How are things?
Seven steps to introducing your children to that new person in your life
By our self-help expert and dating coach Dr Pam Spurr
This dilemma came up in so many of the interviews for my new guide on dating and finding love. It might be a juggling act but you can do it.
Here are seven steps to take with that new person in your life:
Step Carefully Tip No. 1: When you find yourself falling for that new man, it’s easy to forget how quickly children form attachments too. Never under-estimate that once you’ve introduced them to that new partner, they start forming a bond.
Be very careful not to have a revolving date-door where you bring a new person home, followed by another new person, and so on. Especially with younger children take it slowly. And don’t introduce them to your new partner until you’re sure this relationship stands a good chance.
Step Carefully Tip No. 2: Resist making it all about your new partner. Your children might be used to being the centre of your attention since your breakup or divorce. Even if you think they’ll share your happiness – that you’ve met someone fantastic – they still want your attention.
Make your conversation balanced about this new man. Remember there are other things going on in your life you can discuss with your children. And obviously much of your conversation should be focused on them and how they’re doing.
Step Carefully Tip No. 3: Expect the unexpected when you finally decide to introduce them. They may feel very excited but then go shy and clam up when that new person arrives.
Or they might actively resist a meeting and storm off to their bedroom just at the suggestion.
Be prepared and prepare your new partner for what might be a rough ride. Hoping that it will all be fantastic and you’re heading to creating a Waltons-type family is tempting fate.
Step Carefully Tip No. 4: Choose neutral territory for the first meeting. If your child or children are very unsure about you having someone new in your life this really helps. They don’t feel like their home is being in some way ‘taken over’ by your new man.
Meet up for ice creams or a walk in the park – keeping it simple takes some of the emotion out of it. Gradually increase the length of time they spend with him.
Step Carefully Tip No. 5: Never forget it might feel to your child as if you’re trying to replace their father. Keep an open dialogue about them seeing their own father, future plans they have with their father, etc.
By keeping their father within your daily conversations they’ll be assured that you’re not trying to ease their father out of their lives – just because you’ve eased him out of yours.
Step Carefully Tip No. 6: Agree with your new partner the role they’ll play with your children. It’s the mothers that avoid these sometimes tricky conversations that find they have the most problems.
Sound them out on things like do they feel comfortable setting boundaries if your children are playing up. How you like boundaries set, what is and isn’t acceptable to you. Being open about these things gives you both a strong foundation to build on.
Step Carefully Tip No. 7: Always keep some special time for just you and your children. Especially as they’re getting to know your new partner, it’s nice for them to feel he isn’t always in family plans.
And when it comes to special time at your partner – sleeping with him – keep that discrete until you feel your children are ready to have him sleepover!
Finally, stepping carefully like this is the way forward to build your potential new stepfamily. Good luck!
For more dating advice – covering everything from first dates to online dating – see Dr Pam’s brand-new book: THE LAWS OF SISTERHOOD – The girlfriends’ guide to successful dating and finding the one is out now: http://tinyurl.com/nmmrs43
Dr Pam is also on twitter @drpamspurr