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Single Parent Dating

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Being a single parent does not mean you have to stay that way, but when it comes to introducing your kids to the new love in your life, it pays to take it slow and make sure you approach the subject in a loving and sensitive way.

The concept of single parent dating sounds exciting if you have been on your own for a while but the thoughts and feelings of the kids is always in the forefront of your mind. Here are a few guidelines to help you on your way:

Stability is Crucial

Children are very vulnerable to forming strong bonds with people extremely quickly.  The very last thing you want to do is introduce a new person into their lives who may then leave soon after.  The emotional fall-out for your child in that situation would be damaging and confusing.  You want to be sure that your new relationship is on a strong and stable footing before you allow the possibility of your child opening their heart.

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Consider your Child’s Age          

How old your child is will have an effect on their viewpoint.   A baby under 1 year old is unlikely to form immediate bonds with a new partner, so you have time to test the relationship more thoroughly.  With an older child, particularly one who is not yet old enough to be independent outside the home, there is a grave risk that they will feel pushed aside by your new partner, and view them as a threat to your relationship with them.  They may worry you won’t have time for them anymore, so reassure them that you will, and preserve some precious one-on-one times with your child to show you mean it.

Raise Awareness

Talking about your new partner around your children can be a good way to get them used to your partner being a part of your life before he or she becomes part of theirs too.  Introducing your new partner slowly into your life, initially as a friend, can help the transition. If you are going on a date, tell them you are spending time with a special new friend.

Children are perceptive little beings, and chances are their finely-tuned radar will have picked up that change is in the air, even if they can’t interpret the signals.  Uncertainty can make children afraid, so it is best to answer any questions they spring on you honestly, without making the situation sound overwhelming.  “Are you and X going to get married?” is a common thought process from small children who see their parent spending lots of time with a new friend of the opposite sex.

Keep the Initial Introduction Low Key

Approaching the first meeting with a fanfare will only pile the pressure on you, your partner, and your kids. If possible make the introduction a casual one, on neutral ground.  A picnic or other family outing where your new friend joins you for some of the time is ideal. Your children will hopefully be distracted in the excitement of the treat in a place where there are already lots of different people around, and will associate your new partner with those good feelings.  It also prevents any potential feelings of being invaded in their own home.  It is very important for small children particularly to feel safe when there is change afoot.

It goes without saying that giving your children advance notice is vital. If a stranger suddenly appears in their lives unannounced and you appear not to notice they will feel threatened and understandably wary. Prepare your children for the initial and subsequent meetings, so they know what and who to expect.

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Keep your Expectations Realistic

It’s okay to let you child know that your new partner is important to you, but don’t tell them how they should feel themselves.  Their feelings should be validated in whatever form they take, and whilst outright hostility may be difficult to deal with, it is a sign that your child is struggling, so use it as a positive signal to you that they need your help them adjust.

Encourage your child to share any feelings, good or bad, that they may be experiencing in respect of the new person, and be patient and caring in your support. It may also help with older children to explain that adults need to share time with other adults sometimes too, just as kids like the company of other children.

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Be Sensitive

Keep public displays of affection to a minimum in the early days until your child is used to your partner being around.  Limiting initial overnight stays can help too.  Suddenly finding your new partner in bed with you taking up their snuggle space can make children feel insecure and pushed out.

Help your New Partner

Try to give your new partner a head start with your child by filling them in on things your child likes and dislikes.  If you know your child hates direct conversation, suggest your partner interacts with them through a game instead, for example.

 

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About Cally Worden

About Cally Worden

Seasoned freelance writer Cally Worden lives with her family and dog in a quiet corner of rural France. A love of the outdoors, and a fascination with her children's ability to view life with fresh eyes provide the inspiration for much of her work. Cally writes regularly for various websites and UK print publications on subjects as diverse as parenting, travel, lifestyle, and business, and anything that makes her smile.

Website: Cally Worden

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