Divorce usually takes an emotional toll on all involved.  While you may feel happy or encouraged by your fresh start, the separation of their mother and father can be extremely hard on kids.  While everyone deserves to be happy, it’s important to properly address your children’s emotional state before jumping back into the dating pool.  Once you’ve crossed that bridge and found someone you truly care about, the next step is to introduce that person to your children in a polite and respectful manner.  Although the steps can be tweaked based on your child’s age, here are five steps for introducing your kids to the new Mr. or Mrs. Right.

1.  Keep the Expectations Low:

Just because you are head over heels for your new beau doesn’t mean your children are going to like him or her right out of the gate.  Don’t expect your children to initiate conversation, and don’t be surprised if they seem shy or closed off.  Opening themselves up to a new person can be scary, so don’t try to force conversation or put them in the spotlight too much.

2.  Be Comfortable:

Although this is likely easier said than done, there are many ways to make a first meeting less uncomfortable.  While introducing your new partner may be your ultimate goal, don’t just ask your children to sit down in the living room and talk about themselves.  Instead, plan an activity that allows your children to take their mind off the situation for a bit.  Consider taking your children to a local park or going out for a scoop of ice cream as a group.  Kids are more likely to open up when talking about their favorite ice cream flavor than their favorite subject in school.

3.  Go Slow:

Once you’ve introduced your children to your new partner, wait a few days before bringing them around again.  Even if you think the original meeting went great, children can become overwhelmed if your new beau is suddenly around a lot.  Slowly increase the times each week your children meet you new partner, and keep them away during certain situations.  If your ex had a big role at your child’s soccer games, don’t rush to bring a new person into that aspect of a child’s life.

4.  Emphasize Family Roles:

Although there is a new person in your life, make sure your children know that they still have one mom and one dad.  Your new man may be around more than their paternal father, but emphasize that your new partner is different than “Dad”.  Even if your child really likes your new partner and wants to call him Dad, gently tell them that they only have one mom and one dad, and that your ex is their father.  Odds are you wouldn’t want your child calling someone else Mom, so grant that same consideration to your ex.

5.  Set Ground Rules:

No situation is the same, but talk with your partner before and during interactions with your children.  Set expectations as to what is appropriate, so there isn’t confusion if a situation arises.  For example, even if you’ve stayed over at each other’s place before, set ground rules for times to arrive and depart.  Showing up unannounced can be inappropriate in the event that your new partner crosses paths with your ex, and it can also take your children by surprise.

Related Source:  Huffington Post