I’m fortunate enough to have parents who are happily married! Well, not to each other – but they are each married, and both very happy with their spouse.
When I was in the first grade, my parents decided they were getting a divorce. My family went through all the motions that followed, including all the feelings.
After some time, they both began dating other people. They were pretty open with me about dating and letting my sister and I know when they were going on dates, but were careful not to release too much information about the person they were seeing. Why get your children invested in someone if it isn’t serious (yet)?
But then the question becomes, when do I invest my children? And how?
Every situation is different. The only experience I have is my own, and I’m pretty thankful for the way each of my parents handled the situation.
One thing my parents did was wait until each of their relationships were serious and committed. In both situations, my sister and I were not introduced until the person they were seeing was officially their “boyfriend” or “girlfriend”.
Make sure you see a future with this person before you bring them around your kids. You should feel 100% confident that they will be a good fit for your family.
Before meeting each of their new significant others, each of my parents had a conversation with my sister and I to fill us in on their new relationship and tell us about the person they’ve been seeing. They also asked us if we were ready to meet this person.
This is a huge step. Relationships can escalate quickly and take unexpected turns. While you might be ready for something, you’re not the only person you have to think about when dating.
Checking in with your kids is the most important step. Maybe they’re not ready to see you with someone else, maybe they’re still processing the divorce. Be aware of their feelings and let those feelings guide how you merge your relationships.
If everyone feels ready to meet each other and begin blending the family, then it’s time to start brainstorming what the first meeting should look like. In general, I would suggest keeping the meeting short, only an hour or two.
In my experience, I first met my stepmom, Katherine, when she came over our home to have a glass of wine with my dad before the two of them went out to dinner together. That way, my sister and I were comfortable because we were in our own home, and the meeting only lasted about an hour.
The night I met my stepdad, Greg, was technically my dad’s night with me and my sister, but he picked us up at my mom’s house a little later than usual so that we could have a family meal at my mom’s house to meet who would eventually become our stepdad.
Both interactions were short, but long enough for us to get a sense of each other. If your new person has kids of their own, I would advise not to introduce the kids to each other during the first meeting. The important thing is that your kids meet and get to know your significant other, and their kids get to know you. If both those meetings go well, then you can plan a big family meeting in the future.
Always be careful not to rush into everyone meeting each other. Timing is everything. Give your children time to adjust and get to know your partner before throwing them into more meetings that they’re not ready for. You want your children and new significant other to really bond together before taking any more steps.
If you need any guidance during this process, please Ask A Pup! We have you covered!
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