How to date when you’ve got kids

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Children are the most important part of a parent’s life. And because blending a new partner with your family can be stressful, it’s no surprise that dating often ends up taking a back seat.

Mary, a single mother of three children all aged under 15 years, says that she wants to start dating again, but is hesitant. “I worry about the impact it will have on the kids. They’ve already been through a lot,” she says. eharmony’s Dating and Relationship expert Melanie Schilling can understand Mary’s feelings. “If your children have experienced a divorce or other stressful life stage, you may opt to protect them as they heal,” she says. But your happiness does count and if you’re happy, experts believe you’ll be a better parent.  “Once you believe your kids are in a more confident and stable place, jump back into the dating game – with caution,” says Melanie.

Once you have found a partner worthy of meeting your children, it’s all about setting up the situation so that your child feels as safe and secure as possible.

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The best time to introduce kids to a new partner is a very personal choice, however there are two questions you can ask yourself to help you decide when the time is right:

  1. On a scale of 1 – 10, how much do you trust your new partner? If it’s under seven, you may not be ready to introduce them to the children.

  2. If your partner went away forever after meeting your kids, what impact would it have on them?

The answers to these questions should give you some clarity, and if you do decide that you’re ready, the best place to introduce everyone is in an environment where your children feel comfortable and in control for the meeting.

“Keep it short and it’s a good idea to engage in some kind of activity together (like a game of cricket or a visit to the zoo) to dilute the impact of the meeting,” advises Melanie.

Of major concern for most parents is that their kids will not like their new partner. When Fiona, 52, first met her new partner, Tim, two years ago, she knew that if it was going to work, she would have to gradually introduce him into her kid’s life. “I didn’t try to force a relationship,” she explains. “I just organised events where they could all get to know each other, but I tried to make sure they were more casual events like at the beach, rather than anything of too much importance, like my kid’s drama night,” says Mary. “That would have been too much pressure too quickly. We needed to build up to that.”

It’s true – relationships take time. “It’s a huge adjustment for your kids (and you!) so be patient, give your kids time and space and most important of all, listen to them,” says Melanie.

Are you a single parent considering dating again? Let us know in the comments below or join the conversation on FacebookTwitter & Instagram. And if you are ready to narrow down the world of possibilities, sign up to eharmony today- find someone made for you.

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