Single Mom Dating Tips, Part 5

by mssinglemama on March 12, 2010

Introducing Him to the Kids

I know it’s been a while since I’ve offered up a around of single mom dating tips, but here is a fresh batch. The subject? Introducing or not introducing men to your children.

First, a few real-life single mom dating experiences. In both cases, each single mom did what she felt was right at the time. We can’t hold them responsible or judge them for their actions. We are all learning as we go… dating as a single mom is by far the hardest and most misunderstood experience mothers can have. But we can learn from each other.

Single Mom Dating Scenario 1

She bides her time, listens to her ultra-protectionist mama gut and waits 9 months to introduce the man she’s dating to her toddler. She introduces him only after she’s certain they’ll be together forever and have fallen completely and totally in love. Did her patience pay off?

At first, yes. Everything is going so well that they all move in together three months after the introductions. Four weeks later her boyfriend, likely caving under the stress of what I’ll call Sudden Toddler Exposure, jets. He leaves. Completely and totally leaves and she hasn’t heard from him since.

Single Mom Dating Scenario 2

She doesn’t wait. Knowing instantly that he is the one. She brings the man into their lives, introduces him to her 6-year-old and then – because he lives out of town – allows him to practically (but not really) move in.

Things are going very well, they’re both living in the La La Land of Love and then – boom – something doesn’t feel right. They are fighting constantly (the child is seeing the fights) and it all ends a few weeks later in a nasty break-up.

To avoid the above Single Mom Dating Scenarios…

1. If you are seriously interested in a man it is completely fine to introduce him to the kids.

Guess what? Your kids are – like 50% of their friends – from a two parent household, or a one parent household. But still, this is a new day and age. Being tied up or hung up on putting your kid in a therapy chair could cause them more harm than good.

And besides, do you really know a man if you can’t gauge his behavior and interaction with your children. This is something us moms can read in just a few hours at the park or ice cream parlor. No need for moving him in or inviting him over for dinner every night. Just slowly introduce them. One outing a week to ease them in and then slowly increase exposure.

BUT.

Do not move too fast. At all. Take your time.

John and I have been dating for 10 months but even when he does come over – it’s just before Benjamin’s bed time and when Benjamin wakes up in the morning – he’s gone, having woken up between 5:00am – 6:00am to get out of the house. This is something John does on his own. He never complains or whines. He just does it. I can tell you, it’s very helpful to be with a man who puts Benjamin first – always. Helps to keep me in line as well, because I’m definitely not as strong as I seem.

2. Ease him into father-like responsibilities.

I learned this the hard way with Kris. But, to my advantage, now remember that lesson every day with John. If you are dating a single dad I’m sure it’s a different story, but with a childless guy you have to keep your boundaries. Even 10 months in. John is incredibly helpful but he has yet to experience the real routine of my single mom life, every day, all day, over and over again from breakfast to dinner.

Why? Why not expose him to that? Because 1) it’s not his responsibility 2) we need this time to grow our relationship and build a foundation 3) it’s too much pressure to throw someone immediately into fatherhood, remember we had nine months to get used to the idea + the age of our child/children. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ve surely caught on and played witness to my slip ups on this and then re-centering. But, all in all, I think we are moving at just the right pace for all of us.

3. Escape from the kids (whenever humanly possible).

John and I have every other weekend alone. Usually I hide away in his apartment and lounge on his couch, eating fudge pops and watching TV.  We do leave to go out with friends, dinner or for a quick shopping trip. But it’s so nice to just do next to nothing and enjoy each other. The routine sets me back on house cleaning and I play catch up all week, but it’s worth every minute. I want to give him that… just me, sans Benjamin.

This weekend we’re taking off for Ann Arbor to visit my great uncle and my great aunt. My great uncle’s sister, my grandmother was also a single mom. But in the 1950′s. Can you imagine? She raised four boys with the help of her World War 1 widowed mother and never re-married.

Although, the story goes – that she used to go ball room dancing every weekend…

4. Don’t forget about YOU.

This is the hardest one for me. Between my quickly growing search engine optimization and social marketing firm, my son and my boyfriend there is little time for me to just be. So I force myself to go for walks at lunch. I say no “a lot.” And I LOVE my work, so that helps. Being at work, working on what I love counts as being good to myself (on most days). Right?

