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iLove's avatar

Single parent dating: when is it a good time to introduce a new SO to your child?

Asked by iLove (2344points) December 18th, 2010

I am a single mom of a 4 year old daughter. In 18 months since splitting from her father, I have not had a serious relationship.

I met someone a month ago who has become a significant part of my life.

For those of you who have experienced this, what is your advice on how to introduce a new love to your child? When is it ok to have the person sleep over?

My goal as a parent is to make conscious decisions in regards to my adult relationships.

I have seen the opposite extreme of this situation, where the parent was not consciously looking out for the child’s best interests and moved in with a new SO with no regard for how it may affect the child.

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16 Answers

marinelife's avatar

It needs to be when you are fairly sure that the relationship has a future.

Seaofclouds's avatar

I think it really depends on the relationship you have with the person you are with. When I was a single mom and dating, I told any guy I went on a date with that I had a son. I wouldn’t let a guy meet my son unless it was a serious, committed relationship. Until we got to that point, there weren’t any sleep overs (at my place). Once the relationship progressed to something serious, my son met the guy. My son’s opinion and feeling’s toward the guy were important to me and I wanted to be sure they got along before the relationship went much further than that. I still waited on sleep overs at my place until after they had gotten to spend some time together. In the 5 years I was a single mom, my son met 3 guys and one of them is my husband now.

When I introduced a guy to my son, I always introduced them as a friend. I have a cousin that would introduce her boyfriend’s to her daughter as their “new daddy” and it made me sick every time I heard it.

seazen's avatar

4? And you’ev been divorced since she was a baby essentially? Anytime is fine: you can have male friends over – and it’s her bedtime way before yours and his, right? Get her used to seeing a guy over – not every man is going to become her stepfather. She doesn’t have to know anything about intimacy anyway. Just act naturally.

I did. It worked out ok. I hope. They’re 18 and 16 now.

lbwhite89's avatar

As @Seaofclouds said, it really depends on multiple factors. So, I’ll just give my opinion. I would enter the situation slowly. First of all, a month isn’t a long time. You need to be sure that this man will be around for awhile. It’s only been a year and a half since your ex left, so it may be a shock and she may be confused as to what’s going on. You need to make sure he’s serious about you and is fully aware of what it means to be dating a mother. He should know how his responsibilities and priorities will change if this becomes serious and you should know how much you trust him to be there for your child.

As for what @seazen said, I have to disagree. Children are extremely perceptive and you never really know how things will affect them. Some kids might be fine while others are not. It’s best to take certain precautions. I’d give it another month or so and see how your new relationship goes. Then talk to your child about him, just mentioning that you want her to meet a special friend of yours, etc. Then bring him over during the day a couple of times and see how they react to each other. Then a little while later bring him over to spend the night and see how your child handles it. If she has questions, answer them, don’t lie.

I may not be a parent, but my mom married my stepfather when I was 4, so I think I have a little insight on the situation. Good luck, I hope everything works out with your new man.

BarnacleBill's avatar

How does she role play adult relationships with dolls, such as Barbie? Does she understand about dating? You can get an understanding of how she sees relationships. If you get her a Ken and Kelly (Barbie’s littlest sister) you can role-play the scenario with her.

Seelix's avatar

I really think it depends on how S the O is.

If you really see a future with this guy (and he sees a future with you and with your daughter) then you ought to introduce them. You don’t want your daughter to be one of those poor kids who has a thousand “uncles”. I like @Seaofclouds’ advice.

john65pennington's avatar

Congratulations for thinking of your child first. although i have never been in this situation, in my job, i have answered calls that were similar in nature. my advice was to tell the child as soon as both adults are confident the relationship will work. many older children resent someone new in their family, so their trust must be earned.

Your four year child will also resent not seeing her father at home. this new person “on the scene”, should take it slow. advise the child that he is not your father, but rather a friend that will be living here and you hope she likes him. the key is to take it slow and let everyone become familiar with each other.

Coloma's avatar

I have always been on the conservative side in this arena.

I advocate taking it very slow and I would say to wait at least 6 months to see if this relationship has staying power.

Then I would consider some fun outtings with the new dating interest on neutral turf as an introduction, but would not consider ‘sleep overs’ for at least the first year and even then, I dunno.

Dinners and ‘family’ movies at home, allowing your daughter to slowly adjust to this new person over a lengthy period of time.

Call me old fashioned but I don’t believe in exposing young kids to dating interests on a casual basis.

I was dating a man last year that had 11 and 14 yr. old kids and we both agreed we had no interest in involving the kids until we had a chance to see if the ‘relationship’ had staying power, and we would re-examine the situation after 6 months.

It did not, and I broke things off after 2 months.

I think the 6 month rule is a solid one and not that difficult to implement with a child so young.

Trillian's avatar

Anytime is not fine. As @marinelife said, until you know for a fact that this person will be committd to you and to her, do not allo her to meet this person and form an attachment of any sort. If she meets him, it should not be as a potential father figure, so spending a lot of time with you even on just a friendly basis will not work. As @Coloma says, people are far too casual about their dating lives and expect the kids to have the same attitude. It doesn’t work that way. Kids are looking for stability and security. Period. I hope this works out well for you!

iLove's avatar

Thanks everyone, great answers. I left out an important piece, and that is that she has a father who is close and a good dad at that.

@Seaofclouds – thank you for your answer and really sad on the second part (“daddy”)

In the 1.5 years since I haven’t been with her father, I have dated a few guys but none of them were worthy of introducing to her. I should also mention that we were separated for 6 months prior to getting back together and then splitting up for good. So far she has no real model for relationships and it bothers me somewhat.

I am fortunate because I have every other weekend to explore this relationship on my own, spend the night and do what I want because she is with her father those times.

As for what @lbwhite89 said, I like this a lot. What was said in your response is actually one of the reasons I want to introduce her to him. He has asked to stop by on occasion to talk / hang out while she was sleeping, and expressed true concern about doing just that. So it seems that he is very aware of what dating a mother means.

@Coloma made an excellent point as well, which I do not think is old fashioned at all.
Call me old fashioned but I don’t believe in exposing young kids to dating interests on a casual basis.

Coloma's avatar


Sounds like you are a very thoughtful parent, good job!

Response moderated (Personal Attack)
skfinkel's avatar

I am guessing that what you don’t want is to be introducing your young child to a series of possible partners. While a month relationship must be so fun for you after a divorce, it is still rather a short one in the scheme of things. I would suggest that you keep this part of your life your own for a while, and see how the relationship develops. If this person is the one, there will be plenty of time for the two of them to learn to love each other.

Summum's avatar

If you truely love another and you bring them to the table. Then all the others will totally understand because we all have the capacity for love beyond who we and others are. Love everyone and love those who would do harm to you.

cak's avatar

I was very conservative about introducing my daughter to someone I was dating. My daughter wasn’t even aware that I actually dating anyone when I was dating the man that is now my husband. We knew it was at the permanent stage, when they met; and he was aware if they didn’t mesh, it wouldn’t work.

My ex introduced her to everyone he dated, it caused a lot of confusion and pain.

Be protective, that’s my gut feeling on this one.

captainsmooth's avatar

Great question. Recently divorced, two girls, ages 6 and 10, have them half the time. Oldest is very perceptive and very deep. I’m not introducing them to anyone I am “dating”, until I feel strongly that that woman will be a significant part of my life. I have given this a lot of thought. Right now they need me to be their dad, not dad plus gf. I have enough time to be with someone else when I am not with them.

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