“How I Introduced My Partner To My Kids”

Stressed about finding the best way to introduce your new love interest to the little ones? Follow these five tips to make things go smoother (and even have some fun while you’re all together, too!).

by Rachel Sarah

hen it’s time to introduce my daughter to my boyfriend — a scientist whom I’ve been seeing long enough to know he’s for real — I can’t decide where. She’s eight years old, which is old enough to know what “having a boyfriend” means. Inviting him to our apartment feels too personal, yet I want to be
It was not easy. There were two guys vying for my attention, and I felt torn.
somewhere familiar — somewhere she feels comfortable. Finally, I decide to make the introduction at our favorite taqueria. (It’s a casual restaurant she has loved since she was a toddler.) And guess what? They both hit it off!

When I ask other single moms how they introduced their own boyfriends to their kids, they all say it’s not just the where that matters — it’s the when and how, too. Read on for advice on dealing with this situation yourself…

Take the pressure off
Single parents agree that it’s essential to choose a place that’s fun and low-key when your boyfriend/girlfriend meets your kids for the first time. That’s why Kelly from Canada, who blogs at Sunshine on My Shoulder, chose to introduce her two daughters to Todd (who’s now her fiancé) at a science museum. “There was plenty to keep us busy. We didn’t have to worry about what to do next. Everyone had a lot of fun and got along great,” explains Kelly. Deesha Philyaw (co-founder of CoParenting 101) and her new husband each have two daughters; because the couple initially lived in separate states, introducing their girls to one another wasn’t as simple as heading to a local museum together. Philyaw, co-author (with her ex-husband) of Co-Parenting 101: Helping Your Kids Thrive in Two Households after Divorce, explained to her daughters that they were going on a trip to meet a “special friend.” The girls were thrilled to arrive at a hotel with a swimming pool. “It wasn’t ‘here’s mommy’s boyfriend!’” says Philyaw. “We stayed in separate rooms. The kids were able to relax and enjoy themselves.” Chicago mom-of-one Jessica Ashley (who authors the popular blog, Sassafrass) was also in a long-distance relationship. “We took it very slow,” says Ashley when talking about her boyfriend, whom she’d actually known since high school. This meant that whenever he flew out from San Francisco to visit, “he slept on the couch,” recalls Ashley.

There’s no need to rush things
Ashley says that when it was her turn to take her son out west to visit the boyfriend, “It was not easy. There were two guys vying for my attention, and I felt torn. There were tantrums, hurt feelings and awkward games of Uno.” At one point, Ashley saw her son reach out for her boyfriend’s hand — and while she felt “overcome with that gesture of trust… the sweetness of that hand-holding reminded me that we could be hurt terribly by loving this man,” she adds that “I knew I could survive it, but I couldn’t bear the thought of another man disappointing my son or leaving him.” Crystal Turnau, a San Francisco blogger for Ewokmama, agrees, saying that she was also afraid her son might get hurt when she first introduced him to her now-husband, whom she’d met on “I didn’t want him to go through any relationship drama or get attached to someone who might not stick around.”

Remember that emotions will be running high
“I think it’s critical to acknowledge your fears out loud,” says Ashley. “Everyone counts in a family.
We made it clear to all the kids that they were entitled to their feelings about our relationship.
Everyone can also hold hands while taking the leap together.” Single moms say that taking things slowly is the ideal way to help everyone work through their feelings over time. “We made it clear to all the kids that they were entitled to their feelings about our relationship — the good, the bad, the ugly,” recalls Philyaw. “However, we also said that everyone needed to feel safe, comfortable and respected.”

Sarah Kinbar, co-founder of and mother of two, says that although her seven-year-old son first hit it off with her boyfriend (also a parent of two), “after a few more get-togethers, he realized that Todd was my romantic partner and expressed his anger and frustration. He was still grieving his parents’ divorce, and my new relationship was a little much for him to process at that point.”

Respect for the ex can make things easier
Loyalty to their biological mom and dad is another huge factor for many kids meeting new love interests. Before introducing her boyfriend to her kids, “I told my ex-husband,” says Kinbar. “It seemed like the most respectful way to treat the situation — especially because my ex is very involved in their lives and would find out through my son about a meeting, anyway.” Philyaw — who married to her husband three years ago in a small ceremony with her blended family on a yacht — says that she and her ex had already “agreed that no one else would meet our kids unless we were completely certain that this person was The One.” In fact, Philyaw introduced her ex to her new husband before she introduced him to their kids.

Face any new relationship fears head-on
Ashley says that even after her boyfriend finally moved to Chicago (which happened after they’d been dating for a few years), she still feels her heart being tugged “in many directions.” But what overrides those fears is the fact that “he is a really good man. I am madly in love with him. I never dreamed I’d meet someone who is such a good match for me, and he is great for my son, too.” Single parents seem to agree: There’s no need to rush your kids into your romantic relationships. “Remember that this can’t be undone,” warns Ashley. “There doesn’t have to be full immersion; it’s OK to take several months for that introduction to unfold organically.”

Rachel Sarah [] is the author of Single Mom Seeking: Play Dates, Blind Dates, and Other Dispatches from the Dating World. She married the scientist in 2010 and gave her older daughter a baby sister in 2012.
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