As I entered the world of dating, I became worried about how I would involve my children in the idea of dating. Everything seemed very cut and dried. You either wait to introduce your children to your boyfriend or you don’t. My initial thoughts were that you should wait and that, if you don’t, well, you are wrong. However, like everything else in life, there are positives and negatives. Dating with kids is no exception. Big surprise.
My thoughts on waiting were to protect my children, of course. I don’t need different men strolling in and out of the lives of my children. Until I knew how this person was going to fit in my life, he has no reason to be in front of my children. Period.
Except what I failed to realize is that this unequivocal attitude doesn’t recognize that dating with kids is much more complicated. The question I faced was whether I am supposed to fall in love with someone based on who they are with me, and then to introduce them to my children, or fall in love with someone based on who they are with my kids, as well as with me?
Over time I decided that my children should meet the person I am dating. After all, how am I supposed to figure out how this person will fit in my life if I can’t even see how they interact with my kids? I need to see if they like one another and how the new boyfriend handles being around children, especially if they don’t have any of their own, and around mine, in particular. And if they do have their own children, I need to see how the kids all interact with one another, as well.
Furthermore, I can’t always protect my kids. I need to teach them to navigate this world. One day they will be dating, too. What I realized is that I was opposed to my children seeing different men in and out of my bed. Because I was dating with kids, allowing my girls to see that I am dating different people is important. It shows them that they don’t have to meet someone and force it to work. They need to learn to meet people and see how they fit into their lives before making a lifelong decision. They need to see that you date, you get to know a person, and sometimes that person can become more important to you but not always. Children need to see that you, as their parent, took your time before letting someone become a special part of their lives.
Ultimately, I devised a solution that worked for me and my situation at the time. He did not have any children of his own and I have two little girls. My children did not meet my boyfriend immediately, but they met him somewhat soon. Once I decided that I wanted to pursue a serious relationship with him, I felt the next step was to introduce my children to him. I chose a group setting where there were a lot of unfamiliar faces. It was very casual and there were plenty of people there. If they never saw him again, I don’t think that my girls would even have noticed.
Soon after that, he came over alone. The girls remembered him and got to interact with him more one-on-one.
I openly discussed with my kids that I was going to date him and explained what dating was. That was two years ago. As I discovered, there are many different circumstances to take into consideration when determining what is right or wrong for you and your family. In this learning experience, you are likely to hit a bump or two along the way. Being a parent doesn’t come with a manual. Every person and every situation is different. Dating with kids doesn’t have to be so black and white.