Child does not like new partner – what to do?
Is love the answer to all questions? Not quite. It also provides quite a few. Psychologist and couples therapist Oskar Holzberg answers them all.
What do I do if my kids don’t like my partner? It’s not the person, it’s the partner by your side that your kids don’t like.
Children in an unknown emotional triangle
Children need stable, i.e. reliable, loving relationships. When the parents separate, part of their stability is lost, even if both parents continue to look after their children lovingly and in harmony. The wish remains alive in children that the parents become a couple again. She never abandons this longing for original security. New partners at the side of the parents therefore unsettle them. Because then it becomes a painful certainty that dad and mom will never be a couple again – reason enough to find the “new” or the “new” terrible.
In addition, the children suddenly find themselves in an unknown emotional triangle through this new person. They saw their old mom-dad-child triangle shatter. You are now unconsciously confronted with this painful experience again. And last but not least, they have to find a real place in this new constellation. Anyone who has previously lived with a single parent must first learn to share what was previously there exclusively for themselves and, if necessary, for their siblings.
Small children are more supple and, despite their fears, open up more easily to the new man by their mum’s side. Older kids and adolescents, on the other hand, can react with merciless rejection. Especially if they believe that the “newcomers” are to blame for their parents’ separation. You reject dad’s girlfriend and remain in solidarity with mom, because a good relationship with your new partner could endanger your relationship with your mother.
Balancing act between different needs
For all of the reasons mentioned, it is only too understandable if the new partner does not meet with enthusiastic applause. The kids think that the “newbie” is just stupid. Then what it takes is patience. We have to express our understanding that it is difficult for the children to get involved with a stranger who suddenly comes so close. That we can’t expect them to like him. But that it is important to us – and that this does not change its meaning for us.
The children should then experience that in the new patchwork situation everyone’s needs are taken into account. If we give in too much to the rejection of the children, then we give them a power that they do not want to have. When we fight their rejection, we lose our good bond with them and fail to recognize that they are experiencing legitimate fears.
Relationships are always an act of balancing different needs. This becomes particularly clear in the relationship patchwork. Difficult feelings need their space. Those of the children, those of the new partner – but we shouldn’t hide our feelings either, no matter how difficult it may be. And that is perhaps the most important thing: It helps never to forget that children also want good relationships and a life worth living with one another. And they will recognize our efforts towards this togetherness.
“Couple adox” is the podcast with Oskar Holzberg and his wife Claudia. You speak openly about topics that keep challenging relationships. Funny, exciting and insightful! I.a. on Audio Now.
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