How to introduce your children to the idea of you dating
Making the decision to jump back into the world of dating can be an exciting but nerve-wracking time. Add children into the mix and you can be even more unsure of the best way to proceed. Jo Middleton of award winning blog Slummy Single Mummy shares her top tips on how to navigate online dating as a single parent.
As a single parent, what is it that puts you off the idea of dating? Is it the cost? The logistics perhaps of arranging a babysitter? More than likely, the key factor in determining whether or not you take the plunge into the dating pool is going to be how you think your kids will feel about the idea.
Any parent who has ever dated will rush forward at this point with advice, much of it conflicting.
“Don’t do it” some might say. “Your focus should be on your children!”
“It’s not about the children,” others will add helpfully, “it’s about your happiness.”
“The key thing,” another will add, “is timing. Don’t introduce them until you’ve been dating for at least a year.”
The truth is that every child and every family is different – there is no right or wrong way to do it, no ideal time to introduce your kids to the idea of dating. What really matters, as in most relationships, is communication.
Talk about it
The first step then, is simply to sit down with your children and talk to them about the idea of you starting to date. Don’t make it something you do in secret, because kids are clever and if they suspect there is something to hide they’ll immediately be worried. Instead talk openly to them about why you’d like to start looking for a partner, and be open to their questions, keeping the conversation age appropriate. Reassure them at every stage that this isn’t a threat to them, it’s not about someone coming in and stealing you away; it definitely doesn’t mean that you won’t love them as much if there is someone else on the scene.
Find role models
If you’ve been single for a long time, the idea of another grown up in the house can be a daunting one for a child and they may be wary of how it’s going to change the dynamic. To get them used to the idea, why not invite a friend to spend some time with you, and help to show them how much fun it can be to have another adult paying them attention? Spend time too, or talk about, families you know with two parents, and how much fun they have together. Be careful of course that you don’t end up making them feel bad about the current situation.
Get them involved
We’re not suggesting you take them on a first date or anything, but kids definitely buy into an idea more if they are involved in the process, just like encouraging them to eat vegetables by having them grow and cook them! How about letting your kids help you write your profile and suggest things that you should say you like and dislike? If your children are a little older or you’re feeling brave, you could even let them have a look through other people’s profiles and tell you who they think you’d suit!
Just don’t let them send messages on your behalf – that could get messy!
Do you have any top tips for talking to children about dating?
Jo Middleton is a mum to two girls and an experienced internet dater. Read more from Jo on her award winning blog, Slummy single mummy or follow her on Twitter for more bite sized updates.
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