I have been perusing blogs lately to see how other single parents have dealt with introducing their kids to a new partner. It seems there are no clear cut answers. The advice ranges as follows:
1. You shouldn’t even consider dating until kids have moved out of the house
2. You should wait 6 months to a year before introducing a partner to the kids
3. You should wait until you are certain about the relationship before introducing kids
4. Timing doesn’t matter as long as you are honest with your kids about dating/relationship and not sneak around
Basically, no help at all. I was surprised by how angry some of the #1 comments were on a variety of blogs I read. I can only assume those people had some pretty nasty experiences with step parents or boyfriends/girlfriends of their parents. I suppose my take has always been that kids will generally benefit from a new person in our lives. There are always things to learn from others. On the other hand, perhaps I am too trusting of the people I bring into my life. I have been lucky in that I have never experienced anyone who was unstable or evil or whatever. So yes, there is a risk. But life is a risk and I can’t live my life worrying that the people I associate with are going to turn around and cause me or my kids harm. But that’s just me.
So, I lean towards the 3/4 end of the spectrum which involves trust. Trust in myself, trust in the person I am introducing.
I have the added complication of not having an ex that I can ship my kids off to in order to develop a relationship with someone without having them in the picture. My job is 24/7 and they are not kids who do that many sleepovers with friends. If I want to develop anything, then to a certain extent my kids will be part of the picture.
If it isn’t already obvious, I have introduced CHA to the kids. He came for dinner (which I have since learned is a no-no. I was supposed to have them meet on neutral territory. So many rules!) It went fine until he left. And then I got the barrage:
“Will he be our new dad?” “He’s weird,” “You’re going to spend all your time with him instead of us,” “I don’t like him,” Are you going to have S.E.X. with him?”
In the past, these sort of comments flattened me, but this time I was ready. My end of the conversation went something like this:
“I know its weird for you to see me with someone, since you never really have before, and that’s going to take some time to get used to. I want you to know that I love you both very much and my having a boyfriend isn’t going to change that. I will still spend lots of time with you, and yes I will be spending time with him too, so it will change a little bit. But you are changing too. You guys are growing up and are going to be spending more and more time with your friends as you learn to be independent people. The way we live now may not be the same in a year or two from now. As far as you not liking him, I’m afraid you don’t get to choose who I date. That’s up to me. I hope you will respect that. You may even find some really nice things about having a guy around, things you can’t imagine now. All I ask is that you keep an open mind. That is what I am trying to do, and I am asking you to respect that. As for the S.E.X. question, it is simply none of your business and that is all I am going to say about that.”
OK, it probably wasn’t that eloquent, but that was the gist. They have not said much about him since, though they haven’t had much interaction with him either. I don’t know if what I am doing is right or wrong. I am simply going on instinct and as always, doing the best I can.