08/05/2013 12:17 pm ET Updated Oct 05, 2013

When (and How) to Introduce Your New Beau to Your Kids


When dating after divorce, kids can feel like another obstacle in the way of being able to reinvent your love life. You may worry about how men will perceive dating a woman who already has kids. You may wonder how you can balance the time you spend with your man and your kids, and you NEVER want to be in a position where you have to choose between them.

So the first question we need to answer is: How and when do you introduce the new person in your life to your kids?

The number one thing to remember is not to immediately introduce your kids to each new guy you start dating. Even when both of you have the best of intentions, breakups happen -- accidentally creating a constant flow of father figures who come and go can ultimately lead to your kids feeling abandoned.

That said, if your relationship seems to be long term and you've communicated about your relationship goals, AND he's ready to meet your kids, it's a good thing! A low-key introduction to your kids over an outdoor date or family activity is a great way to start. The bottom line is this: gradually increase the time your kids spend with your new partner and make sure you still create one-on-one time with them without your guy being present.

Another key to dating after divorce when you have kids is finding the right balance between your kids and the new guy.

It's important to be open and honest with your kids and let them know that although there's a new person in your life, he will not be replacing their dad, nor will he be occupying all of your time.

Don't be in a hurry to make your kids warm up to a new person. Recognize that most kids hold onto the thought that eventually their parents will get back together, so acknowledge that this new person is breaking that bubble for them. They may take some time to accept a new partner in their mom's life.

As for the way that men perceive women who have kids from a previous relationship, keep in mind that if you're dating after divorce, it's likely the guys you're meeting are in a similar situation. So creating a blended family may be a value you both share.

In addition, having kids will certainly force you to define your relationship goals early on. Whether or not you want more kids, or if he does, it's something you'll need to discuss at the beginning of your relationship to ensure you have the same ideas about your future.

When you're dating after divorce with kids, you'll find that while there are challenges, your children are a blessing and anyone who's the right match for you will think so too.