These are the four things you should know about your new man before introducing him to your kids:
1. Where he sees the relationship, now and long-term.
“I don’t really know where it’s going” or, “I thought we were exclusive but I’m not sure.”
We’ve all heard this from friends when talking about their relationship status.
I do not expect anyone to be able to predict the future, but if you cannot even speak confidently about where his head and heart is, and thus where the relationship is going, it is the wrong time to do introductions. Your children could get attached, only to be disappointed later on. They could see cracks in the foundation and be confused about what a relationship should be.
Some other things to be sure about in this same vein are:
- His intentions to stay in the local area
- His feelings about getting married and how that aligns to your needs
At the end of the day, when you introduce your children to someone that you are dating, you are taking step one in merging their lives together, even if you don’t see it as that far along in the movie. It’s not just what you see but what your children see.
2. How he truly feels about kids.
There is a big difference between someone that likes kids and someone that can connect with them. I often use the phrase, "Yes is the answer to a question but absolutely comes from the heart." This is rarely more important than when gauging someone’s thoughts on love, marriage, and children. So when you’re talking to them about your kids, don’t let it be enough that they say they like kids. Hear the word "yes," but explore more by asking follow-up questions and gauging their true feelings.
You: “I’m taking Jordan and Jake to Great Wolf Lodge -- they love the water!”
Them: A head nod and “That’s great”? or “Oh my god, I love that place. I’ve taken my nephew there a thousand times, and we especially love the lazy river”?
Which of those two responses sounds like an "absolutely" versus a "yes"? You got it.
You can also watch how he reacts or shows up if you find yourself in places that have kids, especially in situations where the kids are being kids. Is he patient? Does he seem to understand the dynamic? Does he smile because he thinks their playfulness and banter are cute? Those are all good signs!
3. Whatever social media or other internet presence he has.
In today’s day and age, social media has everyone informed. What your children can find out about the person you’re dating in a short period of time would amaze you. Unless, that is, you’ve already seen the ease by which they manage Vine, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter -- simultaneously connecting with all of their friends in the blink of an eye. So what will they find out about your boyfriend that you either didn’t know or could not respond to?
Karen’s boyfriend had Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. And while Karen knew all of this, she really only focused on Facebook because that was her preferred social media site. On Doug’s Twitter account, he was tweeting pictures of hot, half-naked women to his friends. Karen’s daughter Ella found this out and had a lot of questions for her mom -- questions her mom could not answer.
This is about being informed before you make those introductions. You do not want to make your children question your judgment because you didn’t do the research to judge for yourself. Perhaps you find nothing, and it is statistically likely that you will not, but why take the risk? You are modeling judgment and acceptable behavior and traits to your children. Do your due diligence here.
4. His security versus his insecurity.
He wants a long-term relationship with you, no question. Check!
He absolutely loves kids. Check!
He does not have weird or questionable social media connections or activity. Check!
But will he be okay in an environment with you and your children when you are cuddling with your daughter and not him? Will he be okay with being cut off because your son came inside upset, went straight upstairs to his room, and slammed the door? Just because someone is okay with you having children does not mean that they are okay being second fiddle to the children. I have known many men and women that really loved kids but didn’t like being runner-up to them.
You know your children and you know your partner. You also know where your relationship stands from the perspective of both you and your partner. There is not a secret sauce that, if tasted, will ensure you never make the wrong introductions at the wrong times, but these four things to know get to the heart of the matter.