Coparent Academy Podcast

When to Introduce Romantic Interest

March 29, 2022 Linda VanValkenburg and Ron Gore
Coparent Academy Podcast
When to Introduce Romantic Interest
Show Notes Transcript

It's the right time for YOU to love again, but is it the right time for your child?

When you're a parent, it's important to consider your child's perspective as you begin a new relationship.   

Ron, Linda, and Rebecca discuss how to navigate these treacherous waters!  

Thanks for listening!  If you have questions, comments, or concerns, please email us at podcast@coparentacademy.com.

If you enjoyed this episode, please rate, review and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Sticher or wherever you listen.  

Rebecca Gore:

I wasn't sure actually who was going to start this morning. So, at first, an awkward moment. So good morning, or good afternoon or wherever, whatever time it is, when you're listening. We're having a crazy week.

Ron Gore:

Yeah, we are. So let's count the things so

Linda VanValkenburg:

I'm glad that I don't live with you guys.

Rebecca Gore:

it could even be dangerous, you know, sitting in

Ron Gore:

Tell me about it-- this room right now.

Linda VanValkenburg:

So worried.

Ron Gore:

The best moment occurred, I think for us this week, when it was just yesterday, and we were standing in our driveway, because all of our stuff, most of our possessions were in our garage, because our house is being remodeled because it flooded like a month ago. And we were packing up our cars to go to an extended stay hotel for 10 days so that they can redo our wood floors. And while we were doing that, Rebecca's car, locked itself, keys inside.

Rebecca Gore:

And we have an extra set of keys, which would be the exact thing that you would do in this,

Ron Gore:

that'd be a winner.

Rebecca Gore:

They were moving everything out of our house today. And I thought I was being really responsive by gathering all the keys, to all the different things and putting them in my bag rolling bag in the car, close the door. I did not lock the door. Well, I couldn't have because I didn't have the keys. So I closed the door and it immediately locked. And we couldn't get in the car, And I had all of our stuff in it, including my phone.

Ron Gore:

So while I was on the phone, with roadside assistance to get them to remotely unlock the car. I was looking at my car, my poor beautiful car, which got hit by a mail truck this week.

Linda VanValkenburg:

It was a hit and run

Ron Gore:

Hit and run by a postal truck Because I was parked on the street because I couldn't get in my driveway because of the work vehicles working on my flooded house. So I'm happy we

Rebecca Gore:

feel like we're missing like 100 things. I don't know. It feels like every time we turn around like something

Ron Gore:

flat tire

Rebecca Gore:

I got a flat tire the other night, our son flooded the laundry room with the washing machine. Like I mean,

Ron Gore:

actually, that one was a little transparent to me because I was in bed. Rebecca handled the whole thing

Linda VanValkenburg:

I hadnt even heard about that one

Rebecca Gore:

I mean, it was just he I don't know he I don't know what he did. But it was totally fixable. But it was also like, I had already been asleep for a while. And

Unknown:

it was also at his normal, like clothes washing time of like 1030 before

Rebecca Gore:

anyone else. With teenagers, the only time that they are able to clean their clothing and even if you offer to clean their clothing for them. It is not that it's not going to work. The only time their clothes can be washed is at 1030 at night. So... Yeah, I mean, I could go on but it's sometimes it's boring. Other people's problems

Ron Gore:

So that has been our week. So hey, Linda

Linda VanValkenburg:

just in one week... mine has been very boring. I'm still just clomping around in my boot. So from my foot surgery a couple of months ago.

Ron Gore:

That's like a daily one though.

Rebecca Gore:

But you had a nice day, Like when I asked you how your morning. You said

Linda VanValkenburg:

stayed on the couch and held my cute little dog

Rebecca Gore:

and read the paper ...we'll have those days again

Ron Gore:

Minus the dog.

Rebecca Gore:

Well, you know what I mean. Lemon will snuggle-- our beautiful cat. we'll have those days. If our cat doesn't have a complete nervous breakdown in the next 10 days. So anyways, so today's topic, we'll get right to it. Okay, Linda, what's our topic today?

