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Introducing Kids to a New Guy

Eva Amurri shares her process of introducing kids to a new guy

Since sharing with the world about my relationship with Ian, I’ve gotten a lot of questions from people asking how I went about introducing my kids to a new guy in my life. I totally understand this question, and I think it’s important to crack open the conversation surrounding these types of topics to normalize modern families a bit more. Unfortunately, half of marriages do end in divorce, and many have children involved. I’ve gotten messages from women who are in the process of divorcing or have recently divorced asking mostly two questions: 1. How did I know I was ready to date post-divorce? and 2. How did I introduce Ian to my kids?

How Did I Know I Was Ready to Date Post-Divorce?

The first question is simple to answer, because it’s totally subjective. You have to feel ready. That’s it. There’s no norm when it comes to this. A month can be normal, and three years can be normal, depending on where you are in your personal journey after the dissolution of your former relationship. The one thing I’ll say is that you should open up again romantically when YOU feel ready, not when other people think you should be ready. The truth is, Ian himself made me feel ready, that’s how I knew! Just trust your gut. 

How Did I Introduce Ian to my Kids?

One word: Carefully.

Since I know people are looking for a bit more than a one-word answer (LOL), I’ll expand on that a bit more, but I want to really drive home how much thought did and should go into something like this. It’s not a “wing it” type of scenario. I always knew that whenever I introduced the kids to a new guy that it would have to be somebody I had extremely strong feelings for. Also, being in a pandemic, so much of my experience with Ian needed to be at home (plus I have custody of the kids most of the time). I knew that once I introduced him to them, we would be spending time all together in “their space” if that makes sense. Knowing my kids, and how open-hearted they are, I also considered the fact that they would probably become attached pretty quickly. I would never want to introduce them to somebody only to not have things work out in my relationship and put them through another transition. Of course, nobody has a crystal ball in a relationship, and you can’t not date for the fear of things not working out, but my point is that I wanted to be really sure about somebody before I ever involved my kids. 

As any parent that is “dating again” knows, you can only be so sure about somebody if they haven’t interacted with your kids! So that introduction is important to see if a relationship can work long term. I really wanted to see Ian around the kids, once I knew I had serious feelings for him, but I also wanted to do it in a way that would be thoughtful and would feel safe for the kids. And I’m not an expert! So what did I do? I asked an expert!

Ian and I went to a therapist who works with both adults and kids, to get advice on how to most organically bring him into the fold. We did a couple of sessions together, and we each did sessions separately. It was SO helpful to each of us individually, and as a couple, to share and talk things out about this process—and I feel so grateful that I have a partner who was down to go into all of it in such a choreographed and thoughtful way. He wanted the kids to be comfortable just like I did. 

And before I get questions about it: yes, Kyle met Ian before the kids!

We were actually able to spend time just the three of us, and have dinner a couple of times before Ian met the kids. It was important to me that everyone felt comfortable and had a sense of each other before we took that big step. I think that having this level of respect has made all the difference when it comes to maintaining a healthy and positive co-parenting relationship. 

Eva Amurri shares her process of introducing kids to a new guy

The therapist we spoke to recommended that I tell the kids about Ian before meeting him, and see how that went first. She said to keep it really basic and then answer questions as they came up. She reinforced that I should NOT refer to Ian as my “friend”, because that would be confusing (as he was definitely not just my friend).

One night, when I was alone with just the big kids, I told them that I met somebody that made me feel really happy and special, “just like when Princess Jasmine meets Aladdin, and when Aurora meets the Prince.” I told them his name was Ian and “he’s really nice and funny and I love spending time with him.” They were both surprised and intrigued. Marlowe immediately asked if he was my boyfriend (yes.) and if I was going to marry him (I don’t know). She also asked if she could meet him tomorrow. LOL. I told her maybe she could meet him in a week or two. After that, I answered questions as they came up. Sometimes they’d arise in the middle of the day, or at night when I was putting them to bed. I got everything from “what does he look like?” to “how old is he?”, “where does he live?” and “can we go to Ian’s house right now?”

