As a single parent, you are always rethinking everything you do, and second-guessing every decision that you make, to ensure you're not acting prematurely on anything; especially when it comes to the well-being of your children. Not at all a surprise, single parents have very different views on subject matters pertaining to parenting; at the top of that list would be when it's appropriate to expose your children to a "new beau."
Have you ever found yourself stressing over when your new beau should meet the kids? You feel the relationship could be going somewhere and you want nothing more than for the kids to like them as much as you do. Sounds familiar, huh? Of course it does; we've all been there. You feel this new person in your life is just great, but you worry that it's too soon, or that the kids will become too attached. Research has shown that a child's attachment in relationships can have a profound effect on their immediate and long-term development. According to an article written by Donna Wittmer, Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning, when children feel secure or insecure in their relationships, there are lasting effects which can even impact how they will parent when they are older. So, being extra cautious in making decisions, such as when to introduce your children to a new relationship, is worth all the consideration that it's given.
So, when do you make the first introduction? A recent article provided by Spotsylvania Medical Center titled "When Single Parents Have Overnight Guests," suggests taking it slowly when introducing a new relationship into the lives of your children. Every child is different and every situation is diverse. Remember, your decision to take this next step could be devastating for the kids, especially if there was a relatively recent seperation of a prior relationship, so it's okay to take your time. You don't want to cultivate some formula as to when you should introduce your children to a new relationship based on how long you think it should take them. Let it happen naturally.
Keep this in mind when making your decision; the new beau is the enemy. No matter how great you think this person is, your kids probably won't see them the same way. Children typically feel threatened by someone coming in to their personal space too quickly and "taking over." Give them a chance to adjust and become comfortable with the idea. And whatever you do, once you've made that initial introduction, do not allow the new beau to become a disciplinary figure in the household. Remember, your kids already feel threatened by the situation. Allowing your new acquaintance to have a verbal opinion regarding discipline will just add fuel to the fire. Dr. Rosemary Litchtman and Dr. Phyllis Goldberg suggest that your new partner privately supports you in the discipline of your children, but focuses on publicly trying to build rapport with the kids.
Keisha M. Green is the mother of two sons and lives in Spotsylvania, Virginia.