Introducing your child/children to the person you are dating (after divorce)

I am currently dating a guy who I really like and while it is still early in the relationship, I can see where there may be time where I will want him to meet my son (11 yrs old)Of course my son is still shaken by the divorce and is very close to his own father. Any tips on how to make the transition easier when the time comes? I would really love to hear both good and bad experiences from Dopers who have gone through this. Any suggestions?

I highly recommend doing it in a situation that will be fun and “light” for your son, as well as relatively brief in the beginning. Maybe a trip to the zoo or somewhere else he enjoys?

Also, how long has it been since the divorce? Are you on good terms with his dad? If so, I recommend giving Dad the heads-up, so he isn’t blindsided either, as it will probably get back to him quickly, and certain off-the-cuff reactions could prove disastrous.

Eva Luna, Child of Divorced parents (who dated quite a lot afterward). BTW, it was never really traumatic for me to meet my parents’ “dates,” even if I didn’t like them particularly. Hope that helps.

I would make a point to make sure that he knows that he isn’t expected to feel any particular emotion toward’s Mom’s friend: he may worry that he is supposed to love this new guy. And I would also make sure that once the new guy is introduced, he isn’t everywhere–I think as a kid resentment wouldn’t come from someone dating your mother per se, but from someone butting in on all oyur private family momments and being there all the damn time.

And I want to second Evaluna’s suggestion about mentioning it first to oyur son’s dad: you don’t want your kid to get the idea that you having a boyfriend is secret or shameful.

My sister has been dating a guy for over a year now, and her kids haven’t yet met him. Her theory here is that she doesn’t want the kids to feel like their dad is being “replaced.” (MY theory is that her kids will scare the living hell out of the poor guy, but I digress.)

I would very gradually introduce the new guy to the child. Start very casually (“This is my friend Bob”) and go from there. I would NOT be smooching and stuff in front of the child - that’s uncomfortable for all parties involved. And no overnights for a good long time, I would think.

My only experiences with this were when my mom was dating - the problem was, every guy was THE guy for her, and before we knew it, THE guy was an integral part of our lives. It was WAY harder on us kids when Mom split with one after another. In fact, I still miss one of them quite a bit, and it’s been nearly 30 years.

What MandaJo said. My son was 11 when I started going out with an old friend, as friends, and he got attached very quickly without the guy even being around. It was heartbreaking to watch my son fall apart when he realized this guy wasn’t going to stick around either…and dad had been gone a year at this point. Now I’ve been dating someone for 6 months and my son is turning 18 next week, and I still haven’t introduced them, and we’re not even romantically involved…I just don’t want my son to get his hopes up, even at this age.

I’m in favor of not letting them meet until you are sure this guy is a contender, and limit how often the guy is around. And then , if your child really, really can’t stand the person, don’t attribute the animosity to childish jealousy or manipulation. Sometimes kids can see clearer than we can when we are falling for someone…they can see the jerkiness that we overlook. Don’t give your heart until you know the kids can stand him.

When I introduced my son to my SO, I made sure that other close friends were around so that he wouldn’t feel threatened or intimidated. It worked beautifully and they have a great relationship. I think my son felt safe with the others being there too.

Prior to my current SO, I didn’t introduce my son to anyone else I dated. I waited until I was sure that I was with someone special who I felt was going to be an important person in my life.