3 CBT Tips for New Relationships and Children
CBT Therapy is also known as talking therapy and communication is a core element of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. As an accredited CBT Therapist in London, my Couples Therapy sessions include talking about issues where one or both parties have children from their previous marriage.
Starting a new relationship that’s “second time around”? Seeing someone who’s divorced or separated from their long-term partner? If you are, the chances are that one or both of you may have children from a previous relationship.
How can CBT help some of the challenges you may experience?
These days, many of us no longer stay in life-long, decades-lasting relationships but have serial relationships. And around one-third of us live in stepfamilies in the UK. So when do you introduce your children to your new partner, and how do you go about it? Or when and how do you go about meeting your partner’s children?
Introducing your new partner and children
There are no hard and fast rules about how to introduce your new partner and children to each other or when to do it. You know your children, and you can gauge best how to negotiate this hurdle. However, there are some issues you need to think about.
If your relationship has only broken up relatively recently, your children may well be feeling extremely insecure, anxious or even depressed. Using CBT tools can help like reassurance that you still care about them as much as ever and that you’re not immediately going to throw their lives into turmoil all over again How much you tell them and the way that you do it will depend on their state of mind, their age and on your relationship with them. If you are aware of how CBT connects behaviour, feelings and thoughts, it can help your children and your relationship transition, too.
Importance of stability
In general, it’s not a good idea to introduce your children to a new partner before you have a reasonably stable relationship. CBT can help you with ‘CBT for Couples’ to strength what you are building together and signal confidence to your children that this is not just a fling. But if they’ve recently been through the break up of their parents’ relationship, they will be looking for stability. It might be a consideration to include the children in CBT Therapy. If you introduce them to a new partner every few weeks, you may increase their feeling of instability.
Another suggestion that might work for both of you when to introduce your children to your partner is to make it clear that you are in a relationship but that you are not living together. Further, you may want to plan fun activities with your partner and children together, as well as with each separately. This gives everyone a chance to get to know one another gradually while also getting time alone with you.
When you decide to live with a partner, CBT recommends you need to give your children plenty of warning so that everyone can make adjustments. Your children and your partner may be jealous of each other and fear the other party are taking you away from them. Again CBT encourages you to reassure both sides and help them get along together.
Meeting your partner’s children
I have alluded to this last point above, but when you start a relationship with someone who already has children, the prospect of meeting them may be a little daunting. They will be just as nervous as you are! Remember that your partner cares about you as well as their children, though their children will be their priority. Remember also that you are the adult and take responsibility for getting to know the children and joining in activities that they want to do. Your partner will always love their children, and they will be part of your joint lives together. CBT will tell you to see things from their perspective and understand that they may feel threatened by your relationship or fear you’ll try and replace their other parent. If they misbehave, this may be communication about those fears.
It’s unlikely that introducing children to new partners will be easy for anyone. However, if you all persist with trying to make things work, consider help from CBT Therapy possibly you can find that you make some wonderful new friends and allies in your new extended family.