Parents with children dating
Strangely, Hadfield found that very few of the people she interviewed talked about money as the main reason for having a live-in romantic partner. S., where mothers told Hadfield they sometimes didn’t invite their lovers to live with them and their children because it would do nothing but add one more mouth to feed.The problem, of course, is what to do after the relationship breaks up.After all, older children especially can feel like they have a close relationship with their custodial parent and might feel betrayed that something as big as a new love interest wasn’t shared.Kids, Hadfield says, may actually mistrust the new partner more if they feel like he or she was the reason their parent lied.Parents figured that a new adult in the home would help them put some much needed distance between the family and the last romantic partner who was there, whether that person was the children’s biological parent or not.Second, parents expected a new romantic partner to help firm up the hierarchy in the family, putting the children back in their place and mom or dad back to being less of a child’s friend and more a parent with rules and expectations.
Telling kids about a new romantic partner doesn’t guarantee that kids aren’t going to be resentful either. Like Hadfield, I’d be inclined to suggest that despite the risks, parents shouldn’t talk with their kids about every date they go on.
Fifty percent of these kids are also likely to experience three or more changes in who’s parenting them before the age of 5, and a third will experience another change between the ages of 6 and 12.
Whether we want to admit it or not, children are going to experience instability as their parents go in search of romantic partners.
There are no firm rules here, and a lot will depend on the reasons for the original family breakdown, and if there have been other stepparents in the child’s life.
Children, however, seem to like consistency—and that means whatever rules they’ve been living with before their stepparent showed up should be the same rules they keep having to follow.