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Accepting your kids relationship with your ex's new partner

One of the most challenging times for divorced co-parents often comes when one of them gets a new significant other who becomes part of the children's lives. While it's generally best not to expose kids to an array of casual dates, when a relationship evolves into something serious, it's only normal (and practical) to include that person in your activities with your children.

If your ex's new boyfriend or girlfriend becomes part of your children's lives, it's only natural to feel some resentment and jealousy -- not just that your ex has moved on, but that your kids like this person. However, assuming that he or she isn't a negative influence on your kids, it's important not to let your own feelings get in the way of the best interests of your children.

Look on the bright side. This new person is an addition to the support system of adults around your children. From a practical standpoint, your ex's new partner may also be able to help out when you and your ex aren't able to be there for your kids. You never know when you'll need someone to pick them up from school or take them to soccer practice.

The new partner isn't going to take your place as their mom or dad, even if your ex remarries. Show your kids that they can feel comfortable talking positively about him or her. If they feel they can't, you're going to miss out on what's going on in their lives.

Where things can get tricky is if this new partner starts making parenting decisions involving your kids. That's something that may be necessary at times, particularly if they begin cohabitating. You and your ex should discuss the decision-making role the new significant other will have and make sure that you're all on the same page. Otherwise, things can get confusing for the kids.

If a real issue arises with the new partner making decisions that aren't good for your kids or ignoring your stated wishes and you can't resolve the matter with your ex, your attorney may be able to provide you with some options for amending your parenting plan. However, it's best for everyone if all of you as adults to put aside your feelings about each other and work together to do what's best for the kids.

Source: Our Family Wizard, "New Partners and Co-Parenting," accessed Jan. 25, 2017

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