Single Parents And Love Survey

In our exclusive Happen/ poll, we asked you: When is the right time to introduce your sweetie to your kids? Here, what you had to say—plus some expert advice.

By Debra Kent

ou’ve just started dating someone new, and, while you’re not about to buy matching rings (yet), you’re pretty smitten. When is it time to introduce this amazing person to your kids?

Not too fast, according to a recent Happen/ poll of more than 11,000 people. A scant 14 percent think it’s OK for single parents to introduce new dates to
There’s no need to go into a whole lot of detail unless they ask specific questions.
their kids after a few weeks, while another 17 percent say you should wait a few months. The vast majority — 69 percent — say kids should meet your new love only when you’re dating exclusively.

Why waiting is worth it
“It’s generally a good idea to wait until you're dating exclusively before formally introducing your date to your kids,” agrees Lisa Cohn, co-author of One Family, Two Family, New Family: Stories And Advice For Stepfamilies ( and a member of Happen’s expert panel. “You don’t want to set the kids up for disappointment if it’s someone they like and you guys don’t stick together.” You also don’t want your kids to develop relationships with too many of your dates—“That can be confusing,” cautions Cohn. And since there’s a certain amount of stress associated with bringing new relationships into the family — kids get jealous and ex-spouses can be vindictive — you might as well hold off until you know it’ll be worth any trouble that may ensue.

That said, there are good reasons to make an informal introduction earlier in the relationship, to establish a casual comfort zone. Cohn suggests arranging to casually bump into each other to let the kids check out your new sweetie, and vice versa. “A short conversation or a basketball game at the local playground would be appropriate,” she notes.

How to phrase it
Once you’re dating exclusively, the actual words you use for a formal introduction depend on the age of your kids. Younger kids require less information–simply say, “This is my friend, Bob,” advises Cohn—but older ones are wise to what’s going on and deserve a fuller explanation. So you might say, "This is my boyfriend, Bob" or explain that you’ve been dating for a while. There’s no need to go into a whole lot of detail unless they ask specific questions. For example, says Cohn, “If they ask if you’re getting married, you might say you might like to get married again someday, but you’re in no rush.” That way, you’re keeping everyone’s expectations down-to-earth.

Writer Debra Kent is a single parent and author of the Diary of V book series.
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