Motherhood

When Should You Introduce Your Kids To Your Boyfriend?

April 4, 2017
When should you introduce your kids to your boyfriend?

You guys, I’ve met someone.

I know, just as I was becoming comfortable with the idea of buying a shedload of cats and calling it a day, I went on a date and that magic thing that happens when you meet someone really great occurred. POOF! Something clicked, and it’s been brilliant ever since.

A few months in and all is rosy: we have long lovely dinner dates, fall asleep watching movies on the sofa and run errands together. Even the most tedious of daily tasks are way more fun when there’s two, and I’m in that stage of feeling pretty smug and happy.

But as we get closer I’m starting to ponder what the next stage might be. Dating when you have children can be a logistical nightmare, and though we’ve done an admirable job in squeezing dates around my home commitments I’m starting to think I’d like a bit extra. I’m appreciating how wonderful it is to wake up in the morning next to someone you really want to see, how much more exciting the mundane is when there’s someone who makes you laugh. And I want more of it.

I’ve been upfront about the children since the beginning: I think it’s important to be open and honest about each others’ expectations and limitations in a relationship situation, which is why we discussed them on our very first date. I am a person who comes with two little people and,while I believe the children aren’t a part of the relationship itself, they’re obviously a consideration for anyone considering hanging around for the long-term.

So when is it the right time to introduce your kids to your boyfriend? I really have no idea.

In researching online I’ve found a plethora of differing opinions: you should introduce them after 2 months, 6 months, when you move in together, when you get engaged. I’m firmly in the ‘when it feels right’ camp, much like the speed of relationships (my parents met and got married in the space of 4 months and they seem to be doing OK 35 years on ;) there’s simply no way to impose time constraints on a situation that’s so emotion-heavy.

Perhaps selfishly I wouldn’t want to leave it six months.  It’s fair to say that not all kids are created equal, and the children may find it easier to mesh with one man than another. I suspect they are the most delightful human beings, but surely I think that because I’m their mother? What if – the worst scenario possible – my boyfriend didn’t like them? I’d rather not be six months down the road and way into the territory of heartbreak if meeting the children puts him off the idea of having a relationship with a mother. I’m pretty sure this would be the most unlikely of situations but you never know.

Quite simply I’d like to see more of him, too. When you have only two nights available a fortnight and you’re otherwise at the mercy of babysitters with curfews and time constraints, nurturing a budding relationship can be difficult. Add into the mix a big amount of international travel from the man you’re dating and the time you have available to spend together becomes less and less. Removing the issue of the childrens’ presence seems like the next logical step.

I like to think I’ve prepared them for this over the last few years. Their dad has lived with his girlfriend ever since we broke up, so a parent in a relationship isn’t a foreign concept to them. I’ve generally chatted about the boyfriend/girlfriend dynamic as they’ve asked, and more recently haven’t hidden the fact that I’ve been dating one person in particular.

This is a new situation for us all and I’m really hopeful to do it the right way, but like so many occasions when you’re a parent the ‘right way’ is totally open to interpretation.

How would you handle the situation?

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28 Comments

  • Reply Elise April 4, 2017 at 6:18 pm

    There’s definitely no right answer on this one, but a big factor is – when does HE want to meet them? In my experience, a good time to do it is after the man in question has been suggesting it himself for a while – which, also in my experience, unless he also has children of his own, is likely to take a while. I think be patient on this one, as annoying as it is! If he has – of his own volition, not in response to you saying something – been asking to meet them for a while, I would low-key phase it in. A good starter might be popping over half an hour before the babysitter arrives (who shouldn’t be your mum unless you want to seriously bombard him!). I would definitely be patient though, and instead focus on other introductions – meeting each other’s friends is a really important one, and much more telling about whether this has longevity. Also, you need to just suck it up and expect to spend more on babysitting during the first year of dating, I think! :) And a good guy will offer to help out if this is a big financial issue. In the meantime, tell us about the bf?! Intro to blog world is also very important!! Xxx

    • Reply alice April 5, 2017 at 1:37 pm

      I chuckled at the thought of serious bombardment ;) Great to hear your viewpoints – and I think he’s more nervous about meeting the blog world than meeting the parents! xx

  • Reply Nina C April 4, 2017 at 8:26 pm

    Why don’t you invite him for DINNER and see how it goes? I don’t think overnights are something that should happen until you’re certain he’s certain this is a) something he wants and b) something he can handle. I know you’ve said your ex has been living with his girlfriend since your breakup, but unfortunately there is a double standard and Mom’s are different. I’d go to dinners, see a movie, go bowling, or other fun activities for a bit and observe how he and the children interact. Make sure they like each other. Take your cues from them. Think about this; what is the example you want to set for your children? That the overnights are a result of a caring and loving relationship or because you’re anxious to move on to the next level with him.

