5 Tips for Introducing Your New Significant Other to Your Kids

You're a single mom dating someone special and things seem to be going pretty well ... are you ready to introduce him to your kids? Is he ready to meet them, and are they ready to meet him? How do you know? And is there a "right" way to do it?

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You know you have to be careful for your kids' sake. But you also want to make sure this important transition moves your relationship forward in a healthy way. That is why almost all experts will tell you to take things slowly. No rush!

"Single parent dating involves finding a quality person you like, who likes you, and who is comfortable with your children," says Tina B. Tessina, PhD, psychotherapist and author of Love Styles: How to Celebrate Your Differences. "These extra dynamics can be frustrating, but should not be ignored or overlooked." 

So for the sake of your kids and your relationship, here are five important things you should know about introducing your significant other to your kids.

1. You're ready when it's serious.

Therapist Dr. Laurie Moore says, "My thought is that it is important to wait until the relationship is fully committed," meaning you're either engaged or you're planning to move in together. "This way kids feel secure, understand the new person is a real person in their life, and valuable to them."

Along those lines, you better know your man really well before you let your kids meet him. "Make sure you know a lot about any new person before inviting him/her into your home," Dr. Tina Tessina cautions.

2. And you're ready when he is.

It goes without saying that your significant other should actually want to meet your kids and get to know them. Don't take this for granted -- talk with him to make sure this is the case. Dr. Moore says it's essential. And if he or she is is not, "then they're not a good mate." 

3. Prepare your kids and prepare your S.O.

You'll want to give your kids a heads up before you bring this new person into their lives. Dr. Moore recommends telling them that "you are in love and have made a commitment to be loyal partners with the new mate, and that the new mate desires to meet and love them." Make sure this genuinely is the case, especially that second part.

If you haven't already, prep your S.O. by telling him all about your kids. He should know their ages, their personalities, their interests, and any special circumstances that could affect his future relationship with them.

More from The Stir: 10 Things Every Divorced Woman Should Do Before Starting to Date Again

4. Set some ground rules. 

"Setting and keeping rules may sound like a drag, but sensible and reasonable guidelines can help a lot," says Dr. Tessina. "When everyone knows what is expected of them, they will feel respected and secure."

That means setting rules about whether or not you'll have sleepovers, whether your S.O. is allowed to go into your kids' bedrooms and under what circumstances, what you'll all call each other -- those sorts of things. It's up to you to decide what works best for your family; the important thing is that you set those rules and communicate them with everyone.

5. Be aware of your mama defense mechanisms.

This last one is a bit of advice not from the experts, but from me, a mom who's been there. Your kids are not perfect and it's super easy to feel extra sensitive about every and any little thing your boyfriend says about them. Don't assume every comment or observation is a critique of your parenting skills or of your kid. Give your S.O. room to talk about his experience with your kids, positive and negative, without freaking out on him.

Communication is key. Keep talking and listening -- with your kids and your significant other -- to make sure you're forging these new relationships in the best way. There will be some conflicts and unexpected bumps, so go as slowly as you need to and keep the long perspective in mind.

 

Image via Goodluz/shutterstock

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