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Introducing children to a new partner

(49 Posts)
Pinkchampagne Mon 07-Jan-08 23:00:00

As a lot of you will know, I separated from my ex H over a year and a half ago, but didn't actually move into separate houses until last May, when my boys had to deal with a house move and separation in one blow.
I had a lot of problems, especially with my eldest son, who is now 8, but things are now starting to settle a little.

I am now in a new relationship with a lovely man, who I have been seeing for nearly 5 months, but he hasn't yet met my children at all.
I didn't want to rush into introducing him to the boys as they had been through a lot of changes, so only see my boyfriend when boys are either with their dad or very much asleep. This has worked out fine, and it has been nice to spend time with him alone without having to worry about the boys.

The thing is, we are both now developing strong feelings for each other, and I feel our time together has been in some kind of bubble, far removed from my real life!
I realise that at some point he is going to have to be introduced to my boys, and I'm really starting to worry about it.

How is the best way to go about it all?
My boys don't even know of his existence, so I guess it might be a good idea to start to maybe talk about my friend who happens to be a man.

He doesn't have children of his own, although he is good with his nephews. I do worry about him meeting my boys though. My eldest son has real anxiety issues, and isn't the easiest child to get to know.

I am not planning to do this just yet, but realise I need to start thinking about it, and it's worrying me.
It is all new and strange to me to be dating someone new when you have children involved.

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Pinkchampagne Mon 07-Jan-08 23:10:28

Anyone have any tips on how to begin to introduce the boys to my new man?
I want to try to do this really carefully.

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Aimsmum Mon 07-Jan-08 23:20:30

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Blu Mon 07-Jan-08 23:20:41

Wow, PC - 5 months! smile

Ahem - my only experience of this was as the new partner, when very very lightweight and casual seemed to do the trick. Meeting casually at the park, chatting, getting to know, letting the children lead by their curiosity and natural friendliness. And I'm sure your NM already knows about DS1 and will understand and be supportive if that takes time.

Pinkchampagne Tue 08-Jan-08 08:35:18

Yes I know, it has gone quick hasn't it, Blu?!

Thank you both. I was considering maybe getting him to come round an hour or so earlier one evening to start with, so that he could meet the boys for short spells before their bedtime.

I wish my boys were as easy to get to know as your DD, Aimsmum, but they will both be shy at first, although DS2 will soon come round. DS1 is a more complex child & will take longer.

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Anna8888 Tue 08-Jan-08 09:02:12

Hi Pinkchampagne

Four years ago I met my stepsons for the first time. They were then 6 and 8. They hadn't known of my existence for long at all, though my partner and I had been together (in a little bubble, as you so rightly describe it) for almost two years. I had no children at that point and was 37 years old, though I had two nephews and had often been on holiday with friends with small children and was pretty relaxed around children generally.

My partner was much, much more nervous than I was about introducing his sons to me and basically made a complete mess of it sad. So I would say to you - try to relax, spend a small amount of time together doing something really easy and straightforward like having lunch (with favourite food etc to make your boys happy), and, if the boys seem willing, try to let them have a few minutes alone with your new partner to discuss something that interests them - my younger stepson gave me a marbles lesson the first time we met.

43Today Tue 08-Jan-08 14:34:38

Hi Pinkchampagne, have lurked a lot and followed your story with interest - and sympathy! I'm really pleased your new relationship is going so well.

I have had to introduce 2 new partners (not at the same time!!) to my kids over the past 4 years. Unfortunately my first proper relationship after splitting up didn't go as I'd hoped and we ended it after 3 years. Anyway..

First of all you should introduce the idea of your boyfriend to them, like you said, mention him briefly from time to time. They may well ask 'who's x?' and you can then say that he's a friend of yours. Then after a while (not too quickly) you could introduce him to them as others have suggested, for a short time before they go to bed or something. Short periods of time together without pressure should enable their shyness to gradually pass.

