- Take it slowly
- Be sure before involving the kids
- Prepare the kids
- Be patient in gaining acceptance for the new person in their lives
Dating too soon
The dating parent should not introduce new people into their kid's lives until they have some stability in their life. Involving your kids with dating too soon after the divorce can create problems. The children are just dealing with the fact that their parents are no longer together and to introduce another person into the equation will make them feel even more confused and they may turn that confusion into anger directed at the "intruder". They may even associate this person with breaking up their parent's marriage.
Involving your kids too early in a new relationship may cause them further trauma if your new relationship falls apart. The last thing they need is to be exposed to another disintegrating relationship. Wait until you are very sure of your new relationship and both of you have realistic expectations of what a blended family is about. Even if your children express a positive interest in your dating life, it is best not to involve them.
Dating other parents
It is also best not to go on a date with your children in tow. This often happens when two divorced parents meet and have kids around the same age. They may even have met through their children. If your children are friends, then allow them to continue that friendship and keep your dating activities to when you have a babysitter and are away from the kids. Kids can build up fantasies of having their friend become their step brother or sister and this can cause them real emotional hurt if the adults' relationship falls apart. It may even affect the kid's friendship.
Think of how awkward it would be if your relationship with the other parent fails and your kids are still friends. do you want to jeopardize your child's friendships for the sake of dating the other parent? If the children do not know each other, do not introduce them until you are sure of the relationship and are ready for serious commitment.
Dating can affect your ex
Be aware that dating can cause an emotional reaction in your ex spouse. This can be expressed directly to you or more commonly expressed to the kids. This can cause an emotional tug of war between loyalty to the non-dating parent and the dating parent. You may find less cooperation from the other parent in previously straightforward co parenting activities. Reassure your kids that you are not trying to replace the other parent in their lives. This will help them feel less conflicted. Reassure your ex spouse that you are not trying to replace them and visibly encourage your children's ongoing relationship with them. Do not allow your ex to control your life and prevent you from dating. Do listen to their concerns but judge yourself if they are reasonable and legitimate.
Many parents feel that having children can be a negative factor in dating. They often believe that prospective dates will not choose them if they know that there are kids involved. In some cases this may be true but because divorce is so common these days, many daters are used to dating divorced parents and many are divorced parents themselves. Even if someone chooses not to date you because you are a parent, consider that a blessing.
It is much better for that person to be honest up front than to become attached and have them reject you because you are a parent. Letting daters know up front that you are a parent is the best policy. It avoids painful rejection down the road and there are many other daters who will be more than willing to date a divorced parent.
Online dating for parents
Online dating has become mainstream and offers great opportunities for parents who often have limited free time. You can be honest up front about being a parent and therefore filter out anyone who might not want to date a parent.
Online dating don'ts
Please do not include photos of your kids either pictured with or without you. You are not looking for a prospective date for your kids so there is no reason to put their photos on the Internet. You also have to be aware that all kinds of people have access to those photos and you cannot control access to those photos or prevent them being copied or altered in any way. We as parents often get concerned about pedophiles moving into our area but we post photos of our children on the Internet where anyone can see them.
You can also cause problems with your ex or ex relations if you post photos of your children on a dating site as they may have concerns about who may see those photos. If you only have photos with your kids in them, use a simple graphics program to block their faces out or better yet, go get new photos taken. Its not expensive and it keeps your children safe.
Keep your personal information to yourself
Do not give out personal information about your ex, children's school or activities or your address or phone number. This may seem like common sense but these things can slip out in the normal course of conversation online. As a parent, you have to be extra careful online as you have your children's safety to think about as well as your own.
Do not bring your kids on dates
Do not invite a person you met online to your house or take your kids on a date with a person you met online even if they claim or actually are parents themselves. Again this may seem like common sense but the invite may be disguised as a play-date for your kids and theirs.