If you find yourself dating in later life, it’s highly likely that you may be carrying some baggage. Tackling the mature dating scene is hard enough, but when you do find that special someone you may well be faced with a whole other world of awkwardness; introducing your new partner to the family.
Whether it’s divorce, separation or death; many of us mature dating users have been through a traumatic time. It’s also fair to say that so have your kids and wider family. Whilst it’s only natural for you to eventually pursue love again it can be a difficult prospect for your children and a subject that should be broached with extreme care.
If you have met that special someone and are considering introducing them to the rest of your family, it is important to consider a few essential things first.
- How long has it been since the breakup or loss? Time is the best healer… for all involved. It is vital that you don’t get carried away too quickly in a new relationship; rebounding may give you a confidence boost but can be very damaging for your family.Give yourself and your children time to grieve and accept what has happened. Take time to get to know yourself again; what you love, what drives you, your beliefs and your dreams. Savour being single and focus on you and your family before you go diving head first into a relationship with the first man or woman who comes along.
- How well do you know each other? It doesn’t matter whether your kids are young or grown up, introducing your new fling can be detrimental. You want to set a good example to your kids, so it’s important that you don’t just bring any old one night stand into their lives.Furthermore, they love you and don’t want to see you get hurt. You’ve most probably been through a lot as a family; you have lost your partner but remember they may feel like they’ve lost a parent. It’s paramount that you and your partner know each other and what you are getting into. If it’s just a fling, keep it between the two of you. Only introduce a partner when you both agree it’s serious and wants to be a permanent part of each other’s lives.
If you and your partner decide that you are truly happy with one another and wish to take it one step further, then it’s time for the introduction!
What’s the best way to introduce your kids to your new partner?
Sit down with your children and explain that you’ve met someone who means a lot to you and you’d like them to meet when they feel ready. Allow them to ask questions but keep the conversation simple; there’s no need to get ahead of yourself and discuss moving in or marriage! It’s important to let your kids know that your new partner is not a substitute for their mother or father and don’t be surprised if they show resentment at first; it may take some time for your kids to come around to you and then having someone else in their lives.
If your children do not want you to date, it is important that you stand your ground and explain to them that you need adult companionship just as they need friends and that your new partner makes you happy. Sooner or later your kids will realise that you being in a relationship is not a threat to the relationship you have with them as a parent. Remember, it’s absolutely natural that you’d want to get back on the scene and meet somebody new. Don’t allow yourself to feel guilty over pursuing your happiness.
When you meet for the first time, plan a neutral spot or ask your kids to decide. Going out for coffee or lunch is good because it gives you a time frame on the meeting. Never plan an overnight stay or prolonged meeting in the beginning; small doses is a great start. Be wary of your physical contact in front of your kids, what you do in private is up to you – don’t freak your kids out by being too touchy-feely!
It’s also important to let your family know that these are your real feelings, that you’ve considered them and you’ve come to the decision that the time is right to move on. If they respect you, they’ll accept it – either now or in the near future. It’s perfectly natural that they may have a knee-jerk reaction against your choice, but time solves these issues.
The most important thing to remember when introducing your kids to your new partner is to take it slowly and don’t put pressure on anyone. Your children probably won’t be as smitten with your partner as you are, and that’s ok! Time will tell and they may very well bond eventually, but keep it casual and light-hearted in the beginning to ensure a smooth transition from being a single parent to a dating mum or dad.