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When and how to sensitively introduce new bf to young dc

(27 Posts)
Questionnumber1 Wed 15-May-19 09:26:36

I have dc aged 5 and 7. Been separated from their dad 2 years, decree absolute just come through. Hated men and cherished my freedom for first 18 months! Then met an absolutely incredible man and am now head over heels. He doesn't have dc. We've been dating for 6 months, he's introduced me to his family and friends. All lovely, got on very well with them.

I'm at the stage where I'm starting to think about introducing this guy to my dc. Trouble is, nobody really knows about him. I've only just told my sister and one friend because I feel they are the only people I trust not to talk about him in front of my dc. For context my dc and I are together all the time. Their dad has faded out of the picture, sees them on his terms for a couple of hours every fortnight. He's been a complete arse and I worry that he'll disappear completely once he finds out from dc that I'm seeing somebody.

Because dc are always with me they know all my friends and I regularly have friends over. I was thinking about introducing new guy initially as a new friend as this wouldn't be out of the ordinary for them. My older dc is very intuitive though so don't want to lie to her.

I'm looking for any tips and advice as this is the first time I've ever done this. Bf is willing to follow my lead but I don't know what I'm doing! Some guidance from experienced women would be appreciated!

wishywashy6 Wed 15-May-19 09:44:00

I introduced my new partner to my kids at around the 6 month mark, he also doesn't have children of his own. My kids are 9 (girl) and 6 (boy) Slightly different in that I have a good relationship with my exH and we co parent well together but I still introduced him as a friend to begin with. After about 3 hours my DD called BS and had figured out he was my boyfriend but she said she liked him so I could keep him 😂😂
That was a few months ago now and he's slowly built up a good relationship with them.
He treats them as though they're his own but without treading on my toes IYSWIM. He spends time with them on their level (I.e. DS is football mad so he takes him to the park to play football/ DD Harry Potter mad so they read HP together etc) and very much has integrated them into his life now. He always My advice would be to let the children take the lead, don't build it up to be anything massive because kids take most things in their stride anyway and we often overthink things too much.
Don't force it upon them (the things I've mentioned above that he does with mine have been lead by the kids not us) and let them get to know him naturally.
As for your ex, it's his own downfall if he chooses to miss out on his children's lives just because you introduce someone else. My exH and new partner met and shook hands, we've even taken the kids to their swimming lessons together with my exH - it's perfectly possible to co parent successfully if everyone involved acts like an adult but it's not your fault if your ex is unable to do this

Good luck! smile

Questionnumber1 Wed 15-May-19 09:46:42

Thank you wishywashy! What was the first meeting like and where? At your home, at a park? Did you tell your dc you were going to meet a friend?

wishywashy6 Wed 15-May-19 10:40:01

They'd seen his name pop up on my phone (damn you apple car play!) so were aware of mummy's friend. He was at mine and I went to collect them from their dads and just said there was someone back at home that wanted to meet them. They were shy for about 10 minutes but then my 6yo climbed on his head and they've been best mates since 😂

QuickQuestion2019 Wed 15-May-19 11:02:34

Hi OP. I have a 4 and 8 year old DD, DH died 5 years ago they are with me all the time. I introduced boyfriend at 6 month mark. DD (8) had bee wanting me to meet someone and so was delighted when I told her and asked to meet him. We met in a board games cafe for a couple of hours, then a week later for pizza. DD (8) then said it was ok if he wanted to stay over (he lives an hour away so we had to take a call on this). That was about 3 months ago and he now spends 1-2 nights a week with us, we all do something on one of the weekend days. They love him.

QuickQuestion2019 Wed 15-May-19 11:05:17

As I have daughters we have some strict rules in place for everyone's benefit, He stays downstairs at bedtimes and never enters the kids rooms. I frequently ask the girls how they feel around him and have made it very clear they must say if he ever hurts them or does anything that makes them uncomfortable and he will be gone without question.

Questionnumber1 Wed 15-May-19 11:07:54

Ah these are lovely stories.
I suppose though that in my situation because things are fraught with my ex and my dc don't see much of him but want to, I'm worried it won't go so smoothly.

