It’s a jungle out there. Dating in itself is hard when you are single and ready to mingle. What do you wear and say, how do you act, where do you go? You’ve got baggage, he’s got baggage; making it as a couple is hard work. Then, there’s dating when you’re a parent. You have all those other “new relationship” things to contend with in addition to other issues. Whether your ex-partner is involved in your children’s lives or not, dating and bringing someone new into the equation is not to be taken lightly. Not only does your new beau have to pass muster with any family and friends, they have to overcome the biggest hurdle of all — winning over your children. Can you relate to 7 awkward things about dating when you have kids? –
1. Jumping Back In
You were with your ex-spouse/partner for untold number of years and now you’re single. Your coterie of friends may be urging you to get back out there; you won’t meet anyone sitting around the house. The question is, when? Do you tell your children? The answer may depend on their ages and maturity level. The kids themselves may be saying it’s time to jump back into the dating pool. So put on your swimmies, and dive into the deep end.
2. Dressing Appropriately
There’s a time and place to wear your exes’ old college t-shirt, and even a twentieth date at home watching a movie is not it. Time to purge the closet of any and all remnants of that past life — baseball caps, tees, plaid pajama pants — no matter how comfortable and comforting they may be. Spoil yourself with some new lounging around yoga pants and cute tops. No borrowing from your teenage children either, even if they are light years trendier than you ever were. Have them act like your stylist instead.
3. Being “That” Parent”
You know the one: they’re at PTA or church, a sporting event, or the school fair and making the moves on every single parent they can aim their laser like gaze at. This way of thinking is only of being in a relationship, not being in a relationship with the right person. The last thing you want to do as a single parent is bring the wrong person home in addition to embarrassing your kids on their turf.
4. Dating Advice
At some point, your teenagers may have more dating experience than you. You’ve been out of the game, they are fresh recruits. You are wary where they are enthusiastic. Newfangled ways of communicating (Texts? Online dating? What’s that?) have emerged. They can be there to guide you through the ups-and-downs of this new dating world. They can also be your backup radar; yours is out of practice after so many years of disuse. Weed out the weirdos with your kids help.
All of sudden, it’s you who has the curfew. Instead of your parents watching the window for your arrival home from a date its your children. “Where were you! I was worried!” You are sixteen all over again. Respect your kids enough to show them the same courtesy you will expect (or do, depending if they date already) by phoning if you will be late, or being home when you say you will.
You don’t want to have a morning run-in with your kids and new boyfriend meeting for the first time at the breakfast table. That’s probably too much for anyone to handle, no matter how old the relationship might be. Baby steps might be the way to go in this situation, with many meetings, outings and dinners before the subject of “sleeping over” is even a discussion.
7. Winning Them Over
You like this new boyfriend, so much so that you are picturing a future together. The hurdle is getting your children to like them too, and accept them into your lives. Its a kink in the routine they have become accustomed, he’s not their real dad. What can you do to ease the hurt, confusion, and protectiveness your children are feeling? Talking about everyone’s feelings, respecting one another, letting them get to know the new guy in your life. Reassure your kids that he’s not replacing them in your heart; they are first. When in doubt, bribery usually works.