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Introducing a New Partner to Your Child After the Death of Their Parent


Introducing a new partner to your child/children after they have experienced the death of a parent can be a daunting and difficult situation. Your child may have mixed feelings about your new relationship, such as anger, jealousy, confusion, or guilt. They may feel that you are replacing their parent, or that you are somehow betraying their memory. They may also worry that you will love them less, or that they will lose you too.

These are not only hard emotions to feel, but hard for you, as a parent/carer, to know your child or children are feeling. Nonetheless, it’s important to understand and accept that this is a common reaction among many grieving young people, and to deal with it with compassion, empathy, and at a pace which helps your child/children feel most comfortable.

At Scotty’s Little Soldiers, the charity for bereaved military children, we understand how important introducing a new partner to your child can be, and how incredibly fulfilling and rewarding it can be to see your child and new partner form their own special connection.

How to Prepare Your Child for Meeting Your New Partner

Before you introduce a new partner to your child/children, it’s important to make sure they feel prepared. Here are some tips to help you do that:

  • Tell them some basic information about your new partner, such as their name, age, job and hobbies. Avoid making any comparisons with their parent and let them ask questions if they would like to. 
  • Explain that you still love and miss their parent, but that you also want to be happy and have someone to share your life with. Reassure them that your new partner will not replace their parent or change your feelings about them. 
  • Give your child/children some time to process the news and adjust to the idea of meeting your new partner. Don’t rush them or pressure them to meet before they are ready. Let them know that you will respect their pace and comfort level.
  • Listen to their feelings and concerns. Acknowledge and validate their emotions, and let them know that you understand and respect them. Don't force them to accept or like your new partner or to hide their feelings. Give them time and space to process and adjust.
  • Involve them in the decision-making process. Ask them when and how they would like to meet your new partner, and what they would like to do together. Give them some choices and options, letting them have some control over the situation. 
  • Be honest and realistic. Don't make promises or set expectations that are out of your control, such as that your new partner will be their new parent, or that they will get along perfectly. Be clear about the role and boundaries of your new partner, and what they can and can't do for your child. 

How to Introduce a New Partner to Your Child

When a child is ready to meet your new partner, try to introduce them in a situation that feels natural and relaxed. Here are some tips to help you do that:

  • Choose a neutral and calm setting. Avoid introducing your new partner at your home, or at a place that has a strong connection to your deceased partner. Instead, choose a public and casual place where the focus is on doing an activity, such as the zoo, a park or leisure centre. Anywhere your child/children can have fun and not feel pressured to constantly engage with your new partner. 
  • Keep it short and simple. Don't overwhelm your child with too much information or interaction at once. Start with a brief and informal introduction, and then let your child and your new partner get to know each other at their own pace. Don't force them to call each other by certain names or treat each other a specific way. Let them decide how they want to express their feelings and comfort level.
  • Be supportive and positive. Encourage your child/children to share their interests and hobbies and show through your actions that they are not suddenly less important just because you’re with your new partner. 
  • Follow up. After the introduction, talk to your child and your new partner separately, and ask them how they felt and what they thought. Address any issues or concerns that may have arisen and start thinking about some ideas for the next time they meet. Keep communicating with and updating your child on your relationship plans and involve them in any big decisions. 

How Scotty's Little Soldiers Can Help

Scotty’s Little Soldiers is a military charity dedicated to supporting children and young people (0 to 25 years) who have experienced the death of a parent who served in the British Armed Forces.    

Inspired by the experience of Army widow Nikki Scott, following the death of her husband Corporal Lee Scott in Afghanistan in 2009, the charity, which was set up in 2010, provides support and guidance to hundreds of bereaved military children and young people throughout their childhood.    

Scotty’s currently support over 650 bereaved children and young people. Services offered include access to child bereavement support, guidance to parents and carers, personal education and learning assistance (including grants), and fun activities such as holiday respite breaks and group events. These are all designed to remind the children and young people supported by Scotty’s that they are not alone.    

If you know a child or young person who has experienced the death of a parent who served in the British Armed Forces, they could be eligible for specialist bereavement support from Scotty's Little Soldiers. Hundreds of bereaved military children aren’t getting the support they need but we are here to help.  

If you know a bereaved military child who could benefit from Scotty’s Little Soldiers support, visit our Get Support page for more information.


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