When you begin dating someone, it can be hard to resist the urge to tell your little one about your amazing new guy.
After all, he’s amazing so what wouldn’t they love? Not so fast, though. There are quite a few things that you’ll need to keep in mind before dropping the ball to make sure that the transition goes smoothly.
Learning about the key things that you need to keep in mind when breaking the news to your little one will help you make sure that everything goes smoothly, from the first meeting and on.
However, if you don’t keep things like timing in mind, it can lead to a disaster. In the long run, it can make your children resent your new man even more than they are already going to.
- 0.1 How To Tell Your Child You’re Dating Someone
- 0.1.1 1. Timing is critical
- 0.1.2 2. Keep in mind children will view your new partner as a threat
- 0.1.3 3. Don’t badmouth your ex
- 0.1.4 4. Limit physical contact in front of children at first
- 0.1.5 5. Introduce them as your new friend
- 0.1.6 6. Don’t change how you parent
- 0.1.7 7. Tell your children before they meet them
- 0.1.8 8. The first introduction should be neutral and short
- 0.1.9 9. Offer your kids plenty of reassurance
- 0.2 FAQs
- 0.3 In Summary
How To Tell Your Child You’re Dating Someone
1. Timing is critical
Timing is one of the most important things you’ll need to keep in mind when you tell them you’re dating. If you don’t keep this in mind, it can breed resentment and actually encourage rivalry between the two. Your child will feel like they have to compete for a space in your life.
First, consider the time, literally. You don’t want to tell your child when they are already having a hard time with something. It’s a bad idea to tell them when something is going on that will make them feel grumpy, like bedtime.
Instead, pick a time and day when neither of you is too busy or stressed. This leaves you plenty of time to answer questions and talk, and your child will be less likely to have a meltdown over the news.
Second, you’ll need to consider the timing of the relationship. It’s best to wait six months into the relationship if possible. This helps you be sure that this new partnership will have a permanent place in your life, and your child’s.
Too many temporary people in their life can result in attachment disorders. Even if you’re sure that you’ll be together forever after two months, wait a little longer to be sure.
Another thing you’ll need to consider regarding timing is how long it has been since you and your partner split. If you just got out of a relationship, and children are hoping you’ll get back together, it’s too soon to throw a new partner at them.
With my youngest, I decided to wait until she had accepted that we would not be getting back together. It took almost two years, and we’re just getting there now. However, she’s okay with a new partner now. Before, she was not.
2. Keep in mind children will view your new partner as a threat
Young children might act out more or show obvious signs of resentment towards your new partner. This leads most people to think that younger children view them as a threat while teenagers do not. However, this isn’t true. Teenagers might not express themselves the same way, but they still are likely to wonder if you’ll have time for them.
This can be hard to swallow because you think your new love interest is wonderful, but your son or daughter will likely be possessive over you. They will need a lot of reassurance. If you’ve been dating your new partner for months, remind them that you had plenty of time for them during the previous months. Continue to offer reassurance and spend quality time with your children.
3. Don’t badmouth your ex
Neither you nor your new partner should badmouth your ex. If your children liked them, they might still feel loyal to them, and this will force them to choose sides. Instead, simply don’t mention them. If your kids bring up your ex, just say you don’t talk to them anymore, have no way to contact them, and move on.
4. Limit physical contact in front of children at first
Cuddling on the couch at your house with your kids and your new partner can seem like a dream come true. However, it can cause problems with the kids. Younger children might feel more possessive, and older children will feel awkward. Instead, try to enjoy spending time together without the hugs and kisses while your children adjust.
5. Introduce them as your new friend
Older children will know better, but younger children will not. If you introduce your partner as a friend at first, this gives children the chance to like them without feeling like they have to compete for your love. It can make things go a little bit more smoothly.
6. Don’t change how you parent
If you’ve been a single parent for years, it might be tempting to let your new love interest step in and do a parent thing here and there, but this is not the best idea. Kids that have both parents in their lives will feel awkward with the extra parent at first. This could also make them feel in the middle of two parents.
Instead, continue with your single-parent routine for now while your children adjust. You’ve already been a single parent for years, so a few more months won’t hurt. Besides, this gives you more of a chance to enjoy dating and making sure that you’re on the same page when it comes to parenting, before involving the kids.
7. Tell your children before they meet them
Your new boyfriend might be on board with meeting your kids, but that doesn’t mean your kids will be. Instead, plan an afternoon when you can have a talk with your kid. Let them know that you’ve been dating someone special. Leave out the details of your love life. Remind them they aren’t a part of parenting them just yet. Instead, focus on the fact that they are sweet, kind, etc.
Then, be prepared to answer any questions they might have. Most kids will want to know if they have a kid or two. Older children might ask if the two of you are just dating, or if there is some type of commitment. Answer them honestly. End the conversation with plans for them to meet each other.
8. The first introduction should be neutral and short
This isn’t the time to discuss parenting, or worry about who will move in with who if the relationship progresses. Instead, focus on the two simply being around each other.
Pick a neutral spot that your kids will be comfortable in. I like the movies because my oldest was shy and had social anxiety. Kids can enjoy the movie without feeling pressured to act a certain way, show off, or have conversations. This is great for a teenager.
A park is a great idea for kids that are younger. They can play while you talk with the guy you’ve been dating. If your kids are comfortable with it, you can all play together.
9. Offer your kids plenty of reassurance
Your kids will need reassurance no matter how long you have been dating. Then, your kids will need more reassurance as the relationship progresses. Once they meet his children or you two move in together, your kids will need even more. Always offer them reassurance, but not just in words. Show your kids that you love them and have plenty of time for them through your actions.
You tell your child you’re dating when they have adjusted to your most recent breakup. If they have not adjusted to the separation, it’s best to hold off on dating. You can wait until there is a commitment, you know they are going to be a permanent part of your life for at least six months.
You keep it basic. Explain to them that their mom is in a new relationship with a person that she likes very much. Emphasize how it will, or will not, affect them. Reassure them that there’s more than enough of you to go around. Answer any questions they might have.
It can have a few more bumps in the road than dating someone without a child. You’ll have to understand the fact that their children come first. Last-minute cancellations might happen because of a sick child or lack of a babysitter. It does require more maturity and understanding.
First, make a commitment to dating. Then, get started. Going on a random first date to break the ice, and your anxiety can really help. Don’t feel guilty. Your son or daughter will be fine with you dating, and they aren’t missing out on anything. However, don’t forget to keep scheduling plenty of time with just them.
Yes, but only to an extent. We all have different opinions and qualities that we look for in a partner. Parents should have a say so in things for safety reasons, such as if your partner is abusive, but not more than that. As long as you are safe and happy, that’s what counts.
When you tell your child you’re dating, timing is the most important thing. Make sure that they are adjusted to a separation, and to their mother having a dating life. Then, let them know that you are in a new relationship gently, even if you have a teenager. What other advice would you give to parents that are dating again?
As hopeless romantic I struggled tremendously in my love life. After many years of searching, trial & error, and countless failed relationships, I finally found my Mr. Right. It wasn't an easy road, but one that has taught me an incredible amount about the workings of relationships between men and women, and this is what I hope to share through my writing on this blog.