Once you have children, it can sometimes feel like your dating life will be on hold until they grow up. However, this does not have to be the end of meeting new people and starting new relationships. If you feel you are ready to start dating again, with these ground rules, you can effectively date, even when you have children.
1. Don’t Introduce Kids on a First Date
It can be tempting to involve your children in all aspects of your life, especially if you have sole custody and don’t get much time away from your children. However, this can be detrimental to the emotional wellbeing of your children. Take your time and always wait until you are sure.
2. Put Your Children First
Your children should be your priority in all things. This doesn’t mean you can’t make time to date. Instead, make sure you work your dates around your children’s schedules and see him or her when you have spare time.
3. Keep Your Ex Informed
While you don’t need to give him or her every detail of your private life, it is common courtesy to let your ex know you are seriously dating someone. He or she is likely to hear it from your children anyway, but it is always better when it comes from you.
4. Set Your Expectations Ahead of Time
Being a parent has taught you to always be prepared and know what to expect ahead of time. The same is true in your dating life. Make sure your date knows what your expectations are. Do you just want to have fun? Are you looking for something serious?
5. Be Honest with Your Children
Children are naturally inquisitive and may have questions about how you spend your time without them. When they ask questions, you don’t have to be detailed, but make it your policy to be honest with them about who you are seeing.
6. Go on Dates When Your Children Aren’t Around
If possible, it is always best to schedule your dates during times your children are with the other parent. This will free you from the need for a babysitter and allow you to maximize your time with your children. A date who is worth your time will understand.
7. Get to Know Your Date Well
Before you make the decision to allow someone into your children’s lives, make sure you know him or her well. This may include completing a background check and meeting the individual’s family and friends. This can give you insight the individual can’t hide from you, helping you feel at ease.
8. Talk to Your New Significant Other about Expectations
When it is time to make the introductions, it is important to set rules with your significant other about what to expect in your home. For instance, you should be the only one to discipline your children and your significant other should ask you before offering your children anything.
9. Follow Your Children’s Cues
It is just as important for your children to be accepting of a new significant other as it is for you to enjoy his or her company. Watch your children for cues that they are uncomfortable and address it. Even if the person feels right for you, he or she may not be the best fit for your family.
10. Introduce in a Group Setting
Introducing your children to your date in a group setting is often the best way to do it. This allows your children to get used to this new person in a way that is less intimidating. They can easily talk to others they know if they are uncomfortable.
11. Minimize the PDA
Public displays of affection aren’t necessarily wrong, but it is best to keep them to a minimum when you are around your children. If you end up moving in together or getting married, your children will see it. However, it is best to give them time to adjust first.
12. Keep the Lines of Communication Open
Blending a family with children is a difficult process, especially if one party doesn’t have children of his or her own. Keep the lines of communication open and have regular discussions about how things are going. If the other party has complaints or concerns about your children, listen with an open mind.
13. Give Your Children Reassurance
Some children worry that a dating parent is trying to replace their other parent. For this reason, it is critical that you reassure your children that you can’t replace their mom or dad. If your children are older, you can explain the need for adult companionship in an age-appropriate manner.