This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Act Like A Lady Think Like A Man" by Steve Harvey. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.
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Are you thinking about introducing your new partner to your child? What are the most common myths about child-partner introductions?
In his book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, Steve Harvey suggests introducing your new partner to your child early on in the relationship. He discusses the downsides of waiting too long and dispels the myths that many people are told.
Keep reading to learn what Steve Harvey has to say about introducing your child to your new partner.
Introduce Him to Your Children Early
If you have a child, you likely believe that waiting until things are serious to introduce your child to your new partner is your best route. But this tactic can be problematic. If you wait until you and a man are emotionally attached to tell him about your kids, it’s too late.
When a man is getting serious about you, he’s gathering information about you to assess whether you two have a potential future together. If he’s been dating you for months and you’ve hidden the fact you have kids, he’s not going to react kindly when he finds out you’re a mother. He’ll feel like he’s been played, and that won’t reflect well on you.
Even if you’ve told him you have kids, he still needs to meet those kids. He can’t make decisions about your future together if he doesn’t have a clear picture of your life with your kids. He wants to know if he can be a father to your children and how receptive he’ll be to their father playing a role in his life. And he needs to see you as a mother to know if you’re actually mother material and someone with whom he could have children.
When you withhold your children from your man, you’re cutting off his ability to plan for his life. And the longer you wait to introduce him to them, the more charged the situation will become. He’ll start to wonder why you won’t bring him around the kids. Are they terrible? Wild? Mean? Suddenly, the first meeting becomes a bigger deal than it needs to be. He’s just a man meeting the kids, but you’ve upped the intensity of the situation to a visit by the president.
None of these scenarios bodes well for a lasting relationship.
The Benefit of the Early Introduction
The best way to introduce your new man to your children is by creating a calm and casual situation for them to meet as soon as you think you might be more than just attracted to him. If you’re considering whether this man might be the one, you need to be considering whether he’s the one for your kids. This early introduction accomplishes several things.
1. You allow a man to see you in your natural role as a mother.
A man learns more about who you are and your ability to care for a family when he sees you with your children. If he has his own children, this aspect of your personality is vital knowledge. He’s going to be watching to see whether you’re the kind of mother he wants for his current or yet-to-be-born children.
2. You allow a man to prove whether he’s father material.
You need to know if he is good with kids if he’s going to be in your life long-term. On the first interaction, he’ll either make an effort to talk to your kids or act like a deer in headlights. And if a man can’t hold a conversation with a child, he’s probably not going to excel as a father.
3. You get to see how he reacts if your kids aren’t friendly.
If he’s able to defuse an uncomfortable interaction with your child with understanding and humor, he’s mature enough to handle the tough responsibilities of raising a child. If he cowers or complains, he’s going to have issues. You don’t need a man to start acting like father of the year, but he does need to exhibit a sense of comfortability and an aptitude for playfulness to show he’s got the mettle to be a good father.
4. You can see if there’s potential for mutual admiration between your man and kids.
Children are fickle about new partners in their parents’ lives. But small children have no motivation for disliking someone. They pick up on a person’s energy, and if your small child is picking up negative energy, that’s something to look at. Older children are more likely to act coldly, and that’s the cross you have to bear with teenagers. But how he handles their attitudes will say a lot about the kind of man he is.
If your man thinks you’re worth the effort, he’ll do his best to deal with the disruptions or issues with your children. He’ll try to connect with your kids to determine whether this is just a phase or a real issue he has to consider. He’ll make small gestures and efforts to be involved in your children’s lives and eventually win them over. If he doesn’t, he’s not the man for your family.
Overcoming Common Myths
You may think that bringing home a strange man is fraught with land mines. First and foremost, you want to protect your children from harm, and allowing them to get attached to a man who might not be around much longer could hurt them. You also don’t want to give your kids the impression that you don’t care about them by bringing home random men all the time.
These are valid fears, but the key thing to remember is that you’re not bringing home random men. You only introduce your family to a man you’re interested in becoming serious with and who has proven himself to be a mature and stable man.
You also may worry he’ll think you’re trying to trap him by getting your kids attached to him to make it harder for him to leave. This belief stems from one of the games men routinely play. Men who only want fun and sex have been conning women for years that pressuring them to meet the kids is a sign of desperation or manipulation. Again, this is a lie.
A good man will understand how important your children are to you and the need for you to assess whether he will be a good fit in your lives. If he’s sincere about his intentions for you, he’ll follow whatever plan you have to create a union among all of you. If he protests or tries to dissuade you from bringing him home, he’s not your man.
Will He Make a Good Father?
The following characteristics can help you determine your man’s viability as a father. If you notice these traits in him, you likely have a good man willing and able to be a good father.
- He likes children and hopes to start a family someday.
- He wants to meet your kids.
- He brings small gifts over for your children.
- He makes sure to be caring and respectful to you in front of the children.
- He incorporates your children into your dates.
- He has a good relationship with his mother.
- He has nieces and nephews he’s fond of.
- He takes good care of his pets.
- He has a clean home.
- He’s kind and comforting if your child gets hurt.
- He plays games with your kids and lets them win.
- He remains calm when accidents happen, like spilled food or drinks on his clothes.
- He asks about your kids’ school work and personal lives.
- He isn’t afraid to be stern with your kids.
- He has the capacity to forgive, even when your child doesn’t deserve it.
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- How to navigate the adult dating scene
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