Dating as a single parent can be tricky when it’s time to tell your kids you’ve met someone new and things are starting to get serious between the two of you. This is a situation that needs to be dealt with in a delicate and appropriate way so that your kids can understand what’s going on and they don’t get too overwhelmed or upset. Being patient, choosing the right time and way to have this conversation is important because it sets the tone for how they deal with your dating life. By being careful with this conversation you’ll help your kids handle it well while also increasing the chance of your kids getting along with your new partner.
1) Tell them during a quiet moment
As a single parent you may not want to make dating seem like a big deal because that can create stress or upset your kids so to avoid that from happening you can wait until there’s a quiet moment. When you and your kids are watching tv or you’re getting ready to read them a bedtime story you can tell them that you want to talk to them about something and say that you’ve made a new friend that you care a lot about. Your kids are going to become curious and will start asking questions about this person and you can tell them a few details about your new partner. They’re going to realize there’s something different about this relationship and that it’s more than just being friends.
2) Do it with your ex
When you’re a single parent your ex is probably still a part of your life and if you’re on friendly terms with them then it can help your kids if you deal with dating together. Talk to your ex beforehand about getting back into the dating scene and ask if the two of you can talk to your kids about it because there will be a time when your ex will also have to deal with this situation. By dealing with it together your kids will see that both of you are ready to move on from the divorce and they’re less likely to get upset about you having someone new in your life.
3) Ask them how they feel about you dating
If you’re not sure how your kids are going to handle you being a single parent who’s getting serious about dating then you can ask them how they feel about it. Listen to what they say and don’t tell them you’re dating again until you’ve heard how they feel about it so you can choose your response. If they’re not ready for it you can tell them that you aren’t going to be a single parent forever so they need to start getting used to the idea of it and you understand that this is a difficult time for them. Give them a chance to come to terms with this and a week or two later ask them if their feelings have changed. When you think they’re ready for more information you can tell them at a later time you’ve met someone you’re interested in seriously dating.
4) Casually introduce them to your new partner
Transitioning from being a single parent to a single parent who’s back in the dating scene is a big shock to kids but you can help them process this change by keeping things casual so they have time to get used to this new person. Being patient with how they deal with this change helps them and you can do this by introducing them in a casual setting. You can suggest going to the movies with your new friend then a week or two later go out to dinner together. Once your kids have gotten used to your new partner you can tell them that you like them a lot and have decided to start dating them.
5) Ask them if they’d like to meet your new partner
Dating as a single parent is something you can’t hide for long from your children because they’re going to get upset and wonder what else you’re hiding from them. You can be upfront and tell them you’ve met someone new and was wondering if they’d like to meet them. This is going to be a shock to them so being patient while they decide what they’re comfortable with is important to this conversation. You can discuss different opportunities for them to get to know one another and let them choose how they want this meeting to happen. This way they don’t feel like you’re forcing them to be happy about this or that they need to meet your new partner right away.
6) Talk to them about moving on from the divorce
If neither you or ex has made your dating life known to your kids then you may want to start by talking to them about how you feel it’s time to move on from the divorce. This can help them understand what’s going on and why you’re suddenly dating again. Explain that you’re still dedicated to being a single parent and you’re not dating this person because you’re looking for a replacement parental figure for them. Make it clear in a gentle way that you’re not going to get back together with your ex and that you’re going to take things slowly. Tell them that you feel like you’re ready to start dating again and that this is the best decision for you but that you know it’s going to take time for them to get used to this.
7) Wait until they bring up your single parent status
There’s going to come a time when your kids are aware that you’re a single parent and they have friends with a similar home life but the friend’s parent is dating someone. This makes them curious about your dating life and they will ask you about whether or not you’re going to do the same thing. You can wait for them to do this if you’re not comfortable bringing up the issue first and when they ask you about dating you can tell them that you’re glad they asked because you’ve been meaning to talk to them about this. Let them know you’re interested in someone and tell them a little bit about your new partner then ask if they want to know anything else. By letting them have some control in this conversation you know that it’s happening at a pace they’re comfortable with and you’re not overwhelming them with too much information.
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