When is the Right Time to Introduce Kids to a New Partner?

September 28, 2012

in Relationships

Dating with kids

Never.

That used to be my answer. I didn’t see a reason to unnecessarily bring my kids into a relationship that probably would not last. When I fell in love with a man last year, the answer changed to:

Months into the relationship (and slowly).

As he was becoming more a part of my life, it made sense to introduce Princess Daisy and Monkey to him slowly. I wasn’t ready for an instant family-type environment, but rather just wanted them to have exposure to each other. When there was finally more time spent together, I realized he wasn’t interested in spending time with my kids, didn’t have a solid relationship with his own, and wasn’t connecting on any level with my children. This lesson was a great reminder that life doesn’t always work out the way you plan, but that each life experience gives you better insight for the next time. Which leads to my new answer to the question:

As soon as possible.

Knowing early in the relationship this would work beyond the two of us became an important goal for me with Sean. This time it wasn’t just about introducing the new man in my life to my kids though. I also wanted to meet his children, see him interacting with them, and assess whether having our children together would work as well.

Within the first two months of dating, Sean and I have each spent time with the other’s kids, and I met his ex (bonus). When planning out our calendar for the upcoming month, we scheduled a nice balance of couple and kid time. Our children are too important to us to segregate aspects of our lives, and feel happy long term in the relationship. I am glad because the kids are bringing something more fulfilling to an already wonderful relationship.

It works.

Have you introduced kids to a new partner?

How soon?

Did it work well?

Please share below!


{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Momma Sunshine September 28, 2012 at 1:55 pm

I think it depends largely on the relationship itself, that there’s no “rule” for when kids should be introduced to the person that you’re dating.

For me, I wanted to see if things were going to keep progressing with my man before introducing my children to him. And then, of course, I wanted to see how he interacted with them, which would be a measure of whether or not I wanted to continue dating him.

It’s tough, because I don’t necessarily think that it’s a good idea to introduce your kids to every person you happen to date. I guess it depends on your reasons for dating. If you’re just looking to date and have a good time, then your kids are best left out of it. If you’re looking to have a long-term serious relationship, then sooner rather than later is probably best to involve the kids.
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Naked Girl in a Dress September 28, 2012 at 2:03 pm

It is a really tough decision. You don’t want to introduce someone who won’t be around long, but then you don’t want to get too involved emotionally only to find out the guy isn’t good with kids. It’s a delicate balance. I was overly protective of my kids, which served me well until the relationship I mentioned in the post came along. As a result, this one was fully vetted quickly. Maybe it’s me, but you just know if someone has the potential to work fairly quickly at my age. I felt comfortable introducing him as a result.

Thanks for stopping by to comment. You have great input to the dialog!

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Lance September 28, 2012 at 1:58 pm

It depends.

I have a blended family. I fell in love with my wife on the first date/at first sight. Because of my custody arrangment with my then 4 1/2 year old daughter, I had her a lot during the summer. I met my wife in early May of 2008. we would have not seen each very much if we’d waited months. I introduced her to my then girlfriend, now wife, about a six weeks into the relationship. She had two girls, then 12 and 3. It worked.

Do I recommend this? No. But for us, it worked. I say instinct, trust, and luck will dictate how things go.
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Naked Girl in a Dress September 28, 2012 at 2:05 pm

You have excellent advice, Lance. I think I went with instinct this time, but there was a bit of luck involved too.

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Hey Monkey Butt September 28, 2012 at 2:02 pm

Unfortunately, with my ex and I. I think the way we worked with the kids being there was the deal breaker for me. The kids would fight and make me NUTS! I agree though, its a delicate matter but very very important also!
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Naked Girl in a Dress September 28, 2012 at 2:05 pm

I think it is one of the most difficult aspects of dating as a single parent.

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Rich September 28, 2012 at 6:46 pm

Talk to your kids. Divorce sucks for kids. But the marriage probably sucked for the kids too. Ask yourself, do my kids think that’s the way all marriages are? If you want a better life for them and yourself then tell your kids what you want and why. Its never too soon to involve kids in a healthy, loving relationship in an age appropriate way. I think a mistake that most divorced parents make is that they don’t discuss their feelings with their kids (in an age appropriate way) and they don’t listen to their kids when the kids talk about their feelings. As divorced parents we need to teach/show our kids what a loving, healthy relationship between two adults is like. If we don’t they too will likely be a divorced parent later in their life. When a relationship doesn’t work discuss with your kids why (again in an age appropriate way) and listen to them. Kids are pretty perceptive at times.

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Naked Girl in a Dress October 2, 2012 at 10:35 am

This is great advice, Rich. Thanks for leaving a comment.

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Kimberly September 30, 2012 at 11:26 am

Of course, it’s been a while since there was anyone to introduce my children to…and I think the children’s age is a little bit of a factor. I’m not nearly as hesitant to introduce my kids to a dating partner NOW at 13 and 16 as I was when they were 5 and 8.

Now, I’m thinking if I ever get past date 3 with someone, it would be time for a casual gathering including my children and/or his. Like you said, it’s important to know fairly early on if the dynamics even have a chance at working well.
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Naked Girl in a Dress October 2, 2012 at 10:35 am

Yes, Kimberly, learn from my mistakes; a casual get-together with the kids after three dates is an excellent idea. Like me, I know a guy can’t be forever if there isn’t a connection with your kids. Best to learn that early and move on, if necessary.

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Aimee September 30, 2012 at 7:37 pm

I can only speak from the perspective of the child, but I think my situation was a bit different. I don’t know. My parents divorced when I was very young, though plenty old enough to remember. And my dad was very abusive. As the oldest of 3 girls, and the only one old enough to remember anything, I was absolutely terrified of men. Even my own grandfathers and uncles. That terror evolved into hatred as I got older. The idea of any man having authority over me or giving me direction was terrifying. I’d scream, pull out my hair, hit, throw things. I was just a mess. Had my mom introduced me to a man who was actually taking her places by herself and away from me, and coming into my house acting like a “father-figure,” I don’t even know what I would have done. It was already bad enough. I was given all sorts of grown-up-sounding psychiatric diagnoses. As an adult, I know she had plenty of dates and boyfriends, I just didn’t know about any of them. She and my now-step-dad had been dating for 2 or 3 years before she introduced me to him. I was 12 years old by then. I wasn’t as dramatically uncontrollable as I had been when I was little, but always very angry. My step-dad and I often butted heads all during my adolescence. I love him to pieces now, but boy he sure had to work for it. I have no idea why he did, either. I don’t know any man who would have put up with my bullshit except my husband and my step-dad. Who, coincidentally, are best friends ;-)

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Naked Girl in a Dress October 2, 2012 at 10:34 am

I put my mom’s significant other (they never married) through the ringer, too. I was always amazed he hung in there and kept trying. He must have seen something in me that I thought I was not allowing him access to: my heart. He knew deep down I was a great kid, and he had the patience to wait it out.

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