It seems just about everybody has an opinion about when the proper time is to let the people you date meet your children. Heaven knows it's been a subject that I've had to think heavily about any time a new love interest enters my life.
I think there is a lot of good advice out there, but if there's one thing I've learned, it's that there isn't a one size fits all answer to it.
There are so many factors that I have to consider any time I date someone. And, since I like making lists, why not make a list about this…
Here are 8 things to consider before introducing your child to a new love interest:
1) Is this person actually going to be around for a while?
If there's a doubt, I don't introduce my son to her. In fact, no woman I date ever gets to meet my son unless I think she's a keeper.
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2) Has my son met someone I've dated too recently?
I'm 32. I'm single. That means it hasn't worked out with several different women. Since he tends to like and get attached to the women I bring around, I give the loss of any relationship some time to fade and heal before I bring someone new into the picture.
3) Is the woman I just met too eager for me to meet her kids?
This is a red flag to me. As a protective father, it scares me to date a woman who isn't equally as protective. When a woman invites me over to meet her kids after a date or two, it's hard for me to believe that she has her kids' best interest in mind and I probably won't be introducing her to mine.
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4) Does the thought of a new relationship stress out my child?
My son gives me verbal cues and body language that tell me whether or not he's ready for me to bring someone new into his life. And he fluctuates, too. Sometimes he lets me know that he's excited at the thought of someone new. Other times he lets me know he needs more time with just dad.
5) Have I presented at least one (preferably a few) social situations in which my son can meet the woman I'm dating outside of a dating environment?
I always like to make sure that the first time my son meets any woman I date, it is not at home or in an intimate gathering, but in a place with lots of people where I can introduce her as my friend. I think it's good for both sides to meet each other in a place that doesn't put pressure onto the new relationship.
6) Do I feel like the woman I'm dating would make a good mother to my child?
I have no idea what the future brings, but I know that any woman I date I may also fall in love with, and I may also be with forever. While it's certainly not often the case, I have to believe it about any woman before I let her meet my child.
7) Have I been open and honest with my son about the woman I'm dating?
My son is only five, but I can tell you that he very much appreciates candor and frankness from me when it comes to my dating life. He doesn't like surprises, and if I like someone, he likes to know before I spring her on him.
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8) Do you feel right about everything in this relationship?
More than anything, I really gauge whether or not I feel right about everything. The woman. The timing. Our relationship. And, how it will affect Noah and me. If anything, and I mean anything doesn't feel right, Noah never knows that I'm dating a particular woman at all.
This is my list. I'm completely certain that any single parent will have his or her own list. I'm also certain that every child will have different needs in this regard.
There is no doubt that bringing women into my son's life has been a big blessing, has brought Noah more love and support, and has even strengthened our relationship. There is also no doubt that Noah has been hurt a couple of times because Dad wasn't as careful as he probably could have been.
As long as every single parent remembers that their kids are also dating anyone they date, I think those parents will make the most healthy calls.
And when they occasionally don't… I certainly think a trip to the ice cream shop is in order.
- By Dan Pearce
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Dan Pearce is writer of the hit-blog Single Dad Laughing (danoah.com) and author of the book The Real Dad Rules. Father to Noah, brother to nine, owned by a Bulldog named Buddha, and thoroughly but barely educated on the street, Dan tends to hit nerves or funny bones with his (sometimes humorous, sometimes heavy) musings, rants, and calls to action. His greatest passions include fatherhood, overcoming the crap of life, and laughing till it hurts.
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