Single moms and dads who have begun to date often wonder, 'When is it okay to bring a date home to meet the kids?' It's an excellent question. And yet, it's one you should grapple with before you even begin dating. Here's what you need to know before you bring a date home to meet your kids:
Accept That Your Dating Life Will Affect Your Kids
On one hand, enjoying a casual dating or social life apart from your kids is healthy.
You're 100% entitled! However, your kiddos don't need to know every detail of your love life or be empowered to weigh in on each date's long-term prospects—especially before you've even had a chance to decide for yourself where a relationship is going. Giving them that much power could backfire. On the other hand, though, you do need to talk with your kids about your basic life goals. You don't need their permission to date, but you do need to share with your kids how your vision of the future will impact them. And the sooner you can do that before reality sets in, the better! The goal here is to set your kids, and your family, up for success by being as up front as you can before you bring a date home to meet your kids.
Set the Stage Before You Bring a Date Home to Meet Your Kids
If you know you'd like to get married at some point in the future, clue your family in to that before you bring a date home to meet your kids.
In other words, let them get used to the idea of even recognizing you as a 'social' being before you expect them to accept or even tolerate the inclusion of a new 'significant other' in your life. Again, you don't have to go into detail. You just have to acknowledge to your kids your intention to date.
How to Bring Up Your Desire to Date
It may help to recognize first that your kids probably know more than you think they do. They see you interact with other people. In fact, they may have even teased you about 'flirting' in the grocery store! When that happens, it doesn't matter whether they're right ... take the opportunity to point out that 'someday' you'd like to date. And then tell them you know they may have questions about that, and you'd love to talk about it when they're ready.
Anticipate Your Kids' Reactions and Give Them Time to Respond
Approaching the idea of mom or dad dating may not be comfortable, so don't feel like you have to push it in the moment. Take a few seconds to read their reaction. If they're resistant, put the conversation on hold and give them time to digest the news. Then, when the time is right, bring it up again and let your kids know that you'd like to explore the idea of dating again.
Takeaways to Share With Your Kids Before You Bring a Date Home
Before you introduce your kids to someone you're seriously dating, be sure to communicate to your kids:
- That your love for them is limitless and unconditional
- Boundaries around when you'll date, where, and who you'll introduce the kids to
- Your expectations, in terms of your children being polite to your dates
It won't be easy, but letting your kids know that you'd like to start dating again is part of your self-care, and that's too important to overlook.