Questionnumber1 Wed 15-May-19 11:51:09

In fact I'm worried that I shouldn't be introducing him at all given that my dc would much rather be spending time with their own dad, although this is out of my control...

wishywashy6 Wed 15-May-19 12:28:58

I too have made it clear to both my kids that they come first and stressed how important it is that they tell me if they don't like anything about him.... unfortunately I think they'd get rid of me before him! 😆

No chance of the strict bedtime rules here though as my 2 love him doing bedtime with them but I trust him (if I didn't I wouldn't let him near me or my kids in the first place!) and I'm always around/ in and out of bedrooms for cuddles & stories etc

Questionnumber1 Wed 15-May-19 13:49:35

Bumping for afternoon traffic!

Questionnumber1 Thu 16-May-19 07:42:47

Bumping again as still feel in the dark!

NewLevelsOfTiredness Thu 16-May-19 08:49:43

Hi Questionnumber1 - I'm on the other side - the boyfriend who met them and moved in.

They were 2 & 6 at the time, two girls. Their dad saw very little of them (although he has since got his act together a bit and has them ever other weekend.)

I was introduced as the friend. We went to a soft play area where I was put to the test chasing the 6 year old around for an hour. The two year immediately saw that she got her mum's undivided attention and as a result was very much in favour of the situation :p

Our plan was the string it out slowly over the next six months. We did it again a couple of weeks later. that time I ate with them. And at the six year old's insistence I ate there the next night. And the next. And so on. I didn't stay, but eventually the six year old said it was stupid that I went home every night. Within a few weeks we 'announced' that we were boyfriend and girlfriend so now I was allowed to stay. They barely reacted, but were pleased I was there in the morning.

I moved in a month or so later.

That was nearly three years ago. They're four and eight (turning nine on Saturday!) now. Elsewhere on this board I have threads about having to gently explain to them why they can't call me dad. We're not married yet but let them call me their stepdad after the six year old asked permission to. I sing to the four year old ever night (they're scandinavian, don't yet speak English, but already love the Beatles without realising it...)

They also have a new little sister, who they are wild about.

He just needs to know that he's less important than them, and see that as something to admire in you as a parent, rather than a slight on him or your relationship.
Because the kids are with you full-time it should be easier for him to bond with them. If he does at some point move in he shouldn't parent directly - but he should support your parenting. Because their dad is very absent, this could change over time, but he should follow your lead.

Questionnumber1 Thu 16-May-19 11:30:23

Thoughtful post, thank you @NewLevelsOfTiredness
He already knows he is less important than my dc and he does admire that about my parenting. He says he loves to hear my stories of them and see my face light up when I talk about them.
Can I ask how the dad of your stepdaughters got his act together and was it related to you moving in? I would love that to be the outcome in my situation!
I just worry that there will be some guilt involved for my dc, I know they will like this guy for the same reasons I do but they may feel like they're being somehow disloyal to their dad, who they miss and ask to see and why he doesn't see them more.

NewLevelsOfTiredness Thu 16-May-19 11:50:15

To be honest @Questionnumber1 , I can't say how much my presence impacted him getting his act together. He definitely has a certain amount of pride and wouldn't want to totally 'lose them' to me.

The youngest was and is too young to really worry about 'loyalty.' The older one does ask a lot of questions and spend a fair bit of time sorting it out in her head, but doesn't seem to worry that affection for me is disloyal to her dad. BUT.. and this is relevant I guess, their dad doesn't try and guilt them. He has a range of issues but he doesn't use his kids as pawns.

I won't pretend that your guy doesn't have a tricky emotional tightrope to walk going forward. The rewards are slow burning. There's no unconditional love owed anywhere.

My brother is also a stepfather and has been one for a lot longer than me. The trust bond he has with his SD once she was around her teens was the reward for him.

I'm a much calmer person than my girlfriend and her ex. I think the girls appreciated this and felt comfortable with it!

I do think your kids are still in the age range where they're open to this sort of thing - a couple more years and it would probably get trickier I think.

crappyday2018 Thu 16-May-19 12:55:26

Hi OP, its good to see you are taking it slowly. Out of interest, how have you managed to date him for 6 months if you are always with your children?
I'm finding this a challenge at the moment. I'm trying to date again but only have every other weekend free so its very hard finding time for someone.

outvoid Thu 16-May-19 12:59:23

Similar situation here, I had been separated from exH for around 18 months when I met DP. I think we waited ten months before introducing to my DC and we did it very casually, it was a trip to the cinema together. He didn’t start having over night stays while they were there until we’d been dating for 18ish months.

We’ve been together for 4.5 years now, own a house and have a six month old together. My DC don’t have a great relationship with exH (his fault, no one else’s) but absolutely adore DP so it’s all worked out for the best.

