All great until kid enters picture

Amanda Ngudle

Amanda Ngudle

All the pieces just to fall into place, until the kid comes into the picture.

Ask any single dating mother and she will tell you there's never a perfect opportunity or easy way of bringing the boyfriend topic to the table.

Though Margaret Dicks, a clinical psychologist, suggests that older children are usually more inclined to accommodate the arrival of a successor to their fathers, she does not rule out a demonstration by the little people.

The big issue is normally about their fathers being "cut out" of the picture and being replaced by a stranger.

That is why Dicks says it's usually wiser to wait until we are positive that the man means business and that we feel the same.

"A mother needs to make sure she's not opening old wounds for an affair that will soon evaporate," she warns.

"If he is more than just a friend and you know you have a future together, then you may introduce the man to the children."

The time frame to determine this important factor is, however, debatable, so a woman needs to use her discretion with utmost care.

Another important factor is to introduce the man subtly into their life by dating, taking the kids out with him and even allowing him to spend some time with the kids before making the final decision to make introductions.

"Some men can seem to love your kids, but they are doing it just to please you."

Also, giving him time to interact with them "will take the pressure off wanting a father for your children because women have a tendency to do and think for their children", Dicks says.

But when a woman has decided the man is perfect for herself and her children, the dilemma is that of convincing the kids that her new man is not a replacement for their father.

"The younger the child, the more unsettling it is for her to accept changes in the household whereas for the older children, the turn of events might even be met with glee."

Tips on making that big introduction:

l Make an appointment with your kids to sit down and talk about "something important".

l Talk to them in the absence of the man first. This gives them the opportunity to ask questions, participate in the debate and vent their feelings.

l Make them understand what role their father plays in their lives.

l Reassure them that his presence will not hamper your special times together and keep your promise.