Do you introduce your child to every potential partner or do you wait until you know for sure?
Dating as a single parent is tough. It often seems
impossible for single parents to find the time between parent-teacher meetings
and bed-time routines, but making time for a new partner is even harder to
If you’ve managed to include a new relationship into your
busy life, you might be wondering; when is the right time to introduce this
person to your child? How do I go about this the right way?
Introducing your child to a new partner is a decision that
shouldn’t be taken lightly. Kids react to any change, and their psychological
and emotional well-being is most important here. Every single parent’s worst
fear is having their child resent or dislike their parent’s new partner, but
there are ways to avoid this and to manage the situation to make the
adjustment-period as smooth as possible for parent, partner and child.
Some parents might rush into a new relationship, and things
might escalate pretty quickly, perhaps too quickly. Others might jump from one
relationship to the next, and if a child is introduced to a new person every
time, this can be extremely unsettling for them and can cause an unstable
relationship between both the adults and the child.
In a write-up on Psychology today, child psychiatrist Dr.
Mark Banschick writes; “It’s best to wait a long time before you introduce a
new person into your children's lives, particularly if they are teens or
younger. Don't put them in a position to have to decide whom they like better.
Should they please you? Are they betraying their mom (or dad) if they like your
new friend? Note that kids need time to grieve the loss of their nuclear family
without having to deal with something new. And, make sure that you really love
this new person and that the relationship is serious. A series of lovers or
friends just provides instability for children and makes them feel unsafe (and
makes you look shaky).
think it's important to be careful when you introduce your child to your
potential partner. There is a lot to be gained from taking it slowly. I think you
need to know that the relationship is going to be long-term before you make
introductions. It's confusing for kids when they are introduced to someone
special in their parent's life. A slow introduction, for example a braai with
friends where the partner is present and other fun activities where you can see
how your child and your partner interact are important. When you have children
and you are dating you need to remember that it not just you who is affected by
the relationship, the kids are affected too. If your partner is 'worth their
salt' they will understand your need to take things slowly and it will be an
organic process. Listen to your child, they will often tell you how they feel
about things when they are not under pressure. If your child isn't happy you
need to find out why. Children learn from their parent's behaviour and it's
vitally important that you model appropriate dating behaviour. They need to
learn that love and affection are not conditional and that a partner is someone
who respects your boundaries and your child's boundaries too. You can't expect
your child to respect your partner if they don't respect the relationship
between you and your child. You, as the adult, deserve to be loved and in a
relationship but not at the expense of your child.” Sian
one should wait until you know/feel your relationship is going somewhere before
you introduce your child/children to your partner. It can be very confusing for
them (especially if they do not have a good relationship with their dad). We
are heading into the teenage years and although David has been in our lives for
the last three years, he came in at a 'difficult' age. With Sebi’s hormones
running rampant at the moment, we are getting a bit of backlash when David reprimands
him 'you can't tell me what to do, you're not my dad'. Something I thought I
would never experience.” Bianca
think that it’s good to cement your relationship with your new partner and to know
that it is going to go somewhere before you bring your child into the equation.
That being said it is also age-dependent. As they get older they are way more
aware and will pick up that something is different. I took Anna to the aquarium
with John the other day and it was the first time we had all been together for
a long period of time and she threw such a tantrum. She was playing up, probably
because my attention was not all on her! It’s very tricky and can be a real deal-breaker.”
How do you go about introducing your child to a new significant other?