I’ve seen many go back and forth about whether or not it’s appropriate to let children meet the men and women their parents are dating early on.
The majority seems to think that in order to protect the children from potential heartbreak and abuse, he or she must be kept away until the relationship becomes serious.
A few months back, I met a gentleman that I seemed to have a good vibe with. He was a Christian, working on his master’s degree, and laid back. I told him upfront that I was a single mother of two children and this didn’t seem to deter him. After a little while, we decided that the vibe was so good between us that we wanted to meet. As we began planning our first date, it became more and more apparent that his schedule and mine were conflicting but we kept at it, hopeful that we could work out a time frame. One day, he called me up and told me he had some free time mid week and would it be ok if he came to see me.
Here’s where things got interesting.
At first, I wanted to tell him “no” because his coming midweek would mean he would have to meet my children. This caused a little anxiety for me, because I didn’t want to “scare him off”. But I soon shook it off and decided to use it as a test. I told him that midweek would be fine and that when he arrived, my two children would be with us.
Needless to say, he suddenly had all sorts of excuses for not being able to visit and eventually started becoming distant.
Here are some important things that I learned from that brief dating experience:
- Approach all potential relationships with the expectation that he will meet your children early on. I know this causes most single mothers some anxiety, but this anxiety should influence your selection process. You cannot hide the fact that you’re a mother nor should you keep your responsibilities as a mom hidden from your potential suitor. It would be nice if every time he wanted to see you, you could stop, drop and roll into his arms. But that’s not the real world for single moms and he needs to get the right impression UP FRONT of what it means to date a woman with children. Don’t let the fear of “scaring him off” cause you to push your children into the background when they should remain in the foreground of your decisions.
- Be accountable to your children. Knowing that the man you’re dealing with must meet your children around the same time he meets you raises the level of accountability in your life. You’re far more likely to continue your involvement with the wrong man if you keep your relationship hidden and secret from your children. Holding yourself accountable to only dealing with men you feel comfortable having around your children ultimately keeps your children’s safety and well being as top priority.
- Look for red flags early. Now that you’ve introduced your children to the man you’re dating, this is the time to open your eyes and ears for red flags. You’re no longer interested in being wined, dined and seduced only; you’re making better observations of the man you’re potentially giving access to your heart and to your children. Does he make excuses and cancel when it’s time to spend time with you and your children but he has all the time in the world when you have a babysitter? Do your children appear to be uncomfortable around him? Does he seem uncomfortable around your children, or annoyed? Now’s the time to make a mental note of these warning signs and make wise decisions for yourself and children.
I know there are plenty of moms and dads who would disagree with bringing children into dating relationships early on and understandably so. But if we’re honest, most of the people we have dated in the past weren’t worth OUR time, let alone our children’s. At no point have I said that a mom or a dad should leave their children alone with someone that they haven’t gotten to know well.
That is a given!
The take away is that moms (and dads too) should be spending time with men and women who are worthy of meeting their children. Anyone who cannot be introduced to a child is a waste of time! We’re not talking about sleepovers and trips to the barbershop alone with your new “possi-boo”. We’re simply talking about an introduction and everyone sitting down together in the same room, not spending excessive amounts of time with your children. But the person you’re dating shouldn’t be a mystery to anyone, especially your children.
If the thought of this strikes fear and terror in your heart, then you must ask yourself why you’re dealing with that person in the first place.
And for those who say that children shouldn’t have to deal with men and women coming in and out of their lives, I would agree. But why should mommy or daddy have men and women coming in and out of their own lives?
Is bouncing from one relationship to the next healthy behavior?
After that last example I gave, I pretty much brought my foray into the dating world to a close. It’s not that I have no desire to meet someone because I do. But I have no desire to have someone who isn’t worthy of ALL of us, in my life.
Single moms, you and your children are a family, complete with routines, schedules and traditions. Any potential suitor is welcomed to be a part of that schedule and routine.
But he should NOT be welcome to change it.
When it comes to a single mom dating, everyone, especially the children, should have a say early on.
How do you feel about children being a part of the dating process early on?