The children need time to adjust to the idea of a relationship before they are presented with one.
Anne Malcolm says it’s also important to communicate your expectations to the new partner.
“Make it clear that you are a mother or a father above all else, that you are a package deal and the children are your first priority.” One of the reasons dating is difficult for children is that it is yet another change in their lives.
Sandi Paterson is a freelance journalist based in Tauranga.
She lives in a 1950's bach with her daughter, a grumpy cat, and a budgie who sits on her computer when she writes.
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“It’s really confusing and upsetting for kids to have a series of people coming in and out of their lives,” says Anne.
If a relationship becomes serious, introduce the new companion as a friend and share positive or funny stories about them from time to time.
Keep it to a minimum to begin with; and avoid anything with blatantly sexual overtones.
It is very common for children’s behaviour to worsen once they know Mum has a boyfriend.
Invite the children to ask questions about the new relationship and what it means for them, reassuring them that you and the other biological parent will always love them and will always be their parents.