“How long should I wait before I introduce my kids to my new partner?”
If I had a dime for every time I’ve been asked this question, I’d be one rich Divorce Doula! I’d probably even stop writing this cash cow of a blog, patent some cookie cutter response & then sit back to watch the dimes roll in.
The reality, however, is that this is not a one-size-fits-all question. It’s probably one of the most difficult decisions that single parents grapple with and I’m sorry to say that as your Divorce , I don’t have a simple answer for you.
I’ve always separated church from state. My time with my kids is precious & when I’m with them, I am 100% Mom: homework, activities, reading, snuggling…whatever they need, I’m there for them. But when they are with their dad, I have a life that includes dating, dining out & other adults-only activities.
It has been three years since we separated, but my ex & I remain discreet about our dating activity: out of respect for one another & in an effort to protect our children. Until last fall, our children had never met anyone that we were dating as our new love. They may have met them as “friends” but there was never going to be any of the “Hey, kids! This is your new mommy/daddy!” happening in our respective households.
Last fall, I agonized over taking a holiday with my then-partner & my children. I worried that I wasn’t ready, that my kids weren’t ready, that my ex wasn’t ready. I procrastinated for weeks, but eventually told my ex about my relatively new, but serious relationship & asked his permission to travel with our kids. He was genuinely happy for me & gave me his support without question. We all had a fantastic vacation, but a few weeks following our trip, my partner turned out to be more chicken than martlet and abandoned me without any explanation. It was devastating to all of us, and my boys still ask about him. I’ve explained to them that sometimes relationships don’t work out & that even if we get hurt or disappointed, there is always a silver lining. When I told my ex about what had happened, he arrived at my house with a bouquet of flowers & a hug. Not in an attempt to win me back, but as a gesture of affection & empathy. I will always remember this kindness.
These days, I’m a lot more cautious about how I approach relationships. I’ve thought long & hard about when it would be appropriate to introduce my young men to my new man, M. I recently felt that it was time for him to meet my boys, but in a very informal fashion. They know that we are dating ie. not just friends, but are relieved that M. won’t be moving in anytime soon. Last night, he came & had dinner with us & it was lovely. My boys were *relatively* well behaved, polite & engaged. It didn’t hurt that M. brought ice cream & chocolate sauce for dessert. When I was tucking my eldest son in later that night, he said:
“So, that was M.”
“Yep,” I said. “What did you think?”
“He seems like a nice guy. And he really makes you happy.”
“Yes, he does,” I said, agreeing with my 10 -going-on-30 year old.
“Well, that’s good Mom. You deserve to be happy. You deserve the best.”
Out of the mouths of babes.