Being a single dad is a tough enough job in and of itself, but when it comes time to introducing the new woman in your life to your children, that job can get significantly more difficult. The situation can be nerve racking and uncomfortable for everyone involved, so it is best to think ahead and have a solid plan of attack when it comes time to make the all important introductions.
First and foremost, it is extremely important that your children know that your new partner exists. Introducing them to your new significant other should not be something that comes as a surprise to them. The transition will be difficult enough without adding the element of surprise to the situation. Talk to them ahead of time and give them some information about her. Start off slowly, perhaps by adding her name to general conversation around the house. While watching TV or playing a game with your kids, let them know that she also likes the same shows or games as they do. Finding something in common between her and the kids can make the initial meeting significantly easier on all parties.
Make sure that you have reached a serious level in your relationship with your new partner before even considering introducing her to your kids. The amount of time will vary greatly from couple to couple; just be careful that you don’t rush the process. Divorce or loss of a parent is an incredibly difficult ordeal for most kids to begin with. The last thing you want to do is introduce them to someone new, figure out shortly thereafter that the relationship isn’t working out, and then remove that person from your kid’s lives. There’s no way to be certain that the relationship will last forever, but you should be thinking about your future with your partner before bringing her into your kid’s lives.
Keep the first meeting short and simple. Consider a meeting in a neutral site like a coffee shop or a nearby park. Your new partner and your children are likely to be slightly more at ease if they are not in the other’s territory. Remember, there will probably be a level of intimidation and jealousy on both sides of the equation; each of them are used to having you all to themselves in one sense or another. A casual meeting, a short exchange of pleasantries and an opportunity to ask a few questions of one another will generally suffice for a first meeting. If all goes well, try and schedule a longer get together in the near future to start nurturing the relationship.
Be sure to reinforce to your children that your love for them is not, and will not, change as a result of your new relationship. Depending on the age of your kids, they may not be able to understand that you have enough love to share with more than just them. They can easily think that you loving someone else would mean that you will not love them as much anymore. You need to put that fear to rest as early as possible.
It is also important to make sure your kids know that you are not trying to replace their mother. This is a common and understandable fear for many kids. Letting them know that having another female presence in their lives does not necessarily mean that she will be filling the role of the mother in their lives. Your children’s relationship with their mother should not change as a result of your new partner and they need to be reassured of just that.
Most importantly, be honest and straightforward with your kids. Introducing a new woman into their world is going to be a challenge for everyone involved, but not being honest with them will only make the transition that much more difficult. Understand that it may be a little rocky at first, but things will likely smooth out over time if everyone is willing to put forth an honest effort.