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How to introduce your new partner to your children

So you’re thinking about introducing your new partner to your children? Congratulations! This post will share some tips and things to consider from a practical and emotional point of view before you go ahead, and help you through the process. Introducing your partner to your children can be a very daunting experience from all sides, and it isn’t something that can be rushed into.

Some things to consider before you take the plunge are:

1. Have you talked to your children about your new partner?

This isn’t something you should rush into, and whilst many kids enjoy surprises I would save that for something less emotionally fraught! It’s better to let your child’s knowledge of your new partner build up over time.

2. Is this something you want to discuss with your ex-partner?

You’re not obliged to tell them from a legal point of view of course, and you don’t have to ask permission either, but many parents find their relationship is smoother when big milestones such as this are discussed openly. Your children are likely to mention they’ve met ‘daddy or mummy’s friend’ when with their other parent, so best to be straightforward from the start.

3. Are your children ready to meet your new partner?

This is particularly important, the best meetings will occur when there is willingness on both sides to be introduced to one another. That said, if you are both serious about one another, then if there is resistance to change, there will only be so much time you will be willing to let go by before moving the dynamic on. So do observe your children's behaviour and listen to their wishes, but you are the parent and ultimately you will know what is right for your family unit, and the new one you are creating. If there is a bit of resistance, try and listen to any concerns they might have, and respond from a patient and reassuring place.

4. Is your partner ready to meet your kids?

This is also critical - sure, they knew you had children when you got together, but as above it’s crucial that all parties meet one another feeling as relaxed and as confident as possible.

5. Is your relationship serious and committed?

It’s ok to say no! Some people believe that every new partner must be introduced to their kids – especially if you really place value on a straightforward-honest-at-all-times relationship with them. However children need stability and as much consistency as possible, so try and reserve those meetings only for partners you are very serious about moving forward with, to avoid awkward conversations and unsettling their status-quo.

6. Where to meet?

This is an interesting one. I would recommend an environment that is as neutral as possible. If you still live in the family home, go out for the occasion – memories of the other parent are likely to be raw and it’s important for the relationship to be as separate as possible, ie avoid opportunities for your children to compare your new partner to your ex. Thoughts of ‘that was dad’s chair’ for example are likely to cloud the real task, which is helping your child to see your new partner for their own merits. This is going to happen anyway, but you can help by minimising it. A cinema trip could work well as it gives everyone in the group time to reflect and also be distracted for a while. It will also give you something to talk about afterwards, perhaps over food.

Remember that everyone is going to feel nervous beforehand, this is totally, 100% normal. Meeting anyone for the first time can be nerve wracking for some, but when you (and everyone else involved!) are emotionally invested in the outcome, it can make for a very daunting situation indeed.

Once the meeting is over, debrief with your partner separately to make sure they’re feeling comfortable, and reinforce the fact you’re a team together, and you care how they are feeling. Then catch up with your kids. How did it go from their perspective? Do they like him / her?

Arrange another meeting as soon as you can to keep up momentum, addressing any concerns that may arise in the meantime.

I’d love to hear stories you might have – what worked for you in those all important initial meetings? How did you handle it?

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maybelle helen

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