MomTalk.com January 19, 2021:   The women's magazine for moms about children, family, health, home, fashion, careers, marriage & more

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From Single Mom to Brady Bunch: Introducing the Kids to Your New Love Interest

This is the first in our series of articles about dating and mating for single moms. You can also join the single moms discussion in our MomTalk.com forums.

By Chris Grannis

Being a single parent can sometimes be lonely and it's a healthy sign when you feel ready to begin dating again. This can be a heady, happy time in your life, and it is easy to let your heart rule your head. But it is essential that you always have your children's welfare at the forefront of your mind throughout this process.

Stage One - Dating

Casual dating can be a lot of fun, but introducing our children to every man who invites us out for a cup of coffee is really not a good idea. We should not run the risk of kids becoming attached to someone who may disappear from their lives in a week or two. Tell the kids you're going on a date, or for coffee with a friend, and then go and have fun. If they ask how the date went you can tell them you had a nice time/meal/game, but, no matter how excited you may be about this man do not go into too much detail. Focus on the event, rather than the person.

Stage Two - Becoming Exclusive

Finally you've met someone with whom you want to go on a second date, and a third, and a fourth . . . And pretty soon you're both deciding that, actually, you don't really want to see anyone else because, well, this feels pretty special. What a wonderful feeling!

However, at this stage it's still too early to think of introducing this absolute dreamboat to your kids. Why? Well, think about it. Remember the days when you would lie on your bed and call your best friend and twirl the phone cord round your finger and say, 'Oh! My! Gosh! This is it! He is The One!' And then the next week you were in love with someone else? Well, your best friend didn't mind, but your kids will. So, give yourself time to get to know Mr. Wonderful's not-so-wonderful side before you decide if it's going to be a life-long commitment.

But this is the time when you can start to tell your kids that you are dating a nice man called John who has two sons aged five and nine, and a cat, a dog, and three rabbits. By telling the children about John and his family they can start to become comfortable with your progressing relationship and will be much more ready to accept him when the time comes. And if things go pear-shaped in a month or two you'll have the reassurance that you've protected your children.

It is important, also, to remember that single moms often have extremely close relationships with their children. Throughout the dating process it is vital that you continue to nurture this relationship and help your kids feel that they are just as important to you as they have always been.

Stage Three - Commitment

This is the stage when you realize that, yes, he is a wonderful man, and yes, he can also be extremely annoying when he falls asleep during the chick-flick he has agreed to watch with you, but the good outweighs the bad, and you really do believe that this thing is going to last for an long time. And, of course, he feels the same way about you - apart from the chick-flick bit - and you have discussed a future together. Finally it's time to let your kids meet this paragon of virtue.

Don't Spring It on Them

It's important that you give the kids advance notice of the family date with your man. Give them a few options of what you might do and let them decide. This helps them feel involved and gives them a certain amount of control of the situation. Tell them, 'John would like to take us all out on Saturday. Would you prefer to go bowling, to the zoo, or to see a movie?' Of course, as in any normal family, this might cause problems if there is a disagreement on the activity, but flipping a coin should solve the problem and you can always say, 'We will go bowling next time.'

Even the most well behaved kids can act up during these initial stages of getting to know your new partner and a gentle reminder may be necessary. Rather than turn it into a negative experience by warnings and threats simply say something like, 'I'm so proud of your good manners and behavior and I know that John will be very impressed.' Children respond so well to positive expectations.

Hopefully, by following the stages from casual dating to commitment, and continuing to nurture your children and your relationship with them, this first step into blended families should run smoothly. Of course, it is only the beginning, and problems will always arise, whether in traditional, single-parent, or blended families. But preparation can help eliminate these problems, and can assist in solving them when they do arise.

Categories: Family, Just for me, Relationships & Marriage,

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