How to introduce a future step parent to your children

When you're a single parent in a new relationship, it's natural to be concerned about how your children will react to the news.

How to introduce a future step parent to your children

Will they enjoy the newcomer's company at the dinner table? Or will they turn off every time your significant other walks into the room? We know you're hoping for the former.

However, it's difficult to predict how your children, regardless of age, will react, especially if this is your first time bringing someone you're romantically involved with around. Your child does not have to like this person just because you do.

The good news is that most children adjust well to new situations like these, though it takes time to develop a relationship with a step-parent figure. To that end, here are some pointers on how to introduce your children to their future step-parent;

You should be in a serious relationship with that partner

You can't guarantee that a significant other will become your spouse, but you can make sure there's some stability in the relationship first. Multiple people entering and exiting a child's life can be extremely perplexing to them.

When someone is always around, the kids get to know them and become attached to them. Then, when the person suddenly leaves because the relationship didn't work out, it's a new loss for them, which can be difficult. Furthermore, it can model promiscuity even when a parent has no intention of doing so, because children learn from what their parents do rather than what they say.

Prepare them for who’s coming around

Get your child ready for the meeting before it happens, once you know your partner is staying. Telling them things like “sometimes, you get lonely and want someone to be your special person” are good ideas. Keep it focused on the parental need, as your children may not realize or believe that they require a step-parent.

Also, whenever you're planning your first big encounter, tell your kids about it. Don't just have someone new show up without informing your child; give them some kind of notice. Even if you say it's just a friend you'd like them to meet, it's a good idea for the parent to inform them ahead of time rather than surprise them.

Routines are a good thing

The location of the first meeting is important, but it does not necessitate a fireworks display. It's a good idea to always do something that involves a common activity that the kids will enjoy. This establishes a routine for the children and usually results in a much smoother transition. Consider grabbing a bite to eat or going to a concert with your significant other.

Let things unfold naturally

During the introduction, there's no need to force anything. Don't put any pressure on your children to be affectionate towards your partner, including forcing them to give a handshake or some sort of informal greeting.

You’d probably take some time to get to know and like them, so you should give your children the same amount of time. Your child may not like your new friend right away, and that's fine; otherwise, they'll feel a lot of pressure or pull back.

Don’t forget to have some alone time with your children

If a parent is completely enamored with someone and wants to include them at all times, the children miss out on that alone time with their parent, which they often value after a divorce because it has helped them adjust. Jealousy is a common emotion among children. This is especially true if a parent has been a single parent for a long time and has developed a strong bond with their child/children.

Make an effort to spend some quality time with your child/children alone, even if it's just watching a movie together, but don't be concerned. Once your child and your partner have formed a bond, they may be even more eager than you to extend an invitation to your next zoo visit!

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