I am no parenting expert, and I have made plenty of mistakes while seeking to do what’s best for my now-15-year old son. For one thing, I had him while I was still pretty young myself (20 years old and still in the midst of completing my undergraduate degree). While my relationship with my son’s father did not last, I didn’t want him to grow up having the impression that the men in our lives were transient. So when I eventually did introduce The Right Guy (who I married this past summer), I wanted the foundation to be in place for the introduction and the relationship that followed to be a positive experience for everyone involved. Here are the things I kept in mind that helped with that transition.
Know your child and your situation
RELATED: Old school parenting advice that we need to stop telling our kids.
Be willing to wait
RELATED: 20 celebrity single moms who are totally inspiring.
Work on you and your lives first
RELATED: 20 best jobs for single moms in Canada.
Consider your childcare options
RELATED: 10 widely-believed myths about pregnancy.
Put yourself out there
RELATED: 10 celebrity moms who kept their baby daddies' identities secret.
Don’t see what you like? Keep looking!
RELATED: 11 amazing TV moms to aspire to be like.
Found someone? Sit tight!
RELATED: 15 celebs who couldn’t be prouder of their LGBTQ+ kids.
The actual introduction
The first time he met my long-term ex, my son was ten. And in this situation, I introduced my then-boyfriend to my son as a friend in a group situation (some friends — including my then-partner — came over for dinner). So this would be my tip: Introduce your child first in a group setting to your partner. It takes the pressure off of everyone.
RELATED: 10 mistakes to avoid when travelling with your baby.
‘Mom has a boyfriend’
Sadly (or perhaps luckily), that first very serious relationship did not work out in the end (as much as the guy said he wanted to be a father-figure, he wasn't quite up for what it took). The thing that got me most was having to break the breakup news to my son, who already established a close relationship with this person. His response: ‘I’m sorry it didn’t work out, mom. He was a nice guy.’ My son’s mature response only made my heart ache more for what he lost too. Should this happen, understand that you may need to be a source of emotional support for your child, while also looking after your own well-being. And remember, you don’t have to do it alone; reach out to others in your circle of trust.
RELATED: Here's how much kids actually cost and why.
The Big Leap
In the case with my current partner-now-husband, I followed the same steps I described above, and gradually combined households (first starting with multiple one-day sleepovers over several months, then a March break sleepover, and then giving my son a clear idea of the timing of when we will be moving in together a few months down the road). I found it was important to loop my son in and share my plans as well as my reasoning for my decisions. It helped establish trust — especially at his age.
The common thread in all the steps I took was that each was intentional, focused on my son’s best interest (with his stage of development in mind), as well as my partner, and constant communication on all fronts. While it is what worked for us, you may find your child would best benefit from something different. Whatever that is, never feel that you have to compromise on a situation that just isn’t right for you and your child(ren). The most beautiful families come in all shapes and sizes.
RELATED: The 8 best Canadian cities to raise kids.