It’s important to say that there is no one size fits all – it will always depend on lots of factors, including the age of your children, their personalities and their past experiences. Adapt the following advice so it works for your family.
Remember that you don’t need to introduce your children to everyone you meet. If you’re in the early stages of dating someone you like it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and romance of it all.
At this stage your new partner might seem perfect in every way but as single parents we all know this stage doesn’t last forever! It might be a good idea to wait a few months or a year until things settle before you consider getting your children involved.
Be as sure as you reasonably can that this new relationship is likely to be long term and/or that you have a deep and mature connection with your new partner.
Have a frank discussion with your new partner about their intentions when it comes to the relationship with you. Get clear on what your wants and needs are in the relationship between the two of you. Talk about the relationship they might have with your children.
Remember that in a child’s world view they might slot your new partner immediately into the role of ‘step mum’ or ‘step dad’ when in all likelihood that wouldn’t be happening for a while, if ever.
Really listen to any potential fears or worries they may have. Reassure, reassure, reassure.
If you’re a co-parent, get your ex on board if that’s an option. Or perhaps there’s another significant adult in your child’s life who might be able to help by providing a neutral sounding board for your child.
Set up a first meeting somewhere neutral so your children don’t feel that their home space is being invaded. Keep it short, casual and fun if possible.
For example, don’t be overly affectionate with your new partner when they are new to your children.
Talk to your children and new partner separately after they’ve met. Again, really listen to and acknowledge their feelings and take them into consideration before they meet again.
Keep going with some more short visits and make them longer as they get to know each other.
Don’t be disheartened if it doesn’t all click straight away. It always takes time to get to know someone new and it might be tricky for your child especially if your separation from their other parent was recent or conflict-heavy.
Most importantly, throughout the process – which might take months or even longer – remember to keep reassuring your child that they’re still your priority. Encourage them to talk to you about their worries, concerns and other feelings and put in some regular one-on-one time with them so there is always space for them to share.
If you want to chat to other single parents about how they’ve managed this transition, head over to the Frolo app for chat, support and advice.