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By the age of 16, almost 50 percent of teens will see their parents divorce, according to 2013 information from HealthyChildren.org, a website of the American Academy of Pediatrics. If your boyfriend is divorced and has teenagers, finding the right time for a first introduction is key when it comes to building a healthy, long-term relationship.
Bringing In the Basics
Before you ask your boyfriend to meet his teen children, take some time to understand and think about what they are going through. This includes how the effect that the divorce has had on them, even if it isn't recent. Teens often view a divorce along the same lines as a death, responding to it with a range of negative emotions such as depression and anger, notes the HealthyChildren.org website. Ask your boyfriend how his children responded to the divorce and how they are currently coping with it. If he tells you that they aren't doing well, are having serious psychological issues, or are getting in trouble at school often, consider waiting to bring up the subject of meeting until the kids are more emotionally stable.
Keep in mind that if your boyfriend is simply a casual fling, the time to meet his teenage children may be never. Children don't need to meet every woman that a parent dates, especially if the relationship isn't serious. When the relationship does turn serious, then it's time to consider meeting his teens. As almost-adults, chances are that his teens know that dad does date. That said, it doesn't set a positive example for them to see a revolving line of ladies move in and out of his life. Waiting until you establish that the relationship is a long-term one will show the children that both of you are serious about each other.
Creating a Timeline
The HealthyChildren.org website suggests waiting a minimum of six months after a separation for a parent to start dating. If your boyfriend is newly divorced you may want to give your relationship time to grow while his teenagers take their own time to adjust to their new family dynamic. Your boyfriend's teens may believe that they can reunite their mom and dad, notes American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry website. As such, they might view you as a threat to this reunion. However, keep in mind that as time goes by, your beau's teens will understand that the separation is final. When they take this to heart, they can open themselves up to the possibility of meeting their dad's new love interest.
The Right Routine
All children, including teens, need a routine or feeling of continuity in their lives, according to the Massachusetts Bar Foundation on the Divorce Center website. If your boyfriend's family is in the midst of an upheaval, such as moving into a new home, wait until the dust settles before asking for that first introduction. Additionally, if the kids have to start a new high school or are still adjusting to staying at their mom's house during the week and their dad's on the weekends, take a step back and wait for your boyfriend's teens to feel like life is predictable or routine again.
Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.
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