Should I introduce my child to the person I’m dating?
There comes a time, after your divorce is finalized, when dating becomes something you want to do. Going out and meeting new people with the hope of dating or starting a serious relationship, is easier now than ever before, thanks to the Internet. However, if you are divorced and have children, dating after divorce is something that you need to be a bit more thoughtful about. One of the biggest concerns that single parents face is knowing when it is the appropriate time to introduce their child (or children) to the person they are dating. There’s no “one size fits all” answer to this question, but there are a few suggested guidelines to help you determine if the time is right, or if you need to wait.
Are both of you really committed to the relationship?
If you are casually dating someone and don’t see the two of you having a long-term future, introducing them to your children will only cause a great deal of confusion and possibly pain.
Conversely, if the two of you have been dating regularly for several months and are making the commitment to be exclusive, then it might be a good time to begin slowly introducing one another. How and when an introduction takes place will depend largely on the age of the children, but group activities where they can be introduced as a “friend” is typically a safe and slow way for everyone to become comfortable around one another.
Have you both talked about meeting each other’s children?
When dating after divorce, there’s a strong likelihood that the person you’re seeing may also have children from their previous marriage. Have the two of you discussed meeting each other’s children and the possibility of blending families? You don’t have to be ready to exchange marriage vows, but are you working on your relationship in such a way that a serious commitment is in the future for both of you? If the person you are dating is a good match for you, and you know you want to be with them long-term (and vice versa), then gradually bringing each other and the children together is a good choice. Talking about family-role expectations, discipline, education, money, and religion are big topics that need to be addressed before taking the steps to merge families.
But, it’s important that you and the person you are dating be honest with one another. If one of you feels rushed, or is uncertain about the kind of future they envision for themselves and their children, then it’s best not to involve the children. That doesn’t mean you have to stop dating them (unless you want to) but it does mean that the relationship isn’t at a point where bringing families together is a good idea.
Dating After Divorce Note:
In addition to having serious conversations with the person you are dating about your children, it is also advisable to let your ex-spouse know when you are going to introduce this person to the kids. It is a respectful thing to do if you are striving to have a amicable relationship with them, and it’s better that they hear the news from you than from the children you share custody of.
Are you ready to handle the reactions that will come from your children?
Your children, regardless of their age, will benefit from you being in a healthy, committed relationship. When you’re happy with the person you are dating after divorce, your children will notice, and that will make your lives together so much more relaxed and enjoyable. However, this doesn’t mean that your children will react in a positive or welcome manner when you begin the process of introducing the person you are dating to them. If you are prepared for the anxiety, fear or sadness they may experience when they realize you are serious about this new relationship, you’ll be in a strong place to navigate potential “bumps” that your plans for blending families may hit.
Keeping communication open and age-appropriate is essential for reassuring your children that you love them and will be there to care for them. Letting your children know that they will continue to see both of their parents is important, as some children may interpret your new relationship as a replacement for their Mom or Dad. When both you and the person you are dating begin the family blending process gradually and with thoughtful consideration, you will have a more positive effect on the adjustment period for your children and guarantee greater happiness for all of you in the long run.
If you and your spouse will be filing for divorce in Northern Colorado or reside in the Larimer County or Fort Collins region, and want to explore divorce options that protect your children as much as possible, do not hesitate to contact Laura Monty Law. We provide collaborative divorce representation, divorce mediation services, legal advising for uncontested divorces, and a full array of divorce and family law services in Northern Colorado. We strongly believe in taking a compassionate approach to family law, and recognize that every situation is unique.
Visit our website for additional resources on making divorce easier for children. Are you seeking the services of a Fort Collins divorce attorney? Contact Laura Monty Law today to schedule an initial consultation.