Parents' guide to bringing home the future stepparent.
You're so nervous.You'been been dating him for a year and feel like you're ready to take the relationship to the next level. Before you do, there's the interview you've been dreading-introducing him to your kid! Relationships aren't ideal! No one ever said they were. If you're a single parent with kids or a divorced parent with kids, at some point in time you will find yourself in a predicament when it comes to dating. There's the fear that your kids may not like the guy or woman you are seeing and there is always awkwardness at the initial stages of the introduction. Here are some do's and don'ts when introducing your kids to the new person in your life. Your early realization of your mistakes could go a long way in determining whether your loved one's relationship with your kid will be successful or a complete disaster.
Have no high expectations from the meeting.
Many parents get carried away when introducing their mates to their kids. They expect fireworks and that the child will fall in love with the person as they have. Try not to be too expectant. Just like you did not fall in love with the person overnight, so too your kid needs space to sort out his own feelings.
Let things flow naturally.
Allow your kids to express themselves. If they no longer feel comfortable and wish to leave the meeting, let them. Do not force them to stay if they are ill at ease. The more you allow your kids to be in their comfort zone, the easier it will be for them to get accustomed to the new person as they will realize that you do not have an unreasonable expectations of them.
Under no circumstances do you force your child to call your mate 'mummy' or 'daddy'.
This is an absolute No! Never force or convince your child to call your new mate 'mummy' or 'daddy'. This will only build resentment in the child as they will see the new person as trying to replace their biological parents. Rather, let the child address the person by their first name or last name, using their title Mr or Miss as a form of respect. When the bond is formed, the child will decide for himself whether your mate has earned the right to be called 'mum' or 'dad'.
Give your mate and child space to know each other.
Allow your mate and child space to rapport with each other one on one. Give them a little distance so you can observe how they get along with each other. Encourage your child to ask your partner legitimate questions. Children have a protective instinct when it comes to their own parents. They want the best for their parents and may want to make sure this new person has good intentions. Encourage your spouse to ask your kid questions about hobbies, things they like and dislike etc. This makes the child know that the person is interested in getting to know them and will only bring positive results.
Carry your mate and child out.
Once your child agrees, carry both parties out on a fun date. Make sure it is something the child enjoys doing such as the zoo, watching a movie, feeding birds in the park or skiing. Remember the aim is to make your child as comfortable as possible so that the transition can be easy. This is also a chance for your kid to realize that your mate can be fun and is an easy going person who likes to have a good time.
Make sure he or she is the 'one' before bonding with your kid.
The mistake many parents make sometimes through no fault of their own, is to introduce their child too early to their partner. If you have been seeing the person for under six months, do not rush to introduce him to your child. Make sure this relationship has long term potential otherwise you may find yourself introducing people to your kid, forming bonds then breaking bonds when the relationship does not work out. This can leave the child confused and may build resentment and separation anxiety. Be fair to yourself and your kid! Take time first to know the person yourself and see if you really see a future with him or her before taking the next step.
Encourage your partner to bring a small gift.
What better way to break the ice? All children love gifts and they will immediately warm up to the person if they are welcomed with a gift. A small souvenir of something the child likes does wonders in breaking the ice. Your kids will appreciate the fact that your mate thought enough of them to buy something they like. This will also make the child feel special in the eyes of your mate which will go a long way.
Do ask your kid for feedback.
After the date, do ask your kid for feedback. How does he feel about your new mate? What are his feelings about your new relationship? What are his fears? Is he comfortable? Asking questions and getting insight on your child's feelings is important in knowing how to approach the topic in the future. If your child has reservations, let the child have his space and don't rush another meeting between your mate and the child.
Reassure the child.
Your child is just that-a child. Children have fears just like adults do and they may think that the new man or woman in your life is going to replace them. Reassure the child that you love him and under no circumstances is anyone ever going to replace him or replace what he mean to you. Reassure the child that there is no need for jealousy and let him know you have enough love in you to love both him and your mate. While reassuring your child, also make him know how special your mate makes you feel and that you love that person as well.
What better way for your kid to appreciate your mate than when they see how happy hthe person makes you feel. When your child sees the chemistry between your mate and yourself, they will see the good in the other person. Seeing you laughing and having fun with your partner indicates to the child that you are truly happy with this person. Most kids genuinely want their parents to be happy whether it is with their biological parents or with someone else. When your child sees how happy this person makes you, they will begin to appreciate the other person as well.
Good luck in bonding your mate with your kids! Initially it may be a bit of a task, but if you follow these guidelines, you will certainly reap the results of a wonderful relationship and a happy family!