Monday, 23 November 2015

When should you introduce a new partner to the kids?

I’ve read, heard and also imagined a lot of advice about when is the right time to introduce your children to a new partner.

Six months, twelve months, never even.

Like many family and parenting situations it can be a very difficult process to negotiate and one that many with have contrasting opinions on.

Form your own opinion

With a degree of irony I would advise anyone seeking the answer to form their own opinion, and be confident in their approach.

There are so many concerns and aspects to consider.

Will your partner and children like each other?

Will they resent one another? And plot against one another?

Will I like how my partner treats my kids?

Will I blame my kids if the relationship ends?

Much of which is completely uncontrollable no matter what you do.

And while it’s right to consider these things and be protective of your children, hopefully avoiding a revolving door of potential stepparents, heartbreak and disappointment.  At the same time -in real life - we can’t predict the future and can waste the precious time we have trying to.

I agree with Elliott Katz, who wrote recently that you shouldn’t wait too long to introduce your kids.

In my own case, I took the attitude that if I saw a future in a new relationship, that future simply had to include my child, so it was important they met as soon as I thought that might be the case.

After a few dates with Helen, the wonderful woman I married last year, I went a tiny smidge maverick.

Competition for attention

I didn’t want to make a big deal of Helen’s introduction, and neither did I want it to be a day of competing for my attention.

So I left them to it.

I ended up planning a day out for her with my boy while I went off and played a game of cricket.

Admittedly a tactic daunting for Helen, and perhaps something of a test.

How would they get on?

If she’s prepared to do it that must mean she sees a potential future too, right?

Wasting time over-thinking and delaying

It’s important not to really over-think it.  However high risk, I saw the 'sink or swim' situation I’d actually created as a light-hearted trigger point.

If it had all gone terribly, we would have gone our separate ways a little sad, but glad we’d met each other and given it a go.  No one’s time really wasted or anyone blamed.

As it happened all went well, and we then set about getting to know each other better, learning our new roles, and developing our relationship as a collective.

It just worked.

It won’t always, and I think that’s my point.

Wait longer, or too long, and relationships are stronger and more difficult to break without at least one party coming out the loser.

Blame and subconscious resentment could even affect how you feel about yourself and your children in the long run.

We were very lucky in our particular case.

And I hope anyone reading this looking for guidance enjoys the same good fortune.

The Three Amigos