New Partners and Co-Parenting: Building Working Relationships
No matter how long you have been separated or divorced, it can be challenging to face a reality in which your former spouse or partner has a new partner. In contrast, it can also be tough to have a new partner but continue seeing and communicating with your former partner. Many co-parents not only face these realities, but they find a way to make them work.
A new partner entering the lives of your children is a big deal, as this person could play a prominent role in their lives now and into the future. If a new partner is growing to be a significant part of your child's day-to-day, it's healthy to find a positive way to approach co-parenting with this person in the mix.
New Partners are Bonuses
You and your co-parent will always be your child's parents. As new partners entering your lives grow closer to your child and become more involved in the daily routine, the more likely they are to find a place in your child's heart. As difficult as it might be for you to face, new partners play a decisive and positive role in your child's life can truly be a bonus for your family.
It may be hard to know that your child feels affectionate towards your co-parent's new partner, mainly if you have mixed personal feelings towards the situation. Don't discourage your child's affection for these new partners or allow it to make you feel bad. If you can recognize that this person has your child's best interest at heart, support this positive relationship. It's great for your child to have plenty of healthy support systems in their life, especially when you aren't directly there with your child.
Addressing Parenting Matters as a Family
Your and your co-parent's new partner may play a significant role as a caregiver for your child. You may find yourselves truly becoming a blended family, and in that, maintaining clear expectations is key.
While the responsibility of making important decisions in regards to your child's upbringing may remain between you and your co-parent, your partners may play some role in this process. New partners may provide constructive commentary and add insight that helps you and your co-parent make the best decisions possible and uphold your child's best interest, especially if they have been part of your child's life for a significant amount of time. Once you and your co-parent have reached a decision that impacts your child, be sure to inform your partners so that they are aware and can help uphold your decision.
Co-parenting should be seen as a partnership, not an ongoing battle. Keep your child's needs at heart, and be sure that your partner does the same. If nothing is going on that tells you otherwise, trust that your co-parent and their new partner are doing the same.
Even if your co-parent's new partner isn't your favorite person, speak politely about them when you're around your child. More importantly, don't badmouth your co-parent or their new partner in front of your child. It can be confusing for children to hear you criticize their other parent's partner, making them feel like they should choose sides or like they don't have to listen to this person.
Do your best to be cordial and kind when it comes to both your co-parent and their new partner. If you do have concerns about your co-parent or their new partner, you may want to speak with a family law or mental health professional.
Approaching the task of co-parenting with a new partner involved can have its challenges, but it can also be gratifying for your whole family. These bonus individuals in your children's lives who dedicate their time and energy to caring for them willingly should only want what's best for your children. If they've already demonstrated this to you, try to remain confident that they'll continue to do so into the future.