Linda VanValkenburg:

Well, I picked this topic when I was calm and collected last night reading Reddit. ? It's like Instagram to me, since Ron introduced me to read it, I can just get lost for hours in it. And I, I love it because certain topics pop out that it's like, oh, I had three of those just this week with my clients. And so it is a very common topic that people are wondering when to introduce their children to their new significant other and this particular one was talking about phasing in blending the families introducing children to a new partner when they have a child of similar age, which is pretty normal. And that the girlfriend and and the guy each have one child and they're looking for, you know how to how to make that happen, and whether or not to inform the other parents, et cetera. So that is an extremely varied answer, I would say depending on the age of the children depending on where the respective, separations, divorces, whatever are

Ron Gore:

right like in the process?

Linda VanValkenburg:

Oh, yeah, it could be a month out from moving out of your house, to Several years later, you know, I mean, there's there's all sorts of variety there.

Ron Gore:

In fact, this is a whole section that we have planned on our Coparent Academy. It's a whole course in and of itself, seamless step families, blended families and talking about that--when to introduce how to introduce all those things, but just like a thumbnail, so I know we can start with the worst case scenario, right?. You don't want to start, oh, we could come up with a few 1000. Maybe the worst I'll use, I'll use an indefinite article, like a worst case situation, where it's like, Oh, hey, we're getting separated, oh, hey, I'm moving in same day, new family, new house, that would be a bad situation.

Linda VanValkenburg:

Or I know one where it actually a few Come to think of it. Where before one parent tells the other parent, they're gonna want a divorce or, of course, tells the children, the parent is already incorporating the new person with the children, by taking the children over to that parents house or by picking up that person every day on the way to work. And because they work in the same place, that's where they found each other and then dropping the kids off for school. But that person's in the car with him every day on the way to work.

Ron Gore:

Have you actually had that kind of situation?

Linda VanValkenburg:

Yes, I actually did.

Ron Gore:

Wow, that's horrible.

Linda VanValkenburg:

And I can tell you, that's one of those that highlights another issue where the, the father was so wonderful about that to the children and the children were under 10, both of them. But the father was so wonderful that he'd never once said anything negative about the mother and the boyfriend, to the kids, therefore, the kids liked the boyfriend instantly. And it was one of those that you would think well, my goodness, you've already done it way too early. So let's back up from this. No they really liked the guy because dad was okay with it all, somehow normalized it all to the kids.

Ron Gore:

How long did that new relationship last?

Linda VanValkenburg:

I don't know. You know, a lot of times I don't hear the rest of the story. I would wish, I wish I could, it could be like a television show where they, you know, tie up five years later, or 15 years later, or whatever. But rarely, unless they do have a problem, and they come back to me, You know, some people will come back after each new separation.

Rebecca Gore:

I wonder in those situations where you're talking about, you know, blending the maybe significant other a little too soon, or a lot too soon, I wonder, I think it would affect different all negatively, but different age ranges drastically in different ways. So like, say, you know, maybe young child, you know, you're saying under 10, it may not really hit them fully what's going on, there's a new person, they're interesting, they're fun. But I mean, think about if, you know, if you have children, a lot of I know a lot of Ron's clients have children that are vastly, you know, their ages range. you know, if you're introducing someone, your teen is going to have a much different feeling about this than maybe your six year old. I mean, it's not good in any situation.

Linda VanValkenburg:

But that teen's gonna figure it out--who's the dude in the car with us every morning, mother?

Ron Gore:

The teen is also the one who's read all the text messages, seen the photographs or heard the phone calls,

Rebecca Gore:

and they're much more astute to like what's going on in the household? You know, before and that's maybe leading up to this? So I mean, I think it's interesting

Linda VanValkenburg:

the dynamics between the parents.

Rebecca Gore:

Yeah, exactly. And the dynamics between the new person, they're much more in tune. So so I don't know, I think that it's difficult to answer just because when we're talking about blending families, but blending significant others, that's got to be difficult to gauge what age range and what to do.

