For many single parents, dating relationships are simultaneously a source of energizing excitement and numerous questions. In the midst of the euphoria of new love, the questions of "How?" and "When?" to introduce children into the mix become some of the most pressing issues. When it comes to introducing your children to an individual who has become very important to you, consider the following factors:
Look at Your Relationship
A lot of parents want to know, "When should I introduce my kids to the person I'm dating?" Peter Sheras, a clinical psychologist at the University of Virginia, and the author of I Can't Believe You Went Through My Stuff!: How to Give Your Teens the Privacy They Crave and the Guidance They Need, advises parents to look first toward the quality of the dating relationship before worrying about how or when to introduce children. "The commitment is the most important piece because, when there's commitment, that becomes obvious to the kids."
Being honest with yourself and your partner is key. Not every dating relationship reaches the level of commitment that necessitates including the children. You may very well be enjoying a casual, lively social life with a person who is fun to be around, but with whom you simply don't envision a future. This is critical because once you introduce children, you leave them vulnerable to becoming attached. Frankly, doing so before you've even determined for yourself that this will be a long-term relationship is unfair to your children and could potentially be as painful for them as your initial separation or divorce from the other parent.
Before you introduce children, you should:
- Be in a committed relationship
- Be able to envision making this person a part of your family
- Talk openly with one another about what that would mean