As if divorce or the death of your spouse wasn’t difficult enough for your teens to cope with, the realization that you have re-entered the dating world might be a bit overwhelming for your teen kids. Your teens may not react how you think they will when you introduce them to your new boyfriend, but there is no way to know for sure how they will react or what they will think, which is why introducing them under the proper circumstances is the best bet. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, you should not introduce your teens to just any man you’re dating.
Wait until you are certain that your new relationship is serious, advises Jean McBride, a Colorado-based marriage and family therapist with her own practice. While your teens are more than likely aware of the fact that you are dating someone, they don’t have to meet him until you are certain that your relationship is long-term. The problem with introducing them too soon is that they may become attached to this man. If that happens and you decide to end things with him, they may suffer from the loss.
Discuss this man with your teen prior to their introduction, and vice versa, advises the AAP. Sit your teen down and have a serious discussion with her about why you like this man, what he’s like and why you want him to meet her. Answer her questions and talk to her about her concerns regarding meeting him. Additionally, talk to him about your teen. Let him ask questions, tell him about her and ask both of them individually if they are ready and comfortable to meet one another, getting their input about where they think their first introduction should take place.
Expect anything during their first meeting. According to the AAP, you should not go into this meeting expecting one specific thing or you might be highly disappointed. Chances are, their first meeting will not be perfect. Both will likely be trying very hard to protect you and to make a good impression on the other, and things might get uncomfortable. Going into this introduction expecting that anything could happen will make dealing with it a lot easier on you.
Listen to your teen’s opinion after she is introduced to your new boyfriend, advises McBride. For example, if your teen dislikes the man you’re dating, do not automatically write her off as upset that you’re dating someone other than her father. Her outside opinion could be valid. Being open to her feelings and listening to what she has to say is important, especially since she is your child forever. There is a fine line between taking her opinion seriously and her feelings into consideration and allowing her to control your life simply because she doesn’t want you dating. You have to find that line with your own teen and make sure you do not cross it.