Introducing the Kids
Every parent who is in the dating world has to make the decision at some point to introduce their children to their new significant other. This is a very important relationship milestone and there are a lot of emotions involved; yours, his/hers, your kid’s and their other parent.
The timing of this all-important event can be tricky. I’ve heard everything from after a handful of dates to six months before the kids are introduced to your new guy or girl post. Here are some general guidelines, things to think about and problems to avoid when you do finally get everybody together.
Most likely the kids have been through a divorce, too. They need time to adjust to the reality that mom and dad are not together anymore, that their life has changed forever and they will need time to adjust. Bringing a new person into their life is going to be difficult if they are still struggling with the divorce. There really is no rush to incorporate your date into your family right away. It’s best for everyone if you keep your dating life and family life separate for a few months, at least.
Before you even begin to consider introducing your children to your new main squeeze, the two adults in the relationship should be exclusive and have spent extended time together getting to know each other and discussing your lives as parents. Tell your date about your children so he/she can start to get to know them from a safe distance.
On the flip side, in the beginning, say very little about whom you are dating to your children. Don’t lie to them about where you are going or what you’re doing, but keep the details to yourself. “I’m going out to dinner with a friend, “ is enough.
When you and your new guy or gal have agreed to be exclusive, have really gotten know each other and you want to take the relationship to the next level, then make careful plans to introduce your children to each other. It should be done in a group setting, non-threatening way. Enlist friends who have met your boy/girlfriend to come over and have a BBQ in your backyard or plan to meet at park for a picnic. You and your date should meet there with the kids, introduce everyone as a “friend” and let things happen naturally.
It’s a very bad idea to try and force anything on anyone. Don’t tell your daughter to give “Bob” a hug, and don’t try to hug someone else’s kids, especially in front of your own for the first few meetings. Exchange names, the have some games and activities planned that involve the adults and the kids intermingling.
This is a slow process and it should be. It will take times for the kids to accept this new person in your life and it will take time for you to get to know his/her kids. Don’t be hurt if they initially reject you. In their eyes you might be a rival for their mom or dad’s attention and affection. It’s not uncommon for kids to harbor a fantasy that their parents are going to get back together if only you weren’t in the picture, too. Being prepared for these attitudes and having patience will go a long way toward forming a more perfect union.