3. Date discreetly. Avoid introducing your children to your casual dating relationships. Children can get attached easily and suffer more loss. Introducing a series of casual dates to your children will only cause them more anxiety and ambivalence. Immediately following a divorce or breakup it is wise to limit your dating or be discreet to avoid confusing and burdening your children.
4. Set expectations. When it is time to make introductions, do not force children to accept your date. Go slowly. Talk to your children ahead of time as to how you expect them to behave. It is important always to teach your children to respect others and to be kind. They do not have to like someone to be respectful.
5. Lead by example. Be mindful of your sexual morals and remember you are always a role model. Children do what you do more than what you say. Keep in mind that teens are struggling with their own emerging sexuality and have trouble dealing with a parent’s sexuality. These are individual choices made according to your children’s needs.
6. Set boundaries. Do not let your date exert authority over your children. Your children will respond to you better than your significant other until there is sufficient time for integration into the family. Always set appropriate boundaries with your children; disciplining in front of your significant date is appropriate.
7. Consider counseling. Counseling can help to integrate families or if you have a significant partner that you are spending considerable time with. Blending families is challenging, especially when children are carrying around unresolved grief associated with the loss of a parent. Counseling gives everyone an opportunity to be seen and heard, and facilitates the adjustment phase of families coming together. Sooner than later is better.
Being single with children has its own set of challenges and can be demanding and exhausting. And as a single parent, you can be confused as to how to parent and date at the same time. Keep in mind that communication is always the goal. We want to let go of blaming, angry outbursts, silence, withdrawal or acting out, all of which can occur in families, either by you or your children. Being sensitive to one another and respectful of your needs as well as your children’s needs is what will bring families together. Healthy talk is the way to get there.