[I]f you are looking for a new spouse, or if you find one without looking, introducing her to your children can be tricky and uncomfortable. Your children have probably been stressed by an upheaval in their lives, and now, as they are adapting to a new life, they might fear having to go through it again.
Introducing them to a potential new parent might not help your relationship.
Keep in mind that no matter what, you are not finding a new spouse, you are rebuilding a family. But it’s not even that simple. Their mother is still in the picture, and that can drive a wedge between parent and children, as new lines are drawn and everyone struggles with boundaries.
Children, this is My New Girlfriend…
Keep in mind that your children, even if close in age and demeanor, will react differently to seeing a parent dating. Children might feel threatened, scared, or even disappointed because the presence of another will derail any thoughts your child had about you and his mother getting back together.
But you have met that person, and you have gotten to know each other on an informal basis. And now you feel the time is right she met your children, so you can take steps to grow your relationship. I mentioned it briefly in Surviving (and Thriving) Post-Divorce Dating, I am not a big fan of introducing your kids to your girlfriend until things get serious.
You might try one of the following introduction techniques:
- Have dinner at a family-friendly restaurant, and see if they kids are agreeable to her playing games (video and otherwise) with them.
- Invite her over for one of your informal ‘family’ evening events, such as movie night or pizza night.
- Invite her to join you and the children on one of our family outings, such as a park, or one of the kids’ school activities, such as an athletic contest or choir concert. Be warned on this one; you’ll get lots of questions from friends, well-meaning and otherwise, about the identity of this ‘new person.’
[tweet “You and your new friend should also avoid being over affectionate in front of your children.”]
Watch them carefully and note when they appear to feel comfortable or uncomfortable. That may trigger either defensiveness or resentment.
When they start asking questions about your new girlfriend, that may be a sign they are beginning to accept this person.
What are your suggestions? When and how should you introduce your kids to your girlfriend?
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