There are many things that may have changed since you last dated, and one of those things that might be different is that you now have children. Whether putting yourself out there again excites or terrifies you, you’re probably wondering how to handle the situation with your kids.
Depending on the age of your children and your custody situation, there’s no one-size-fits-all way navigate things, but here are some tips from the matchmakers at www.itsjustlunch.com to keep in mind as you reenter the dating waters.
Talk with them about it first
If your kids are old enough to have a conversation with you, consider sitting them down to explain that you’re going to start dating again. Tell them about your need to develop friendships with new people, but assure them that you’re not looking for someone to replace their other parent.
Most importantly, listen to what they say. Try to really hear their concerns or hesitations and do your best to address them.
Take things slow
You might get caught up in the excitement of a new relationship, but remember that your children might not be able to move at the same pace as you emotionally. Even if they haven’t met the person you’re dating yet, be careful about how much you share with your children and what you share. No matter how agreeable they are, or how much you view your child as a friend, most children will be easily spooked by something new coming into their life so fast.
Take introductions seriously
You don’t need to introduce your children to everyone you date. Consider what might happen if your children do develop an attachment to this new person and then you break up and they suddenly have to adapt to even more change in their lives.
Wait until you’re sure you’re serious about someone and that you see the potential for moving in together or marriage happening down the road. Talk to your children in advance about how the first meeting will go and set some expectations.
And once again, listen to your children. How are they feeling? Nervous? Angry? Even if there’s nothing much you can do to assuage their fears, being willing to take the time to truly listen and empathize with your children can go a long way.
Don’t get defensive
If the worst happens and your children dislike your new partner, don’t leap immediately into a defensive mode. Ask them questions about what specifically they don’t like. Try to get down to the root of the problem. Are they nervous about this person moving in? Were they hopeful you were going to reconnect with your ex?
Lead with listening. Your children want to know they’re most important. They want to know that your relationship with them will never change.
Make your children feel heard and have reasonable expectations about the time it might take for them to feel comfortable with the situation. Don’t let them stop you from pursuing a new relationship and someone who makes you feel hopeful and happy again, but be patient and remember your children might need to be on a different timetable from you.