How to Introduce a New Partner to Your Children
We are often concerned about introducing our new boyfriend or girlfriend to our children. Handle the situation with good intentions and it can all go smoothly.
We are often concerned about introducing our new boyfriend or girlfriend to our children. Handle the situation with good intentions and it can all go smoothly. Here are some ideas:
- Acknowledge to yourself that your children are likely to view a date as a threat to their own personal time and experience with you, whether they voice their concerns to you or not.
- Be very clear with kids that adults need time with other adults, just as children need time with other children. If your child wonders why a total stranger is being invited to join the family, a good response is ‘You are he most important person in my life, but like you I need to spend time with people my own age, so I’m going to start dating again.
- I know some kids don’t like it when their parents date. What do you think?’ Including your children in the discussion helps them to come to terms with the changes about to happen.
- Encourage your children to express their feelings, but don’t allow them to dictate the terms of your love life. Children who are manipulative are usually fearful that events in their life are spinning out of control. Rather than viewing it simply as bad behaviour, recognise your child’s attempt to regain control and order.
- Curb manipulative behaviour by demonstrating with your words and actions that a new love interest won’t undermine your parent–child relationship. That may mean creating a sacred space of regularly scheduled parent–child time when your new boyfriend or girlfriend isn’t part of the action.
- Try telling your children, ‘I’m going to date, but it won’t affect our time together. If I get serious, then you’ll meet the person, but I’m not going to get serious until I know they’ll fit into our family.’ Never tell children, ‘I’m not going to get serious with anyone you don’t like.’ That hands over all your power and may be a promise you can’t keep.
- Make sure the introduction of your new significant other takes place only after you have a private conversation with your child about the relationship.
- When it comes to your new partner meeting your child, choose a setting where the focus is on an activity, not ‘getting to know each other better’. This takes all the pressure off everyone to instantly like each other. Meet at a playground or go bowling – easier for your kids to be actively doing something other than having to make conversation with a complete stranger in a restaurant.
- Remember that casually introducing your partner at a huge birthday party may not give kids a true sense of how important the relationship really is.
- Have hope. If you lay the proper groundwork, and if your new boyfriend or girlfriend is really committed to you and accepting of your children, they can indeed develop a fond relationship. Don’t rush it or expect it to happen naturally. Take your time and plan the transition.