    Having said all that, it’s great you found someone you connect with. It’s wonderful when you get to share it all with someone!

    • Reply alice April 5, 2017 at 3:31 pm

      Oh no – definitely not, it’ll be a slow and steady process I’m sure :)
      And yes, sharing stuff (even rubbish movies or pizza) is just brilliant!

  • Reply Pen April 4, 2017 at 11:07 pm

    yippeeeeee, many many congratulations. This is mega exciting news. I am delighted for you.

    I don’t think that you can put a timeframe on how long you should be in a relationship before you introduce them to your children. I know that I certainly wouldn’t introduce Cygnet to everyone that I date (God, I make myself sound like a dating tornado – In my dreams). I will only introduce Cygnet to a partner when I feel that that partner has the potential for the long term and when that partner is special. Sometimes you know that a partner is special pretty quickly!

    I personally don’t think it is particularly healthy for kids to form attachments with one boyfriend after another after another etc etc. I wouldn’t want Cygnet to go through what is essentially a relationship breakdown (as we know these are damn hard) every time. But you are not doing this Alice. This person is special to you, you have been honest and upfront with him about your kids, you feel that you want to progress things to the next stage, you feel positive about this. Alice, I think the time is now!

    Good luck.

    Pen x

    • Reply alice April 5, 2017 at 3:41 pm

      Thanks Pen!

      Chuckling at the dating tornado comment – I know what you mean. I’ve heard lots of stories of adults who grew up with single parents saying their childhoods were confusing because they met so many of their mum/dads partners. I’ve been so scared of this happening to my kids so have gone totally the other way and kept them far from any men I’ve dated (I think you err on this side too, we’re so sensible :)

      Thank you for such a lovely comment, it has made me smile lots. I shall do what feels right x

  • Reply Charlotte April 5, 2017 at 6:30 am

    Hi Alice,

    I am a recent follower of your blog, having first encountered it via your Instagram. Your blog really resonates with me and my experiences of being a full time working mother of twin boys. I was a single mummy by the age of 30 and the boys and I are a solid unit. We call ourselves the 3 musketeers. I had been single for 4 years before I met my partner who now lives with us! He also has a son from a previous relationship. We waited 7 months before introducing him to the boys, and a little longer for me to meet his son. I fully understand the excitement, the constraints in terms of free time. I had for a long time reconciled myself to the fact that I would be single forever. I wasn’t happy with the boys partner for introducing his partner to the boys very quickly and without my knowledge so, in my mind, I was determined to do it properly. There is no definition of “doing it properly”. What I can tell you is that I am glad that I allowed our relationship to develop before inviting 3 little people into the fray. The boys felt a bit weird at first but now adore my partner, Ben. They form attachments quickly and I wanted to be as certain as I could be that my partner was a keeper. You’ll know what’s best for your family and enjoy. You deserve to be happy. X

    • Reply alice April 5, 2017 at 4:03 pm

      Hi Charlotte, lovely to have you here! Our experiences sound really similar – divorced before 30 and single for 4 years.

      I think you’re right with what you’ve said, thinking about it I’ve probably kept my children totally separate from my dating life for such a long time because their dad so swiftly lived with someone else. I didn’t want to confuse them by having them meet people who may or may not have stuck around (and with good reason, it turns out.

      Really happy to hear your situation has worked out for you. I love to hear success stories of other single mums: it can feel sometimes like you’ll never ever find a happy medium between your kids and relationships, and it sounds like you’re in a really good place :)

      Ax

  • Reply Lizzie April 5, 2017 at 7:33 am

    This is really interesting, I’m exactly in the same position. 3 years divorced. I had one boyfriend for a year that I kept separate and didn’t introduce, but in the end I felt I was runnning two lives. Been seeing a new man for three montha and my policy time is different. He’s been turning up at sporting events and other things so they get to know him as my friend first. I also think it’s important for him to see me as a mum who carries football kit everywhere, rather than just fun loving sex kitten (erm?). So softly softly approach. Eventually when they are used to him I’ll start on days out etc. But there is no right or wrong way. Good luck. Know it’s not the be all and end all but man alive it’s nice to have someone to hang out with.

