What to Tell Your Kids About
Your Dating Life
There isn’t anything your kids need to know about your dating life. So what should you tell them?
“Nothing” is the simplest answer. There isn’t anything your kids need to know about your dating life. If you’ve met someone you’re interested in it can be a pretty exciting prospect. It’s new. It’s fresh. It adds a little thrill to your day and visions of love and romance to your mind. But this is only your side of the story. For your children, meeting one of your romantic prospects brings up images of Cinderella locked away by an evil stepmother, strangers invading their space, losing a parent’s affection, and fear of the unknown. The best rule of thumb when it comes to dating and your kids is this: Any and all information is strictly given on a "need to know" basis. Unless Mr. Saturday Night is a long-term player in your life your kids don’t need to know.
A blind date is probably the most scary concept to explain to a child. First off, if you’re like most parents you’ve spent hours of your life teaching your kids not to talk to strangers and especially never to meet anyone in person that you meet on the internet. The reasons why a parent’s blind date is safe and a child’s encounters wouldn’t be is just way too confusing and complicated for a kid, even an older one, to understand.
If you’re using online dating sites or chatting with potential dates on the computer be conscious that kids notice everything. Make sure you have logged out of your email when you step away from the computer. Be careful to close out the page of a dating service so when your kids search for a YouTube video they don’t wander unexpectedly into your dating life. Clear the history on your browser and erase the cookies too. And when you’re on the phone, remember they hear everything.
If you’re getting dressed up for a night out there is nothing wrong with telling your kids you’re meeting friends. Technically, it might be lying but even in yogic philosophy they say that the principal of truth-telling, Satya, must be balanced with the principal of non-harming, Ahimsa. If telling your children the truth about your dates too soon would cause them harm by creating undue anxiety, it’s okay to keep it to yourself.
Two-Four Month Relationships
By now you have gone out a few times, had a bunch of correspondence and plenty of phone calls. Maybe you’re starting to think this person could be a more permanent part of your life. But remember, it’s still too early to tell. Again, the biggest question to ask yourself before you tell your children is how is this going to benefit them? Most children, even children in their late 40s, harbor fantasies about their parents reuniting. Why involve your kids in your selection process when their vote really won’t matter and the jury is still out on your new man anyway?
If you let them meet early, it can have unanticipated toxic consequences. You could introduce Mr. Potential to your kids prematurely and they all fall in love with each other. That’s all fine and good but ultimately dangerous unless you and Mr. Potential are deeply committed because now if things go south you have to deal with your children’s disappointment on top of everything else. You could end up entangled with someone longer than you would have, not because they are right for you, but because your children love him.
These first few months are the honeymoon period of the relationship and the desire to have everyone get together to join in the fun can be high. The urge will pass so resist it. No one is ready.
Once He’s a Full-Fledged Boyfriend
Okay, so he seems like he’s sticking around. He has heard about your precious offspring and it seems like it’s the right time for everyone to meet. Plan a totally stress-free kid-centered activity and limit the time. A successful first meeting means not doing anyone any harm and not setting up unrealistic expectations. Then gradually, as the timing and opportunities present themselves, spend more unpressured time together. Try to let them develop their own relationship at their own pace. If you force things it will probably backfire for him and the kids.
Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. For example, it’s always ideal to go on first dates when your children are with your ex but what if you are a full time parent and you don’t get any weekends off? If your time is limited and you’re really in close quarters with your children try your best to be discreet. If you hold what’s best for your kids at the forefront of your mind you will come up with smart and creative solutions. Dating and getting to know someone is a process. Try to stay true to that idea. Only let the people in that you feel you have actually gotten to know. The relationship you will have for the rest of your life no matter what happens with Mr. Potential is with your kids. No one has ever told us that they let their dates meet their kids too late, but tons of women have told us that they let their kids meet their dates too soon. When in doubt, wait.