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Why is introducing a man to your children seen as a 'big deal'?

(72 Posts)
GeordieBadger Mon 22-Feb-16 15:52:58

Background info: I share custody of my two children (boy and girl, 4 and 5 years old). I've got a longterm boyfriend, he's not met them yet.

I'm not here to discuss my situation per se, but rather to discuss the topic of introducing your kids to a bloke.

Why is this seen as such a big deal? I introduce my children to my female friends all the time (some of them become long-term friends, some don't). Yet when it comes to romantic partners, or even platonic male friends, I've observed women being judged for introducing men too soon. Or for introducing men that aren't likely to stick around.

Assuming the children have an active father, why is introducing other men to them seen as controversial? I know numerous lovely blokes I'd be tempted to introduce to the kids but wonder if there's something potentially damaging to the kids that I'm not seeing? I obviously wouldn't take risks with their welfare.

I welcome all thoughts, comments, snipes.

Twitterqueen Mon 22-Feb-16 15:56:00

Here's a snipe... You really have to ask? presumably you're not having sex with your female friends, nor bringing them into the family dynamics - holidays, high days, family celebrations etc. To your children he will always be the person who is 'replacing' their father.

GeordieBadger Mon 22-Feb-16 15:59:23

Twitterqueen I'm not having sex with the majority of the males in my life. Nor am I bringing them into school events, xmas, etc.

So, close male friends can be introduced willy-nilly? (Genuine question).

he will always be the person who is 'replacing' their father.

Replacing him in what sense?

Psycobabble Mon 22-Feb-16 16:03:17

Ds meets my male friends as he would female ones because there just friends

I didn't introduce him to new dp for ages because the dynamic is totally different !

vestandknickers Mon 22-Feb-16 16:03:48

As twitter says. A boyfriend is likely to impact their lives in a way other friends (male or female) wouldn't.

No other friend would be sharing your bed, coming on holiday with you, possibly being there for Christmas and birthdays, being there for the day to day dynamics of family life. If you are going to take someone in to your family, then it is a big deal for your children.

MaximumVolume Mon 22-Feb-16 16:03:53

I think that the problem arises when the families start to "blend" before the adults involved are committed (as much as they can be) to each other.

The children have little say in the matter, so it can be tough for them if they are bonding with someone quite intensely only for the relationship to fail.

LobsterQuadrille Mon 22-Feb-16 16:05:47

No, I wouldn't introduce a man with whom I was having a romantic relationship unless I thought that it would be permanent. Male and female friends, yes. They don't stay overnight, are infrequent visitors, are friends in the same way that DD (18) has always had male and female friends over for tea. DD has no contact with her father but I'm not sure that makes a difference really - it's more how I want her to value relationships of that nature in general.

TheNaze73 Mon 22-Feb-16 16:10:51

As a male, it's exactly the same too. I wouldn't dream of introducing my girls to a woman unless I th ought it was for life. So important to ensure they don't see a string of partners who in their eyes, could be a Mum replacement. Kids before relationship, every time

Twitterqueen Mon 22-Feb-16 16:11:35

I think you're being somewhat disingenuous. A man you're not sleeping with, nor involving in family dynamics, is simply a friend - in the same way that a female would simply be a friend.

Relationships on the other hand, are about building a life in common together, ie sharing thoughts, emotions, hopes, dreams, day-to-day drudgery, the school run, homework help etc etc. They're generally intended to go on for a while and if you have DCs, part of your relationship is him building a relationship with them and the DCs with the 2 of you as a couple, not 'mum' and 'a friend'.

You can't simply drop a man into this mix and expect your children to simply say "oh hi, nice to meet you..."

GeordieBadger Mon 22-Feb-16 16:12:06

Thanks everyone. All your comments have been very helpful.

So, what if a woman introduced a man to her children as "mum's friend" when he was actually a boyfriend? (But not living with her).

What if the woman is the non-custodial parent?

There seems to be a paradox in which:

Intense relationship = be careful introducing him to the kids.

Casual relationship = go ahead and introduce him.

NewLife4Me Mon 22-Feb-16 16:14:04

Do you really have to ask?

i take it your children have a father and whether involved or not they may have had some upset when you split?
Well, imagine them bonding with another father figure and a few months down the line he is gone and soon after replaced by another, the poor child won't know where they are.
It's important to set a good example to your dc not having men staying over and introduced until you know they are for keeps.
yes, we have male friends as well as female friends, but the romantic ones need to be kept at arms length from dc for a while.
Plus, you don't know the new man well enough until you are ready to become partners anyway. Would you trust them with a child?

BackforGood Mon 22-Feb-16 16:15:35

As others have said, it's not about male / female friends being treated differently, it's about friends being treated differently from potential partners.
I presume you can see that difference?

LobsterQuadrille Mon 22-Feb-16 16:16:21

In that instance I suppose if "mum's friend" comes over for a casual cup of coffee once every couple of weeks, there is no physical contact and no obvious intimacy and no obvious invasion on family time, then he really is just "mum's friend". No big deal.

Joysmum Mon 22-Feb-16 16:18:05

Can't believe anyone needs to ask this hmm

tigermoll Mon 22-Feb-16 16:20:27

So, what if a woman introduced a man to her children as "mum's friend" when he was actually a boyfriend?

Yeah. Kids can see through that one. The adults may think that they're behaving "just as friends", but there is an extra dynamic going on that kids are pretty amazingly sharp at picking up on, even if they don't fully understand it. Then, along with them having to meet a new person, they feel confused and unsettled as to why their parent is suddenly lying to them.

