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May 02, 20233 min read

When your former partner begins a new relationship, it can bring up a range of emotions for you as a co-parent. But like it or not, this new partner is now becoming a figure in your children’s lives as well, and you need to figure out how to navigate this relationship with grace. It won’t necessarily be easy, but with these five strategies in mind, you can learn how to successfully co-parent with “the other woman” and build a healthy, positive relationship for the sake of your kids.

Focus on what really matters: No matter what the situation is, keep your focus centered on your number one priority: the well-being and happiness of your kids. If there are differences between you and the new partner, it’s time to set them aside. You’re all a part of this family now, and you all fall under the job title of “parent”. Let’s all respect each other and stick to objective facts of what our jobs are as parents by establishing healthy roles and lives for our kids.

Share your feelings with your therapist, not your ex or their new partner: It’s also time to drop the emotional rope. This new partner is in your children’s life now, and if you continue to make a fuss about it, you’ll end up hurting your kids the most. If you’re still having trouble working through your feelings, make an appointment with a therapist.

Try to show compassion: How would it feel if you approached this situation with compassion, rather than animosity? Think of it this way: this new partner has an incredibly difficult job right now. They’re parachuting into your family and supporting your children, even though they don’t have a lot of power or control over the situation. They’re expected to love your children like their own, and your kids may even be giving them a hard time, too! Try having some respect and empathy for this other person who is, ultimately, trying to support your children to the best of their ability. Also, even though you may not be a step-parent yourself right now, you might end up being one later, too — so try treating her how you would want to be treated in this same situation.

Set clear boundaries around communication: It’s always important to be clear about your boundaries when you’re co-parenting, but this is even more of a priority when another parental figure enters the picture. Not comfortable with communicating about the kids through the new partner? That’s perfectly understandable — just establish the boundary of communicating with your former partner only. If you make your needs clear, it’ll be easier for everyone involved to abide by them.

Try a reframe: If you’re still struggling with the idea of this new partner being in the picture, try shifting your focus to how happy she’s making your child’s father. A happy parent is a healthy parent, and if a new partner can help him be a more open and supportive parent, then that’s what matters the most.

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