If you feel it’s the right time and your DP agrees then go for it. Just be casual at first, don’t rush into overnight stays etc.

Questionnumber1 Thu 16-May-19 15:39:46

@crappyday2018 Initially I paid for a babysitter once a week and we had a few evening dates. He works shifts and I work part time so we started meeting up in the weekdays when my dc were in school. He's recently started coming to mine after dc's bedtime and we sit out in the garden. My dc never wake up once asleep so I feel fairly confident doing that. We've had overnights when my dc have been invited to sleepovers. It is tricky and we've never had a full weekend together or anything like that.
@outvoid Thanks for the encouragement. I think I've been letting my dc's dad play a bigger part in my decision making than necessary. It has been entirely his choice to absent himself after all. And no, I certainly won't be in any rush to do overnight stays! Dc still creep in for early morning cuddles and I love that.

crappyday2018 Fri 17-May-19 10:34:43

@Questionnumber1 thanks, sounds like you have it all planned out given how difficult it is juggling time. Just take it slow then and introduce him briefly as a friend as your DC are young enough to accept this. Any older then I would say be honest as kids are not daft.

Questionnumber1 Sat 18-May-19 11:00:49

Ok really need some more advice. After feeling really encouraged by the stories on here (and obviously I'd been thinking about it for a while) I bit the bullet and invited my bf to come and meet my dc last night. I just told them he was a new friend I'd made and he wanted to visit our town and hang out with us. They were totally fine with it, didn't think anything of it etc. I gave dc a couple of options of things we could do but in the end they just wanted to invite him to our house and show him their toys, so that's what we did. Everything went absolutely fine, bf got stuck in with playing with them, they got on brilliantly.

BUT I felt so weird and out of place. I found myself disengaging and watching it all from a distance. I busied myself making everyone snacks and drinks so my dc wouldn't notice how I was feeling but at one point I had to hide upstairs for a breather and talk myself down! It felt like I was watching a man and some children that I vaguely knew. I felt tense and uncomfortable and like I wanted to be anywhere else but there.

Has anyone got any experience of this or ideas of why it happened?! Because I honestly don't know what was going on.

My bf was v understanding and said it's normal that I'd find it weird and it's something I've never done before so it's all new to me. I don't know though...

Starlight39 Sat 18-May-19 11:10:57

I think it’s really normal to feel a bit weird at first! Just be kind to yourself and give yourself time to get used to it. I found it helped not to make too much of an issue of it, just let them interact in passing eg when he comes round in the evening he could come a little earlier before bedtime and just say hi to them. Drop bf into conversation with the kids a bit so they know a few things about him. I used to say things to DS like “oh, that’s dp’s favourite ice cream” or”shall we have fajitas when dp is next over?”. Just basically be very breezy and matter of fact and honest with them. If they ask if he’s your boyfriend, I’d just say that you think he might become one but it’s important to get to know him first”.

I wouldn’t overthink how your kids will react in terms of their dad. My ds totally separates my dp and his dad and just sees them as 2 separate roles.

Questionnumber1 Sat 18-May-19 11:24:13

Thanks starlight I honestly don't know why I found it so difficult. Objectively it couldn't really have gone any better!

Questionnumber1 Sat 18-May-19 16:40:15

I'm thinking now maybe it would have been easier on me if we'd been out somewhere rather than in the house which is my turf, if that makes sense. I might try again but with an activity to do and see what happens...

Starlight39 Sun 19-May-19 10:24:43

That’s a good idea. I’d just try and keep it to fairly short trips initially to build up slowly. Also, it was probably easier for me as I split with DS dad when DS was a baby so was used to doing trips with friends or other family and not with their dad. There was the odd weird moment with dp though! And it feels strange when someone assumes that your dp is their dad! I’ve never known whether to go “he’s not his dad!” Or just let it go.

Questionnumber1 Sun 19-May-19 11:46:25

That sounds awkward but I shouldn't ever have that problem as my dc and bf are very visibly not related.
I think I will give it another go, but out somewhere for a short trip rather than in my house. If I feel that strange again I might just step back and leave it a while.

Happierwithouthim Tue 03-Sep-19 17:04:21

Just read the thread, I'm at the stage where I feel I want to introduce dc but am slow to because once I do there's no going back.
Their dad didn't even consider their emotions before forcing them to spend time in his and his gf's company. Dd often says she sees him kissing her when he thinks they're not looking.
Dd is 9 and ds almost 6.

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