So let’s say it’s been a while since you separated from your child’s other parent and you’ve started dating again. Dating with kids can be complicated, but after a few duds, you’ve found someone you really dig. You wonder when is the right time to introduce the new boo to your kid, and how you’ll do it.
There are endless worries.
Is it too soon?
Dating with kids is a matter of the mind, heart, and other intimate areas.
Are they a good role model or better yet, a good parent?
What if we breakup?
Most importantly, what if the baby doesn’t like them???
Dating with kids is a matter of the mind, heart, and other intimate areas. For some, dating is a casual thing, an opportunity for some grown-up company. But for others, there’s a bit more of a serious endgame—wanting to find a life partner, a best friend, someone to grow and build a life with.
When I was dating as a single mom, I really tapped into a number of things to determine if someone was truly deserving of the privilege to meet my daughter. These were some of my biggest considerations when determining whether it was time to introduce my new love interest.
Signs to Look for When You’re Dating With Kids #1: A Respect for Motherhood
Sometimes, when we come across a potential partner who may or may not have children, they don’t seem to understand that when you’re dating with kids, last-minute plans are not a thing. Making plans in advance is a requirement: Babysitters aren’t typically available at the drop of a dime.
Has your new partner caught on to or acknowledged you and your child’s routine? This is important when you want to connect, have nice conversation, and still get your beauty rest.
Let’s say you are an early bird who rises at 5 a.m. and in bed by 10:00 p.m., yet the person you’re dating insists on calling after 11 p.m.
That is a sign that this person isn’t really paying attention to the rhythm of your life and doesn’t respect your need for rest.
Signs to Look for When You’re Dating With Kids #2: A Respect for Kids
When you’re dating with kids, you have to look for evidence that your new bae respects kids.
Do they know how to act and/or are they decent with kids?
Do they have nieces, nephews, mentees, or other children in their community who they interact with regularly?
When you share something about your child, are they uninterested or quick to escape the conversation?
How about when they hear them in the background while you’re on the phone? Do they respond in a thoughtful way?
Listen to what they say and watch what they do.
Signs to Look for When You’re Dating With Kids #3: Relationship Intention
Is this a relationship you plan to have for a long time? Even if you aren’t one for marriage, is this person going to be the partner showing up at all the family events, day parties, and game nights post-COVID?
Do you see yourself growing, adjusting, and evolving with this person, and are they willing to do so for you?
Does this person honor a child’s need for stability and want to be a part of that?
Do you want the same things?
Let’s be honest, birth parent or not, any adult in your child’s life will have a very large impact on shaping who they become, what they believe, and how they behave.
If it’s a casual situation, there is no real need to press getting your child involved. Kids get attached and thrive with consistency, routine, and healthy interactions.
Signs to Look for When You’re Dating With Kids #4: Timing
If you’re dating with kids, I say you should introduce your beau and baby sooner rather than later, within reason.
Hear me out!
After dating for about three months, my partner and I had very clear intentions for our relationship. Things were moving quickly between us. We talked daily and went on frequent dates. He took a solid interest in me, my life goals, and my child. He was pretty awesome with his nieces and nephews, and we wanted the same things in life.
The last piece was for us to see if there would be decent chemistry between him and my kid.
There is no definitive time frame, but for me after three months, I had had enough time to vibe, get a sense of his habits and values, learn some quirks (good and bad), and really start imagining what this thing would shape up to be in the long run.
We had our first official date on September 4, 2015 and we took my daughter out for a fun date on November 7 for their official intro. I knew I wanted him around for the foreseeable future and wanted to be sure he was a good fit. I didn’t want to end up breaking up after a year because my kid didn’t like him, or because they just didn’t get along. Since he insisted he wasn’t going anywhere, we had to take that step.
Today we’ve been together for almost six years and have since had another beautiful daughter together.
After the Introduction
Once you’ve built the relationship with your boo and you decide you’re ready to introduce your partner to your kids, take some more time to see how it may organically flourish or not. Essentially the new person is “dating” you and your child. In my opinion this is the most important time in the relationship.
Whether it works out or not, use this as an opportunity to explore and set an example of what relationships are and can be for your child(ren). Show up as your whole self and do the work that is needed to co-create the relationship.
If you find yourself dating and then things suddenly take a turn, don’t be ashamed to take a break from dating. Being alone is better than being with someone toxic—for you and your child.
No relationship is perfect, and they all take work to be healthy and productive. Kids need to know that while disagreements occur, it’s important for them to see how these things can be handled with love, respect, and honesty.
If for any reason, it’s not a healthy situation, it’s important to show your kids when and how to release unhealthy relationships. Sit with what you’ve experienced, rediscover what you desire, put it in the universe, manifest that shit, and trust you will ultimately have exactly what you want and need.
The hope is that as time goes on, you and your boo will learn more about one another and how to manage an ever-evolving situation. You two will blend your families, and your partner will continue to grow as a life partner who helps make your life easier, better, and more fulfilling.