    • Reply alice April 5, 2017 at 4:07 pm

      You are SO RIGHT. The persona of ‘girlfriend’ (sex kitten included) and ‘mum’ are so totally different – I think it’s important for a man to see both sides of you where possible. Sounds like you’re approach has worked really well for you, and YES! Just to watch a movie or eat pizza with another human you really like – it’s awesome.

  • Reply Joanna Frangos April 5, 2017 at 10:56 am

    I am so happy for you Alice. Although we have never met, I do feel I know you a little bit from following your blog over the last couple of years. And I also think it is very healthy that you have opened this subject up for discussion, to help you make the right choices for you and your two children. Personally I would go along with Lizzie above, and have the guy be introduced as a friend first and foremost. Keep it all very light and fun. See how he is with your children. That way if things did go wrong (let’s face it, nothing is guaranteed) he is a friend and not someone they feel obliged to like.
    My children are older, 12 and 9, and have met and lived with my first post-divorce partner (we were together three years, dating for one, living together for two). They had to be around when the relationship failed and we ended up having to sell the house. I don’t feel great about them going through that. However, we have open discussions about relationships and friendships, always with the emphasis on “how do I feel around this person. Do I feel good in myself?”
    I am currently single (yawn) and have slightly given up on meeting someone.
    Hearing your news has cheered me up no end. Good luck with whatever you decide to do, and know that we are all rooting for you.
    Joanna x

  • Reply Liveseygirl April 5, 2017 at 11:50 am

    This is exciting! So I’m a product of divorce divorce and? my Mum had a fair few relationships over the course of time. In contrast my Dad remarried when I was 3 and they are still together 30 years later.
    What I would say is that you need to be as sure as you can that this relationship will last before you introduce the man to the kids. For example, have you and he discussed whether or not he wants kids/you want any together etc? These things may seem heavy but being a step parent is tough (just ask my poor Step Mum). Also any heartbreak will become the kid’s heartbreak if they become attached to your new fella.
    As far as introductions go I’d agree with the low key advice, maybe a walk and a picnic, neutral territory, that sort of thing. Allow the kids to feel what they feel and help them work it all out.
    Sorry if I sound doom and gloom, I just know that my Mum got it “wrong” by too many early introductions of “the one”. Once I hit my teens I told her I didn’t want to meet anyone until she’d been dating him for a year. Not that my Mum had a 100 boyfriends or anything, just more than I could handle!
    Hope it all? goes well

  • Reply Clare April 5, 2017 at 2:17 pm

    Hurrah! If this is a helpful anecdote… when my friend Lucy met her now-partner, he was clear that he wanted to get to know her daughter too in case he didn’t like her. She was initially a bit riled, thinking it was more important that her daughter liked HIM… but then came round: from his perspective it was fair enough, and it was reassuring to know that he was a considered man, who approaching the relationship with the long view… x

    • Reply alice April 10, 2017 at 9:32 am

      I think so too! Some people don’t like some kids (I don’t like some kids, even!) and although I think mine are, like, the most delightful little people on the planet, I’m aware some people may not feel the same. They’d be wrong and weird ;) but still I’d never want someone to begrudgingly stick with me despite not liking them. Lucy’s partner sounds like a keeper! x

  • Reply Willis April 5, 2017 at 2:33 pm

    From a male perspective, I think you have to be careful, primarily for the children’s sakes. If your new chap and the kids click, and then you and he decide it’s actual not working between you, it can leave the kids in a bit of a fix. I met someone who wanted me to meet her children within 3 weeks of the first date, which I felt was way too soon. I was deemed to be unsupportive. I suspect what she was after a replacement dad for her kids rather than a partner….. needless to say I never met them.

    Having said all that many of my friends have just got on with it and when things went wrong their kids were sad for a while and then just got on with their lives. Children are very resilient.

    If you both feel it’s the right time, and it’s important he’s happy about it, have a nice Sunday lunch together somewhere neutral and and see how it goes from there.

    • Reply alice April 10, 2017 at 12:04 pm

      3 weeks! That’s a bit quick, isn’t it? I agree it’s something that takes a lot of thought and consideration, though as you say they’re resilient I’d rather not have anyone disappearing quickly!

  • Reply Clair April 6, 2017 at 1:56 pm

    Hi Alice!

