You may feel ready for a new relationship, but your grown-up children may feel less comfortable with you having a new partner, particularly if you have recently been divorced or widowed. Here are five ways to help ensure the first meeting goes as well as possible.
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See also: Online dating in your 50s-plus
See also: Dating after divorce: Dos and don'ts
1. Don't spring it on them
It's natural to want to keep things quiet until you're sure of the relationship, but the longer you keep things secret, the more you run the risk of your children finding out another way. If you tell your son or daughter that you're seeing someone as part of a normal conversation, it will give them time to get used to the idea of you dating.
2. Show them a photo first
Before you arrange a meeting, consider showing your children a photo of the new man or woman in your life. Share information about your new partner's background, what they do for a living or if they're retired, their family circumstances, and how you met. Talking about the relationship and how it's progressing will help your children to feel part of things – and also give them opportunity to raise any concerns they may have.
3. Prep your new partner
At the same time, tell your partner a bit about your children – what they do for a living, their hobbies, and families. Knowing a bit about them should make it easier for the conversation to flow when they eventually meet. If there are any sensitive conversation topics that are best avoided (perhaps your son or daughter is having work, health or marriage problems) do warn your partner. Don't overshare either. Remember, you may trust the new person in your life – but they are a stranger to your children. It can be unsettling for your son or daughter if your partner knows personal information about them.
4. Arrange a relaxed get together
A small, relaxed family get-together is the best time to introduce your new man or woman to your children. Big occasions such as a wedding or birthday party are generally best avoided as they can prove overwhelming for your partner. Never just spring a meeting on your children – tell them well in advance. Consider organising something fun to do, such as bowling, or a family picnic or BBQ. Having an "activity" can allow conversations to happen naturally.
5. Listen to your children
Even though your children are adults, they may have concerns about your new relationship and need reassurance. Let them know that they can ask you questions, and listen to what they have to say without interrupting them.
Once you have listened to their concerns and acknowledged their feelings, you can explain your perspective on the relationship and reassure them. It can be annoying when your children treat you like a child, but try to be understanding. Even as adults with families of their own, getting used to seeing you with someone new can be a big adjustment. Give it plenty of time, keep communicating openly, and there's every chance your children will come to value your new partner as much as you do.