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Show ALL Forums  > Single Parents  > Planning to Introduce the Kids in a Single Parent Dating Relationship      Home login  
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 HeightenFeelings
Joined: 1/2/2008
Msg: 1
Planning to Introduce the Kids in a Single Parent Dating RelationshipPage 1 of 1    
Planning to Introduce the Kids in a Single Parent Dating Relationship
I am above all else a loving single father. For me, new dating relationships are simultaneously a source of energizing excitement and multiple questions. When it comes to introducing my kid to someone who has become very important to me, there are several factors I consider.

Look at The Relationship
A lot of parents want to know, "When should I introduce my kids to the person I'm dating?" Peter Sheras, a clinical psychologist at the University of Virginia, and the author of I Can't Believe You Went Through My Stuff!: How to Give Your Teens the Privacy They Crave and the Guidance They Need, advises parents to look first toward the quality of the dating relationship before worrying about how or when to introduce the children. "The commitment is the most important piece because, when there's commitment, that becomes obvious to the kids."

Being honest with yourself and your partner is key. Not every dating relationship reaches the level of commitment that necessitates including the children. You may very well be enjoying a casual, lively social life with a person who is fun to be around, but with whom you simply don't envision a future. This is critical because once you involve your children, you leave them vulnerable to becoming attached. Frankly, doing so before you've even determined for yourself that this will be a long-term relationship is unfair to your children and could potentially be as painful for them as your initial separation or divorce from the other parent.

Before introducing a love interest to your children, you should:
Be in a committed relationship
Be able to envision making this person a part of your family
Talk openly with one another about what that would mean

Be Honest With Your Kids
Once you've both decided that this is a serious, committed relationship, you'll want to begin a meaningful dialogue with your children. Most importantly, you'll want to affirm your commitment to the kids and respond to any questions they have. Peter Sheras, a clinical psychologist at the University of Virginia, and the author of I Can't Believe You Went Through My Stuff!: How to Give Your Teens the Privacy They Crave and the Guidance They Need, explains, "Kids' fears are more fears of abandonment than anything else. They're afraid that when push comes to shove, you'll abandon them for this new relationship. Therefore, it's useful to make your commitment to them explicit before you even introduce the person."

In addition, Sheras emphasizes that you're not asking for the children's approval. Neither are you giving the children an ultimatum about accepting your partner. Rather, you're initiating a conversation about how important your children are to you, and what you each want for your future. Sheras recommends that parents, "Begin by making your own statement of love and support for your family. Then ask the children questions like 'What would you like for our family? What are you looking for in someone that we might bring into the family?'" This ongoing and honest dialogue is an important part of including the children in a relationship that has become important to you.

When talking with the children about your relationship:
Realize that your children are afraid of being abandoned
Affirm your own personal commitment to your children
Share your genuine enthusiasm for the person you are dating

Introductions
Once you've begun talking openly about your relationship with your children, you can begin thinking about how you'd like to make the initial introductions. Peter Sheras, a clinical psychologist at the University of Virginia, and the author of I Can't Believe You Went Through My Stuff!: How to Give Your Teens the Privacy They Crave and the Guidance They Need, recommends that parents plan on introducing the kids "within a couple of months of declaring yourself in a serious relationship."

When it comes to making the actual introductions, you'll want to plan an informal outing or activity. Ideally, you wan to create a situation where everyone can be themselves, relax, and have a good time. A brief activity, such as going out for pizza or playing a quick round of miniature golf, gives everyone a chance to meet, but doesn't create a situation where lengthy conversation is needed.
 packagedealx3
Joined: 2/4/2006
Msg: 2
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Planning to Introduce the Kids in a Single Parent Dating Relationship
Posted: 2/10/2008 7:53:10 PM
There is a difference between dating and being in serial relationships. My children have been introduced to several different men I have dated and I emphasize introduced as in this is so and so, bye.

They have actually spent time around three guys in three years. Two of those they spent probably not even a few hours with all told and one of them they were around quite a bit. They have learned that people date and that based on those dates, they might choose to spend more time together. They have also discovered that things do not always work out, this does not make either party a bad person, just didn't work out.

They have also learned that you should not get into or stay in a bad relationship just to have someone in your life. I don't think I have set a poor example for them and as they are a part of my life, I do not think they would appreciate it if I were dating without them having any clue about the people I choose to spend time with.

My kids have seen my friends come and go over the years, they have had friends at school that have moved, and they recognize that not everyone stays in your life, and sometimes people are not totally out of your life but you wind up not talking every day or seeing them as much. They know that sometimes this can be a relief and sometimes it is sad and really sucks but it is a part of life.

I believe they view boyfriends the same way and two are still in their lives and they probably see them more now than when we dated. You do have to be cautious about who you bring around your kids and when and if you get to the point that they are spending any substantial chunks of time around your kids but if they see nothing, they also miss learning lessons that can be valuable to them when they are out there dating.

My perspective is also influenced by the ages of my kids. Two are teens and I would likely handle things even more cautiously if they were younger but I do what works for me and them and this works for us. Every family is different, every situation is different and while the advice given in the OP is a good guideline, it is not for everyone. I don't need to tell my kids I am not going anywhere, they realize this regardless of others in our lives, mom is here to stay.
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