    I am a grown up child of divorced parents and thought I’d share my experience. You might find it useful, you might not but hey ho. My dad moved straight in with his gf, now wife, and I only seen them occasionally so I wasn’t too bothered but when my mum introduced me to her ‘man she had been seeing’, now husband all hell broke loose. My mum had kept him hidden for a long time so when I met him I shocked as I didn’t even know she has been dating. All my other family members knew and I felt like I had been kept out of a secret. By the time I met him they were ready to move in, but I wasn’t ready to live with a stranger! I can understand now that my mum didn’t want me to be involved in case it didn’t work. Luckily it did and they have been together for 10 years now and I get on great with him.

    Good luck x

    • Reply alice April 10, 2017 at 12:06 pm

      I think the most helpful bits of advice have been through children of divorced parents, you’ve been through it so you know the best! I’ve talked to the children about boyfriends for the last four years – even though I haven’t had one, I have wanted it to not be a surprise when it happened (it could have got weird if I’d NEVER got a boyfriend ;). This is really useful, it makes me think I’ve been doing it the right way, thank you Clair x

  • Reply Katie @theperfectjuggler April 6, 2017 at 6:17 pm

    Just found your blog through the Netmums blog page and loved reading. I’d been dating for 3 years before I found someone I felt comfortable introducing to my daughter about 4 months in. Luckily he didn’t instantly become part of the furniture because 2 months later he decided that life (not particularly our relationship) was too stressful and he just went off the radar. So glad I hadn’t rushed into it and their meetings were fairly low key so when he disappeared it didn’t create a big void for her. For me maybe but I’d always take v small baby steps if/when I do it again. Good luck and congratulations x

    • Reply alice April 10, 2017 at 10:05 pm

      Lovely to have you here, Katie!

      Baby steps are absolutely the order of the day – I’m just doing what feels the right thing to do, and I don’t think we can do anything beyond that, can we? x

  • Reply Newcastle Family Life April 7, 2017 at 10:29 am

    I was in this situation as I was a single mum for years. I think I waited about 3 month before my eldest met my partner, I think you just know when it feels like the right time. We went out for a meal and she met him that way, then he came round for dinner one night, then he stayed over the following week and she was fine with it all. Good luck xx

    • Reply alice April 10, 2017 at 10:19 pm

      I think you’re right – you just know when the time has come. x

  • Reply Kate April 9, 2017 at 1:13 pm

    I love your blog, there is so much pressure that comes with being a single mum that sometimes other non single mums don’t understand, it’s such a refreshing read!
    Totally agree there is no right time it’s all about when it feels right, but the double life makes you feel like your undercover for the FBI.
    After a few days out and a couple of dinners all together my daughter invited my partner to movie night and suggested he could stay so we could all have breakfast, little did we know my daughter was coming down with a sickness bug, and came into my room in the middle of the night like an extra from dawn of the dead covered head to toe in sick! My double life had been well and truly busted. But we cleared up the sick together and laughed until we cried at his brutal introduction to parent life! And I knew he was a keeper!
    So happy for you hope it all goes well!

    • Reply alice April 12, 2017 at 1:42 pm

      Thanks Kate – and you’re so right, it can be so exhausting to lead a double life. Though I reckon both my personas are slowly becoming one!

      Your other half sounds amazing, what a baptism by fire! If he can cope with the vomcano he can cope with anything, I reckon ;)

  • Reply Debbie | An Organised Mess April 21, 2017 at 11:16 pm

    Woohoo! I love life. I do think the best time to meet someone is when you’ve realised how happy you are in your own company- that you don’t need to be someone, you choose to be with that one.
    I don’t really know about the when’s and why’s, my brother married within four months and became ‘daddy Chris’ to two boys, and they were divorced two years later- soooo not good. (There’s obviously so much more to it).
    My best friend has been in her partner’s lives since the youngest was six months (a long story)- they are now 9 and 13. She’s not a ‘step-mum’, she’s their dad’s partner, and that works.
    What I’m trying to say, is that we all want to be treated as individuals- you, your children, and your boyfriend- so what do you all think? I think- yes, exercise caution, but if you’re all content- start taking those steps towards one life.
    Woohoo!!!!

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  • Reply On Being Ghosted. Again. | More Than Toast May 10, 2017 at 5:43 pm

    […] dates, started planning a 10-day summer holiday (New York then Miami). We’d talked about him meeting my children and my parents. It was, I thought, going […]

  • Reply Georgie May 12, 2017 at 8:25 am

    Sorry to hear you e been ghosted by this guy, but does show that waiting to introduce is the best thing to do.

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