You’ve met the man of your dreams and the one you plan to marry. Now, comes the difficult part – figuring out how to introduce your kids to your future husband. Whether you are dating again because you divorced, widowed, or some other reason, it’s important to consider a number of factors around when -- and how -- to present your future partner to your children.
The timing of this critical introduction is one of the most difficult pieces to figure out because there are not "one size fits all" rules. Most experts recommend waiting anywhere from six months to a year before making introductions. In an article for "Psychology Today," psychologist and professor of psychiatry Irene S. Levin, recommends waiting at least a year. This gives your kids time to deal with the loss of their family as they knew it and allows you time to be sure the relationship is serious. It also gives you time to ensure the relationship is calm and stable so you don’t introduce more chaos into your children’s’ lives.
Before making introductions, eHarmony Lifestyle writer Fran Creffield recommends talking to your extended family and your children's father, if possible. Creffield points out that these people are likely to have strong opinions on anything affecting your kids, and while you don't require their approval of either the relationship or your decision to make the introduction, they are more likely to support you if you talk to them first. Dr. Levin suggests letting the father of your children know that you’re serious about the relationship, when you plan to tell your children and where you plan to meet.
Talk to your kids about your future husband before introducing him in person. Drop his name into conversations and share funny stories or interesting facts about him. This helps introduce the idea of the person they will be sharing you with before they actually meet him. Don’t exaggerate your boyfriend’s qualities to make him sound better, which might lead to your kids’ disappointment when they meet him. In addition to talking to your kids, talk to your partner about meeting your kids to ensure he’s ready to meet them. In an article for AARP, author and relationship expert Pepper Schwartz recommends giving your partner information about your kids, such as their interests or funny stories, so he has something to talk about when he meets them.
Once you decide it's time, it’s important to make the introductions in the right environment. A group or public setting works best because it's more likely to feel like neutral ground. A group barbecue, the park or playground, depending on your kids’ ages, are good options. Try to avoid having the first meeting at your home where your kids have an emotional connection. Don’t show affection toward each other for the first few meetings in front of your kids and take their cues. If it seems overwhelming for them, take things slower.
One of your children’s concerns might be that your future husband is going to replace their dad. Reassure your children that they have one mom and one dad and that no one is getting replaced. If your kids are older, ask them if they have any concerns about the relationship such as finances, suggests Schwartz.