Too Soon? Things To Consider When Introducing Your Child To Your New Partner
Dating with children can be complicated, especially if you are in the public eye. If you’ve been paying attention to pop culture, you’ll know there was a big to-do about singer Ciara introducing her son to her new football player beau Russell Wilson. Well, maybe the person making the biggest deal out of it is her ex-fiancé Future, but it seems everyone had something to say about her decision to involve Russell in her son’s life this early in their relationship. While some were for it, others have denounced the situation, even going as far as questioning her parenting. And while none of us know for sure how long they’ve been dating or just how serious their relationship really is, one thing we should all be able to agree on is that there are no set rules as to how and when a man or woman should introduce their child(ren) to a new partner. Since every situation is different, we can only say there are a few things to consider before taking it to the next step.
For one, the child’s age, maturity level and emotional state all play a major part in this mind-boggling decision. While it could be argued that Ciara and Russell are very early in their relationship and meeting her son was premature, I have to wonder how much damage she could potentially be doing since baby Future is only a toddler. Sure you could say that his age makes no difference, but let’s say they break up next week. Do you really think he will remember Russell after a few weeks or months post-breakup? It’s hard to say, but my guess is no. While I think couples should wait until they’re serious to introduce a child to a new partner, I also think it’s important not to wait too long before knowing how your new partner will interact and get along with your child. Not everyone knows how to handle a baby or a toddler, so perhaps Ciara wanted to find out sooner rather than later if Russell was up for the task of playing a role in her son’s life.
Now if you have teenagers, you may not want to wait too long to make introductions because you may want them to play a part in your dating process. While they may seem mature enough to handle mommy dating a new guy, they also are old enough to establish their own relationship with him without mom facilitating, allowing their rapport to grow organically and not forced. Also, children of a certain age understand what it means when a man or woman is “spending the night,” so make sure you handle that situation delicately. If you have young children that may entail explaining that mommy is having a sleepover with her friend. But if you have teenagers, that “sleepover” mess won’t fly. Be honest with your older children. Explain to them how you feel about your partner and why you two have decided to share a bed. And most important, make sure you lock the doors and wear pajamas. Children of any age don’t need to be exposed to anything that is grown folk’s business.
Remember, you are your child’s role model. You set the example for how they see you, so make sure you ask them their thoughts or concerns about who you’re dating. Be sure to acknowledge their feelings, not dismiss them. And while you want your partner to feel comfortable, you also have to make sure your partner understands how your children may react to mom’s new man. Make sure he’s on the same page when it comes to rules and boundaries. Again, depending on the maturity level of the children and communication involved, that may spell disaster if not handled correctly.
Lastly, if the other parent is actively involved in your child’s life, be sure to tell them about your new relationship as soon as you and your new partner decide that your relationship is serious and exclusive. Who knows if Future and Russell have met, but by all accounts that’s another grey area where messiness can stem from. While not all co-parenting situations are amicable, it’s always best to let the other parent know who will be spending time with your children if you can. Always keep the lines of communication open when dealing with your kids, your ex and your new partner and make sure all concerns are heard and addressed. Like it or not, you all are in this together, and everyone needs to play their part if your relationship is going to work. Adults and their children can have a healthy, happy relationship if done with love and respect.