Being a single parent is hard enough but when it comes to dating and parenting at the same time, things tend to get a little tricky. One of the toughest aspects of dating as a single parent is having to decide if and when to introduce a partner to the little one(s). If you are a single parent who is struggling with this very issue, there are a number of different things that you should take into consideration before making a final decision. Use the checklist below to ask yourself the kinds of questions that will help guide you through the decision making process:
- How long have you been dating your current partner? If the answer is less than a month, then it is probably safe to assume that it is too soon. Try to spend at least several weeks getting to know your partner before even thinking about putting your kids through the strain of awkward introductions.
- How old are your kids? No matter the age, treat the situation delicately. Do recognize, however, that older children are more likely to take issue with or feel threatened by new partners. Once you have made the decision to introduce your partner to your kids, ease into it by first introducing him/her as a friend and then when you are alone with your kids, as what they thought of your partner and let them know that he/she is special to you and may be coming around more often in the future.
- How serious is it? If you know that your current partner is not likely to be a long-term one, then it is best not to introduce him/her to your children. Kids can become confused or even resentful if they are introduced to a number of different dating partners over a relatively short period of time. Only consider introducing your kids to a partner that you genuinely care for and can see yourself possibly getting serious with in the future.
If, after careful consideration, you decide that it is time to make the big introduction, the next step is to make sure that you do so in a way that will benefit everybody involved. Review the suggestions below for tips on how to make the introductions as smooth as possible:
- Be honest with your kids. Never try to catch your kids off guard by introducing a new partner without giving them any advance warning. Let your kids know ahead of time that you plan on introducing them to someone you have recently met and who has become important to you. Tell them a little bit about your partner so that they will have an idea about what to expect.
- Be choosy about who you bring home and how often. Remember that children can be very easily influenced by the things to which they are exposed. It is of course important for you to have a social life that makes you happy but certainly not at the expense of your childrenís emotional stability or personal adjustment. Be conscious of the examples that you are setting for your kids and the messages that your actions send to them.
- Give them a chance to voice their opinions. Donít be afraid to ask your kids how they feel about meeting your dating partner and be sure to ask for their input about him/her once they have met. Listen openly to their feelings and concerns. Last but certainly not least, always put their needs and best interest above anything else.