Introducing Your Children to Your New Boyfriend
It’s the moment every single mum dreads, whether she is widowed, divorced, or never really had a partner. It’s the moment when she has to introduce her children to her new boyfriend, and it can be incredibly difficult.
For many single mums, a new dating relationship can be a source of both excitement and anxiety. Keep in mind, however, that not every new relationship needs to culminate in including the children. If you don’t envision a future with your new flame, you may want to keep the kids out of it.
Children are incredibly vulnerable when it comes to their parents dating again, and timing is critical. Not only do you want to make sure they are ready to accept someone else, but you want to make sure that new special someone is going to be around for a while, in case they get too attached and the new relationship doesn’t last.
Take Your TimeIn a perfect world, you shouldn’t introduce your children to your new boyfriend until they have become accustomed to the idea that you’re single. If your kids are still trying to adjust to your divorce, bringing a new man into the equation isn’t a good idea. If he was pivotal in the break-up of your relationship with their father, you’ll have to tread even more carefully.
Whipping out your new fella after the second date and inviting him accompany you on a family outing to the cinema might not be best practice either. Your children might think he’s great fun, and be gravely disappointed when you dump him after Date Five.
Top TipsHere are some top tips to make the process that little bit easier, on you and the kids...
- Don’t be too eager. You don’t have to wait until you’re ready to tie the knot to introduce a new special someone, but don’t rush things. Patience now will reap rewards later.
- Be honest. Don’t tell your children that Stephen is simply a “work colleague” when he’s actually a lot more than that. Explain to them that you’re dating again, and that while Stephen may be important to you, nobody can replace the role your children play in your heart.
- Choose the right setting. If your new boyfriend loves rock-climbing and your kids have never indulged in the sport, scaling a mountain might not be the perfect spot to meet. Your kids will have enough adjustments to make, so let them meet your new man on comfortable territory of their own.
- Do something your children love to do. A relaxed, easy trip to the zoo or the bowling alley might work best. Your kids will also be kept busy, so the focus will not be entirely on your new relationship and there will be fewer awkward moments.
- Be reassuring. Don’t under-estimate the impact a new partner can have on the relationship you have with your children. Even if they think he’s great, they might feel jealous of the time he spends with you. Take time to let them know that they still have first priority.
Things to AvoidAvoiding a rocky start is important, which is why there are some things your new boyfriend can do to make sure everything gets off on the right foot. Warn your boyfriend not to:
- Be false. Children can sense when an adult is uncomfortable, but don’t over-compensate and come over all sickly sweet and condescending. It’s okay to say, “This is my first time meeting you and I’m a bit nervous.” It’s not okay to say, “Wow, you’re the smartest/cutest/most talented child I’ve ever met!”
- Act as a surrogate father. Your children already have a father, or if he is out of the picture, they don’t need someone they hardly know acting like he is one.
- Be overly affectionate to you in front of the kids. Nobody likes to see a strange man kissing their mum, and that includes your own children. Keep public displays of affection to an absolute minimum.
Long-Term PlansIf you and your new boyfriend or partner see a long-term future together, make sure you include your children in the planning. Even very young kids like to feel they are part of the process.
If you decide to move into a new place together, let your kids have a say about their own space. They can look at flats with you, have a role in decorating their new bedroom, help choose where furniture goes. Help them to feel they are an integral part of a family unit, not just something extra trailing behind your relationship.
Accepting that you have a new partner or boyfriend can be tricky for children, but if you approach things the right way you’ve won half the battle. With time, they’ll realize that you are not splitting your affections in half and that your love for them is unconditional, no matter who else enters the picture.