Whether someone emails us an “Ask the DUO” question on our website, during a client interview or interacting with great folks we meet on our book tour, one question that’s regularly posed to us is, “If I’m starting over again, when is it a good time to introduce my children to someone I’m dating, and what’s the best way?” There is no set answer to this question, but here are eight things we suggest that you consider to help you arrive at the right time for you and your children.
Make sure you’ve had solid, futuristic conversations!
Since the goal is not to introduce your children to every man you date along the way while searching for your Prince Charming, it’s important that you have had time to clearly discuss with your man that although you’re not married, you both have intentions of giving a long-term, exclusive, committed relationship with each other a chance. And if your goal is to eventually get married, we hope you’ve heard some confirmation signs from him that this is his desire at some point too, even if you’re far from a proposal, it’s a possibility.
Don’t wait forever!
Even though we suggest that you not introduce your children in the infancy stages of your relationship, we also say don’t wait until 1 week before the proposal either and expect your children to automatically pop into place. At that point, remember they don’t know who this “wonderful man” or “new step dad” is from the man on the moon. Just as you needed time to adjust and learn new things about him, allow your child the opportunity to form their own relationship with him too.
Introduce him in drips!
When you’ve decided it’s time, start with a no-pressure meeting. Maybe have him meet you at the park bench while the kids are playing. Or invite him to an outdoor barbecue with plenty of family and friends. Then you can call each one over and introduce them so they can have a brief conversation. That way the kids can go back to what they were doing and he can observe their personalities. It also gives him some fun things to talk about with them the next time they meet. For instance, “I saw you playing kickball out there with your friends last week. I love kickball too.”
Encourage him to form his own relationship with them!
Once you all have spent time together a few times, why not encourage him to have a breakfast date on their own one weekend, or an afternoon together at the ballpark. This will allow your child the chance to get to know him on their own level and feel more comfortable over time. Additionally, allow him to schedule time alone with each child individually to help foster their own “special” relationship. After all, each child has their own personality.
It’s ok to show affection!
Let’s face it, one of the biggest concerns from your child’s point of view is, how does he treat my mom? So if you are giving and receiving hugs or holding hands only when your child is out of sight, they don’t get to see what you see. And since we are setting examples for our kids for their relationships when they get older, show them that it’s ok. A warm hug cures all, even for grownups. We encourage affection to the children as well. They need to know that he not only loves mom but he loves the kids too.
Invite him to share in your child’s milestones!
When your child has a debut in the school play or has a little league game, invite him. He needs to envision himself in your life and know how he could potentially assist and be there when you can’t. It also allows the children to know that he is equally proud and impressed with their accomplishments and you can all celebrate together.
Prepare your ex for the huge reveal!
If it’s possible, have the conversation with your Ex letting him know you are about to introduce the children to your new beau and you would like for him to meet him first. If your Ex is accepting and welcoming the children will be as well. You can make them feel even more assured and mention “your dad met Mike last week” and we all have your best interest at heart. This will make the children feel relaxed and remove the pressure of them thinking they have to choose sides.
Make your man your go-to guy!
If you were single for a while before you met your new beau, chances are you had people to call for help when things went awry. Maybe you called your dad if your car was stalled or your ex was the first person you called if you had a hard day with the kids. What we suggest going forward is you make a real effort to give your new man a chance to be the one to help when it’s needed. This gives him the opportunity to be included in your team that was already formed when he arrived on the scene and allows the kids to see him come to your aid and eventually rest assured that he is there for the long haul and is concerned about everyone’s well-being.
So if you’ve been in a relationship for a while and just didn’t know how to make the introduction or where to begin, keep these tips in mind and give it a try when you’re ready. Remember, we’re rooting for you!
Here’s to LOVE!
To learn more about The Matchmaking Duo visit their website.