Dad prepared my brother and me thoroughly to meet Jeanette. We’d had many talks. We’d seen pictures. We’d spoken to her on the phone. We even prayed as a family about meeting her, so when we were finally introduced, we already trusted her. This made it easy to spend the day at Jeanette's home, getting to know her children and watching Dad interact with her.
Late in the evening, when it was nearly time to go, I climbed into Dad's lap. He put his arm around me and asked, “What do you think?”
My ten-year-old eyes scanned the room, taking in the easy smiles and quick friendships. “I think we feel like a family.”
I can’t guarantee that introducing your significant other to your kids will go so well, but I can offer some advice and methods for initiating that relationship. Here you will learn how to prepare all parties, and get ideas for what tactic will work best for you.
Talk to your children about your dating experiences. These conversations will help you gauge how resentful or enthusiastic your children are about the idea of you moving on from their parent.
For example, my dad always told my brother and I when he was going on a date and what they were going to do. He also showed us pictures of women he was dating once things reached a certain level of seriousness. Because he was open about his experiences, we were more comfortable with the idea of him dating women who were not our mother. These conversations created segue into, “So, do you want to meet her?” with minimal awkwardness. We already knew who she was and the kind of relationship she had with my father. Today we are grateful he took the time to help us know what to expect.
Be sure to prepare your significant other too. Give him or her an idea about how your children react to strangers in general, not to mention how your kids feel about your dating life. If your children are angry that you would replace their parent, for instance, your significant other ought to know.
Short and Sweet
“Hi, I’m Tim. You must be Jane’s son. …Jane, are you ready to go?” This is the minimal approach, and it is not my favorite. Your children were a part of your family before your significant other was, and as such, deserve respect and sensitivity. However, if your child is best suited to a very gradual style – perhaps because of timidity or bitterness – this is a good place to start.
Brief, polite conversations are good practice for your children to learn social skills. Coach your children on how to ask and respond to friendly questions. Their good manners may impress your significant other and also allow your children to be more confident in his or her presence.
Bringing the children on a short date helps them to feel included. A brief outing like eating ice cream minimizes pressure because it centers on an activity with a clear beginning and end. I can name three country songs that detail the success of this approach.
Introducing your children to your significant other can be a nerve-wracking experience. Preparation helps to smooth over that initial meeting, which can range from the most basic to the most involved depending on the needs of your family. When you take others' needs and feelings into account, fortunately, it’s hard to go wrong.