Linda VanValkenburg:

Because it's so much deeper than just it should we all meet it the gathering place or Where should we meet. Now we got to back up a whole lot from that and look at the dynamics of where the child is, and not just be looking at how the adults are seeing it, but how the child is seeing it. And more often than not, what I hear from children, especially I would say 10 and above, but maybe even down to like seven or eight will say it was just way too quick, Linda, it was just way too quick. I wish they hadn't, you know, gotten involved with somebody else so quickly.

Ron Gore:

Why is it too quick?

Linda VanValkenburg:

Because the child has not grieved the loss of the family yet. they have to go through a grieving process. And typically the parent who goes elsewhere pretty quickly has known for a long time that they wanted out of that situation and whether there were actual arguments or worse that the child has observed between the parents, and sometimes it's actually more confusing to the child when they haven't observed that. If they have, they definitely know why one or both would not want to be there even though they're still upset that they couldn't figure it out or get counseling, or yeah, they mentioned that to me. But when it seems like, wow, one day, we were there. And the next day we were there, because I've had older kids even, like Rebecca saying, as far as they, they figured some stuff out, you know, they'll say, I know I had boy that was accusing his mother of quickly getting in and out of relationships repeatedly. And, and he said, you know, so and so was there, you know, one week and so and so was there like a week later? And mom goes, well, was really probably a month later. To the mom, that seemed like a long time. And do the kid that was like nothing, you know, probably because the kid was at the Father's in between. So maybe the second time I was over there within a month, the guy was there.

Ron Gore:

Right? Well, and so a lot of times in that transition period, you have going from one household with a with a set of finances to two households with a set of financing. And I know in finances, a lot of times, folks are pushed towards getting moving in a significant other because they need financial help to I've heard people say that too. Like, well, we wouldn't move in so quickly, except, you know, can't afford to live on my own, how much child support or alimony Do you want to pay me or whatever else and so that practicality leads to it, or we're just friends. And then six months later turns out, they're not just friends,

Linda VanValkenburg:

that just friends is almost all the time. I hear that. And, and the older kids are like, right, you're just friends. And the younger kids might fall for that. And it might work seemingly for them. But it's a very typical thing,

Ron Gore:

but I can understand... in so I'm trying to steel man the perspective of the person who's moved in with someone that quickly. And I can recognize that there are a ton of just practical considerations that border on and possibilities of trying to build up this new house for yourself. But at the same time and fairness, like a fundamental fairness, you may not have had a romantic relationship with your spouse. For years beforehand, we hear that all the time that they hadn't been romantically involved, physically connected in any way for years before the separation. And so like you said, they've already gotten a head start on the grieving process. You know, if the grieving process is a marathon, the parent who is leaving, probably has already run 10 miles. And so the rest of the families just still, like haven't even they didn't even know they're supposed to start stretching yet.

Linda VanValkenburg:

Right And great analogy for it.

Ron Gore:

And so you, just like we need to have some sympathy for the perspective of the person who is leaving the relationship. And has practical concerns or has felt alone and romantically starved for a long time. They've got to understand that especially the children are going to take awhile--they have whiplash, And when

Rebecca Gore:

everybody can understand what it feels like to be blindsided, whether it's you're an adult, you know, if you just think about that, about from your children's perspective is that this is going to be a blindsiding to them. Even if you feel like it's been obvious to the family, that things aren't great. I think kids can get used to situations really quickly and things become normal for them. And then all of a sudden, one parents gone. And it seems like it was a surprise, you know, even if things aren't great, because kids adapt, I think,

Ron Gore:

well, that's what's so worrisome about blending families too quickly, is because you get especially in the immediate aftermath of the separation or divorce, you have people who are not necessarily in their most stable emotional or psychological state, you start blending a family too quickly. And then now you're putting the child through an entire separate set of separation from children from other children who have been presented to them as essentially siblings...

Linda VanValkenburg:

Instantly!

Ron Gore:

And you know, it's almost worse. If the children like the new step parents better, because now they're losing the one person that was providing them a bit of a port in the storm.

