Is it OK to bring your kids on your date? What if my date brings their kids along to play with mine?
Your children's safety
Your kid's safety should always come first and dating generally involves meeting someone you know very little about and though it is unlikely, it is possible that they could present a threat to you or your children. Dating safety is much talked about these days especially with Internet dating but very little is said about child safety regarding dating.
Keeping your kids safe while you are dating starts with your profile online. Including photos of your children even if pictured with you, exposes them to risks. You have no control over who views those pictures or what their motivations are. It is best not to include any photos of your children on your profile and it is best not to send any photos that have your children in them by email or otherwise. Internet dating can lead to intense feelings for someone without even meeting them.
This can lead to premature trust and over sharing of personal information. This feeling can also lead people to bring their children on dates including even first dates. Having full custody of your children can make dating difficult and so there is even greater pressure to include children in dating encounters.
Dating is an adult activity
Dating is an activity for you as an adult and is not suitable for children in most cases. Even when the other person you are dating has kids, you still need to be cautious. You may act on dates in an intimate way that may upset your children or be inappropriate. Even when you think you are not being observed or are being discrete, children often pick up on small cues or emotions and are quite sensitive in these situations. Again it is best to keep adult activities for adults. Getting family members or a baby sitter to take care of the kids while you are on a date is the best solution.
Introducing your date to your children
You should be more serious about your relationship before you introduce your children to a date. You should have verified that the person you are dating is who they say they are either formally by getting a background check done or by verifying some facts they have told you. Prepare them by talking a little about your date and stop and listen to what they have to say. They may react with varying emotions from jealousy to excitement. Answer any questions they may have in an age appropriate manner and do not be afraid to say that some issues are adult in nature and not up for discussion.
Having prepared them, introduce them for a brief period preferably somewhere they are familiar with and comfortable with. Not all children will feel comfortable having a stranger in their home. Keep the meeting brief and do not pressure them to talk to or interact with your date. The goal is to help them feel comfortable. Do not leave them alone with your date until you are completely sure of them and your kids are comfortable.
Introducing my children to my date's kids
If your date has children also, you may wish to introduce them to each other as the relationship progresses. You can do this at a group or family event or some other situation where they are not going to feel pressured into having to be together all the time. Let the kid's natural curiosity and ability to make friends drive them to talk and interact with each other. Be clear with your date about correcting the other date's children. You do not want to have a disagreement over discipline when the kids are first interacting as it sets a bad precedent for the future.
My date and my kids do not get along well
If you are getting serious about your relationship, you have to also consider the relationship between your kids and your date. If they are genuinely not getting along, you need to take a serious look at what's behind this. If you want to continue the relationship, you may need professional help in addressing this issue. Understand that you cannot force your kids to accept your new partner and this can really create a lot of stress on that relationship. It is certainly best to address this before you move in together or get engaged.