By Katie Gray

When you have children and are no longer with the other parent, it can be a very difficult transition. Raising kids is a lot of hard work and it’s important. When you get a shot at happiness in your relationship and love life, you deserve it – even if you do already have children. The important thing is to make sure your kids are still your number one priority — them. It’s often very hard to tell when you should introduce your kids to your new partner.

Cupid talked to some experts about relationships and love to find out exactly when and how you should introduce your kids to your new partner.

1. Introduce when it gets serious.

When you do decide to introduce your children to the new special person in your life, it should be when the relationship and love is developing into something permanent. Dr. Jane Greer, a New York based relationship expert and author, gave dating advice by explaining, “You should introduce your kids when you become really exclusive and serious with the new partner. You don’t want to confuse the kids or allow them to become attached to the new partner if he or she won’t be around for long.”

2. Keep it casual.

As far as how to go about introducing the children to your partner, Dr. Greer says, “It’s always best to introduce the kids in an activity that’s casual and informal – a ball game, a movie, etc. – something where everyone is participating together.” She also added that if your new partner also has children, then this is the perfect time for everyone to get to know one another. If you are unsure how to label your significant other to your kids, it’s always good to use, “Mommy’s good friend” or use your partner’s first name.

3. Make it positive.

JoAnn Ward, President of Master Matchmakers, emphasizes, “No matter what, always make it positive and show that you can create a balance between your kids and your dating life.”

4. Consider age and timing.

The amount of time that passes before you introduce your kids to your new partner varies. It depends on factors such as: the age of your children, how comfortable you are with your partner and how long you have known them. Ward suggests that the minimum would be a month to six weeks for mentioning them to your kids and about three months to initially introduce. She explains, “Younger kids do not quite have a firm grasp on time, so you don’t want to confuse them if you tell them about your new partner too early and it doesn’t work out.”

5. Mention a new partner to your kids’ other parent.

Ward says that you should absolutely tell the other parent of your children if they are going to meet your new partner. Ward explains, “The kids will wind up saying something anyway. You’d want to say that you’re seeing someone and give them notice that you’re planning to introduce them to your kids.” It’s a common courtesy and the polite thing to do, especially if this significant other will be around long term.

Dr. Greer and Ward both agree that you must be honest with your children. That is the most important thing!

What are some other things to keep in mind when you’re introducing your kids to your new partner? Share your thoughts below.