The point is that you have to manage your stress. Good luck with that one (I know it’s the hardest).

>>> Read all of my past Single Mom Dating Tips posts for more.

>>> Check out also all of these dating sites

Related posts:

  1. Single Mom Dating Tips, Part 1
  2. Single Mom Dating Tips, Part 2
  3. The Single Mom Dating Conundrum.
  4. Dating a Single Mom, Part 1
  5. Single Mom Dating Zen: Lions & Tigers

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Jessica Barker March 12, 2010 at 12:07 pm

My dear, Ms. Single Mama – Thank you so much for sharing your experience, wisdom and thoughts surrounding introducing your partner to your child. I feel that every situation is different, but being planful about the choice is the key point. Have fun this weekend!!

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Abby Carter March 12, 2010 at 1:02 pm

My son got wise (at about 8) to the guy coming at bedtime thing. He regressed back to his 4 year old ways and wouldn’t go to bed until the guy left. Now that he’s 10 and becoming sexually aware, I think it would be even harder to have the guy stay over while the kids are at home. I wish I had the advantage of every other weekend free, but I don’t.

Its not even the 1950′s yet sometimes I feel like your grandmother must have felt.

There are no easy answers to this one…

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In My Pink Heels March 12, 2010 at 1:10 pm

Well said. Being a single mother of a 12yr old son and 9 yr old daughter, it has posed to very challenging. They are VERY inquisitive and I expect nothing less. You have to be able to follow your gut with how the kids perceive things, how your significant other sees things and how you ultimately see things. With my kids being VERY VERY VERY active with sports and all, I find it difficult to find the “right” time to bring anyone around the kids. For me, in the last few years, I have learned to make better judgement decisions.

On a side note, you and John Bear give me hope that there is still someone out there for me! :)

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RobinEsque March 12, 2010 at 4:22 pm

solid advice all the way around … the first person I dated, post my break-up with my ex, was 5 years my junior and (at that time) it meant he was a senior in college. The rule was he could come stay over (sans sex) — arriving at 9pm and leaving at 6am — and I thought, there was no way this “college kid” — a 22-year-old — was going to last being interested in me. Well, he proved me wrong and he was a rock at a very unstable and stressful time. The point: I think those kinds of “rules” in consideration of your child(ren) will show what kind of male you are dating — whether he is a boy, guy or man. (If he abides and even holds you to your own rules, then he is a man; if he quasi follows them, then he is a guy; and if he balks every step of the way, or just disappears, then he is a boy.) All single moms need a man, because there is no other female who can be more woman, than a single mom!

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Winecountrymom March 12, 2010 at 5:15 pm

I gave a past boyfriend too much liberty in being a father-like figure during our relationship. Long story short, his and my parenting beliefs differed highly, my kids hated him, and his overly strict ways made me end up resenting him too. Fast forward to today. I am with a wonderful man who has become friends with my kids. We eased into him even meeting the kids. Our relationship is a year and a half old, and he still isn’t a father figure to them. Does he correct him if he needs to? Of course. It would be unrealistic if he didn’t, especially if they break rules in his house. But it’s along the lines of “we don’t jump on the furniture in this house” or “clear your plate when you’re done eating”. Discipline is left solely to me as their mother, and that feels right. My kids like him and he likes them, and we’re all on a positive route to building a solid foundation. Everything you said about how you and John are handling this is right on. And I live watching the ease of your relationship unfold with what you share with us.

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Winecountrymom March 12, 2010 at 5:18 pm

Sorry about typos. iPhone auto correction…. “correct him” = “correct them” and “live” = “love”.

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Alexis March 13, 2010 at 8:43 am

My question is this….if you introduce your little one to a man and they get along and bond tightly, and then it doesn’t work between you and the man….what happens to your little one? My boyfriend and little 3 year old love each other like crazy (this is the first man I’ve introduced him to)…but I don’t know if he’s the one and well who knows what will happen with us…I’m just afraid of hurting my son.

