When (and how) to introduce your children to your new partner
I’m not going to lie. I don’t think there’s an exact right time to introduce your children to your new partner (and yes, you know I hate that word but I couldn’t find an alternative for this post). But, I think there are a few things you should be sure of and a few things to look out for to tell you it might be nearly time to take the next step.
Ask yourself a few questions before rushing to introduce them;
- Does your partner ask questions about your child(ren)? Do they seem genuinely interested in your relationship with them and what they’re like?
- Have you spoken about the future at all? I don’t mean a proposal or what you’re doing next Saturday, but do your dreams for the future match up? If one of you wants to stay put in the same town because the schools are good and the other
seesthemselves moving to Dubai for 3 years it may not work.
- If they have children themselves have you spoken about them and how you see the children getting on? It may be hypothetical but thinking about these things shows that you are probably both on the same page and in it for the long haul.
- How have they reacted when you’ve had to change plans because of your child(ren)? Either they’ve come down with a bug or a children’s birthday party has overrun and you can’t make it to something you’ve planned. Have you felt they understood or did they act a little bit like a big kid themselves?
- Have they seen you after a bad day –
a longbedtime, a tantrum at dinner or a morning that has broken you? How have they reacted to you being a little bit grumpy or tired or maybe not looking as put together as you would like?
- Do your child(ren) know that you are dating someone?
What if I answered NO to any of these?
If you’ve answered NO to any of the above I would probably just think a bit harder. Do you feel your relationship is at a stage where you
I also mention number 6 because introductions are definitely a two way thing. If your child(ren) are at an age where they understand these things, I think listening to their thoughts on the matter builds a lot of trust between you. It also gives you an idea of whether they are ready to meet someone who their mummy or daddy likes a lot, maybe even loves, without too much jealousy or worry.
How should I plan the introduction?
From my perspective, getting on with my daughter is a non-negotiable in a relationship. She is an extremely large part of my life both time wise and emotionally, so, if my new boyfriend isn’t on board with that then it’s not going to last. I am very aware that the first meeting is also not a perfect indicator of how the two will get on in the future but you can put some things in place to make it as less stressful as possible for everyone involved.
- Pick a neutral place to meet. I wouldn’t recommend having the first meeting at your house. Imagine how dogs and cats mark their territory and you will have an idea of how your child(ren) might react. Hopefully, they won’t pee around you but it takes away the issue if you meet on neutral ground. A park maybe? Restaurant? Ice cream parlour? Somewhere a little fun they can talk but they also don’t feel pressured to converse if they don’t want to.
- Keep it short. Especially with younger children, it would be insensitive to expect them to spend a long time with a stranger. Just like a coffee or drinks
firstdate is much preferred than a full dinner and movie. If the child offers to spend more time with your partner then or another day then you’re onto a winner. If not then don’t be demoralised and just try again in a couple of weeks.
- Keep PDA to a minimum, if at all. No one likes to see others snogging in public – no one more so than your child(ren). Don’t try and sneak in any
hand holdingas children are eagle-eyed and will spot it, I promise!
- Be very aware of the distribution of attention between your partner and child(ren). Keep the conversation catered to your child’s level and keep them involved in it. A great idea is to have a mini pre-chat with both, briefing them on likes, dislikes and good conversation topics. This hopefully means less awkward silences and will stop you from having to lead all the conversations.
- Ensure everyone is aware they don’t have to instantly be best mates. This introduction should be seen as the start of a very fun marathon. Not a sprint where your child(ren) have to get on with your partner straight away and vice versa.
- Have a debrief with your child(ren) after the event It doesn’t have to be straight away – take their lead. How did they feel it went? What went well? What did they like about your partner? What do you think you could do next time you meet etc?
So is there a right time?
As I said I don’t think there’s a specific right time to introduce your child(ren) to your new boyfriend or girlfriend but I think there are some definite signs that it could be the right time and also some ways of doing the deed to make it as easy as possible.