Rules For Introducing Your Kids To Your New Boyfriend
Dating as a single parent is difficult enough as it is, without dating. Every time you want to go on a date, you need to find a babysitter as well as come up with something to tell your kids you are doing (since you probably don’t want to tell them you’re dating). Add to that the brutal but common reality that many people out there don’t want to date a single parent. So your dating pool is very small, and then the simple act of going out to dinner with somebody in that pool is very complicated. If you’ve gotten to the point where you’re considering introducing somebody you’re dating to your children, consider yourself lucky. That means you overcame many of those other hurdles and found somebody who was willing to stick it out with you. Now here are rules for introducing your new boyfriend to your kids.
Wait until it’s a significant relationship
Wait until you are in an established relationship to introduce your partner to your children. Ideally, you would wait over two years since the honeymoon period lasts two years. In other words, just because something lasts one year doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed to last. It’s very important that you minimize the risk of your children becoming attached to somebody who will disappear.
Talk to your partner about the significance of this
Make sure your partner understands the significance of meeting your children. You should both be on the same page that A) You are in a committed, serious relationship and B) You see a future together. Your partner should know that, to you, introducing him to the kids is a big deal. He should know that so that he has all the information he needs before deciding to meet them.
Don’t accept pressure
Don’t allow a partner to pressure you into meeting your kids. Many men can feel insecure if you don’t let them meet your children for a long time. They can see this as a sign that you aren’t committed to them. Hopefully, you are with someone who is mature enough to understand that when you are a mother, the needs of your children go before your own and your resistance to introducing them has nothing to do with your love of your partner.
Understand that your partner can wait if he wants
Here is a dynamic many single parents don’t expect: a partner who isn’t ready to meet their children. If your partner resists meeting your kids at first, don’t panic and believe the relationship is over. You should, actually, respect the fact that your partner understands the significance of meeting your kids, and that he doesn’t take it lightly.
Tell your kids about him before bringing him over
Don’t just spring your partner onto your kids, in person. You should sit them down and have a talk with them about your new friend before they meet him. Tell them all the wonderful things you love about him. Tell them details about his life you know will excite and fascinate them. Show them how much you smile when you talk about him. Surround this upcoming experience with excitement and happiness rather than gravity and fear.
Let them ask questions
Let your children ask as many questions as they want. Be prepared for questions you didn’t even know your kids knew how to ask, like, “Do you have sex with him?” and “Does this mean you don’t love dad anymore?” It could be a good idea to speak to a child therapist before, so you can be prepared to answer these questions in a responsible manner.
Let them know what this person means to you
Many children only understand the relationship between a man and a woman so long as it pertains to a mom and a dad. Your kids may not understand, at first, what place a new man has in your life. Tell them what this partnership means to you. Tell them who he is to you, and who he isn’t (for example, he isn’t their new father).
Give your kids equal attention in the interaction
When you do bring your partner and your kids together, pay a lot of attention to your children. Most children’s first reaction will be jealousy, and the urge to fight for their parent’s attention. Don’t let your kids feel your partner steals your attention from them. Make sure that all of you interact equally.
Hold off on PDA for now
You may want to wait to kiss, hug, or hold hands with your new partner until your kids have met him several times. Your priorities should be first to get your kids to like your partner—just as an individual—and then to get them to accept the idea of you two as a couple.
Get the father involved, if that’s an option
If your kids’ father is in the picture and you have a good relationship, he may be able to help. Your children’s father should meet your significant other before your kids do—after all, the father should have some knowledge of who hangs out with his kids. Then, have the father and your boyfriend over to hang out with your kids. This shows your kids that their dad isn’t going anywhere and that he likes your boyfriend, so they don’t need to “protect” their dad.
Don’t expect an immediate success
It is very rare that children instantly take to their mother’s new partner. Keep your expectations very low. An interaction that doesn’t end with someone screaming, crying or locking themselves in their room is a success.
Don’t be put off by an immediate disaster
Speaking of screaming and crying, there is a good chance that will happen. That doesn’t mean you have to call off the encounter entirely. Your boyfriend can sit in the living room while you go speak to your kids, console them, and ask what you can do at that point to make them comfortable. Sending your partner away could just make your kids feel like they failed you in some way. Show them they can express themselves, and it won’t destroy the day.
Have other loved ones around
Having some other friends or family members who your kids love around could be helpful. If they see your boyfriend interacting and getting along with people they love, they may be more prepared to see him as a part of the inner circle.
Take them somewhere they love
The first meeting should be at home, so your children feel totally comfortable. But after that, try taking your boyfriend and your children somewhere your kids love. Why not give your partner the advantage of having your kids associate him with fun days?
Be ready for a roller coaster
You will have good days and bad days when it comes to your kids getting along with your boyfriend. If ever there was a time to pick up meditation or get into some sort of Zen practice, that time is now. If you react strongly to every ebb and flow of this journey, your heart won’t be able to take it. Remember that, at their core, your kids want to get along with your partner—they don’t want constant turmoil in the house, either. People have a way of working things out.