How Long Should I Date Someone Before Introducing Them to My Children?
Article by Angela Selfridge
When a parent is dating someone new, the inevitable question is when to introduce the children to the new partner.
It’s a tough question, one that can’t really be answered without even more questions:
How old are the children?
How do they react to strangers?
How close are they to the other parent?
Dad may be pretty sure his children will be receptive to a new woman he’s dating, but he shouldn’t rush things. Sure, maybe the kids will adore her almost as much as he does, but that in itself could be a problem. What if they don’t work out? The kids will be cut off from an important person in their lives.
Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker, a therapist who answers questions on PsychCentral.com, advises parents of young children to take things slow when dating someone new so the kids have time to acclimate themselves to a new situation. Both the parent and the new partner need to remember to put the needs of the children first, Hartwell-Walker cautioned. She further advises short visits at first, gradually extending the time, and says the parent should be sure to spend plenty of time focusing entirely on the children’s needs and making sure they feel secure.
Dr. Mark Banschck, a child psychologist and author of the series “The Intelligent Divorce,” writes in an article on the Psychology Today website that a year is a good amount of time to wait before introducing someone new into their children’s lives. And, he said, a parent should be serious about the new partner. A series of partners creates instability for kids.
But each situation is different, and for some families, Mom or Dad going on an occasional date might not be a big deal, especially if the kids are older and the household has been a single-parent home for some time.
Some parents have difficulty introducing a new partner to their grown children, as well. Adult children can easily feel left out if a parent embarks on a new relationship. The relationship may very well change how the relationship between a parent and her children, especially if her lifestyle changes significantly, which is often the case when someone goes from being single to sharing a life with another person. The parent should not hide dates from adult children, but should also not feel obligated to share every detail about where the relationship is going. However, it’s a good idea to let the children get an idea of how serious the relationship is.
Parents’ opinions on when to introduce a new partner to one’s children, especially young children, are all over the map. And many conflicting perspectives all have good points that should be considered. Clear heads and calm hearts are vital here.
Angela Selfridge is a relationship expert in the UK and offers advice and opinions on love and online dating as well as tips.