One of the biggest questions single parents have when it comes to dating is, when do I introduce the kids to my new partner? It’s not an easy question to answer, and everyone will have a different opinion.
I introduced my kids to my current partner a little more than two months after we started dating. However, we had been friends for eight years before that, so I already knew him and knew that if we broke up at that point, we would remain friends. On top of that, I also already knew that what we had was serious and getting more so.
I’ve had other partners that never met my kids, and some who didn’t them until quite some time into the relationship.
So, how do you make the decision? There are a lot of factors to consider.
How long have you been single?
If you’ve only recently split from your children’s father (or mother), introducing them to a new partner might be more than they can handle. They might still be confused and trying to understand why their parents aren’t together anymore. They won’t be in any position to understand that you’ve met someone else already.
At the same time, if it’s been a long time since you dated, they might be surprised that you’re dating. In that case, you may want to wait so they have some time to adjust to the idea of you dating before you tell them you think it’s serious.
How many people have you dated?
There is no rule that says you can’t date multiple people, at the same time or serially. But kids tend to get attached. If you are dating multiple people at the same time, or dating people for just a few dates before moving on to someone else, it might be best to keep the kids out of it for the time being.
Kids get attached quickly, and even when they don’t, they often feel confusion and sometimes even anger if they’re introduced to many people that they don’t see again – or who quickly disappear.
Date whoever you want, and as many of them as you want. You’re a free adult, and should feel free to enjoy yourself however you choose. But the kids need more stability, so keep your romantic life separate from your family life until you find someone with whom you want to get serious.
Is the relationship serious?
You might be seeing one person more regularly, but consistent dates doesn’t always equal a serious relationship. But if you do see the potential for a future, you don’t want to get too invested in that future before knowing how well the kids and your new love get along.
If you’re thinking of introducing your new partner to your kids, it might be a good idea to have a discussion about the seriousness of the relationship first, if you haven’t already. This way you know that you and your partner are on the same page, which makes it less likely that they’ll disappear suddenly after meeting your kids.
If you are talking about serious commitment, such as living together or even getting married, then you should definitely be discussing meeting the kids before you start making big plans.
What is your reason for introducing them?
Are you introducing them because you see the potential for a future? Or are you doing it solely because it would make it more convenient and easier for you if they all knew each other?
I, and most other single parents, understand the desire to do anything that makes life just a little bit easier. But if the only reason you want to introduce the kids to your new partner is to make things easier, you should probably wait. The ease you’ll create temporarily may end up being much more difficult in the long run.
Is there a hard number for this?
You’ll often hear people give you a set figure for when to introduce the kids and the new partner.
“Wait six months.”
“Wait a year.”
“Wait until you’re engaged.”
These are all great ideas, but they have their flaws.
Six months or a year is fine, but you could still break up after that. Getting engaged before they meet could mean you’re caught between your new love and your kids if they can’t stand each other.
If having a specific number in mind, such as six months or a year, helps you, then go for it. If having a certain circumstance, like discussing living together or possible marriage, feels right, then use it.
But mostly, what you need to do is listen to your heart. You know what’s best for your kids. You know what’s best for you. If you listen to your heart, you’ll know when the time is right to bring together the two areas of your life.