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Unexpected lessons from a celebrity on when to tell kids about a new significant other

by | Jan 21, 2023 | Children and Divorce |

We confess to checking in on celebrity divorce news from time to time — in part because there can be some unexpected (and unexpectedly good) lessons coming from those stories. And we found a very surprising one in the pages of People, good to keep in mind for anyone who finds love after divorce but still needs to balance that with the needs of their children.

The story involves Elizabeth Chambers, the BIRD Bakery founder who filed for divorce in 2020, after her and actor Armie Hammer had been married for 10 years.

Chambers has since found a new boyfriend, but as she revealed via her Instagram account, she has a seven-year-old daughter and five-year-old son, and isn’t quite ready to share the news about her relationship with them yet. According to the article, she provided the following info along with a picture of her and her new significant other:

“They don’t know he’s my bf. Over the past two and a half years, my main (and only) priority has been to mitigate trauma and protect my children at all costs. Personally, I don’t believe it’s helpful, productive, or necessary to introduce also while children are still emotionally processing divorce. Children first, but to each their own.”

That’s a very mature way to deal with the situation, for a few reasons we want to highlight.

The first is the idea of “children first” and “putting children first.”

Parents need to think about how divorce affects their kids during and after the divorce, and be conscious of how certain words and actions can impact their children as they move into an entirely different reality from what they once knew. Children respond well to order and regular routines, and the chaos that can come with divorce – when those children are shuttling between one parent’s residence and the other’s — can contribute to the overall confusion in divorce.

While a parent might be excited about a new significant other, and having this new partner be part of the children’s lives, the idea of finding the right time and way to do that is an important one. When Chambers shared, “I don’t believe it’s helpful, productive, or necessary to introduce also while children are still emotionally processing divorce,” she displayed great awareness of what her children needed. It’s important to know those boundaries when you’re a parent, and set those for your significant other as well as your children.”

Chambers noted that in the past 30 months, “mitigat[ing] trauma” and “protect[ing] her children” has been key. That sounds like a lot of energy spent doing emotional care. It’s important to have a gauge on how much energy you’re already spent and how much more you have to give. If you’ve already done a lot of work to get past a challenging episode, you don’t want to make a choice that’s going to create another challenging episode and more work.

From reading this, it looks like Chambers has done well to compartmentalize, rather than immediately intertwining her romantic life with her life as a parent. She’s able to enjoy time with her boyfriend as well as time with her kids, without mixing those important parts of her life up.

For newly-divorced parents — especially those who were romantically involved with new partners — while they were getting divorced, “children first” is a good first rule to keep in mind. While it’s important to take care of your emotional needs, you owe it to your children not to do that at your children’s expense.

And if you’re still getting divorced, it’s definitely not the time to mix up your love life and your parenting life. That can needlessly complicate a divorce and impact what your post-divorce looks like. It’s simply not worth the risk.