1. Reassure, Legitimize and Validate your childrens feelings
“No matter their ages, explain (to your children) why you’re dating and that no one will ever replace the other parent,” says Dr. Terri Orbuch, professor at Oakland University, author and family therapist. “Tell them they are your first priority and you’ll always be there for them, no matter who you’re dating.” If kids are resistant or negative, don’t get defensive. Acknowledge feelings, and give extra hugs.
2. No revolving doors of men/women
In my 20's & 30's, I did not do such a great job of not introducing my oldest daughter to various men I was dating but I wished I had. It is best to wait until you have established a long time relationship with someone new before introducing your kids to him/her.
Surprisingly, younger kids are “more resilient,” says Dr. Orbuch. For stability and trust, don’t march a bunch of dates before your kids – and if you do, understand that tweens, teens and adolescents are likely to take break-ups harder than little ones.
3. Understand that every kid is different
All children are different when it comes to meeting someone new and considering a childs temperament and developmental age are very important when introducing them to someone new. You should try and always us the concept of friends.
4. Keep it Fun & Neutral
First, second, even third meetings of a “significant other” and your respective kids should occur in neutral, fun locations – Water Parks, Chuck E. Cheese, parks, Putt-putt golf or movies, any place that doesn't add pressure.
5. Reassess having a romantic sleepover
Depending on the age of the children you may want to really think about having a romantic sleepover.
Especially with teens, while they hear what you say, they are more likely to do what you do, says Dr. Orbuch. Both agree that the significant-other-sleepover is a values call – and both hesitate to give the green light from a clinical perspective before there’s a ring on your finger.
“Adolescents are watching and they’re going to model you. Kids do what parents do,” Dr. Orbuch says. Reserve sleepovers for nights when the kids stay with the other parent.
6. Discuss with your co-parent before introducing new "friend"
7. No step-discipline, please
“In our houses, parents take the main role; steps (don’t) execute punishments,” says Buscemi, the Rochester Hills author of I Do, Part Two: How to Survive Divorce, Co-Parent Your Kids and Blend Your Families Without Losing Your Mind.
8. Encourage the other parent relationship
“Whether the divorce was good or bad, whether there’s still feelings of resentment or bitterness, be kind to each other,” says Buscemi. “Don’t throw a new love in your ex’s face. Keep respect for your kid in mind. Research shows that “it’s the exception that parents remarry,” says Dr. Orbuch. “The most difficult thing for kids to understand is they don’t have control over their parents’ relationship.”
9. Remarriage is a good thing
It’s another adult in the house, another person to love your children, an example of a healthy loving relationship. “If you’re happy and balanced, you’re going to be a better role model,” says Dr. Orbuch.
Even when it comes to the wedding, let kids have a voice. Choosing desserts or clothing or the order in which they’ll walk down the aisle (by age!) allows kids to take ownership of this new marriage and feel like they have a place in it.