By Tyomi Morgan –Blackdoctor.org
For the past few weeks social media has been in heated debate over a photo that surfaced of R&B singer Ciara’s son, Baby Future, in a loving embrace with her current boyfriend NFL quarterback, Russell Wilson. Some men were outraged, with many labeling the act as blatant disrespect and spitefulness against the birth father, rapper Future. But women had a completely separate view altogether, siding with the singer’s decision to introduce her son to her committed love interest.
In 2015 it is common for singles to come in a package deal along with children from previous relationships, but sometimes the decision of when to introduce a child to a new love interest isn’t always so clear. Are men less prone to introducing their children to the new women in their lives early on, or are women more eager to attach a male figure to their children in hopes of creating a stable family unit?
To answer these questions I took this issue to Facebook to get an idea of how the general population handles dating with children in the mix and the answers were all over the place.
“I couldn’t see myself going for six months without introducing my new love interest to my daughter,” one man said.
“I truly think it depends on how serious the relationship is,” said another.
The male perspective seemed to be a bit more relaxed on the topic, but when it came to the opinions of women the requirements were more strenuous.
“You really have to be careful about who you bring around your children especially being a single mother,” said one concerned woman. She continued on in her comment by explaining how a woman in love may be blinded by the representative of that significant other and not aware of his true nature.
Another woman suggested running a background check if necessary before introducing a child to a significant other. “I believe six months is a good enough time for a woman to judge the character of a guy before introducing her child,” she added.
Although both sexes had different views on how and when children should be introduced to new love interests, both sexes shared the sentiment that the seriousness of the relationship is the deciding factor. Men and women agree that a relationship must be committed and serious for children to be brought into the fold.
To gain a professional opinion about children’s introduction into new relationships I solicited the advice of certified sexologist and sex therapist Dr. TaMara Griffin, who covers everything from the influence one has on children while in relationships to suggestions on how to develop relationships with a partner’s pride and joy.
Tyomi: When is the appropriate time for a person with children to introduce them to a new love interest?
Dr. TaMara: There is a huge difference between mentioning the kids and introducing the kids to your new love interest. Mentioning that you have kids is a conversation that takes place in the “getting to know” each other phase. This allows your new love interest the option of deciding whether or not he or she wants to pursue a relationship with someone that has kids. However, taking the kids along on the first, second or even third date might not be the best ideal. When making the decision to introduce your child/children to your new love interest, you want to be sure that you’re truly interested in the person. Meaning, that this is someone that you have invested the time in getting to know this person’s character. You want to make sure that this is someone that you plan to keep around long term. Of course nothing is for certain but you need to be fairly sure that this is not a fly by night romance. I would also include that you need to trust your “gut” or your “intuition” because it’s there for a reason. As this new relationship progresses and the two of you begin making plans to spend the rest of your lives together, you will know when the time is right to make the introduction. Finally, when making the introduction consider doing it in a neutral and comfortable space, especially if the child is young. Additionally, you want to make sure that you remain with your child and keep the introduction brief. You don’t want to overwhelm the child and/or the new love interest.
Tyomi: How can the introduction of new love interests have an affect on a child’s psyche?
Dr. TaMara: Introducing a new partner or love interest to your child can have a significant impact on the child, especially if the child is young and doesn’t understand why mommy and daddy are not together or if the child still has hopes of mommy and daddy getting back together. Other potential affects include:
- A feeling of anger towards the parent with the new partner/love interest. The child may feel anger because now the parent is sharing his or her time with someone other than them.
- A feeling of betrayal. The child may feel that the parent is betraying the family by having a new love interest or partner. On the flip side, the child may feel caught in the middle and may not take to your new partner/ love interest because s/he does not want to betray the other parent.
- The child may become attached to the new partner/love interest and if for some reason the relationship ends this may cause some trauma to the child.
If the child is an older teen or adult, s/he may experience some of the aforementioned challenges, too. The only way to be certain how your child feels about the new partner/love interest is to ask questions and keep the lines of communications open. Allow your kid to express their feelings, as s/he may have a valid reason, and be sure to answer them honestly. Reassure your child that your new partner/love interest is not replacing the relationship that you have with them.
Tyomi: How should one go about developing a relationship with their partner’s children once things become serious?
Dr. TaMara: When developing a relationship with the child of your new partner, take things slow. Definitely make an effort to show the child that you want to have a relationship them. Keep in mind that the child may or may not want a relationship with you initially. However, you just remain open and consistent. Other helpful tips include: A) take an interest in what the child enjoys, B) offer to assist him or her with a project that they may be working on, C) especially if the child is older, you can find out your commonalities and work from there. Whatever you do, do not force yourself and/or a relationship on the child. This may backfire and create more tension and space between you and the child. Finally, do not try to buy the child. This only works for so long and just as soon as the newness wears off, or you say no and/or stop buying him or her things then the relationship may go south. And besides, you don’t want to start something that you’re not willing to keep up.
Tyomi: Why is it important to know how to deal with children from previous relationships in a new relationship?
Dr. TaMara: It is important to know how to deal with children from previous relationships because they are a significant part of your new partner’s life. The child will always be a part of your new partner’s life, [s0] trying to build a good relationship is important. This is especially true if your new partner is active in their child’s life because that child will inevitably become part of your life. It is also equally important that you learn how to get along with the child and the child’s other parent. There will come a time when your paths will cross. Being able to communicate with each other in a respectful manner is essential. This show solidarity, consistency and support to the child. In addition, because children pick up non-verbal cues from their parents and other adults, it teaches the child that it’s ok to build a relationship with the parent’s new partner. Finally, the child is not responsible for the issues in their parent’s relationship. DO NOT take it out on them. If for whatever reason you find this challenging or difficult then you may want to reassess your relationship and decide if it’s the one for you. Again, I will say the child will always be a part of your new partner’s life.
Dating can be tough within itself, but adding children into the mix creates an entirely different dynamic. Before making a commitment Dr. Tamara recommends this last piece of advice. “Remember when you sign up for the relationship, you sign up for the entire package, whatever that is. You cannot choose to exclude the child/children. If for whatever reason, you don’t want to deal with a child, then that may not be the relationship for you.”