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How do you introduce your new partner to your children?

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When you start a new life, you have to present your new love to your children one day. A very delicate rite of passage… A guide for a first meeting without false notes.

A rite of passage

The fear that the new spouse will be rejected by the children is nowadays ingrained in every person who is going to experience family reunification. Have they digested the separation? Will they accept this man or woman? Are they ready to live together? There is an expectation among parents that their children will validate their love choices,” says the psychologist. Maryse Vaillant.

This is a massive phenomenon, reflecting our great difficulty in being adults. When you are a parent, it is important to be both free and responsible for your commitments. But what often happens is that we give up and put ourselves under the guardianship of our children. This phenomenon is, in my opinion, a characteristic of our times, and stems directly from the failure to respect the generational order, adds psychoanalyst Sylviane Giampino. By making their children their referents, parents place them in a position of authority over them. This is a very distressing investment for the child: firstly, because he cannot know what is good for his father or mother; secondly, because when their words have an effect in reality, this reinforces their illusion of omnipotence and feeds their anxiety and sense of guilt.

If parents consider the introduction of a new spouse as a test, with their children in the role of jurors, it is also, according to Alain Braconnier, psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, because of a very contemporary paradox. “Today’s adults think more about their personal development than those of the past. At the same time, they are more concerned about the repercussions of their decisions on their children’s lives. Hence, they are very attentive to anything that might upset their children. Especially because they are well aware that a divorce is always a wound for them. So, how to overcome the ordeal of the first meeting? Three family specialists give us their advice.

A blended family, three different roles

The stepfather or stepmother.
Eager to make a good impression, sometimes tends to exaggerate. A miscalculation. Because, even if this awkwardness always starts with a good intention, children, and even more so teenagers, have real antennae for detecting forced cheerfulness, false naturalness and exaggerated empathy. The right behavior to adopt? Neither too much nor too little. Questions, familiarity, enthusiasm…

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The father
It is best to avoid praising the new partner, as the child may hear this as a disqualification of the parent. It is sufficient to indicate the name, profession and family situation (with or without children) of the future stepparent.

The child
The living room or a walk in the woods? It doesn’t matter where the meeting takes place, as long as, once introductions have been made, they can find a space that escapes the anxious or scrutinizing gaze of adults. Whether they return to their room alone or join their friends to play, they need to release their emotional tension in their own way and away from adults.

The time to talk about it

The announcement of the arrival of a new person in the lives of children always constitutes for them, and their parents do not forget it, a new source of disturbance. “For adults, the post-divorce period is a period of transition. But not for children, who do not have the same notion of time and who have settled into this ‘after’,” says Maryse Vaillant. Aware of the shock wave that their offspring must absorb, fathers and mothers wonder what is the best time. “We start by simply saying we’ve met someone important, without going further in confidence. Children should not have a window into their parents’ intimate lives,” insists the psychologist. We only tell them more when the cohabitation plan is clarified.

Although a good moment contributes to the child’s emotional comfort and sense of security, we must not forget that this notion is subjective. The parent-child relationship is a living thing, it does not work according to any instructions, so we cannot advise an ideal moment,” says Sylviane Giampino. The only thing we can tell parents is that any change in their child’s life must be discussed, prepared and progressive.

As for how to approach the subject, there is no instruction manual either. There are two main pitfalls to avoid,” warns Alain Braconnier, “solemnity, because it is distressing and unnecessarily dramatic, and informality, whereby the child may not feel respected. In addition, the child may perceive the parent’s anxiety behind what may be only a casual facade.

The right words to say

Although most parents are concerned about protecting their children, they do not avoid overzealousness. Frédéric, 38, admits that he “went overboard” in listing all the qualities of his new partner, Valérie, to his 8-year-old daughter. “She listened to me without saying anything and suddenly said, almost in tears, ‘Mom is not bad, she’s funny and nice too.’ She also makes good roll cakes. I would have slapped myself, that was a lesson for me.”

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Beware, therefore, of overly flattering portraits, which are perceived by the child as an implicit way of disqualifying the other parent. “To develop, the child needs to have a good image of both parents. That is why it is better to talk about the new partner modestly and gently. It is always better to say less than too much. It’s fine to say their first name and profession, but let them get to know each other little by little, without pushing to force sympathy,” advises Alain Braconnier, who also specifies that life plans (living together, moving house, sharing a room, etc.) should only be mentioned if they are very advanced, to let the child or adolescent digest the information at his or her own pace.