The real problem i have found is when you let your children become aware of you and your partner sleeping together.. with my current boyfriend, he didn't stay over at mine until he and I had been away on holiday together. Obviously the kids were aware that we'd been at a hotel for a week, so then it seemed natural that he should stay the night at ours. But I was painfully aware that if they had counted up the number of weeks from when they first starting hearing much about him to when he first stayed over it was only about 10! Won't have a leg to stand on when they're teenagers will I? btw mine are now 9 and 11.

Anyway I hope this helps with a delicate situation.

Pinkchampagne Tue 08-Jan-08 15:59:27

Thank you both for sharing your experiences with me.
I can understand your other half being more nervous than you, Anna, as I think that is more than likely the case here too.
My new man has experience with children because he has 4 nephews, who he sometimes baby sits for, and they get very excited when he comes to see them. I guess he must be pretty good with children, but he has never had children himself & lives in his quiet little house, with just a little terrior for responsibility. His lifestyle is a million miles away from mine, and it is something that hit me the very first time I visited his house.
Will the reality of children be too massive a shock for him, when he finally does meet them?!
I am also really worried about handling this right for my boys. I don't want to mess them right up.

I guess I should start mentioning him a little, and go from there. I will just refer to him as my friend, but let them know he is a man.

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Pinkchampagne Tue 08-Jan-08 16:02:09

terrier even! Not concentrating, but a little dog is all he has to worry about!

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Anna8888 Tue 08-Jan-08 16:57:13

Yes, my stepsons talked about "un copain de Maman" for quite a long time before they all went on holiday together, with the boyfriend's daughter, and it transpired "un" copain (a friend) was "le" copain (the boyfriend).

Anna8888 Tue 08-Jan-08 16:58:44

Pinkchampagne - don't be too worried about your boyfriend's (step)parenting skills. My partner was petrified about mine, apparently. In a totally unfounded way wink.

Pinkchampagne Tue 08-Jan-08 18:15:57

My boyfriend (that word sounds so naff!) has only ever stayed at my house when the boys have not been there. DS2 sometimes still mentions how there is a pillow on my bed for daddy, so I have to try to explain that one to him. Wouldn't let new man stay while they were around, just yet, and besides, there would be a good chance that DS2 would creep in in the middle of the night with his Thomas pillow, and boot him out!grin

He wants to take me away for valentines weekend, but wasn't planning to tell boys who I would be going away with.

He did actually ask when he would be meeting my children, on Saturday, which has started me getting my knickers in a twist about it all!

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Anna8888 Tue 08-Jan-08 20:51:32

It's really, really good that your boyfriend (no it's not naff that's who he is smile) is keen to meet your boys.

Sounds like this relationship is full of promise (very happy for you wink).

I get on really well with my stepsons, btw, and it has never been difficult after the first meeting when my partner was so nervous.

NotDoingTheHousework Wed 09-Jan-08 11:47:18

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Pinkchampagne Wed 09-Jan-08 15:03:52

Thank you.smile He is lovely, and I just want things to go as smoothly as possible when he meets the boys. It feels like a huge hurdle atm.

Great to hear your positive stories.

He hasn't met any of my family yet. He knows of the situation with my parents & ex H, and is pretty understanding considering!
As I said, it really has just been the two of us in our own little bubble up until now.

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Anna8888 Wed 09-Jan-08 15:15:03

If you love each other and are meant to be, you can overcome anything (I know, I have grin). This is really just a teensy little hurdle. Don't worry, it'll be fine.

