This is in no way an “advice” article. The question about when and how to introduce your kids to your significant other means many different things to many different people. Each person is unique, each situation is different and each environment is a chance to understand how you’ve developed the foundations for your child to understand the world around them. If you want a how to guide for when to introduce your kids to your partner, then google it. This is not one of those articles. I have done this same thing in the right and wrong way. What I can tell you is what happened yesterday when I introduced my daughter to Bradford. That’s all. Everyone can moan and groan about what I did right or what I did wrong but as long as I am at peace with my decision then it will be fine. That is how you should feel about all your decisions. Unnecessary fears and worries will do nothing for you.
Our Family Date
Yesterday after a long weekend, my daughter hung out with Bradford and I. We went to visit a park and ended up at an Italian restaurant. I was very nervous as my daughter and our entire family has been going through some very difficult times. To get to a period of some kind of “normalcy” is difficult. My other two are with their dads so just introducing one for the time being is a good way for me to test the waters of how the others may react and was a good way for me to understand my emotions on this subject.
Bradford and I have a communication that is very open and honest. We can be truthful with our feelings and while at times it may be complicated, we are true partners understanding each other’s needs. My intuition guides me a lot and I felt like it was time to get to a point where the most important people in my life get to meet a very important man in my life.
It’s Scary, but Not
At one point over the weekend, Bradford asked me about my fears. I replied that I have none. That isn’t entirely true. I think we all have fears but sometimes we don’t know what they are until things happen that make us afraid. I talked about the Gift of Fear when it comes to using your intuition to avoid dangerous situations. But how do you use your intuition for good situations. When do you take that Leap of Faith and not be afraid of the consequences? When do you introduce your child to your partner? The real answer lies within your intuition and if everyone is on the same page with what’s going on. One of the things that I have learned is to not just ACCEPT but take RESPONSIBILITY for the realities of our lives. The more you do that, the less afraid you are of what other people say, what you need to do next and what your priorities are.
I prepared my daughter for what was to come. She is going to be 4. In her little mind, assurance and reassurance is so important but it has to be done in a way that a 4 year old can understand. The day before I told Baby B that we are going to spend time with Bradford tomorrow so what would she like to do? It was very non-chalant and it became more about the activity and not necessarily about who would be there. I have her ownership to decide what to do. She would be with me, so she knew she would be safe and having another person there was not a concern to her. She met Bradford fleetingly prior to this date but she quickly bounded out of the room before they had one on one time together. Bradford was also prepared to spend the day with her and I. Over the weekend we talked about it and he was so accommodating on where we would go and what we could do. I was thankful for that because it meant we were openly communicating on it.
Introducing them was very nerve racking for me. He was already at the house, lounging on the couch and he was tired after a day of work. So this little fireball of energy jumping around the house is new for him. His own children are teenagers and so little girls are a new thing to him. Bradford did not appear nervous and Baby B seemed quite oblivious to him. Soon she warmed up and talked and he commented on her pedicure and we talked about her when she yelled out to him, “I like you!” It was cute and funny. A great way to break the ice. I think it made him smile and everyone on the blog knows how sentimental I can get. Scenes like that make me cry with happiness which is why I sometimes look away.
We then went to the park and she got curious about grasshoppers and crickets and then to dinner. It was a great evening and he and I talked more about each other as a couple. I think what made the evening end great was when he kissed me in front of her. It was sweet and she saw that. When he began to leave she yelled out, “I want a Hug!” So he picked her up and gave her a big hug.
This morning we had a conversation about what happened. I asked her if she had fun and if she liked Bradford. She talked about how great it was to get a hug from him. I asked her if she understood how important he was to me and how important she was to me. We talked about why she met him and how people that care about each other look out for each other. I spoke to him today about the conversation that Baby B and I had and he was happy about it. I think we are at a comfortable place with our lives.
Accept the pace by which relationships form
One of the things that advice columns will not tell you with regards to introducing children to your love interest is the importance of patience and acceptance. Be patient with the pace by which your relationship is forming, evolving and developing. Accept your relationship for what it is and be happy with it. Far too many times we read so much into introducing kids we begin to use it as a weapon against others and ourselves. I’ve seen single mothers argue with their significant others about “Well you met my kids” or hold back from future relationships due to the end of relationships and worry about confusing their kids. All of these worries are unnecessary if you 1) Have confidence in how you want to shape the future for you and your family and 2) Build a firm foundation for your child. Single parents that have good communication with their kids can help them realize that they as parents are dating and forming new friendships and relationships all the time. The value is in teaching children that sometimes relationships don’t work out. To live in a bubble that all relationships will work 100% of the time is unrealistic especially in terms of my situation where Baby B’s own father left and has nothing to do with her. My goal is for her to understand that there are good men out there. Men who take responsibility and men who have good values and do the right thing. Her real father had the courage to say he couldn’t handle the responsibility and admitting weakness is hard. It’s also ok for her to know that her identity is not based upon the fact that her dad doesn’t want her in his life but that she is a unique and lovable human being who can create her own destiny and is loved by so many people.
Mental Guidelines are great but checklists, maybe not so.
I think the real lesson here is not that you are going through a checklist of do’s and dont’s to see if you fit the criteria for moving your relationship to the next level with kids in tow. The lesson here is building relationships on firm foundations or to use a garden analogy with the right fertilizer to make this garden grow. If you shelter the dirt the flowers will never see the sun. Take a lot of time to reflect and place feelings into buckets. I prefer to use the buckets of What I know vs What I don’t yet Know. The parts of what I don’t know yet can be discarded because you have no real control of those. That is why communication and how you communicate is so important in the beginning of a relationship. Is it the right fit? Will you grow together? Also will you be ok if you grow apart? Many people never ponder their own individuality in a relationship but it’s a reality for a single parent. There is the possibility that with a break up – both you and the kids need to sort through it. As a parent avoiding all relationships to stem the risk of a break up is unrealistic. Have faith that you can weather the storms even the ones that destroy. Being able to do that, demonstrates to your children HOW to have healthy communications in REAL relationships.