Question: When should single parents introduce their kids to someone they are dating?
Terry: I think a lot of single parents make a mistake by waiting an extended amount of time before introducing their children to the people they are seriously dating. It makes more sense to introduce the children to the potential partner once you decide that you will be dating the person regularly. You don’t have to introduce them at your house, but a family-friendly place like a bowling alley or a trampoline park will work just fine. The goal is to see how the new person interacts with the kid or kids and to see the vibe they have toward them. Going to a public place will allow the new person to interact with the kids briefly and still give you one-on-one time to chat and enjoy the date. That’s a more practical way of figuring out if you’re compatible with them long-term. In my opinion, it doesn’t make much sense to wait until you are in love or attached to a person before introducing your kids because your feelings toward the person can impact your judgment and lead to you ignoring red flags that may arise. The fact is there are people who hurt and abuse their own biological children, so there is no way to completely prevent it from happening.
Christal: As a single mom with two children, I am heartbroken to see the recent stories about men abusing and even killing their girlfriend’s children. I don’t believe you should bring someone around your children until you are certain that person is going to be in your life on a long-term basis. When you first meet someone, it can be difficult to know where they fit in your life. Until you know that, I don’t believe you should encourage a relationship with that person with your children. Prior to introducing someone to your children, it’s also important to learn their outlook on children. Ask questions about their relationships with children and pay attention to their answers. Watch their interactions with children in their family and even their reactions to children they see in public. If they seem irritated easily or don’t value the naivete of children, proceed with caution.
Once you determine whether the man or woman has the potential to be a part of your future, I think it’s appropriate to introduce them in a neutral location so the children feel comfortable. Make sure that you pay attention to their reactions, and encourage your children to be honest with you about their reactions to your significant other.
Creating a blended family can be a beautiful thing, and introducing your children to someone who can eventually be a positive influence on them can be very rewarding.
If you have a question you want to see featured in “Relation-tips,” email it to [email protected] You can follow relationship expert Terry Deron at @terryderon and rolling out’s Relationships Editor Christal Jordan at @enchantedpr.