People have asked me to write a post about dating as a single parent. I am confident this is because people really just want some answers, not because they think I actually have them. I’m certainly no expert – unless you truly believe that we learn the most from our mistakes! (ha ha…)
With that said, there is one part of dating that I’m happy to address, and that is the question of “how do I introduce my date to my kids?” Of course, every situation is different, and what works for some does not for others. However, from what I have seen, I can certainly offer some (tongue in cheek) tips on how NOT to introduce your new boyfriend/girlfriend to your kids!
- First of all, we’ve all heard the rule of thumb about not dating for a year after separation – while you may feel ready sooner, your kids don’t want to see you with another man/woman, so consider leaving them out of it for a while.
- The best way of introducing your date probably does not include having your young child sleep between you and your date during the first weekend she or he spends in your custody.
- You may want to leave out any suggestion, either direct or implied, of your date being the “new mommy/daddy.”
- Don’t compare your new significant other to the other parent of your children. This is going to backfire when your child starts comparing as well (and probably not in your favor).
Surely, by the time you are dating, you’ve at least got a network of friends. Bring your date out to group events that include other friends and kids. You want your significant other to be a part of your circle of friends anyway, don’t you? That way your kids can get to know him or her within an environment where they are already comfortable – and without the pressure of HAVING to like Mom’s boyfriend (or Dad’s girlfriend).
The date can just be “one of your friends” until enough time has passed and you know a couple of things: He or she is in your life for the foreseeable future and you know the person gets along with your kids.
After all, if your kids don’t like your significant other, chances are there’s a reason for that (hello, red flag!). And even if there is no seemingly “real” reason, the kids come first!
Stacy Lamb of Apex is the divorced mom of two. She also is organizer for Single Parents of the Triangle. Find her here monthly on Wednesday.