The therapist suggested we keep the first meeting pretty brief, and to really go off of the kids’ cues when it came to how long it went. She suggested we play outside and have him meet us there. That way, the kids could engage as much or as little with him as they wanted to, and they would feel more in control. I was so overwhelmed and nervous the first time they met (and he definitely was too), but when Ian was walking up, they screamed out “Ian!!!” and ran over to him. They wanted to show him everything they were playing with, and wanted him to play too. They kept asking him a million questions and Marlowe invited him to have lunch and dinner at our house. Hahaha. The therapist had suggested that in the beginning we should keep the interactions pretty consistent. So, maybe three times a week two weeks in a row for limited time frame. After an hour, Ian left, and promised to come back and have lunch with us later that week. 

The kids got to know him by playing and reading with him, and just as I had expected they did get attached pretty quickly. It was sweet to see them getting to know each other, and of course it made me fall for Ian even more to watch him be such a natural with the kids. When the weather was nicer, it was fun to bring the big kids on little adventures like strawberry and blueberry picking, and to go to the beach and explore all together. We waited a while before Ian started sleeping over, and I made sure to ask the kids first if they would want Ian to ever sleep over at our house? They were SO excited the first time!

As per advice from the therapist, I made sure to check in with the big kids from time to time to ask them how they were feeling about Ian, and if they had anything on their mind about Ian being my boyfriend. Marlowe did have questions from time to time. Natural things like “do I have two Dads now?” I made sure to answer these kinds of questions decisively and promptly:

“No, you don’t have two dads. You have an amazing Daddy already, and he is your only Daddy. One day in the future, if Ian and I decided to get married, he would be your ‘Stepdad’ which is different from a Daddy. Ian really cares about you guys, though, and he’s so happy to get to spend time with you and get to know you guys more and more.” 

I realized through this process that Marlowe doesn’t have that many friends with divorced parents. It’s been an interesting thing for her to work out, without really seeing examples. My parents are really the only close examples she has! Once the schools are more interactive, I hope to get her involved with a “Banana Splits” lunch program for kids with divorced parents—so she can interact a bit more with other kids who have families like hers. 

I’d love to hear some of your own stories about introducing your kids to a new partner, if you’re willing to share!

Eva Amurri shares her process of introducing kids to a new guy

Happily Eva After, Inc. © 2021 All Rights Reserved

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49 Comments

  1. Jen says:

    As a psychotherapist and stepmom I applaud you in this process. I made my ( now husband) wait 7 months before meeting his children. He kept insisting they were ready but I knew better. I met them at ages 7 and 11 ( now 21 and 25!!!) and we talk about it now. They were happy we went the pace that we did. It’s so important for the nonbiological parent to be where the kids are at! So happy for you all! And wonderful to have all the adults supporting each other and modeling that for the kids for even more safety. They are looking to us how to navigate this and when the adults are presenting everything is OK It can make it feel OK for them! Their mom and I and my husband All have that as well! True blessing!

    02.18.21 Reply
  2. Julia DeBoer says:

    What does Kyle think? It’s good they seem comfortable with Ian. Will Kyle do the same things when he introduces them to someone?

    02.18.21 Reply
  3. Jordan says:

    Wow. This post brought me to tears. I wish all parents would be so careful and intentional. They are so lucky to have you and Kyle…and now Ian!! What a sweet bonus 🙂

    02.18.21 Reply
  4. Emily says:

    I was in a relationship with someone for 3 years. I met his daughter after about 6 months of dating when she was 2 years old. I helped raise her for 3 years and then sadly he and I split. The hardest part of all of it wasn’t even the break up, it was losing her and never being able to see her again. I think about her everyday and wish I could be In her life but unfortunately that’s not possible due to the circumstances. I don’t say this to be negative or sad, I just say this from the standpoint of the significant other opening their heart to the kids. I truly wish the best for you and Ian and the kids. Sending positive vibes you way.