On the other hand, some information must be communicated quickly, so that the child does not feel cornered. This is the case if you are considering living with a couple who have children. You should not drown them in an avalanche of information, which is what some parents do in the belief that it reassures them,” continues Alain Braconnier, “but they should feel that they can ask all the questions without censoring themselves.

The best places for presentations

Another strategic issue for parents is where to make presentations. Most of them rely heavily on the “right place” to smooth out difficulties. In reality, for Sylviane Giampino, Maryse Vaillant and Alain Braconnier, the most important thing is to give the child space. A meal in a restaurant, a snack in the family room, a walk in the woods, why not? Anything is possible, as long as the child can escape the anxious or scrutinizing gaze of adults when he or she wants to. Children, and perhaps even more so adolescents, have real antennae for detecting false naturalness, false cheerfulness and all the seductive maneuvers used to gain acceptance.

Some parents look forward to the summer vacations, when the family home opens its doors and the coming and going of one another lightens the mood. Is it time to announce the expansion of the family? It’s a good idea to take advantage of this period when you have time for yourself and others,” says Maryse Vaillant. But be careful: don’t introduce your new partner at the breakfast table after having spent the night with her, and don’t impose her presence during the whole vacation period under the pretext of getting to know her better.
This warning seems obvious, but it is sometimes forgotten, to the point that the desire to free oneself from guilt and trivialize the event can override common sense.

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Why children resist

Psychologists and family therapists are unanimous: these frequent negative reactions are a way for the child to express what he is not able to put into words, or even what he is not aware of. Although this lack of acceptance must be listened to, discussed with the child and taken into account by the parent, the latter must not give up his or her life project. Postponing introductions, reassuring the child and answering all his questions are ways to calm the crisis. But the parent must also make it clear that he or she will not change his or her mind.

Should you introduce your new partner to your old partner?

Some parents consider it their right to know the person who will live with their child on a daily basis or only every other weekend. It’s a wish that can be fulfilled without risk to the child, “as long as three criteria are met,” says psychologist Maryse Vaillant.

– The relationship between the former spouses must be resolved, otherwise the new partner will be a new source of conflict.

– The meeting is only really necessary when the two adults have to meet in situations involving the child’s presence (return from the weekend, vacation, etc.). Otherwise, the child may interpret this presentation as a test of approval, which devalues the parent who has reconstructed his life.

– The parent should never communicate to his or her child the impression the former spouse’s new partner has made on him or her. This is so that the child can develop a healthy relationship with the stepparent without adopting the parent’s point of view.

To go further

To read

The stepmother complex by Catherine Audibert. How to find the right distance and not to exaggerate a role that is always delicate to play (Payot, 2007).
From new love to the blended family by Gisèle Larouche. Moving from the love duo to the family clan while avoiding the main pitfalls (Éditions de l’Homme, 2002).

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Family / Couple

Breath play or erotic suffocation, a dangerous sexual practice

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It is sexual behavior that is controversial. the breathing game which literally means “breath play”, is a form of erotic asphyxiation practiced during sexual intercourse. But its dangerousness is often overlooked.

What is the breathing game?

ends sexual arousal”, defines the English version of Wikipedia. In practice, “erotic asphyxia” consists ofchoking your partner in the middle of a sexual act. However, playing with your breath can be very dangerous, even deadly. “May result in accidental death by suffocation,” the definition says.

However, despite the risk of injury or fainting, this practice has many adherents. A study conducted in 2021 among 4,000 American students indicates that 26.5% of those surveyed had drowned during their last sexual encounter. Another study carried out the same year on other students reveals more worrying figures: 58% of them have already been suffocated by a partner.

L’suffocation erotic it is also very popular in BSDM circles. A french website dedicated to this type of sexual practices, explains that this restriction of breathing is “practiced in different ways: hanging, suffocation, placing the head in a plastic bag or strangulation,” reports an article in female earth.

A sexual practice that can be deadly

Very risky, the breathing game was popularized by the porn industry, making it an act in its own right, especially in sexual relations marked by domination. But in reality, the consequences of this sexual practice can be fatal. Too much pressure on the larynx can cause death.

