Many psychologists working in the area of family relationships say to take it slowly when it comes to introducing your new man or woman to your children. They also tell you to be prepared for your kids to rebel. Depending on the child, their age and circumstances, children of single parents can think that the new partner will displace their real dad or mom. But this certainly isn’t always the case as most kids care about their parents' happiness.
But as Paula Hall, a psychologist writing on iVillage.co.uk points out: "A new love interest also indentifies the end of any reconciliation hopes that your children may have fantasized about. It's not un-common for children to remain hopeful that one day Mom and Dad will re-kindle the relationship and things will be the way they used to be. The introduction of a new love interest means the end of those dreams."
When a parent makes a decision to start actively looking for a new partner, include your children in the decision making process. Warm them up to the idea. A single mom wrote in to tell us how she, very intelligently, dealt with the whole process. "I joined one of the free dating site that a friend recommended, and when I received a new message from a guy, I would show it to my 9 year old daughter, and we would both check out their photos and would have a giggle about it, I turned it into a bit of fun, and together we would decide who I would go on a date with."
As with everything in life, communication is the key to getting around many of the potential problems. Have a heart-to-heart with your child. Reassure them. Tell them about your new man or woman but take it slowly – hopefully, you would have mentioned the new person to them earlier in general conversation. The first meeting should be fun and on neutral territory – and don’t worry too much if it doesn’t go well. Many a successful blended family has a horror tale in their history. If your new man or woman makes the time and effort to get to know your kids, there's no better litmus test – if she or he cares about the children, he cares about you.
"When the time comes for the official introductions, we recommend for you to arrange a relaxed and casual day out and in neutral territory like a park, boat cruise, or something simple like heading out for pizza" says Jennifer Wolf, a Certified Parent Coach. "Give everyone the chance to chat, but avoid putting yourselves in a position where long conversations will be required. Ultimately, you need to create an environment where you can relax and give everyone the best possible opportunity to get along and make a good first impression".
In the end, your main concern at this point in time is to assure your children that you will love them always regardless of any outcome that a new love interest may present and that you will always be in their life. During the course of time and depending on your children's age they will see that this is not about dividing your love, it's a chance for mom or dad to be happy and live a fulfilled life.