    02.18.21 Reply
    • Christina says:

      This is what I worry about the most, which is why I am not comfortable with my kids meeting my SO until I’m pretty sure there will be a ring on the finger. It makes me extremely extremely anxious. The thought of possibly hurting them not just once but a second time, again by another significant male figure leaving the picture, would kill me 🙁

      02.18.21 Reply
    • I totally get that, and it’s important to go in to it all understanding all the emotional risks.

      However, I think if people who are single and have children go too far down that path of worry it can be paralyzing, and they never open themselves up to love. All relationships are a leap of faith!

      02.26.21 Reply
  5. Sarena says:

    Your personal posts like this one always provide such candid, useful insights! If he’s willing to share, would love to read Ian’s point of view on all of this. It’s a perspective we so rarely get to see.

    02.18.21 Reply
    • Kiki says:

      That would be super interesting!

      02.18.21 Reply
    • danielle says:

      YES! would love to hear this! definitely not a perspective we get to see! this would be amazing.

      02.18.21 Reply
    • Maybe he will one day!

      02.26.21 Reply
  6. Natalie says:

    And once again, you’re amazing ✨ You handle big moments in your life with such wisdom and grace. It is so refreshing to see. You are so very aware that the decisions you make in your life don’t only affect you, but your kids as well. Not everyone gets that, unfortunately. Keep killin’ it, mama 👊🏻 So happy for you 😊

    02.18.21 Reply
  7. Nat says:

    I’m so glad you addressed the Kyle part of it. I would feel terrible asking, but there is a delicate side of it that so many people go through of “we’re divorced, this is none of your business, BUT we share kids…” I am glad you and your family are so happy. It’s wonderful that you are so thoughtful through this. Nothing is going to be perfect, but putting time and thought in is so helpful and a wonderful example.

    02.18.21 Reply
    • My position is, of course most parts of my new relationship are none of his business. BUT (and there is a big BUT) if our kids are our priority it is important to approach big life changes as a team. And just like with any work team, it’s important that everyone has a positive feeling about one another in general. Relationships have ups and downs, but I think the way a relationship starts sets the tone for the whole journey.

      xx

      02.26.21 Reply
  8. RT says:

    Does Ian have kids of his own? He’s so great with them, looks like he knows just how to win over those little hearts ♥️

    02.18.21 Reply
    • He doesn’t! But he’s definitely a natural 🙂

      02.26.21 Reply
  9. Fran says:

    This was the most heartwarming read about your family. I had tears in my eyes because you deserve love and happiness again. You are truly a fabulous, modern family god bless!!

    02.18.21 Reply
  10. Ally says:

    I know you can’t go into details about Kyles love life but will he show you the same courtesy when he starts dating? Do you have any fears of a conflict with their potential (future) step mom?

    02.18.21 Reply
    • Allyson says:

      I was curious about this as well. I think (as a mother) it’d be really hard to think about my children having another mother figure in their lives.

      02.18.21 Reply
    • I believe that when the time is right for the kids to meet a new partner, he will show me the same courtesy.

      Also I am firmly of the mind that more love for my kids in their lives is a GREAT thing for everyone. I know Kyle will only get serious with somebody great and I look forward to that person being in my kids’ lives!

      02.26.21 Reply
  11. Suzanne says:

    this is really beautiful. thank you for sharing something so personal. happy for you and your family!

    02.18.21 Reply
  12. Taryn says:

    I love this for you so much!

    My daughter knew my partner her whole life, as he has always been one of my best friends. Her dad and I had agreed that we would also wait until we felt serious about a significant other before we would introduce them to our daughter (we also agreed on meeting each other’s partners a couple of times prior to them meeting her, as I grew up in a rough family situation with lack of communication or even civility between my parents and I didn’t want that for our daughter). Because she has always known my partner, it was more of a conversation between she and I about the change in our dynamic. We eased her into seeing us be affectionate with each other, and I made sure to check in with her often about her feelings (still do). For her dad and his new partner, they did pretty much the same as you and Ian, though they didn’t go to therapy first (what a good idea!).

