Before having children, I believe that a relationship should be stable for six to twelve months. When they meet a new partner, it is advisable to call them a "friend" and keep them away from the kids until later. Children are astute. If your partner does not want others to know about their love story then it's best not to involve your child in it.
Once you have all cleared the initial hurdles of liking each other, a relationship progresses smoothly if both partners are willing to compromise. However, if one person is under the impression that they can have everything their way then no matter how much space they try to give the other person, there will always be tension in the air.
It is important to understand that a child needs both parents who work together in order to provide for them. If one parent is obsessed with getting married then they cannot expect the other parent to go along with it just because they say it is for the good of the family.
Marriage is a big deal and should be taken seriously. In today's world where people have different ideas about marriage, it is easy to fall into the trap of wanting something that you think it will make you happy.
It is preferable to wait until you are in a serious relationship before bringing your children into the picture. Allow time for things to settle down to the point where you and your new spouse are at ease with one other. Wait until the "honeymoon phase" has passed, or is less strong. This will help avoid any unnecessary stress about your partner meeting your children.
If you do decide to bring them into the picture early on, make sure that you both understand what role each person will play. For example, if one parent wants to be involved more closely with the child's life then they should let the other know this up front. Otherwise, there could be problems later on when it comes to decision-making or access times.
Generally speaking, it is best if your partner meets your child around their first birthday but you can start planning earlier if you want to. Just make sure that you both agree on how close your child will live to his or her new stepfamily. There can be issues with privacy if the child doesn't get along with his or her siblings from prior to being married.
Consider delaying presenting your new lover to your children for six months to a year. Your children may not be ready to witness a prospective new "father figure" until then. Your boyfriend's contact with your children should gradually expand over time. Initially, he should meet your children at appropriate times and places. As they get to know each other better, they can be together in the presence of their younger siblings.
Children need both parents involved in their lives - but they also need to see that both parents love each other. If your children feel that there is no hope of their father-lover staying married, they will never fully trust either person again. Give them time to get used to the idea before bringing someone new into their world.
The older your children are, the more likely it is that they will accept your new relationship. Teens generally want to protect their parents, so if you can show them that you two are meant to be together, they will usually be happy for you. However, if you have a young child, they might still believe that their father is just looking for some fun away from home for a while. In this case, you should try not to let them affect your decision - if you both love each other, then there's no reason why you shouldn't be able to stay together.
You should also consider how your new partner feels about having children.
If a parent thinks he's found someone he can trust around his children and is confident they'll be in his life for a long time, most experts advise waiting at least six months before arranging a meeting between the children and the new partner. This gives everyone enough time to get to know one another and make sure there's a mutual understanding of how each person feels about children.
If you have doubts about whether this new person is going to be in your son or daughter's life forever, it's best not to take the risk and just go ahead and bring them into the fold now. The more time that passes, the harder it will be to remove the child from your girlfriend's care if she decides to change her mind later on.
Most parents we talk to say they would hold off on introducing their child to their girlfriend for at least six months. Some even suggest a year. That's a lot of time! If you think you might want to marry this woman someday, it's better to wait and see what happens over time instead of making an immediate decision.
The main thing is to be honest with yourself about how you feel about this new person who has entered your life. If after six months you're still not sure if she's right for you then there's no harm in waiting a few more months before bringing her into the picture.