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What should you do if your kids don't like your new partner?

You've been divorced for a while. You've met someone you've come to really care about, and you introduce them to your children. You start slowly with short outings or a pizza-and-movie night at home. However, it soon becomes clear that your kids don't like your new partner. Maybe your daughter ignores them, and your son is openly hostile.

What should you do? You don't want to end the relationship (or have your partner end it). If you think the relationship could lead to cohabitation or marriage, you need for them to get along.

The first thing to do is find out the reasons for your children's behavior. Maybe it has nothing to do with your partner as a person. Perhaps they resent the fact that you're giving time and affection to someone other than them. Maybe they think you're trying to replace their other parent. It's essential to allay any of those fears. If they have a valid point in saying they're not seeing enough of you, commit to spending more time with them without your new partner.

It's always best if you can get your children to tell you why they don't like a new boyfriend or girlfriend. Listen to what they have to say without judgment. Maybe it is one or more of the reasons we just discussed. Perhaps there's something about this person specifically that bothers them. Maybe they're trying too hard to make the kids like them. Maybe they aren't trying hard enough. These are the kinds of things that can be remedied if your partner wants to have a relationship with your kids.

If you can't get a clear answer out of your children, it may be a good idea to invite a family member or close friend to spend some time with all of you together. They may be able to pick up on something you've missed because of your strong feelings for this person -- or see what it is that's bothering your kids.

You may decide that this new person is not the right one for you because they're not right for your kids. You may well be able to create one big happy family. If you do, you'll need to define your partner's boundaries and responsibilities when it comes to your kids. You and your co-parent may need to make some changes to your parenting agreement to clarify those for everyone.

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Weinman & Associates, P.C.
8200 North MoPac Expressway
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Austin, TX 78759

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