Linda VanValkenburg:

Exactly. And, and I've had kids that never forget one little gal she was I think 11 or 12 at this point and, and her father presented with her to help him out because she was being very disrespectful and non compliant with his fiancee. It's just the way he described it. And so his information was, you know, like pretty cut and dried. And he said, You know, that's all I really got to say about it. I'll let you talk to her. So I didn't even do much of an intake with the dad and I brought the kid in. And she was just delightful. She was so interesting and fun and very sweet and cooperative. And I thought this isn't matching what he just said. And so I told her my confusion, and she laughed, and she said, Oh, did he call her his fiancee? And I said, Yes. And she said, Did he tell you that There have been eight of them in the last four years, since he left my mom and I said, No, I assumed it was the first one. Thank you for enlightening me

Rebecca Gore:

It's pretty incredible....what we can decide in our minds, like it's completely normal.

Ron Gore:

Well, on one hand, I'm thinking, like, way to go, dude. Like, you can get eight different folks to have that relationship with you in that period of time. And then on the other hand...

Linda VanValkenburg:

it's averaging about six months apiece for fiance

Rebecca Gore:

i feel like red flags to date that...I mean...

Ron Gore:

obviously, it's red flag, but I don't know the guy means like, hey, like, that's pretty. Pretty impressive. You're able to get so many people to be interested in you.

Linda VanValkenburg:

Just can't last long. For some reason.

Rebecca Gore:

Yeah, it's really fancy-- comes with like a sign that like pops up like somebody meet someone new. You'll be my nineth!

Ron Gore:

Now Serving.

Linda VanValkenburg:

That's great.

Rebecca Gore:

sometimes people need to come with a warning label.

Linda VanValkenburg:

exactly. Yeah. Or what are those like little ticker tape that goes across his forehead? But no, she what, what reminded me of that case was, you know, the, the child actually was open to kind of surprisingly so because it was real fresh from but she must have seen her is that port you were talking about? Because her description, I was surprised she even remembered the names of of all of them. But she did. I mean, I remember vividly writing the notes down where the first one I think her name was Jane and, and she described her in glowing terms and all the wonderful ways that that she treated her and how wonderful she was to her. And then the next one, you know, whatever her name was, was pretty similar. In a way it was kind of like watching a final narrow, you know, to what the kid was telling me because she pretty soon, you know, we're down to the current one, and it's a drip at the buckets. There's nothing left to give that one she has she her loves all spent for, for any new person. And, and I, I saw I know it's a stupid therapist question. But why is that? She goes, Well, she won't be around, but about six months either,

Ron Gore:

right?

Rebecca Gore:

That'd be hard.

Ron Gore:

You can't give your heart to but so many people? Yes. Well, so then I guess, then, I guess the short answer is, there's no easy answer to the question of when and how to introduce except, say, you need to sit back, take a look at all of the circumstances that are the ages of your children, instead of the circumstances under which your last relationship ended. And too in any event, take it slow. And don't put any real requirement on your children to form false relationships with these people. give them time to form organically.

Rebecca Gore:

And what do you think about this? I mean, I don't I don't know if this is appropriate. But I, I almost would think also too, I feel like this gets lost so much in these situations, like listening to your kids, you know, like, so introduce them like, no, don't just say, Oh, well, you know, he's, you know, 13 years and like anybody, you know, like, you know, like, really listen to what your kids are saying, I know if you do have a meeting of some kind and like ask them questions other than, like, you know, leading questions where you're sort of saying course, this is how I would like it... wasn't that great? You know, that kind of thing. You know, ask your kids really good questions about how they feel to really maybe get up how they're feeling maybe about this person in general, maybe they're seeing something that you don't see, and also just maybe how they're feeling about the situation in general. And it wouldn't matter who it was even if it was the best person ever. They're just not ready to meet somebody new at the moment.

Ron Gore:

So how would you go about that, Linda?

