Sex and the Single Mom
Introducing Him to the Kids
Q. How do you feel about single dads dating single moms?
A. Well since my boyfriend is a single dad, this is my personal favorite :)! I think it can be great, because you understand each other's crazy, hectic lives and you can be such a great source of support for each other. The flip side is that you are also "dating" his children, and he yours, and both of your exes...and well, it can get pretty crowded, if you know what I mean. If he is a good father and dedicated to his kids, then it can be wonderful, but I suggest staying away from single fathers who complain about their kids, child support, etc., too much -- if he feels that way about his own kids, how's he going to treat yours?
Q. What's the best/cutest way (and best time) to break the ice and tell a man you've got children?
A. This really depends on the guy. If he's a single dad, chances are you met under circumstances that involve children, so he already knows and may very well be interested in you for that very reason. If, however, it's someone you don't know well or you aren't sure how he'd react, I wouldn't say anything until the third date -- and only then if you think you could like him. "Then, if he bails, you'll know it was because you had a kid, in which case you don't want him anyway," as one single mom put it in my book.
Q. How and when do you introduce a new man to your children?
A. This is SUCH an important issue, and one that most single moms pay little or no attention to. However, nearly all of the single mothers I interviewed for the book were adamant that it's important to wait as long as possible to bring a man into the family fold on any level. It can have a big impact on a child to see men coming in and out of your life -- so you need to be very, very careful and very respectful of your children's feelings and their privacy. I personally feel that if you have been SERIOUSLY dating someone for a solid three months, then you can set up a time for him to meet your kids, in a nonthreatening environment (say, at the park or a street fair) so that if things aren't going well, you both can exit gracefully. I talked to single moms who waited more than a year to introduce a man to their children -- and I totally support that.
Q. If your children have become attached to a man you were dating (but not anymore), how do you wean your children off of him?
A. I recommend making this extremely clear to the guy you're seeing: If things go south for whatever reason, he needs to be committed to helping explain the breakup to the kids. If you both agree, perhaps he can continue to see them occasionally. And, as hard as it is, I think you should educate your children early on about "beginnings and endings." They need to understand, as they grow attached to him, that not every relationship lasts forever. You want to prepare them for worst-case scenarios, without creating fears of abandonment. It's a fine line to walk and one of the most challenging issues for the single moms I spoke with (and for myself as well).
Sex and the Single Mom will be available in April 2006 at www.amazon.com. Visit www.tenspeedpress.com for more information.
Originally published on LHJ.com, March 2006.