationship with them will not change.
With kindness and consideration the holiday can work for everyone. However, as this relationship is so very new, your children will probably want to be with you alone for some of it. They need time adjusting to sharing you with her.
You want this holiday in its various configurations to work out well for everyone. Finding an equitable balance in that time spent together is the best chance for success.
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ABOUT LINDA SIMPSON
“I take strength from your calm, your honesty, and the hope you give me for my future.” Cheryl
Linda is a fresh voice in the divorce advice world. She offers a pragmatic, common sense approach to life after divorce issues based on over twenty years surviving and thriving following a very traumatic divorce.
As a single parent, her sons are an enormous source of joy in her life. She is a loving mother and grandmother to four delightful grandchildren.
She holds a degree from the University of Waterloo with concentrations in sociology and philosophy and guidance counselling certification from Queen’s University.
She is an accredited trainer for The Peace Education Foundation, a leader in conflict resolution training. The institute is ‘dedicated to educating children and adults in the dynamics of conflict resolution and promoting peacemaking skills in home, schools, and community.’
In a long and successful teaching career, she also served as a counsellor and workshop facilitator for SEL (social emotional learning) programming and The Peace Education Foundation throughout her school and school district and was a frequent conference presenter for SUNY Potsdam Faculty of Education USA.
She writes for The Divorce Magazine UK and her blog is seen regularly on Huffington Post Canada where the focus is life after divorce and parenting issues.
She is a writer and poet and is presently at work on a book based on her divorce experience.