    Oddly enough, I think I’m the one taking it the hardest. It’s such a complicated feeling to be both happy for your coparent/friend and also feel a little emotional when you see another person taking on a maternal role in your child’s life. But I love that our baby has another person in her life who loves her and who will watch out for her, and I adore the woman in general, because she’s truly just so lovely (she’s even going to be a bridesmaid in my wedding). It takes a village and a lot of work, communication, respect, and boundaries but a healthy blended family is possible!

    02.18.21 Reply
    • Jillian says:

      As a child of multiple divorces I just wanted to say you are doing it right. Keep that love for you baby at the center and the rest will fall into place. Hugs to you too, as a mom I know I would feel that same way if things didn’t work out with my husband and he was ever to have another partner. You are doing it, and I’m sure your kiddo will be all the better for it.

      02.18.21 Reply
    • I love this share, thank you!

      02.26.21 Reply
  13. Andrea says:

    I’m so very, very impressed! I knew it was massively important to be careful when introducing children to new boyfriends/girlfriends but I didn’t know there were resources to help the transition. That’s wonderful! It shows how honestly committed you both are to this relationship and the family. Ian is one stand-up man! And how mature and respectful your co-parenting relationship is. I wish all parents would take these measures to make sure their children are safe and happy and comfortable. I’m so happy for you! 🙂 🙂

    02.18.21 Reply
  14. Kelli Janczewski says:

    This is so great. I am not a divorced parent but I do love how you thought this out and how wonderful it is that you share that there can be a positive from all this with.

    02.18.21 Reply
  15. Rosie says:

    If you don’t mind me asking, how many weeks old was Mateo when you started dating Ian?

    02.18.21 Reply
  16. Rosie says:

    how many weeks old was Mateo when you started dating Ian?

    02.18.21 Reply
  17. Masha says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this and other posts on divorce, post divorce and more. It’s so great to have these resources about normalizing modern families and not have it be such a taboo thing. Despite the statistics being what they are and just the reality of today’s life, there is still such a stigma at times about this kind of content and a real lack of information. So thank you ☺️

    02.18.21 Reply
    • I totally agree about the stigma, and it feels so counterproductive! Happy to do my part 🙂 xx

      02.26.21 Reply
  18. Kelly B says:

    This is amazing and so well thought out. Your kiddos are lucky to have you all!

    02.18.21 Reply
  19. Jen says:

    Wow! Thanks for sharing. I’m not gonna lie when I started seeing Ian in your stories with your kids I was like oh no he’s at the house with the kids ! what if they break up and the kids were close to him bad mistake NO..of course because I don’t know you are anything about your personal life, I just assumed it was a very new relationship, but after reading your story clearly you didn’t introduce the kids until you knew that you and Ian were in a committed relationship. And you and Ian going to therapy prior to meeting the kids wow! That’s amazing he’s a keeper because I don’t know too many guys that would do that. I guess I was just reflecting on my past. I had a very difficult time dating while divorced but my situation was way different than yours. My ex left me and the kids when they were very young 2 and 9. We were all devastated and he immediately introduced many women in his life to my kids. I promised myself I would never do that to my children. Plus I had sole custody of my children finding time to date was very difficult. When I finally did date I kept it completely to myself. I never brought another man into my home but that’s probably because I never found that special person. Thanks for sharing your story, as devastating divorce is for the family, it’s nice to hear you and Kyle are able to navigate through this and make sure your children are happy. Enjoy your new chapter I wish you all the best. Be well

    Xoxo Jen

    02.18.21 Reply
  20. Emily says:

    Thank you for sharing! I’m curious how Ian reacted when you shared you had kids? Obviously it wasn’t an issue and I don’t think you’d be the type to not share that right away, but I’m curious about your thoughts with sharing that information with a prospective partner? Sending lots of love to you and the fam!

