Dear Carolyn: I am a widow with two boys, ages 8 and 10. My husband died 10 months ago after a long illness. I started dating about five months ago, a fact I have not shared with my in-laws or children. A counselor advised that if I meet someone special, I should wait six months to introduce him to the boys.
I have met someone special and we have been dating for two months.
I will wait the six months to introduce him, but what course should I take to properly bring this man fully into the family? How do I introduce him to the boys? – Hopeful but Scared
What a terrible time for you and your family, I’m sorry. Good for you for finding yourself some happiness, and for being so thoughtful in handling it.
I do think, though, your announcement plans come from too adult a perspective. Adults tend to want information straight up, with time to adjust. That’s what you’re proposing here for your boys.
Kids, though, often aren’t far enough along in their understanding to process a full information drop.
What they can understand is that you have friends, and get a sitter sometimes to go out with them.
Kids reveal in their questions what they’re ready to hear (“Is this your boyfriend?”) so not just now, but also anytime you’re in doubt, you can simply give them the most basic facts (“I like him … we’ll see”). Wait for any follow-up questions, repeat as needed.
As for introducing him to your kids, please don’t label him a boyfriend unless they’re already onto you. Think instead how your kids have gotten to know your other friends . It’s the un-self-conscious business of adults being adults. Perfect. Right?
So, fold New Man into your life as you would a other friends. Don’t explain unless you have to, then don’t over-explain. Be, wait, see.
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