The scope of dating changes when you have children. You probably can’t hang out at single’s bars every night like you could before the kids were born. Some people find it difficult to find someone new when they are finally ready to start dating someone new.
Let all of your friends and acquaintances know that you are interested in meeting new people. Let them set you up on dates. When you do this, the man or woman that you see will be aware up front that you have kids.
When you are with your kids, strike up conversations with other eligible parents. Not all of them will be available, but some will be. The fact that they understand what life is like with kids is an added plus.
While you may not have the time or energy to go to a lot of single’s events, you may have an hour at the end of the day to visit online dating sites. Consider joining one or more of these sites. A general interest site will have some information in the profiles about whether the person is interested in dating people with kids. More specific sites exist for single parents to meet each other.
When you start actively looking for someone, you will probably be pleasantly surprised at how many people there are to date.
Let Your Date Know About Your Kids
You should let your date know about your kids as soon as possible. If you wait, they may feel that they have wasted their time if they are not interested in kids.
But, more importantly, you will have wasted your time. And, for single parents, time is precious. Don’t think that you can lure someone into loving you and then spring your kids on them after they’ve fallen in love. It just doesn’t work that way.
Don’t apologize for being a parent. Your kids are a big part of your life. You are justifiably proud of your relationship with them.
If your date expresses any hesitation about your having kids, that’s a good sign that you shouldn’t pursue the relationship. If he or she seems only tolerant of children, it’s a good sign things won’t work out.
Find out how they feel about having more children and how they see integrating the families upfront as well.
Don’t Parade Dates in Front of Kids
Introducing someone new to your kids should take serious thought. For instance, having a series of “uncles” come into a child’s life can be very confusing. It should be a big step to introduce someone to your kids. It’s taking the relationship up a level.
Before you introduce your kids to a new love, you should be in a committed relationship, envision this person as a potential member of your family, and talk between yourselves about what this means. Make sure your love is ready to accept the responsibility of being a part of your kids’ lives.
Additionally, before you introduce your new man or woman, really get to know them. Do a background check if you feel that is important. When you introduce someone into your family, you make your kids vulnerable to them. Make sure that the person is not a psycho or a child abuser. Remember, the only “rule” is that your kids don’t get hurt.
Reassure Your Kids that They Remain Important to You
Realize that when you introduce another person into the “family,” your kids are going to feel threatened by the new person’s presence. Therefore, you are going to need to reaffirm the children’s centrality to your life.
Tell them that just because you love another man or woman, it doesn’t mean that you love them any less.
Share your enthusiasm about the person you are dating. Tell your kids why you love him or her.
Use this opportunity to talk openly about love relationships. They will later model what you do now, so your reassurance about love is important.
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The First Encounter
When you first introduce your new boyfriend or girlfriend to your children, you may want to tell them he or she is a “friend.” Let them get used to the person before you up the ante.
You want the first encounter to be fun for everyone. Don’t plan a big event. Keep it small and fun.
For instance, go to the park and play on the swings, or for older kids, play Frisbee. Have a special treat like ice cream from the vendor to make the occasion extra “sweet.”
Keep the occasion short. Spend an hour or so together.
It may be best to arrive at a venue in separate cars rather than meet at one house and drive together. That way, if things blow up (and they might), you can quickly leave.
You are also probably going to be concerned with the impression your children make on your new love. That’s natural. But you should let your kids be kids. You’ll stress them out if you try to make them “perfect” for this occasion.
If you have older kids, this is not the time to have big fights about holey jeans or make up. Teenagers in particular may “push back” by pushing all of your buttons. Realize that it is stressful for them to meet an adult figure that may play a role in their lives.
Give your children and your new love space to develop their own relationships. The bond between them is going to be forged naturally. You can’t force it.
You can facilitate it though. Have family style dates. Do fun, kid-oriented things together like going ice skating or to a movie that the kids have been dying to see.
But, if your kids are shy or uncomfortable with the new person, don’t push it. If their relationship with the new person never forms, there is nothing you can do to “make” your kids love the new person.