(The Politics of) “Dad’s New Girlfriend”

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Is there ever a reason why you would encourage your child to be friendly with your spouse’s new “significant other?”

Maybe. Take this True or False Quiz to see if there ever is for you:

1.         My ex-husband is such a wimp that his new wife will be the one controlling their purse strings.

True – Might be worth making the woman like your kid (child support and alimony only get you so far – true generosity is limitless).

False – Maybe only Dad’s love is necessary in this situation, and the new harpy can get in line.  (But, beware, there could always be a Last Will & Testament.)

2.         My ex-husband has a new baby with his second wife.

True – The bond between your child and that half-sibling may be one of the most important in either of those kids’ lives. It is an important time to mend old fences and just be present for the new baby.  In most states, the new baby will have no impact on pre-existing child support orders. (And, no matter how you may feel about the new Wife, that baby did not ask to be born into it – please keep the two separate in your mind and dealings.)

False – Never say never.  If they haven’t yet, they may soon.  Help your kid keep an open mind before it is too late.

3.         My ex-wife has a new baby with her second husband.

True –Your kid might suddenly be feeling like the third wheel, or an indentured servant.  Help your child’s situation by finding ways of making that new father grateful for

English: Newborn infant, 4 hours after birth D...
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you, and grateful to your kid.  It will go a long way to improving your own child’s ranking in his or her home.

False –  If she doesn’t yet, you may encourage her to try. Nothing will take her mind off your faults and failings as quickly as being totally consumed with a brand new infant.

4.         I was hoping we could reconcile, but my Wife has moved in with her new boyfriend before the divorce is even final.

True – Your Wife apparently is not interested in reconciling with you.  Her message seems clear.  Letting your kids blame “the new guy” might leave them with a misplaced sense of injustice.

False – If your wife has not moved on, and you really believe there is a chance of reconciliation, take advantage of the moment while you have it. Consider making reasonable and practical changes before it really is too late.

5.         That phony little secretary stole my husband right out from under me.  If I teach my kids to be accepting of her, how do I ever teach them a good set morals and values?

True – Maybe the values our kids need to learn are to always do what is right themselves; even when the other person has done wrong.  We are not suggesting that the phony little secretary needs to be everyone’s best friend.  But she might be the only link between the kids and their dad in his old age.

False – That secretary may only be a symptom of what went wrong, and not the underlying cause of the breakdown of your marriage.

* * * * *

Obviously, the older your children are, the more likely they are to make these choices without your input.  In general, adult children are less likely to be accepting of new relationships than younger children may be.  It is a great bonding opportunity for you to still be able to parent your adult children by modeling acceptance and graciousness even in the case of a new partner.

What we Love: The next new love on the scene might just be your own.  This is a chance to help your children learn that it is healthy and sane to move forward, not backward, in life.

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Published by Sharon Oberst DeFala

Sharon Oberst DeFala has practiced low-impact safe divorce since 1992.

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