How to introduce your new partner to your children

How to introduce your new partner to your children

When you split from your children's father, the prospect of finding love again was probably a distant thought. You had to go through the heartache of both the breakdown of the relationship and trying to help your kids cope. Now that your life's back on track, you're dating again and having fun. But what happens when things become serious with a new guy? How do you prepare yourself for the tricky meeting between your new man and the kids? Here are some tips to guide you through this complicated period.

Don't introduce your new boyfriend too quickly

Your former relationship may have been winding to a close over a long period of time, but if you didn't officially separate from your children's father until recently, your children still need time to adjust to the new situation. Although you've been emotionally ready to start a new relationship, your children are likely to be mourning the loss of the family life they loved. Assess how your children are coping. Do they still appear withdrawn and upset? If so, hold back.

Is the relationship secure?

Is your new boyfriend someone you see yourself being with long-term? If you have any doubts about the longevity of your relationship, think twice before you introduce him to your children. Your children need a stable environment in order to thrive. If you introduce your children to new men in quick succession, the kids will become confused and find it difficult to regain a sense of permanence.

Is there trust?

The big question you have to ask yourself about your new partner is, 'Do I trust him completely?' If you have any qualms about your new boyfriend, go with your instincts. There should not only be mutual fidelity, but you must also feel comfortable allowing your partner to come into contact with your children. If your new boyfriend becomes angry easily or appears to have little patience, he's not the type of man you should bring into your children's home.

Plan the meeting place

If you do consider your new relationship to be long-term and secure, you can start to plan when his first meeting with your children should take place. The choice of whether he should meet your children in your home or in a public place is entirely up to you. In the home, your children are in their own territory. That may make the atmosphere feel more comfortable for them, or they may feel threatened by a stranger being in the place they call home. If you plan the meet-up to occur in a public place, such as a park or a restaurant, your children could be reserved. Alternatively, involving a fun activity could get the interaction between your children and your partner flowing.

Warn your children before the meeting

Children enjoy surprises, but only the fun kind. Meeting your new boyfriend won't be considered, 'fun' by your children, so give them plenty of warning. If your children are old enough, explain to them that you have met a very nice man and that you care about him. You don't need to use terms such as, 'Boyfriend' or 'Partner' just yet, but if your children ask, they will appreciate your honesty. Just remember to stress that he isn't a replacement for their father.

Be aware of your body language

When your boyfriend meets your children, it's important that his presence doesn't cause them to feel that their relationship with you is in any danger. Try to avoid physical contact with your partner. The last time your children saw you hug or kiss a man was when you were in a relationship with their father. If they see you being overly affectionate towards another man, it can feel very disorientating. Your children may also question your devotion to them or feel the need to compete with your new man.

Whichever approach you take towards introducing your boyfriend to your children, remember that each child is different and he or she will adjust to the situation in his or her own time. As the saying goes, 'You can't hurry love,' so be patient and allow your new life to develop at a comfortable pace.

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