I have a friend who found out in his twenties that his mum had considered leaving his father for another man (she decided not to in the end). He was introduced to that man once when he was about 7 -- no big deal, no "this is mummy's special friend, Uncle Bob", just that this man was in his house having a cup of tea. As soon as he found out (from another source) about the potential OM, he realised that it was that man he'd met once 20 years previously. The meeting had stayed with him for reasons he couldn't explain at at the time, but now realises that he had been picking up on how important this man had been to his mother.

nauticant Mon 22-Feb-16 16:20:50

Odd thread. It would be like saying "what's the problem with moving the family home several times a year when it's much the same as staying in different hotels on holiday several times a year".

0verNow Mon 22-Feb-16 16:21:37

I've never seen anyone on here counsel against introducing DCs to friends of either sex.

People do counsel against introducing DCs to a special "friend" who is really a boyfriend.

I have never known anyone in RL who has managed to treat a boyfriend in exactly the same way as a platonic make friend, no matter how hard they try: the body language is too different.

GeordieBadger Mon 22-Feb-16 16:21:43

imagine them bonding with another father figure

That assumption is what I take issue with here. I will NEVER seek to replace DC's father. If I were to introduce a man to the kids it would never gravitate into 'Dad'. They have a dad.

I'm new at this, so very confused, and yes naive. I feel I should be protecting the DC from something but I'm not sure what exactly?

the romantic ones need to be kept at arms length from dc for a while

What relationship hallmarks should be experienced before a meeting is considered? It can't simply be an issue of 'how many months'.

BeStrongAndCourageous Mon 22-Feb-16 16:21:44

I'm not a single parent but I was raised by one. Being introduced to my mum's boyfriends made me feel massively insecure, like suddenly there was competition for my role as "most important person in her life ."

There wasn't, she always put me first, but that was how it felt.

314Romaniac Mon 22-Feb-16 16:22:56

GeordieBadger I think it's assumed that if single parents weren't given this advice on a regular basis that there'd be a constant constant stream of men through the door.

My dc recently were aware I was dating somebody and they did see him in the house. But it wasn't like a big formal introduction and even if it had worked out, they wouldn't have grown fond of him to the point where they missed him.

I think I've prepared my children for the possibility that there may at some point be somebody in my life. That that is something I would like. The eldest (13) knows that I really liked him, hoped it would work out. She knows I was a bit upset when it ended but she also witnessed be dry my eyes 48 hours later and put the smile back on my face. Before DC, a break up would have hit me harder. Perhaps I shouldn't have had him back to the house but he was the first they saw in about 8 years so if anybody judged me too harshly I'd think they were throwing stones. As Cabrinha said on another thread, and I think it's a good point, children can know that you're in the process of getting to know somebody and either one of you is entitled to end it.

Cabrinha Mon 22-Feb-16 16:25:22

I post quite often on such threads and I'm in the minority view of happy to introduce early.

Frankly, when you've had a divorce I don't see how you can ever decide a new partner will be for life - even if you marry them!

So there will always be the risk that I put my daughter through another breakup. Now, some people might say no introductions til their children are adults. I've heard that said here - and it's a fine choice for an individual. But not for me.

For me, it comes down to your child's personality and how you present the new relationship to them.

My 7yo (split at 4) does not see my fiancé as a replacement for her father, in terms of her relationship with him. My fiancé and I have had family day trips with her, we're off on holiday soon, and when he stays over she likes to come in and cuddle me in bed with him there too. She likes him.

But - he's mum's boyfriend. Not her dad, or replacement dad. Children can understand different relationships. Just as her aunt is not her mum, but is a positive thing, so is mummy's boyfriend. Incidentally, she thinks the sun shines out of her father's girlfriend's arse! But she knows who her mum is.

I have always told my daughter than dating is when you decide about someone. And that you change your mind sometimes. I'm comfortable that that is a healthy thing to learn.

He's around a lot - and acts very like one of my other male/female friends, but more frequent, in that, he doesn't discipline or comfort her - that's my job.

I really think kids can tell the difference between a new partner and a parent!

I introduced her to one previous boyfriend. He still works at my house (a plumber, I have a big long term project on!). She chats to him when he's here. Last week "let me tell you the big new (XBF) - mummy is getting married!" grin

Don't present your new boyfriend as their new daddy, and you'll be OK.

Disclaimer: base it on your child. Mine is super laid back and understands nothing is guaranteed, but not in a way that upsets her.

iPost Mon 22-Feb-16 16:28:14

Becuase despite what some adults appear to believe, small humans are actual real live people not possessions. With their own complicated feelings about their parents split, their new post split reality to adjust and their parents getting romantically involved with new people.

The bare minimum would be to have enough care and respect for them not to put them through yet another transition unnecessarily, by waiting long enough to see if a new person was actually a keeper once the rose coloured "new and exciting" glasses have come off.

Cabrinha Mon 22-Feb-16 16:28:41

Ooooh, hello 314!

Totally with you. Kids shouldn't be expected to support parents emotionally - but it's OK for them to witness your emotions. And when your teen daughter has her first break up, dumping or being dumped, she may well find it a comfort that she knows mum "understands".

bitchingtwitching Mon 22-Feb-16 16:29:59

I attempted to introduce my BF as a "friend" to my two DS's; thought it would pass unnoticed as they have met a number of my male friends; they saw straight through it.

GeordieBadger Mon 22-Feb-16 16:30:44

Cabrinha such a refreshing post. Particularly:

I have always told my daughter than dating is when you decide about someone. And that you change your mind sometimes. I'm comfortable that that is a healthy thing to learn.

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