Happily remarried, Debbie Ficarra is a shining example of how to integrate a new partner into a current family with children. The key? Ease into it.

Going slow while dating a new partner and caring for children in the home is wise, Ficarra explained, as she shared her story of newfound love. She is now happily re-married to Hugo Ficarra. Her three girls now consider family. Ficarra has words of wisdom to share for all coParents who are divorced and dating.

Ficarra, the owner of La Canada Preschool, was single for six years following divorce and coParented three girls together. This worked all fine and well until her ex, age 58, remarried a woman, age 28, and stopped his coParenting duties. Her ex is newly married and now has a two-year old. The new wife of Ficarra’s ex rejects three of their first daughters.

“She (the new wife) doesn’t want her two-year old to know she has half sisters,” Ficarra said. “But, she is a young girl and just doesn’t know better I guess.”

“All three of my daughters have disowned their father in the past month,” Ficarra said. “My daughter came over the other day with a plaque for Hugo and said, ‘I want you to have this, it says I am so glad you are my dad.’ She said, ‘I am done with him (her biological father). I’m all yours.'”

All three of Ficarra’s daughters feel the same about Hugo, who has been married to their mother for three years . Hugo has now even established a trust that includes his children, three sons – age 24 to 36 – and her three daughters – age 27 to 36. The Ficarras that currently reside under one roof include the couple and two of Hugo’s sons.

Ficarra has some suggestions to make the transition easier for the children, when meeting a new partner and introducing them.

Share Your Time with the Kids

“When I met Hugo and we had dated for about four months, I told the boys that I would never take them away from their father,” she said. “I know you are one unit. I am just here to be a player in the background.”

“And now when they go do things on the weekend, I tell them to have a good time,” she added. “I am happy when they go and when they return.”

Teach Your Children About Your New Partner… Slowly

Teaching is letting the children watch a new healthy relationship unfold slowly between the parent and their new partner and also hearing their parent say great things about the new partner.

“I taught my daughters that Hugs was a great father to his boys,” Ficarra said. ”

Teach Your Children About Your Ex

If the children ask about their biological parent who is not participating in the coParenting journey and disowning them or being mean to them, Ficarra suggests telling the children the truth and getting them therapy. And stressing to the children that it is not their fault. This will hopefully put an end to the continuous family cycle of abuse.

Therapy is Good

“My daughters and I went through therapy, each on our own, and that helped us through the years of my divorce and the new troubles with their biological father,” Ficarra explained.

Take it Easy on the Hot and Heavy

“We did not sleep together in the same house as my daughters for four months,” Ficarra said. “He courted me slowly. He was so nice and actually asked my daughters permission. He said, ‘May I please sleep over with your mom? And they said, ‘Yes, Please go!’ And I didn’t sleep over at his house in front of his sons, until I felt that they accepted me as their father’s new partner.”

“Keep the kids at the center,” she added. “That means, don’t sleep together. go to hotels until you feel the children are comfortable and accepting of your new partner.”

Respect the Children, First and Foremost

“I think it’s all about respect for the children,” Ficarra said in closing.