As a single dad, you have important considerations beyond how you relate to your date. You have kids whose feelings you must consider and an ex who will hear about your dating relationship sooner or later. Tell your ex about the dating relationship rather than let her hear about it from the kids in order to show her respect, advises author Marina Sbrochi in a Galtime.com article entitled “Dating With Kids: 5 Ground Rules For Introducing Your New Partner To Your Kids.”
Your ex could have concerns about any new person who becomes a part of your kids’ lives. Tell her what you know about your girlfriend and assure her that your girlfriend isn’t planning to usurp your ex’s role as mom. Provides as much information as your ex needs to feel comfortable with this person interacting with your kids, such as her name, her occupation, how long you have been dating and whether the kids have met her. This conversation might be best conducted before the kids meet her and after you’ve been dating four or more months; this helps ensure that you know your relationship is stable and that the kids won’t attach to someone who won’t be around long.
You might want to schedule a time when the kids aren’t around to have your ex meet your girlfriend, suggests Christine Coppa in a Parenting.com article entitled “Dating Tips for Single Parents.” Don’t expect them to become BFFs, but do expect them to treat one another with kindness and respect, suggests "Huffington Post" divorce blogger Jackie Pilossoph in “Ex Dating Someone New? How To Act When Meeting Their New Partner.” Meet for coffee while the kids are in school or for a quick dinner one night when the kids are otherwise occupied.
Let your ex know about the ground rules you have set for this relationship, such as no sleep-overs when the kids are there, not meeting the kids until the relationship is stable and not having your girlfriend discipline the kids. An understanding of how you plan to conduct the relationship can make your ex feel more comfortable about the situation. Concern for how the relationship impacts the kids will demonstrate that you have given careful consideration about your dating activities, especially if you have exercised a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy thus far. Let her know before you tell the kids so she can be prepared if the kids have questions or concerns.
Let your ex express her concerns about the relationship. You don’t have to let her dictate dating conditions, but she might relate better if she perceives that you are willing to listen to how she feels. Doing so can foster cordial relationships, which, in turn, can make running into each other while picking up the kids or in another situation more comfortable.
Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.
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