When I talk with other parents about introducing new partners to their kids, most of them are quite careful. In order not to upset their children’s world too much when a new partner enters a parents’ life, most of them let a relationship grow over time to test its longevity before bringing in the kids.
I tend to do that the other way: when there’s a new person who is important to me that I wish to spend considerable amounts of time with, I introduce them to my kids as soon as possible.
There are several reasons why I do this. Be mindful that I do this in a contact of a decade of non-monogamy and a home where friends are always welcome. My kids are pretty used to having people over, whether they sleep in my bed or not.
I appreciate my children’s opinion
One of the reasons why I like to introduce someone to my kids early is because I appreciate my kids’ opinions about people. They are pretty good at filtering out who’s a good person, but a bad match for me. They know I appreciate their opinion – and they will flat-out give it to me. They know I won’t break up or start a relationship purely based on their opinion, but they know I will listen to their potential concerns and appreciations. It works in two directions too: them knowing I will listen to them, gives them trust in meeting new people.
I’m a single co-parent half of the time. When I want to avoid my children meeting my lover, there’s a lot of time when we cannot meet. Basically, I won’t be able to see them every other week. Then there’s my work, and only a few days per month are available for my relationships. That’s very little to build sustainable relationships.
I also want my partners to see me as a mum. Maybe you have had the experience that you have known someone for a while, but never saw them interacting with their kids. Then one day you do, and it’s a huge turnoff. There are many different parenting styles, and some are just complex to be around – no offence meant. I want someone to see me as a mother, to meet my kids – and then still want to be around me. My kids are a huge part of my life, and if we’re no match there, it’s wise to renegotiate who we wish to be in each other’s lives.
My kids have antennas that spot how I feel. They also spot it when I try to hide certain emotions from them. I raise them telling them their emotions are safe with me, that there is a place to talk about difficult things with me. Without letting them carry the burden of my life experiences, I want to model that to them too. Some weeks ago my last relationship dropped quite the emotional bomb with me while I was alone with my kids. After moving through a freeze response on my own in my attic, I was still shaky, angry and sad by the time I needed to cook for them. They saw immediately and asked what was wrong. Without going into details, I told them my boundaries were crossed, I felt hurt and that my relationship was probably over. They got it and hugged me for a bit before going back to their own business. When a while later I met Lione Mirca, they asked me after I told them we had dinner ‘In what way do you like her?’ with grins on their faces.
We have very open conversations about partners and relationships. I asked them a while back if I brought too many people home. And they agreed (which is a rare thing) that that was absolutely not the case. They enjoyed the people (some more than others), and they were happy I had those friends and partners.
I don’t know whether this method works for everyone, but for us, it works fine. My kids love to know what’s going on in my life and I love sharing that with them. My relationships are futtering our conversations about life, relating, boundaries, consent, and whatnot. I will keep asking my daughters for reflections on how they experience the people in my (and their) life, and also how I can take care of them. That means they may have boundaries towards some partners or friends that they do (or didn’t) have with others. And that’s great because then I can take care of those, and make my relationships as safe and enjoyable for all of us as possible.