The very specific formula for introducing your kids to a new partner.

With new relationships come new hurdles, new beginnings and new introductions

And when you have kids, these introductions are actually paramount to a relationship's survival

There's no easy way to introduce your child to a special person who comes into your life after the end of a relationship,  for whatever reason, but there definitely are ways to ease the challenges and make introductions go as smoothly as possible. 

Considering more than 200,000 divorces have been filed in Australia across the last three years, Tracey Horton — a mental health expert, life coach and thought leader — tells Mamamia that it's no surprise clients are asking for her help in introducing their children to a new partner. 

Watch: Be A Good Mum. Post continues after video. 

Video via Mamamia.

We asked Horton five questions on how we should introduce a new partner to our kid(s). Here's what she told us.

How do I introduce my children to my new partner?

The first step, before anything else, is knowing where you stand with your new partner, Horton says, because if you don't plan on keeping the relationship for the long haul, there's no point in letting your kids meet them.

"The important thing to establish first is that you want this to be a long-term thing," the expert explains, before adding that introducing your kids to a new partner might be damaging if you don't think they (or you) will stick around. "When you're dating and you're single and you've split up, you don't want to introduce every dating partner you have. And if they do meet your kids, they should also be looking for a long-standing relationship."


It can be difficult to know if meshing your worlds is the right decision. However, clear and vulnerable communication helps. 

"Before anyone meets, you've got to have those big, deep conversations," she says. "The worst thing you could do is rush it and when you start dating, it is so important to disclose that you are a parent." 

"Bringing anyone in can bring joy, no doubt about it" – but this is why Horton says it is key to express how you're feeling and try to understand how they're feeling as well. Give them that moment to adjust and let them get used to their "gift with purchase".

What if my child doesn't like my new partner? 

Is your relationship worth the fight? If so, then fight for their connection. 

"Ask yourself if they're incompatible or if it's a misunderstanding or bad judgment," says Horton. "If you're falling in love with your new partner and it feels very legitimate for you, then I suggest some very amicable counselling. There are mediators and counsellors out there who are trained for this.

"If this is long-term for everybody, then it is important the situation is resolved quickly."

One way to make it easier for your kids to understand their feelings is by asking them the right questions after meeting that new person in your life. 

"It's important to be age-appropriate. For younger children I think the questions must be simple: 'Did you like her or him? What did you think? What did you find funny about them? Would you like to see them again?' These are all questions that are appropriate for an eight-year-old child," Horton says to parents.


For older kids who are in their teen years, it might be a little bit trickier.

"If they're aged 14 or 15, it's going to be harder for you because the younger you do this, the easier your job is," she says. "When you introduce a new man or a new woman to a 15-year-old who's already upset that mum and dad split up, that's a whole different situation.

"You have to be honest with them and ask, 'What do you think? And how can we make this work so you feel good about it?"

How do I make sure my partner is comfortable meeting my child?

"Vulnerability is a superpower," Horton tells Mamamia. "But it's the one we're most uncomfortable with... and so I always encourage people to listen."

It's also key to let them go at their own pace and not to pressure them into taking a step they are not ready for, as it just leads to more heartbreak down the road.

"Please just be really real and really vulnerable, because vulnerability is a superpower and once we're vulnerable with each other, we can actually really support each other and really work together to have really positive, healthy outcomes," she explains.

When should we introduce a new partner?

There are three steps, says Horton. 

1. First, you must really know if this is a person you want in your life for the long haul. If you don't know, do NOT introduce your children to them just yet. 

2. Never have a meeting of this nature on a day that is special, like Christmas, a birthday, or a public holiday. Make it a normal day, Horton advises, so your involvement is more natural and less forced. 

3. Everybody has to like where they're going. If your partner is a vegan and you want to go to a steakhouse, please evaluate your decisions. Don't go somewhere boring like a bank, either, because a kid is clearly going to be agitated. Consider a setting like the beach or a park.


How do I tell my child about how much my new partner means to me? 

Be honest and be realistic, Horton says. Don't confuse your child or leave them with lingering questions because you weren't ready to say your new partner was a "boyfriend" or "girlfriend" rather than just "mummy's friend".

"I'm a big realist and I believe it is important," advises Horton. "When you introduce someone with the correct terminology, children are able to understand and create a boundary with that. Whereas, 'Mummy's new friend' leaves it open to interpretation and makes it confusing.

"Children associate love with boundaries so make it super-duper clear."

In a nutshell, Horton says that everyone has to be okay with this relationship — including your children, but especially you and your partner.

"This is something really close to my heart because we want kids to be healthy and happy and I think it's better to build children than repair grown-ups," she says. 

Be real, be organic and remember that sometimes, good things take time.

Tracey Horton is a mental health expert, life coach, thought leader and also the founder of a range of self-help and capacity-building courses which you can learn more about on her website.

Feature Image: Getty. 

It can be tricky raising little humans and that’s why we want to hear from all parents in this short survey. Take our survey now to go in the running to win a $50 gift voucher!