The introduction, child's edition
There is no rule book on how to introduce your child to your partner. In fact, dating is sometimes complicated enough, and picking the right time is often the biggest obstacle. Is it too soon? Did I wait too long? I have fallen in love with this person, suppose they hate them and I have already invested so much time? Completely overwhelming yourself over a situation that in this day and age is relatively common.
Counselling psychologist Andre Allen-Casey, believes that the right time to introduce your child to your significant other, should satisfy at least these two deciding factor.
"The ability of the child to accept or reject your decision; and the extensive and if possible comprehensive emotional, psychological, physical, spiritual, financial, educational, historical and parental probing of the individual," he told Outlook.
He added, that "one should keep their eyes open ... don't fool yourself that you can change someone or that what you see as faults aren't really that important."
Also, while there is nothing that is particularly wrong with introducing your child to everyone you date, one still has to be aware of the message they are sending through introducing them to a casual relationship.
Parents have to remember to set the parent-child boundary and never to forget that they are not friends, thus they hold a responsibility to convey stability to their children. It is important that parents be deliberate in their choices and how they might affect their children and to not allow lust, desperation, immaturity, ignorance, pressure from others or a low self-esteem, to be the driving force in your decision making, according to Allen-Casey.
Breaking the ice is what really creates that awkward moment and the butterflies in the stomach. Allen-Casey explains that this should not be a one-off introduction or approach.
"They should grow into recognising and accepting that this person will become an addition to the family. The association will become obvious as a result of the amount of time - quality time, spent with the family in various activities," Allen-Casey told Outlook.
Here are a few suggestions by Allen-Casey but not limited to:
- Going to the movies
- Helping with homework
- Cooking breakfast and dinner in the presence of the family
- Dropping off and picking up from school
- Buying groceries with the family
- Gradually becoming intimate in the presence of the child or children.
- Basically, forging a loving, caring and nurturing relationship with the children and parent
Here are also a few tips on what not to do when introducing a child to your partner.
- Never let the child or children feel like they have to accept your choice for a partner.
- The partner is not a replacement for a parent
- The child or children must see the need to adjust and not feel forced to.
- The partner must earn the trust of the child/children and not mandate it.
- The partner must learn the boundaries along with the culture and status quo and never plan to violate them.