Is this the most nerve-wracking moment of a new relationship?

You’ve been seeing someone for a while, you know you have feelings for them and they’re likely to be a big part of your life for the conceivable future. This means it’s time to face a scary milestone – introducing your new partner to your adult kids.

Here are some ideas on how to handle your children’s and your partner’s feelings, as well as your own expectations, to make the introduction run smoothly and hopefully develop into an easy relationship for everyone.

The kids

Only you can understand the intricate details of your relationship with each child, and this will help you decide whether to introduce your partner to them all at the same time or one by one.

Your children want you to be happy, but they may not like the idea of you having a significant other in your life.

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They may feel threatened about someone else taking up your time or attention; they may be missing their father, or wishing you were still together; they might harbour concerns about your financial situation – or theirs if they stand to inherit some money.

Whatever the situation, start with a conversation. Let them know the reasons why you want this relationship in your life, give them a chance to express their concerns and acknowledge those concerns rather than brushing them aside. Remember, the goal of this conversation is to talk about your relationship with your partner, not dredge up old dramas.

Once you’ve had the conversation and given your children enough time to digest the fact their parent is a human with the need for human connection, plan the meeting.

The best setting for your children and your new partner to meet is one that is casual, on neutral grounds if possible (think how strange the kids will find it that your lover knows where the cups are kept in you kitchen!), and with the option of being brief.

Here’s what not to do: spring your new flame on your children with no preamble or warning. Worse still, bringing them along to a major event such as a wedding, birthday party or other gathering, without letting your kids know in advance.

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And here’s a great tip: don’t send your new partner to the airport to pick up your kids in your place when they fly in from overseas. They will be very, very confused (this actually happened).

Your partner

Understandably, the new man or woman in your life might be nervous about meeting your children. We’ve all heard the horror stories!

Give them the best chance of making a great first impression by arming them with some titbits of information about each of your children – interests, hobbies, jobs, names of their children. Don’t forget to warn them about any sensitive areas: divorce, money problems, health issues, disabilities and so on.

You

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In this situation, you may find yourself in the bizarre place of feeling like both a teenager facing up to her parents, and a parent looking out for her kids – it can be quite surreal. Try to relax, and remember ­– you have a right to be happy!

It’s important to manage your expectations of the initial meeting between your kids and you new partner, and also the ongoing relationship between you all.

It may take some time for your adult children to accept your new partner and for your lover to be comfortable around your kids. As Rachel Hunter once said, “It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen.”

Do you have experience introducing your adult children to your new partner? What advice and stories do you have to share?