When you have children the world of dating has a whole new range of problems that childfree singles can’t imagine. Not only do you have the normal issues about finding people who are compatible, but you also need to find someone who is going to be compatible with your children.
If there is another parent in the picture your new potential partner will also have to be able to cope with whatever drama or relationship that has developed, while if you are widowed, they need to be comfortable acknowledging the deceased parent in a positive manner.
Let’s look at a few of the issues that that come with dating as a parent, and how to overcome some of them.
Finding The Right Person
This is probably the first step, how do you actually meet people? One of the easiest ways is to join one of the online dating sites. You can look at one of the more generic sites or go with one that is specifically for parents, go right here to have a look at some of your options.
When you are making a decision, think about future children. Are you thinking of a blended family like the Brady Bunch, a childfree single who might want to have children in the future, or a childfree single who just wants to parent your kids? Joining an online dating site that is aimed at parents is unlikely to get you the childfree single, but they might help you find a great Brady Bunch scenario.
What if you just want a short term fling? Who’s going to blame you! There are hookup apps and sites that are just perfect, you don’t even need to mention that you’ve got kids if you are just going for a good oldfashioned one-night-stand. Just make sure that you are clear that is all you want, both in your own mind and on your profile.
No matter whether you are looking at a fling or a longer-term option, you need to work out what you’re going to be doing with the kids while you’re out on your date.
When Do You Introduce The Kids?
This is something that you will need to consider, but the answer is not simple. A lot will depend on the age of your child(ren), their personalities and if you have another parent in the picture who has a view.
No matter what the age of your children, you likely want to introduce your family to your potential partner after you have gone one a few dates and established that there may potentially be a connection between you. However, you also want your family and potential partner to meet before either of you become so attached to each other that there will be way too much pressure on that first meeting. It is a fine line, but doable if you are aware of it. https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/stepparent.html
Introducing Younger Children
With younger children, under 6years, a casual playdate with your ‘friend’ is always going to be a good option, in a neutral location such as a park or playground. If your potential partner has children themselves this also will give the children a chance to meet each other in a neutral setting.
If you have children who are tweens or early teens you may find that this is the most difficult age, as they have likely already adjusted to having you to themselves or to the situation as it is, and any changes are often met with a high degree of resistance with this age group (see here). However, it will have to be faced, and it is something that you and your potential partner can talk about together and see if you can come up with any solutions that may work. Unfortunately for this age bracket, it will very much come down to understanding their individual personalities.
With some children, your best approach will be to have a sit-down discussion about the fact that you are looking at dating and explain why. With other children you may be best to just pull the bandaid, so to speak, and just throw everyone in together and see how it plays out. Do not try to create an overly orchestrated first meeting, whether it works or it doesn’t, you can always do a repeat day. If you allow things to flow as naturally as possible you won’t be as stressed and more likely to find yourself having an enjoyable time.
You may find that they resent the idea of you trying to introduce a new person into the family, particularly if that person comes with children of their own. However, you need to remember that you are the parent, and although you want what is best for them, you do have the right to make friends of your own. Try not to let them manipulate you into ending a relationship that could have worked just because they are hormonal or unhappy with change.
Introducing Older Children
While with older children you will likely need to have a really good discussion. Try not to scare them off with talk about sexual needs, but you can talk about adult relationship and emotional connections. Remember that you are now their role model and example for the dating world, so if they see you off with different people every Friday night or encounter half-naked strangers in their kitchen on a Saturday morning, this is how they will also believe they should behave.
With older children bear in mind that they will be moving out of home in the not too distant future. This isn’t a reason to avoid making introductions or skip being open with your kids about relationships, but it does mean you don’t need to as worried about potential conflicts for the simple reason that they just won’t be around as often as with younger children. But you don’t want family gatherings to be heated affairs, so you still need to do your best to create a positive experience for all.