A question that we hear often on The Rendezvous is, "When should I introduce my new partner to my kids?" and the truth is, there is no set timeline for that kind of meeting. It's more of a series of questions you need to answer honestly about yourself, your family, and your relationship.
It's so important to take relationships slow, especially after divorce when you and your kids most likely at your most vulnerable. One key thing to note is that having your children meet a new partner can be especially painful to them if they're hoping for a reconciliation between their parents. It will likely take time for your children to accept a new person in their life.
Here are some guidelines to help you make this decision:
CONSIDER THE TIMING
Children need time to adjust to a major change in their family and it can take over a year to get over the pain brought on by divorce. If you're dating people casually, and your kids meet these partners, it may complicate their healing process.
CONSIDER THEIR FEELINGS
Just because you're head over heels for your new partner doesn't mean your kids will feel the same way. They may feel jealousy over the attention and time you're devoting to someone they may view as a rival.
CONSIDER THEIR NEEDS
Introducing someone too soon may increase stress in the home and again deflect their ability to process and heal from your divorce. Kids need to feel safe and secure and having a parent depart the home and see someone new trying to fill the role can make them feel unstable.
ASK YOURSELF: IS THIS PERSON A GOOD FIT?
You might have great chemistry together but not everyone can get along well with children. You have to have a very honest and open conversation with your new partner to see if this is something they're willing to take on.
GET THEIR FEEDBACK
Talk to your kids. Check in with them and see how they're feeling. If you have been dating someone exclusively and feel ready to make that next step have a family meeting. Explain to them that you're seeing someone that you care about and would like for them to meet. Ask if they have any questions and make sure to keep that first meeting short. Going to a restaurant or some kind of neutral place is ideal - it can even be a good idea to let your children choose where they'd feel comfortable.
One final thought - avoid sleepovers. It's not a good idea to have overnight visits with your new partner when your kids are home. It can further feelings of resentment and jealousy. Plan those types of nights when your kids go stay with their other parent or are planning to be out of the home for the night. Having your new partner spend the night should really only happen once there is a firm commitment from them, like an engagement.
Make sure to listen to Simon's advice to Listener Regina. She's been dating a single father and is concerned that he's not taking their relationship seriously because he hasn't introduced her to his son.
Have you ever been in this position? How did you handle it?