One of the most difficult parts of being divorced and beginning to date again is how it can affect your children. You can spend so much time and love and patience getting them used to the idea of Mommy and Daddy being apart, and it can be agonizing and heartbreaking. For everyone. As time passes and our lives begin to keep moving forward, if we are lucky we begin dating again. Which is scary and exciting in a weird about-to-take-the-plunge-on-a-rollercoaster way. Hopefully, you meet someone you enjoy spending time with, who makes you laugh and ultimately brings out the best parts of you. With that, though, comes new territory and this very important question: “Will I introduce my kids to this person?”
There is no right or wrong answer or mentality to have or even answer to this, I believe. There are so many factors to consider: Your kids’ age, the amount of time that has passed since the divorce, the possibility that your new honey might not even be open to meeting your children. Having let two men meet my children in the past few years since my divorce, I have made the decision each time with the help of my ex and open conversations with the kids. It was very important to me that my ex be okay with the kids meeting anyone. We have a pretty good and communicative relationship, and he knew both times that I was dating someone before the kids did. The first time, the man I was seeing lived out of town. When he came to visit for a long weekend, we decided it was a good time for them to meet. He had children the same age and so we agreed to just let the kids meet him as a friend of mine. It turned out that the kids enjoyed his company, and when we visited the city he lives in, they wound up becoming friends with his daughter. We kept it very simple, never showing affection around the kids, and my kids seemed to really adjust to seeing me with another man.
Recently, I have let the man I have been spending time with meet my kids. Again, it was after a discussion with my ex and his approval. This time, my kids understand that there is a romantic tone to the relationship, and there are some simple affectionate gestures they see, like a quick kiss or touch as we walk by one another. They seem to be taking comfort in seeing the softer sides of me come out. It’s opened up conversations with my daughter that I hope will help her when she reaches that point in her life when she will start dating. I feel comfortable with him around my kids because I want my kids to see what healthy relationships between a man and a woman can look like.
With both of these men, my ex felt enough comfortable to be around them, and so the kids were shown that nobody felt threatened or uninvited. That Mommy and Daddy really are friends who want each other to be happy, and that they will be there to support each other in that.
But this kind of approach isn’t necessarily the one that will work for every person. For some people, they like stick to a time line: “No meeting the kids for 6 months/a year/x amount of time.” For some, strong commitment like engagement is the time. For me, it was recognizing that these men were worthy of knowing my kids, who are the center of my world. To be with me in any way, you have to see me as a mom, because that role is the one that I take most seriously. If you can’t love that side of me, you can’t hope to love me at all.