For single parents, dating can be fun, terrifying, and intoxicating all at once. When you find yourself dating one person, in particular, a whole new set of questions emerges.
When should I introduce my kids?
This is a common question, and it's one that many single parents wrestle with. While there is no right or wrong answer, you want to be certain that you've given your relationship a significant amount of time to grow and experience the natural fluctuations of ups and downs. Ultimately, no matter how long you've dated, the bottom line is that you must do what you feel is right for your children.
Consider the following factors before you introduce your kids to someone you're dating:
- The ages and emotional development of your children
- The length of time you've been dating
- The amount of time that has passed since the children perceived you as being "together" with the other parent
- How well you know this person personally
- What you know about him or her, if anything, from mutual friends
- How he or she handles stress and works through conflict
- How you plan to introduce him or her to your children
- Whether you both view this as a long-term relationship
- How quickly and easily your children get attached to other adults
- That no matter how careful you are about how and when you introduce your kids, they may still not like the person you're dating
How soon is too soon?
In the world of single parent dating, if you're asking this question, it might actually be too soon. If you're looking for hard-and-fast rules for when to introduce your children, look at two different numbers: how long it's been since your breakup, and how long you've been seeing the person you're dating now. If your kids might consider either of those numbers "too soon," then it's too soon. If you're not sure, consider six months to a year as a conservative rule of thumb.
How can I help my kids adjust to the idea of mom (or dad) dating again?
The biggest thing to remember here is not to take your kids by surprise. They don't want to meet the person you're dating at the breakfast table, a school event, or an obviously pre-planned "accidental" meet-up at the mall or grocery store.
Instead, be intentional. Talk with your kids privately about what's going on, and be as honest as you can without giving them details they don't need to know. And then, when you're ready to introduce your kids to that special someone you've been seeing for awhile, tell them. Say, "I'd like you to meet him (or her.)" Then ask if that's okay and take it from there. Even if they say, "I'm not ready," you've made progress in the right direction by being open and honest. So give it time, and keep checking in now and then to find out how your kids are doing.