Introducing your kids to your new partner doesn't have to be scarier than farting in yoga class. Here's my second post about how I handled the Big Intro. If you missed the first part, you can check it out here.
Don't Force Interaction
People react differently. Some relationships are strained because one half wants desperately to meet the other’s kids. Some are strained because there are reservations about moving ahead.
It’s the same for kids. While I’m writing this as the mother of a 4-year-old, kids are going to react differently based on how old they are, how much they know of your dating life (whether you think they do or not), and what their own personal feelings are on the matter. Which of course might have already led to a zillion uncomfortable interactions.
So when you finally do have a situation where everyone’s all together, don’t force it. Just let it unfold naturally. It might be awkward. It might be awesome. It might be anything — but you won’t know until it happens, and you can’t control it when it does.
Let your kids react the way they are going to (regardless of how you primed the experience together beforehand), and let your partner engage the way he/she knows how. In other words, get comfortable with not having control over the scenario.
And remember, regardless of the experience and how you rate it, the direction for your next steps, or what you want to address with your kids or your partner will be exposed. And that is progress. And progress is good.
Don’t Expect An Insta-Family
I introduced Vee to Cap about 1 year ago, and we are still working on our family dynamic. This is something I hope we never stop doing, whether it’s regarding Vee, our own future kids, or our relationship in general.
The first time Vee and Cap hung out was for about 1 hour. They chatted briefly as only a 3-year-old and a man ten times her senior could, and then we were gone.
As our relationship grew, more walls came down.
I could leave the room for 20 minutes to take a client call and know they were playing together happily. He knew Vee’s schedule. We’d have dinners together. We’d go shopping at the market in the summer. We’d read bedtime stories together…We started cultivating our own little rituals, routines, and grooves together. And we still do that. Consciously. Presently. Mindfully.
It wasn’t an overnight integration —and I never expected this kind of seamless, blended family environment as a result.
Being a family in any context takes work. Period. It takes even more work when you are cobbling one together from existing parts. And even more when you are redefining roles from a previous relationship.
I’m lucky because I have an amazingly amicable ex-husband, I’m in an incredible relationship, have a fantastically intuitive daughter, and supportive friends and family — and we all work together, all the time, to have the kinds of relationships we want to have.
Cap likes to say something fairly often. It’s something he adopted from one of his favourite acting coaches. Something that helps keep me in the moment and paces me when I’m frustrated or want to quench my Type A need for results.
“Love takes time.”
None of us know what will happen when we bring certain puzzle pieces together. When we bring people together. When we have to start all over again.
None of us know how our children will react to our lives intersecting with theirs, or to others intersecting ours. None of us know if one date will turn into a future of substance. None of us know how to juggle all the moving parts, or even how many parts there are.
But without those leaps ahead we don’t learn about our selves, about each other, about what we really want, and about what is really important in life.
If a relationship is important to you and it’s scaring the pants off you to take next steps; if you want to bring your kid into the picture; then start the ball rolling.
Have the potentially awkward conversations with your partner that are going to make you feel more confident in your relationship. Ask them the questions that you want to ask. Talk to your kids about dating again. And if it’s all lining up, then let worlds collide.
You might end up rethinking your relationship. You might find yourself on a tough road. You might, like I did, find the kind of relationship that blooms beyond any expectation.
Come from a place of love —not fear. Be patient. Don’t expect too much. And see what happens.
Everything is just a starting point.
Every relationship takes effort, understanding, and patience.
And yes… love takes time.