Tips on introducing your new partner to your kids and grandkids

You’re in love – or at least in like – and it’s time to introduce your new partner to your kids and grandkids. Before you plop your new partner down in the middle of a family dinner or show up at one of those vacations for families with a new person on your arm, give your family some time and space to adjust to the situation.

This applies even before the introductions begin. Set the stage by disclosing that you’re dating again. This conversation is a must for your children, as even adult children can end up with hurt feelings if mom or dad is suddenly linked to a new guy or gal that is not their former parent. Be honest with your feelings, to both your kids and grandkids, although be wary of sharing too much. Neither needs to know about your sex life, although they may care that you’ve been feeling sad and lonely.

Once you've set the stage and mentioned you've met a great person, suggest a casual outing or a number of family activities where you can finally introduce your new partner to the clan. A fancy restaurant might be too tense and stuffy, while family activities such as bowling, a picnic or trek to the local zoo is not. Keep the activity fun, the conversation light and stick close to help everyone interact. Being out on family activities gives you plenty of conversation starters and breathing room, whereas stuffing everyone on the living room couch to sit around and stare at each other can be awkward and uncomfortable.

Continue to hang out with your family alone, if that’s what they are used to, but slowly stir your new partner more and more into the mix. Use your judgment when it comes to what family activities your new partner should attend. Big holiday gatherings may be great for a family that has already met and ended up liking your new partner. They may not be the right place, however, if they usually include bickering and food fights and plenty of stress. Never take a new partner to a dinner where you may have to duck a flying turkey.

Vacations for families are another time you will need to use keen judgment when it comes to bringing your new partner. If you usually vacation solo with your family, you might want to keep up that trend until they get to know your new partner a little better. Don’t forget, too, your kids and grandkids may want you to be happy, but they also might get a little miffed if they don’t have the usual one-on-one parent or grandparent time they are used to.

Also take your partner’s feelings into account and ask yourself how you will feel being thrust into a road trip to Oklahoma or a long flight to Saskatchewan with your partner’s kids and grandkids. Keep your expectations realistic and do not expect instant success. Introducing a new partner to your kids and grandkids is a big step. Not everyone is likely to become as enamored with your new partner as you are, at least not initially. Nor is it guaranteed your new partner will become instantly enamored with your family. As with any good recipe, building relationships between your new partner and your family will take a bit of care, preparation and enough time to make it work.

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