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Fifty percent of these kids are also likely to experience three or more changes in who’s parenting them before the age of 5, and a third will experience another change between the ages of 6 and 12.Whether we want to admit it or not, children are going to experience instability as their parents go in search of romantic partners.As I mentioned earlier, custodial parents often want the stepparent to be a real parent with responsibilities for the kids.Most of the evidence suggests doing otherwise, especially if the child is over the age of 6.While most parents tend to cut off ties with their former lovers, it’s seldom that simple for the kids.After all, they didn’t choose to break up and can become very upset when they lose contact with another caregiver, especially if they had begun to like having that person around.There are no firm rules here, and a lot will depend on the reasons for the original family breakdown, and if there have been other stepparents in the child’s life.Children, however, seem to like consistency—and that means whatever rules they’ve been living with before their stepparent showed up should be the same rules they keep having to follow.
Hadfield figures that no matter how difficult it can seem, it is likely better for kids to still have contact with their parents’ romantic partners even after the romance ends.
Strangely, Hadfield found that very few of the people she interviewed talked about money as the main reason for having a live-in romantic partner. S., where mothers told Hadfield they sometimes didn’t invite their lovers to live with them and their children because it would do nothing but add one more mouth to feed.
The problem, of course, is what to do after the relationship breaks up.
Wait instead until the relationship is getting serious.
That seems to be the best time to share what’s happening. If you’re fortunate enough to go from dating to moving in together and forming a blended family, what role should the new stepparent play?