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Although there are no official figures on the number of deaths caused by this practice, Grace Millane, a 22-year-old woman, died from it in 2018. Police found traces of strangulation that could correspond to a “four to five minute” suffocation. His partner, Jesse Kempton, was convicted of femicide and sentenced to life in prison. The defense had confided “that the young woman had accidentally died at the end of a sexual game that had gone wrong, a version that had been categorically rejected by the jury,” he recalls. paris party.

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Family / Couple

Couple: what your position on the sofa says about your relationship

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the posture adopted by couples when they sit on a sofait’s a window into your relationship status. This is the conclusion of a study conducted by Georgina Barnett, a British psychologist, on 2,000 cohabiting couples. “Tell me how you’re sitting, I’ll tell you if everything is fine in your relationship,” says the specialist in an interview with Stylish Maternity.

Sitting next to each other: a sign of imbalance?

While most couples tend to sit on the couch together, there are some pretty subtle signs that it can be signs of relationship problems. When the partners occupy only one corner of the bench and are too close together, this is synonymous with imbalance in your relationship. “The comfortable person in the corner takes up the space, is confident, and has power in the relationship. The other, on the other hand, seems less confident. He is looking for contact and reassurance, ”explains Georgina Barnett.

However, there is a nuance when they sit more in the center of the sofa, maintaining physical contact, such as a hand on the thigh or another. “Couples established in this way have trust your relationship and therefore can afford personal space. It is a mixture of intimacy and freedom”, analyzes the psychologist. But although in love, the latter no longer experience the passion of the first days, according to the expert.

When the position on the sofa heralds a crisis

According to the psychologist, time is serious in the event that the two partners are sitting at two different ends. “It’s even worse if her legs are crossed in opposite directions,” she says. This posture is generally a sign of a Tension in the couple. It can also be a sign that something was left unsaid or resentment, according to Georgina Barnett.

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And contrary to what one might think, if the partners are based on different bases, distanced from each other, it does not necessarily mean that they are in crisis. can only be couples comfortable enough with each other to have their own space. Although this study is based on a fairly large sample, its conclusions must be taken with caution.

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Family / Couple

The Relationship Escalator: Are You Following This Conventional Love Pattern?

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Dating, formalizing your relationship, living together, getting married and having children. Many people perceive this life path map as the ultimate blueprint. This diagram has a name: the relationship escalator. The goal of those who take it is to peak by aging together, after checking a certain number of boxes.

What is a “relationship escalator”?

This expression designates a love pattern widespread, but increasingly questioned within society. The Urban DictionaryThe bible of slang and popular expressions defines the relationship ladder as “the societal expectation that a romantic relationship should automatically follow a set of stages and lead to marriage, parenthood, and home ownership.”

Amy Gahran, author of Off the Relationship Escalator, Uncommon Love and Life, was the first to mention this concept. She explains that this notion is “a standard by which most people assess whether an intimate relationship that develops is meaningful, serious, good, healthy, committed, or worth pursuing or maintaining.” In other words, the escalator of the relationship denotes ME’set of beliefs that perceive the most conventional pattern of love as the most rewarding and valued. This concept is made up of several steps that can vary depending on the culture. But they generally follow this timeline:

• Flirt for a few weeks/months

• Becoming sexually and emotionally exclusive

• Introduce your partner to loved ones

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• Live together

• Get married or settle down

• Acquire real estate

• Have children

• Get old together

A satisfactory relational schema if it is not imposed

There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking this kind of path of love if it makes us happy. Instead, what can be problematic is imposing it on others as an absolute norm and the only valid model. Pointing fingers at this practice is also a way of denouncing the constant pressure on singles and couples who do not formalize their civil unions.

Gabrielle Smith, an author and poet who is very sensitive to issues related to sexuality and romantic relationships, analyzes this practice in an article by granist “The relationship escalator is designed for heterosexual relationships between singles and preferably for relationships within a two-income middle-class household. Many people are not part of this demographic, and those who are still feel the pressure it brings. »

If this mandate can affect all genders, it is particularly intense when it comes to heterosexual women. “Society makes you think it’s easy to get married, have children, or combine finances. But the reality for many is that it is neither possible nor smart”, concludes Gabrielle Smith.

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