    02.18.21 Reply
  21. Sonja says:

    This made me cry. I wish my own parents had been so intentional! You clearly love your kids SO much. Kudos. This is awesome in every way.

    02.18.21 Reply
  22. Kate M says:

    This brought me to both happy and sad tears! You really are incredible. And, what a true gem you found in Ian. So curious to learn more about his background and how he ended up so emotionally mature and ready for this. Very happy for you both.

    02.18.21 Reply
  23. Judith says:

    Do you worry at all about how Mateo will process this, especially as he’s likely to spend more time with Ian than Kyle (bc of the custody arrangement you mentioned).

    02.18.21 Reply
  24. Diana says:

    Had a very similar experience when I introduced my 3 kids (3,5,7) to my boyfriend in June, during the pandemic. Outdoor and then consistent weekly hang outs. A month after meeting each other’s kids, we introduced our kids to each other by having dinner on the beach, which also went incredibly well. I have the opposite relationship with my ex (despite soo much uncoupling therapy) so I applaud your and Kyles dynamic. Thank you for educating and normalizing these experiences for all modern families

    02.19.21 Reply
  25. Cesilie says:

    I love following your journey and thankful for your sharing all of this. I believe the way you’re managing this entire transition is going to make the world of difference for your kids (coming from a child of divorce) and I’m so happy you’ve found someone as equally as invested in that and makes you happy! It’s all such a refreshing take on post divorce families.

    02.19.21 Reply
  26. Erica says:

    Ladies, the age of your children matters and should be considered when making the introductions. You have every day in front of you so don’t rush it. Me and my boyfriend have kids who were 6, 9, 10 when we started dating. We learned through much research and advice to wait at least 6 months after dating for intros then take it slow. Younger kids will immediately warm up to your new beau but they get attached so easily so a break up could be like the divorce all over again and could crush them. We waited almost a full year because his 6 and 10 year old were still quite upset about their parent’s divorce but all of the kids knew we were dating. My 9 year old was more open so he met my beau earlier on and they have hit it off. When the intros happened they were brief and in public in fun places. We didn’t show pda for several months and always focused on the kids not each other when we were together. We’ve now been together 2 years and the kids have been introduced for a year now. Our personal choice is no sleepovers until marriage. We want this to grow naturally so the key we are finding is that you can’t rush it. *They have to fall in love with their parent’s new partner just like we fell in love with each other.* If you find yourself pushing the intro you gotta ask yourself why…is it for your child’s benefit or yours? Don’t try to push your new man into the picture thinking he’s going to fill an empty spot. Your new beau should only be in the new picture because you truly love him and want to enjoy life with him and your kids at the same time. Nothing more. Research and ask for advice!! That is my soapbox

    02.19.21 Reply
    • Erica says:

      As an aside, I applaud you Eva for how you have thoughtfully considered your children’s emotions and for your openness in sharing this difficult journey. I commend you and your ex for being 100% present for your kids and I wish you the best in your relationship! Xo E

      02.19.21 Reply
    • Luisa says:

      I completely agree with you about the no sleepovers until marriage (maybe engaged) I could not imagine bringing a man into my home to spend the night when I have young children (specially a daughter) I guess I’m just old school and still happily married.

      02.23.21 Reply
  27. Betsy Butler says:

    Just so happy for all of you to have found each other and for the obvious love Ian has for your beautiful, amazing kids You and Kyle and Ian are all so loving and work so hard at taking such good care of the kiddos and each other and it is beautiful to see. You all are a beacon of hope in such an important situation and it does my heart good to see it. Thanks for always being so open and willing to share with us. Enjoy and be at peace. 💕💕
    Betsy

    02.24.21 Reply