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Shelley March 14, 2010 at 9:46 am

I don’t usually post to blogs, but your post was topical for me. I have a 3 year old boy who is crazy about my boyfriend, he loves spending time with him and asks him to sleep over (although saying he should sleep in the playroom, not in my room). I have the same concerns, what do I do if things don’t work out for the very long term. We’ve been together for over a year now but I have my moments when I’m not so sure. It would be nice if I could think that a break up would end in a civil manner and we could be friends so my little guy could still have this man in his life. But, that may be fantasy and to be honest I do often wonder if I should have waited until much more time had passed before introducing him. The eternal debate.

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arscuore March 13, 2010 at 4:14 pm

The thing is, as much as we like to control things, we can’t control how a potential mate or your children will react to each other. You have to follow your instincts and do what feels right. If the guy forms an attachment and then leaves, it wouldn’t be great, but we would deal with it, because that’s what we humans have to do. Not everyone is rock solid in life, and kids can have that experience without growing up warped. Sometimes we learn much more from the people we do not want to be like when we grow up.

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Leslie March 13, 2010 at 6:18 pm

I dated a man for three years during which time my son was 4-7 and my daughter was 6-9. He was the best man I’ve ever known and was more wonderful to my children than I can express. He loved them like they were his own and they loved him back equally. In the end, the relationship between him and me simply didn’t work. There was nothing unhealthy about it, but the love we thought we had simply slipped away. It was not unlike a marriage that stays together for the kids in the sense that my children caused us to stay together for the wrong reasons for a period of time. When we broke up for good, everyone was devastated. My kids were too young to understand it. All they could process was that they were abandoned again. They have now lost two men (their father is much like your ex, Alaina). My daughter, now 13 is saying she will never marry. Of course, I’m sure that will change, but there are very deep wounds that I’ve had them in therapy dealing with abandonment. It was actually the loss of my ex-boyfriend that causes them both the most pain. He recently married someone else. I wish you the best with John Bear, Alaina, and hope Benjamin doesn’t go through what my children went through.

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Dawn March 13, 2010 at 8:29 pm

I just went through what Alexis is describing. I dated a man for a year. I loved him and I thought we would be together forever. I allowed my boys to bond with him. Just like I am having to adjust to him not being around, so are they. I tried to explain to them why he and I aren’t together. They still ask about him and even though it hurts to talk about him, I don’t want them to hurt. So we talk it out. Surprisingly, having to help them talk through their feelings is helping me cope as well.

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Shelley March 15, 2010 at 8:28 pm

There’s a lot of wisdom on these pages. Something that arscuore said rang true, and it’s that we can not mitigate everything that may come in to our children’s lives and protect them from it. But, I imagine we are the best ones to know what their capacity is for the negative side of the equation and allow our decisions to come from this spot. Not easy decision making.

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Paul Preston March 28, 2010 at 10:27 pm

Your tips are very practical and that’s what makes them helpful for single parents. I am a widow and I have just thought about dating again and I have been looking for methods to make sure the relationship works not just for me, but for my 4-yr old son. I have tried e-books, soul mate advice from http://www.haydendane.com, about.com, and other sources but I would like to build my knowledge on this matter

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hastine April 8, 2010 at 10:36 pm

Die Wahrscheinlichkeit, dass der Suche nach Ihrem “Seelenverwandten” online sind, viel besser, als Sie vielleicht denken. Es ist nicht jedermanns Sache geschehen, natürlich, aber es kann passieren. Die Welt des Internet oder Online-Dating ist in den letzten Jahren regelrecht explodiert….

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Dick Dick April 18, 2010 at 12:22 pm

dude this is shity

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MARTHA July 10, 2010 at 5:53 pm

Hello,
Iloved your tips, You see Ihave a single parent for10years,and sometimes it is a stuggle just to put food on the the table

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Single Dating USA February 28, 2011 at 4:17 am

I these tips really work for a single mom to stay connected with their children as well as their little one. Nice Article Keep Writing.

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Ultimatch November 16, 2011 at 9:44 pm

My best dating tips for a single mom. Date him – ONLY – if you are truly happier. Remember you and your children can be completely content and happy without a man in your life. If a man wants in he has to earn it.

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Karley June 3, 2014 at 11:43 am

I have yet to introduce my son to anyone that I have dated. As a matter of fact I am so scared to have my son hurt again by having another man come into his life and leave that I am nervous to introduce him at all. Stuck between a rock and a hard place.

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