Meg F. Schneider, MA, LCSW-R


That will depend on how you define the word “boyfriend.”  The issue is degree of seriousness.

If you are a monogamous serial dater or  have no really serious intentions about this guy then you have to be especially careful.   Whether you are a single parent because of the death of a partner or because of a divorce, most kids are wary of their mother dating at all.   They might be angry, scared, confused, or needy. You wouldn’t want to expose  them to another loss, or indicate that people are easily replaceable. If one guy doesn’t work out well then you’ll just fill in with another.  This is especially so with a teenager in the house.  So if this man is likely not going to last very long,  you can introduce him to your kids as a friend,  and treat him as such in front of the children.  This means limiting their interaction to him picking you up with a brief chat and maybe an occasional dinner with the kids.  You will want to discourage any significant closeness between your boyfriend and your kids and lay low on any obvious affection  in front of the kids.

However, if this is a serious relationship,  you might begin presenting him as your good friend. Your kids may be less than enthusiastic at first but that doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong.  Simply start slow and no matter how they react,  make it clear you are happy to talk about their feelings and continue to bring him into the picture.  Do fun things for the kids with him so that they begin to associate him with joyful experiences and not “the time that mommy disappears.” But be sure to keep certain times just between you and your children especially at the beginning.  Birthday dinners for instance might just be you and your kids.  The point is you don’t want to push things.  It might take time for children to adjust to his presence and  to feel secure that he is not stealing their mother away from them.

You might try reading my book SEX AND THE SINGLE PARENT!

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