Linda VanValkenburg:

Well I wouldn't let them pick them out on on dating sites. I do hear those stories too! What do you think about this one? You know, although, one mother who did that her her son said, I do have much better insight to what else could be going on with the dude's because, you know, he was seeing kind of con men right and left. His mother didn't see the rest of that story.

Rebecca Gore:

Maybe he was meeting the or she was meeting the guy with the eight fiance's ... he's on a lot of apps I imagined.

Linda VanValkenburg:

Her son was very bright and he was he was pretty astute to those kinds of things. just in you know, a conversation or two with with her with her new guy, he could he could figure out wait a minute now. I mean, he doesn't even have a job and he still lives with his mother or his sister or something like that. So no, I understand I, I really do get it that there is such a...I mean, it's hard enough when you're a single person, mother or father to be dating somebody. And even if you don't have children, it is very difficult to sometimes it's even hard to find somebody who does or doesn't like cats or dogs or something, you know? And so then it's, it's really extra difficult if you have children of whatever age or developmental stage to know when to involve them. Because how deep do you want to get in this relationship? Before you find out if they're really stupid with kids, or scary or whatever, you know? And yet, you don't want to involve them with your child too soon. It's a real, it is a good question.

Ron Gore:

Yeah, yeah. So I guess part of that would be a lot of times that that, in that situation, you're hooking up with someone who already has kids themselves, right. So I would much rather subject their kid to that contact than my own...

Linda VanValkenburg:

to watch how they are with their, their with their own children. That's a good point!

Ron Gore:

And also, you know, I know that my child tends to be better behaved with strangers than He is in our home. So I would imagine that children are that way, right? So I would imagine that there's some sort of inverse or converse of that, where he would probably be better with your kids than he is with his own kids. So to see how he treats his own children or her own children first and not make your kids the guinea pigs,

Linda VanValkenburg:

or even nephews or neices or, you know, somebody if he's if he's coaching a team of some sort with kids, you know, There's a lot of ways to involve them around children,

Ron Gore:

drop them off at an elementary school.

Rebecca Gore:

If he's not allowed near an elementary school Yeah, that'd be a quick answer.

Ron Gore:

Yeah, but I mean, I guess that's one way. I mean, I don't know. At some point, obviously, you're going to have to, you get to move on, you get to live your life. But I think the answer is, it's probably a whole lot slower than you want. If you're the person look for a relationship and a whole lot faster than a kid wants

Linda VanValkenburg:

And use the time that you don't have your children with you, if you if you are, you know, a parent who has another coparent that is helping them. And I hope you see it that way, when, when they have their time with the children that you see that as them helping you and you having a chance to, you know, live a single life at that point.

Ron Gore:

And also, you know, when you have your kids with you, especially if it's been kind of a tumultuous time, at the end of the relationship, your children may really crave some just alone time with you. And introducing another person, make them think, well, they don't even want to spend any time alone with me. They only see me, you know, half the time or whatever it is, and even then I don't get time just with them.

Linda VanValkenburg:

I have heard so many children say that. And what's extra frustrating for me, especially following therapeutic visitation or reconciliation case, where I just had this happen recently, where when they actually were over there just for four hours on a on a weekend. The the parent was on their phone the entire time. there, there was no real interaction. And that just boggles my mind when that's the case. You fought so hard to get that interaction with your children, supposedly, and you don't actually use it

Rebecca Gore:

Okay, Linda, what would you what do you want to say to wrap this up?

Linda VanValkenburg:

I very much agree with Ron that taking it slowly is the best way to go and much slower than you want it to be. Because you know, when we fall in love with somebody, we instantly want everybody that we love to know and love each other. But the children have have told me repeatedly through the years that their their best time if there could be such a thing in their parents separation or divorce has been when they were able to have those parents independently. One on one or just you know, the kids with that one parent before they got involved with other people. And many times the parent is feeling lonely for adult company and is very interested in finding somebody else and not really focused on that fact. So that's that's pretty. wonderful time for your children. Remember that!

Ron Gore:

All right, words of wisdom.

Rebecca Gore:

Yeah, till Next time...