I’m a single mother of two children, a ten-year-old boy and a 15-year-old girl. I don’t date much, in part because I haven’t yet found “the one”. Part of what I would like in a man is a good father for my children and I want them to love him as much as I do. The problem I’m having though, is deciding when is a good time to introduce my children to my new man. I don’t want to get serious with anyone who doesn’t fit well with my kids and I don’t want them to become attached to someone who isn’t going to stay.
Recently I have had my friends tell me that I can’t keep introducing my male companions to my children because it’s eventually going to hurt them. Is that true? How many dates do you think I should go on, how long should I wait before I introduce my guy to the special people in my life?
Wow. How’d THIS question get in my bag? I usually do toilet seats and beer bellies; the tough stuff is supposed to go on to Good Enough Mother. Well, you asked a simple guy, so I can only assume you wanted a simple answer, and that’s what I’ve got. I say if you really want to know when is the best time to introduce your new man to your kids, how about asking them? See, it goes like this:
KIDS SEE EVERYTHING: From the time our children are born, they are learning their parents. They know when we’re angry, when we’re happy, when something is wrong with us, and when is the right time to tell us about that note the algebra teacher sent home with them. So, they know your cell phone has been ringing more than usual. They see the way your face lights up when you see who’s calling. They see that your new dresses are a tad shorter and the heels are a tad higher. They smell the new perfume. They see the new bounce in your step. And even if the ten-year-old hadn’t completely figured it out, the 15-year-old has, by now, filled in the blanks for him. What they don’t know is what it means for them. That’s where you come in.
WHAT AND HOW MUCH DO THEY NEED TO KNOW? Family meeting time. Sit down with the kids and ask them what they think about mommy dating (at this point, the name of the possible “Mr. Right” isn’t necessary). Talk to them frankly. Ask them when and if they think you should introduce them to someone you’re dating. Tell them to be honest and then let them. Some of their answers might be pleasantly surprising; others, not so much. Remember: you’re the parent. You make the final call, but good decision-making involves gathering as much information as possible. Our children are great resources that are, oftentimes, overlooked.
THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK:
So who is this guy?
What exactly are your intentions?
How long have you been dating him?
Is it serious?
Do you think you’ll end up marrying him?
If so, when?
Where did you meet him?
What are we supposed to call him?
Does he have kids?
Does he even like kids?
Does he want more kids?
Yeah, that’s a lot of questions and those may only be scratching the surface. Be ready to answer, even if it’s, “That’s a little too grown-up for you” or even “I can’t really answer that yet, because I don’t know”. Kids appreciate honesty as much as adults; they’ll also appreciate being included in your decisions. Remember to use discretion if the questioning gets to deep. The goal is to make them more comfortable with your dating, not less.
BUT WHEN IS REALLY THE BEST TIME? You love your kids. You know them better than anybody else in the world. And you want what’s best for them. Some of your friends may say to introduce the new guy right away. Others will say wait until he puts a ring on your finger. I say shoot for some middle ground that’s solid enough for you to stand on without sinking. In the end, you have to decide when it’s right. Will you time it perfectly? Maybe. Maybe not. But if you talk to your children, really listen to them and think about what’s best for them and yourself, your timing will be good enough. And the reality is, that’s the best you can hope for. I hope everything works out for you all!
William Jones is originally from the tiny town of Alton, Illinois, and now lives in the tinier town of Reisterstown, Maryland. He is a happy husband and a proud father of three, and writes as a hobby, in those few moments he finds between husbanding and daddy-ing. Follow him on Twitter @goodenoughguy1.