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Dates meeting your kidsAre you a single mom dating again after divorce? If your kids live with you even part-time, you’re probably juggling a lot of balls in the air. If you’re in a relationship with your post-divorce “hottie,” you have the additional challenge of “When should I introduce my boyfriend to my children?”

First, let’s define “boyfriend.” For the sake of this post, let’s say a boyfriend is someone you’re steadily dating, at least twice a week, for a minimum of at least three months. In other words, someone you’re serious about, a steady presence in your life.

In my opinion, casual relationships should be kept out of your kids’ lives. Period. Your children don’t need to form attachments to men who won’t stick around. When I first started dating post-divorce, I told my kids, “I’m getting ready to date again. I want you to know that I will never introduce you to any men I date unless it becomes serious.” I’ve kept that promise, and my kids are grateful for that.

I have been appalled by the many divorcees I’ve observed who exposed their kids to the revolving door of their dating lives. If you think it doesn’t affect your kids when your guy sleeps over, think again. My teenage daughter once told me that if my ex and I want her to abstain from pre-marital sex, we shouldn’t be having sex either. I appreciate that she is holding us accountable. Remember that you are a role model for your kids. They observe everything you say and do. So, if you are having sex, don’t do it when your kids are with you.

If you have shared custody with your ex-spouse, there are plenty of opportunities to date when you’re not with your kids. I highly recommend beginning any relationship on your own time. Don’t share the details of your dates with your children. The last thing your kids need, on top of the emotional turmoil of a divorce, is the complication of their involvement and attachment (or friction) with the new man in your life.

However, if you are very serious about this relationship, you ARE going to want to slowly integrate him into your children’s lives, no matter how old they are.

How to introduce your children to your boyfriend

1.   Start by sitting down with your kids and telling them that you met a special guy. Be open to addressing any questions they may have. They’ll probably have concerns about a replacement father, and if you haven’t already had this discussion, it’s wise to reassure them that no man will ever replace their dad.

2.   Keep it short and sweet. Invite your boyfriend to meet your kids in a public place, like a park or coffee shop. It depends on how old the kids are. Make it a short visit. You don’t want to overwhelm the kids.

3.   Moving up to a longer visit. After the initial meeting, you can progress to dinner together, either at your home or at a restaurant. Keep the focus on your kids, and keep the PDA very low key – nothing more than handholding. Even that can be hard for your kids to witness at first.

4.   Full integration. Once the kids are accepting of your serious boyfriend, it’s okay to spend more extensive time together. You can even plan trips together. Just make sure you’ve built the relationship slowly and thoughtfully.

If you use common sense and remain sensitive to your kids’ needs, I believe that most children will eventually warm up to mom’s boyfriend. It might take a long time for them to fully accept him, but if you remain open to their feelings and needs, keep the dialogue going to address their concerns, and gradually integrate him into their lives, your kids will probably come around. When they see the positive affect your boyfriend has on you, they will learn to appreciate what’s in it for them. After all, a happy mom is a calmer and more loving mom, right?

Agree or disagree? Please share your thoughts below.

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