When you’re dating as a parent, it can be tricky to know the right time for a new partner to meet the kids—and to figure out the best way to explain this special person in your life.
First reflect on whether you are in a healthy relationship where you both make each other happy. You don’t have to be on the path to marriage for them to meet the kids—but you do want to be sure that the relationship won’t bring unwanted drama or instability to your family.
Also make sure your child has had time to fully process any recent family events like divorce, separation, death, home or custody changes, etc.
When it is time to introduce your partner, keep it fun and casual, and try to step back and see things from your child’s perspective. Keep an open line of communication with your kiddo and your partner to make sure it’s working for everyone.
Tips for introducing a new partner to your child:
- If coming out of another relationship, wait until your child is used to you being single
- Inform your co-parent (if any) that your child will be meeting your new partner
- Tell your child things you like about the partner before they meet
- Meet in a neutral place where your child feels comfortable, like a park or ice cream shop
- Keep the first few meetings brief, casual, and low-stress
- Small acts of affection with your partner are fine, but go easy on the PDA
- Give your child extra attention during and after the first meeting
- Offer your child plenty of time/space to process and ask questions
- Be patient and don’t expect them to hit it off right away
- Use the following scripts based on your child’s age…
Script for toddlers/preschoolers:
“I have a new, special friend who makes me very happy. She likes to go to the beach just like us, and she loves smoothies too!
I would love for you to meet her soon. I like meeting your friends, so it’s great for you to meet my friends, too.
Do you have any questions?”
Script for school agers:
“I’ve been spending a lot of time with someone new, and I’m ready to call him my boyfriend because we make each other happy. He likes to go biking, he plays guitar, and he’s a kind person.
I would love for you to meet him soon, because it could be fun to all get to know each other. How about if he meets us at the park over the weekend?”
“No matter what happens, my love for YOU will never change, you’re always my number one—and he knows that already!
Do you have any questions? If you think of any later, you can ask anytime.”
Script for tweens/teens:
“I’m dating someone new, and I wanted to tell you more about her because we’ve been spending more time together.
She’s really into movies. She works at a vet clinic. She lives downtown and walks everywhere. What else do you want to know?”
“I would love for you to meet her soon, and she wants to meet you too.
Should I invite her to join us when we go out to lunch this weekend, or would you rather have her meet us afterwards for a walk?”
“I’ll still have plenty of time and love for you and your brother—you never have to worry about that. And of course she’s not going to replace your mother. No one’s going to try to do that!
We’ll just take it one step at a time. But if you do notice anything changing too fast or changing in a way you don’t like, you can tell me how you feel, okay?
Do you have any other questions? If you think of any later, you can ask anytime.”
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