If you recently started dating someone new AND you have kids, it can be tough to decide when you should introduce them to the new person in your life. If you’re Dating with Dignity, you shouldn’t find it too difficult to make that choice. But for extra help, Marni shares three signs you know it’s time to introduce your guy to the kids.
1. When the commitment is real — meaning long term.
If you’re casually dating someone and don’t see them as a part of your forseeable future, introducing them to your kids is definitely unnecessary. It will only confuse kids if they’re continually introduced to a barrage of suitors. Dates two and three do not need to pick you up at home if your kids are there. Don’t ever bring your kids on a date — even if he agrees to meet you at the park because your schedule is “so busy.”
A better choice? If you and your guy are in a relationship that lasts past the three-month mark and are making the commitment to be exclusive, begin to slowly introduce him to your kids. Inserting him into all of your kid time, though, is a big no-no. Instead, invite him to join you for one or two activities per week or month (depending on how old your kids are).
You can even introduce him as your friend rather than your boyfriend at first and then let him slowly get to know your kids (and you in the role of mother). Set him up to win by making it clear that your child (or children) aren’t competing for your time and attention. A child who feels as though mom’s boyfriend is the “enemy” will have a more difficult time adjusting long term. But a child who feels like mom’s boyfriend adds something positive to the mix will be more likely to warm up and ultimately cultivate a healthy relationship.
2. After you’ve discussed it with your partner.
Have you discussed plans to blend families? Have you asked him if he’s ready to meet your kids? If your new guy has discussed an interest in meeting your children or expressed a desire to blend your families, it’s a sure sign he’s ready. This should make YOU feel ready to introduce him to your kids as well; a partner who’s ready and willing to meet and accept all of you (kids included) is someone you’re going to want to keep around.
That said, if you’re not sure about the relationship or feel it’s too soon for your needs, be loving and firm with your boundaries.
3. When you feel ready to handle whatever reaction your kids are going to have to your new partner.
Your kids are definitely going to benefit from you being in a healthy, long-term relationship. They’ll also benefit from you being happy! However, this doesn’t mean they’re going to be head over heels for your new guy.
Many kids hang on to the dream that mom and dad are going to get back together. So when you have a new significant other, this new person becomes their reality. Keep communication open with your children and reassure them that you’re not looking for a replacement for dad. Instead, let them know that mom has a lot of love to give and that adults have a different kind of love that’s currently missing from your life.
If you do the introduction slowly over time — join together in neutral activities such as a picnic at a park or an activity your children really like (and maybe it’s not your favorite) where your boyfriend can shine — he will start to look like the rockstar addition to the family that you desire.
There are always bumps and bruises along the way, but ensuring that you start the process correctly will make a positive impact on how the transition progresses long term for the happiness of you, your partner, and your children.
Learn more about relationship coach Marni Battista and Dating with Dignity.