Already you are going through a difficult time. Maybe you are recently divorced or broken up or maybe it’s been a while since any relationship took place. Either way, you may or may not already be experiencing some difficult times of your own. However, you are finally in a place where dating seems doable again.
Many thoughts may race through your head, ‘what will Johnny think?’, ‘How will he take to the new guy?’, and ‘He is really going to have a hard time with this.’ First item of business… DO NOT ASSUME.
We have no idea how your child is going to take to a new person being in your life or even you going on new dates.
Of course it really depends how old your child is, how you may approach this situation. However, I am going to give you a few tips on how to handle this type of process.
- The Question- So you are simply talking to a new person, no big deal for you, right? Maybe not. But for your little one, this may be devastating for them. Simply asking your child if they mind you dating is a wonderful way to gage their comfortability around this topic. This question can take place whenever you’d like. Its just a question, there is no guarantee that you will even go through with it at this time if Johnny is having a hard time with it. Maybe you still may, however now you have an idea for what they are feeling.
- First Dates- So the time has come and you are ready to make the plunge. Having a sit down conversation with your child is very important. Passingly telling them that you’re going on a date can come across to them as if you don’t have concern for their emotions or what they’re experiencing. Sit down with your child/teen and let them know you are simply going on a first date with someone new. Reassure your child that they are number one, your biggest priority and that going on a date replaces nothing.
- Relationship status- So, its getting more serious and your starting to see something more long term and serious with this new person. You think that you may be getting close to even introducing them to your child. At this point you have a solid notion that this person is appropriate and open to meeting your child as well. Simply have a conversation about the nature of your relationship with your child/teen and how you are becoming close with another individual. Allow your child to ask questions. Answer the questions honestly and openly. If you child asks if you will ever get back ‘with daddy?’ refrain from ‘sugar coating’ your answer. Be honest that you and his father are in different places and it was not a right fit, but that has nothing to do with them. Be honest that this new person you have met is a good, kind, loving person and is a fit for you. Reassure, reassure, reassure.
- Introducing- Ok, its time to introduce Johnny to your boyfriend. I HIGHLY recommend that the first time they are introduced that you allow your child to pick the activity, giving them some control over the situation; knowing that you honor their desires and beliefs, first and foremost.
- Incorporating- The two have met and its going well. Great! Next step, you are bringing them into your house, sharing meals with them as a family unit, and incorporating them into holidays, grocery trips, and maybe even vacations. As things continue to progress, continue to have mini-conversations check in’s with your child to gage where they are, what they are experiencing, and how they are feeling about his process.
The theme in this process is to reassure and talk. Often, with my own kids, I hear, ‘are they going to replace me?’ and ‘are they going to leave me out.’ Validate your child’s emotions while reassuring them through words and actions that they are your priority. Offer space frequently for them to talk about what they are feeling, this way they feel honored, respected, and heard.
See how this goes! Take the leap!