Children complicate divorce and new relationships. Children, even long after a divorce, often still harbor the hope that their mom and dad will get back together. Seeing a parent with a new partner destroys this fantasy. Before you introduce your child to someone new that you're dating, keep in mind how your child is reacting to the divorce. Also remember that there's always the risk that the new relationship won’t work out -- and that it can complicate breaking up with a new partner if your child begins to form a bond with that person. It's essential to assess the situation and not rush introducing your child to a new dating partner.
Look at the relationship. You don't need to introduce your child to every person that you date, according to HealthyChildren.org, a website of the American Academy of Pediatrics. On the other hand, you don’t want to keep dating a secret. Children learn about the adult world by watching their parents. At no time should your child feel that there is something “wrong” about dating that you need to hide. It's healthy for your child to know that you are dating. If you are dating someone that is becoming important, it might be time to introduce him to your child.
Talk to your child. It is important to explain that not every dating relationship will end in marriage. Reassure your child that he belongs to a family whether you marry again not. Ask him for his thoughts and feelings about meeting a new partner. Listen to what he has to say. He might be excited about the prospect of having another adult in his life. On the other hand, he might be anxious about losing time with you. As he expresses his hopes, concerns and fears, help him see the situation clearly.
Talk with your dating partner. The American Academy of Pediatrics encourages single parents to prepare a partner to meet a child. Share your child’s likes and dislikes with your partner. Talk about how you discipline your child. Outline acceptable and unacceptable behavior around your child. Listen to what your partner has to say about meeting your child as you don't want to force a meeting if he's not ready.
Choose a neutral location for your child and dating partner to meet where both feel comfortable such as a local park or a family-friendly restaurant. Plan for a short meeting with a definitive end.
Keep in mind that your child and dating partner may not take to each other immediately, notes the AAP. It takes time for people to get to know each other. Give everyone time to explore this new relationship.
- Watch you date around your child. Your child must feel safe and secure in your home. Take appropriate action if you see, or your child reports, teasing, anger or inappropriate touching.
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