ElenorRigby Wed 09-Jan-08 15:35:57

I met my partners daughter after we had been going out about 5 1/2 months. Both of us wanted to be sure our relationship was stong and going somewhere before I met his DD. Nevertheless we were both very nervous about it, but things went really well! My partners DD was 3 at the time.
I was never introduced as daddys gf, just as daddys friend. Over time I became very close to my partners DD, she calls me EleWellie and still sees me as being daddys friend and of course hers. Ive never ever tried to be a mother figure to her, as she already has a mum. Even after my partner and I had a baby, my partners DD sees me as being a mummy now but not of course her mummy. Funnily enough when baby was about 1 month old I heard partners DD having a chat with her dad, whilst I fed baby in another room. "Daddy, are you going to get a girlfriend one day" Kids are so beautifully innocent arn't they! Bless them
We've always been very careful not to be demonstratively affectionate to each other in front of DP's DD, so as not to cause any jealousy or confusion to DP's DD.
Alround our approach has worked very, very well. I have a brilliant relationship with her, she has no confusion about my being a mother substitute. She also has a very happy secure relationship with her dad, her mother and her baby sister.
She is an alround confident, happy, secure and outgoing child!
Hope this helps

Pinkchampagne Wed 09-Jan-08 16:04:47

That's lovely!smile

I am very much the same in that I didn't want the boys to be introduced to anyone until I was pretty sure the relationship was serious, and I have told both ex H and new man, that they will always only have the one dad. I don't expect new man to step into a father role, but it is important they get along ok.

I am more worried about DS1 in it all. I think DS2 will be ok once he is used to him, but DS1 doesn't open up easily at all.
If he talks Transformers or gameboy games to him, he may be in with a chance though!

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ElenorRigby Wed 09-Jan-08 16:42:50

My partners DD was 1yo when they separated, so she doesn't have a memory of them being together. IME this makes accepting that mummy and daddy dont live together much easier for a child to take. Your DC of course remember you guys being together and they will have knowledge from school friends that parents do spilt and get new partners, which would make things more difficult for them. Ive read on the stepparents forum that older children do have more trouble accepting and getting on with a new partner in mummy or daddys life. So I would imagine one has to be even more careful and sensitive introducing an older child to a new partner. You might get some ideas and help off some of the posters in the stepparents forum.

Good Luck, Im sure you will be able to successfully guide your DC's with this difficult transition in their lives!

pinkbubble Thu 10-Jan-08 00:04:16

PC I agree with you, make sure NM is armed with the knowledge of Transformers/Gamesboy may just work and with youngest Ds anything!grin But he does have nephews so that is a huge help!

skeletonbones Thu 10-Jan-08 21:38:29

Hi Pinkchampagne,
I introduced my new bloke to the kids when I had been seeing him 6 months (been together 18 months now). I had mentioned a month or so before that I had a boyfriend as DD had asked if I had one. At first he came round for an hour or so and then we met him at the park, the he started staying over but slept on the couch as little dd still sometimes came into bed with me in the night if she had had a bad dream. eventually we started sleeping in the same bed, and he comes over most weekends now and sometimes in the week, work depending. Kids have been fine with him apart from eldest DD worrying that he would 'steal all her cuddles' so i reasured her that i had plenty enough cuddles for her and littley and new bloke could have whatever was left over lol

Pinkchampagne Thu 10-Jan-08 22:43:00

Thank you all. It is good to hear how others have handled the situation.

Last night my DS drew a picture of an occassion that ex H, myself, the boys & my parents were all together.
I am going to have to be very careful around him for now.
It is very hard.

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NotDoingTheHousework Fri 11-Jan-08 17:27:41

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Pinkchampagne Sat 12-Jan-08 18:18:08

I know, NDTH, but this really is quite a big deal to me. I do have to handle it quite carefully so not to unsettle the boys.

New man brought the subject up again yesterday. He said he wasn't at all worried about meeting my boys.
He said he understood that it would probably be quite a big thing for me and would do it whenever I felt the time was right.
He even mentioned the possibility of taking the boys & myself away somewhere for a holiday, in time.

Have now told the boys that mummy has a friend who is a man, and told them that he has a little dog.
DS2 is very keen to meet the dog - he says he wants to go round to the house to see how fluffy the dog is!

Have told them that my man friend is coming round tonight, but that it will be when they are in bed.
Both boys seem fine with this.

I feel it is probably time to start talking about his existence now, and in time I will slowly begin to introduce them to him.

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NotDoingTheHousework Sat 12-Jan-08 19:00:01

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