If dating after a divorce is a challenge, dating when you have kids is a whole new ballgame. It adds a whole new layer of things to consider, right? For example:
- You can’t just go out whenever you want – who will watch the kids?
- The ex is always in the picture, and will be involved (on some level) in your new relationship
- You’re far choosier about who to get involved with – after all, this person could wind up being part of your kids’ lives
- You worry about the kids – if you’re spending enough time with them, how they feel about you dating, etc
But at some point, if you’re dating, you’re going to meet someone you like and who fits in with your life as a single parent. A question I get asked often is:
“When is a good time to introduce my kids to a new partner?”
As I discuss in Dating the Divorced Man, the answer is: not too soon, but not too late either.
The “not too soon” part is easy for many parents. You don’t want to introduce your kids to everyone you date, which can be confusing and uncomfortable for kids, and can make you look bad if your ex finds out and starts questioning you about how your dating life is impacting your parenting. It’s better to wait until you feel you’ve found someone promising – ideally, when you’re in a committed relationship. Save the introductions for that someone special.
At the same time, you don’t want to wait too long. It’s natural that you may feel protective of your kids, that you want to avoid exposing them to a new partner, just to have things not work out, that you want to protect your children from loss. However, it’s unrealistic to expect that your kids will only meet the one person you’re going to commit to for the long haul, because such people can take a while to find. The risk here is that you’ll get too involved with your partner over a long period of time, without having introduced an extremely important aspect of your life into that relationship. Your kids are one of the biggest parts of your life – to see someone for months or years without making that introduction is to hide the real you. And that’s no basis for a future with someone.
Generally, you want to find that sweet spot: after you’ve decided your new partner has promise and is special, but before you’ve fallen in love or made any plans for the future. For many, this sweet spot is somewhere between 2 months and 5 months of dating. But I’d like to hear from you:
What has worked for you in terms of introducing the kids? What hasn’t worked? How soon do you introduce your kids to a partner?