When you feel you are ready to move to the next step with your new partner, there are several things you can do to help ease the introduction and transition with your children.
Here are a few good ways to introduce your prospective husband or significant other to your children:
More: Dating After Divorce
- Invite him for dinner at a restaurant or neutral spot to meet your kids.
- Take a trip to the zoo or some other neutral spot, where you, your partner, and children can be involved together.
- Choose an age-appropriate place and activity such as a bowling alley, bike ride, etc.
- Do not expect your children, or your partner, to want to spend the entire day together. Choose an activity that lasts no more than one to two hours.
Let your children get to know him in small doses until they begin to ask about him on their own. Patience now can be a great asset later.
When you introduce a new person to a child the child is always going to be cautious. When you introduce a boyfriend, your child will sense a difference in the relationship and may feel threatened. There are definitely things your partner should not do the first time he meets your children. The same things apply when you meet his kids, if he has any.
Here are several things to keep in mind:
- Avoid trying to show any immediate signs of affection. Even an enthusiastic high five can be greeted by a suspicious icy stare.
- Do not call any child over the age of two by any condescending names, such as a baby.
Never try to be overly fatherly. Even very young children have loyalty to their biological father, even when that father is no longer in the picture. Take things slowly and give the child time to adjust.
Never discipline the child in a harsh manner, particularly if it appears to contradict the methods used in the household.
- Don't argue in front of the children. A child is very leery of new people and will see even minor bickering as a threat.
Reading the Reactions
My youngest was so excited to welcome my new partner into our household that she would literally get between us. She wasn't trying to break it up—she wanted to show affection too.
My son, on the other hand, was not so sure at first. He liked my new partner a lot, but was fiercely loyal to his own father. He was a little older and tended to be very protective.
Everyone Reacts in His Own Way
Each child adjusts to a new relationship in his or her own way. In any situation it is best to give the new relationships time to grow at a pace that works for each person involved. You can't force harmony. At first, when you begin a new relationship involving your children and a new man in your life, expect everyone to be at odds. You are likely to be excited about starting a new life while your children will be desperately trying to cling to the old. It will be a little crazy for a while, but with patience, understanding, and a lot of love, it can work out just fine.
Starting a new relationship when you have kids can be complicated. For more tips, check out Involving Your Children in Your New Relationship.