When Should You Introduce Your Kids to a New Partner?

- It's time for

[Crowd] Ask the doctors. (applause)

- Our first question comes via Instagram.

At what point should I let my kids meet my new

significant other after a divorce

and how can I introduce them?

This is an interesting question,

joining us via Skype is psychiatrist Dr. Domenick Sportelli.

Dr. Sportelli, (applause) thanks for being with us.

- Hey guys.

- [Travis] What are your thoughts on this?

- Listen, I'm glad they're asking the question

because that tells me that they're putting their kids'

first and making them a priority.

So that's a good start.

When you bring another person into the house too soon,

the child may actually feel like they're betraying

the other parent if they like the new person.

So they might act as if they don't like the new person

just because they're afraid to betray the other parent,

which is really sad.

- I think it's very important the age of the kids

you're talking about because toddlers,

or middle school age versus high school age,

big, big difference.

- Absolutely right and that's why there's no specific

time frame because ages vary, family structure vary,

family dynamics vary.

So you know your child better than anybody.

Instead of just saying, you have to wait exactly six months,

it's really unrealistic because an adolescent for example,

can process this a lot easier for example than maybe

a toddler who's a little bit more concrete

and just really wants daddy or mommy there.

- How would you ideally go about the introduction?

- If you feel that your child is ready,

number one, make sure the child knows that they are

the first priority.

They're not playing second fiddle to a new person

in their life because they've already experienced

so much loss.

Number two, tell your child that this new person

in your life, is a friend.

They don't understand the romantic relationships

just yet and that can cause serious problems.

So just friends at this point.

When you do decide to introduce them,

do it away from the home and do it in a fun mutual location.

Do it somewhere that the child agrees to be,

maybe like an arcade or somewhere, a mall, or a movie,

something with a lot of people around,

something that the child likes to do for example,

so everyone in the family can have fun.

- So say that you've done your due diligence

and you know you're dating a good person,

but your child does not like your new friend,

how do you handle that?

- Give the child time,

don't force them into liking somebody.

Let them settle back, enjoy having some fun

and bring that person around slowly.

Introduce them slowly, again, mutual fun stuff

and see if the child comes around.

In a case where the child really continues to push

back, you guys might want to consider getting a

psychotherapist involved to help the child make that

transition or to guide the parent in coping strategies

and strategies to help the child understand a

little bit better.