I was a nervous wreck the night of my first post-divorce date. The usual dating butterflies fluttered in my stomach, but as a newly single mom, there were some additional nerves. Did my then 7-month-old daughter have enough milk to get through the night? Would my boobs leak through the sexy white tank top? When should I introduce my date to my child?
Luckily that decision was made for me. Unable to find a babysitter and unwilling to cancel my plans, I invited my date (now my boyfriend) over and we enjoyed sushi on the couch with my daughter snuggled in between us. Now, normally introducing your children to someone on the very first date isn’t the norm, and wasn’t part of my ideal plan. But being new to the world of dating as a mom, I didn’t necessarily know when it was the best time to introduce a significant other to my child.
And given the amount of single parents out there, this is a more common concern than one may think. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were 12 million single-parent families living in the United States in 2014, 80 percent of which were led by a single mother. That’s a lot of single ladies looking to get back on the dating scene, and wanting to to make the transition as smooth as possible for their children and potential partner.
A first date meeting may not go as easily for you as it did for me, but is there ever a perfect time? For some introducing your child and SO right away is ideal while others might want to hold off until things feel serious. Here are five tips on when it’s time to introduce your child to your partner.
1. You’re Ready To See Them Interact
Your child is your whole world, and your partner knows it. If you’re ready to see the two of them interact, it’s the perfect time to make introductions. While the first date introductions weren’t part of the plan, I loved seeing my boyfriend interact with my daughter. Children are excellent judges of character, and knowing that they feel comfortable and happy around your partner can move your relationship to the next level.
2. Your Child Is Ready
If your child knows you’ve been dating and has expressed interest in meeting your SO, why wait? This lets your child know that their opinion is valued and important.
3. Your Relationship Is Getting Serious
If you’re talking about marriage or living together, but your partner still hasn’t met the kids, it’s time. You don’t want your children to be blindsided by a serious relationship, and you want to see the interactions between your favorite people before making a commitment.
4. You’ve Had The “Family” Talk With Your Partner
Your SO mentioned Christmas and how they couldn’t wait to help play Santa and your heart did a million backflips. I get it. When my boyfriend told me how excited he was for the fall because he wanted to play in the leaves with my daughter, I just about burst with happiness. Envisioning your partner as part of your family is huge, so when you’ve had the talk with your SO about their role in your family and what it means for both of you, meeting the kids only makes sense.
5. A Casual Get-Together Is Coming Up
Maybe your BFF is having a barbecue or your parents are throwing a housewarming party. A casual event is the perfect time for your kids and your partner to meet. Your children are in a happy, comfortable environment, and you don’t have to force them to sit next to your partner and interact. They can come and go as they please, and be as social as they want. It also shows trust to your children as your new SO mingles with other people they’re comfortable around.
Unfortunately, as with many aspects of parenting, there is no exact answer. The best you can do for your children, your partner, and yourself is to make introductions when it feels right to you, and there are no trepidations.