It’s finally happened: after diving back into the dating pool after your divorce, you have met someone special. Now, for a while, you will be content with keeping this new relationship to yourself. After some time, though, you will start thinking about letting your kids in on the secret as well. The first thing you need to realize is that introducing a new partner to your kids is a pretty big deal. So, you shouldn’t take it too lightly. It is also the reason that you shouldn’t just bring your new boyfriend or girlfriend over to the house and hope for the best.
Although you may not want to hear this, it isn’t always a good idea for your new partner and your kids to meet – at least at the beginning. At the very least, it may not be time for them to encounter each other just yet. To make sure that you are making the right move, there are a few things you need to do first.
Taking these steps will ensure that you are making the best decision for everyone involved. As a result, it will also make the introduction process a lot smoother. Therefore, without further ado, here is what you need to do before the big meet up.
Before introducing a new partner to your kids, make an assessment.
One thing your divorce may have taught you is how little you can know someone you are involved with. Well, you can’t really afford to make this mistake again, particularly considering your current situation. This is why you should take off your rose-colored glasses and really evaluate your partner.
Make sure you are aware of their background, past, and any other important information about them. If you feel like he or she isn’t forthcoming enough, you may want to do a little sleuthing by yourself. There are plenty of services that will look up people online for you. By doing so, you will be able to discover who they really are.
Sure, this may seem like a rather extreme measure, but keep in mind – you are a parent. Therefore, your responsibility is to your children first. Before you bring other people into their lives, you need to make certain that these individuals are worthy of such an honor.
Take Stock of Your Relationship
One of the most important things to remember is this: you should only introduce a new partner to your kids if you are serious about them. There is no need for you to bring home every person you are dating. You should only consider taking the next step if you are in a long-term relationship.
This is why your first step should be to ask yourself a difficult question – where is your relationship going? Now, of course, it is virtually impossible to know whether any partnership is going to survive forever. However, it is much easier to know whether a particular relationship is serious or not.
The best way to gauge just what kind of relationship you are in, though, is to have a frank conversation with your girlfriend or boyfriend. After all, there is little sense in you taking things to the next level if they aren’t on the same page. So, sit down and talk to them about what the future might hold for the two of you. If they, too, want to move things along, then this is a good sign.
Determine the Role Your Partner Will Play
Once you have decided that your partner is a good person and is here for keeps, it’s time to move onto the next task. This involves identifying the kind of role that he or she will play in your children’s life. Understandably, you may think that it is too soon for such decisions. Nevertheless, it is not.
See, your partner needs to understand what it means to be introduced to your kids. They will no longer be on the sidelines but rather will take on a more participatory role. Therefore, you need to figure out just what this will look like.
Of course, they will not need to take on this role overnight. Your children will first need to get used to your boyfriend or girlfriend before they begin to interact with one another. Still, figuring this out now can save everyone a lot of confusion and hurt feelings later on.
Evaluate Your Children’s Current “Stage” and Talk to Them
You don’t need to be told that those first few months after a divorce can be tough for kids. This is because everything can feel so new and raw. Due to this, it isn’t uncommon for them to act out or simply go through a rough, emotional time.
As you can imagine, you need to make sure that this stage is over before you even think about introducing a new partner to your kids. So, you should try to evaluate just how well your little ones are adjusting to the divorce. Look for signs like improved moods, willingness to talk about the divorce, being sociable, and just being happy in general.
If your children appear to be well-adjusted, then the next step is to talk to them about dating in generalized terms. Explain to them that it is natural for you and your ex-spouse to want to have boyfriends or girlfriends. At the same time, it is imperative that you stress that your roles as parents haven’t changed at all.
Tell your kids that they will always come first and that their happiness is what is most important. Reassure them that having someone new in their lives isn’t going to change your relationship with them. It is a good idea to have this conversation sometime before introducing them to your partner.
Once this message has sunk in, you can then think about broaching the subject of introducing your partner. You may want to avoid putting labels on them at this point but rather talk in terms of “special friends”. Let the kids ask any questions that they want so that they are able to expel any anxiety they have in this manner.
Give Your Ex a Heads-Up
If talking about a partner with kids is tricky enough, getting your partner involved can be a whole other nightmare. Still, you should include your ex-spouse in this conversation, if possible. At the end of the day, your kids are your responsibilities and they have the right to know about a potential partner as well.
Now, in an ideal world, your ex-spouse and your partner should meet each other. This, of course, depends on the kind of relationship that you have with your ex. If you are both civil with each other, then this could be a good move for you.
Otherwise, simply informing your ex of your new relationship is enough. Understand that they may have some questions, so do try to accommodate these, to a certain extent. Having your ex-spouse’s support may go a long way in ensuring that the introduction between your new partner and kids goes well.
These are a list of things you will need to do before introducing a new partner to your kids. It may seem like a daunting task, but it is something you should do, regardless. You need to make certain that each person in this dynamic is comfortable with the situation. It is the only way the meeting will truly be a success for everyone.
Tammy Gibson has spent many years coaching families affected by divorce. She has worked with individuals in various stages of the post-divorce process, allowing her to gain a better understanding of the toll that divorce can have on people. In turn, this has given her the skills and tools necessary for helping people every step of the way. www.about.me/t_gibson