Single parents often hear the advice that they should wait at least six months before introducing a potential new partner to their children. I believe it's important, before you invest that much time, energy and emotion in a relationship, to see if your potential new partner and your children accept each other. As single parents, we need to be aware whether a new partner sees our children as rivals for our attention or whether our children will be determined to get rid of the new partner -- or both. These situations can be deal-breakers.
Such rivalry doesn't only happen in fairy tales like Hansel and Gretel where the step-mother gets her husband to leave his children in the forest, or in movies like Parent Trap where twin daughters conspire to get rid of their father's girlfriend so they can get their divorced parents back together.
A friend of mine went with someone for six months before introducing the children. Two days later, the relationship was over. The new partner didn't like all the attention my friend gave the children. Another friend married someone with children who were determined to be rid of the new spouse and made life hell. The kids were successful. The marriage was over in eight months. Another friend related that one of her parents died and her other parent later remarried. The new spouse wouldn't let her parent see her and her children. In effect, my friend lost both of her parents.
I understand the concern with introducing a potential new partner too early. If the relationship then ends, the children will be upset with another loss in their lives. I suggest waiting until you feel there is serious potential in the relationship. If you wait six months before introducing your children and there are rivalry problems, you may feel you have invested a lot into the relationship and say, "We'll work on it. They'll learn to accept each other."
Rivalry can create negative situations. You may be put in the middle of conflict between your children and your partner - and each is expecting you to side with them. It's important to find out if there will be such a rivalry before you have invested too heavily.
Elliott Katz is the author of Being the Strong Man A Woman Wants: Timeless wisdom on being a man, which has been translated into more than 20 languages by publishers in Europe, Asia, Latin America and Africa.