Getting back into dating is challenging enough at the best of times. However, when you bring children into the equation it can start to resemble a minefield. The good news is that starting a new relationship when you’re already a parent doesn’t need to feel like such a struggle. Here are five easy tips on how to maintain a happy and healthy relationship when you both already have children.
1. You’re ready, but are they?
The decision to take the plunge and get back into dating is one that affects not just your life, but also your children’s. You need to consider whether introducing a new male or female role model into their life is the right thing to do.
If you’re newly single following a divorce or bereavement, it’s important to consider the sense of confusion or loss your kids might feel about no longer having their other parent around.
2. Use discretion
Timing is extremely important when getting back into dating and, if you’re concerned your children will take it badly, it’s often worthwhile showing some discretion.
A big reservation many parents have about looking for love again is that the usual dating scene of late nights and babysitters doesn’t work well when caring for young children. One way of finding local singles without disrupting your family’s routine is to try online dating.
Relationship sites like eHarmony Australia specialise in bringing together people who share the same passions and values, not to mention are sympathetic and understanding of your role as a parent.
3. Introducing your partner
If you’ve started a new relationship and you both have children from former relationships, communication is essential. It’s important to see how you each feel about meeting the family and at what stage you think it’s appropriate.
The first stage is to introduce your new partner to your kids. Avoid having a mass introduction of each family as it creates a lot of pressure and expectation about the future. Choose a low key and relaxed location for your first introduction, like a walk in the park or a trip to a bowling alley.
Consider the language you use during your introduction and be sure to clearly communicate the fact that your new partner isn’t a replacement parental figure, rather a new friend for them to get to know.
4. Introducing the children
When you decide to introduce your children to one another, again try and choose a non-threatening and non-competitive environment, like a trip to the cinema. Make sure your families understand the new experience as an opportunity for friendship, and reassure your children that they’re loved and supported throughout.
5. Be patient
This is always going to be a tricky process during the initial weeks and even months. Children of all ages will have gripes about meeting a potentially new step-father/mother, whether they’re confused kids or moody teenagers. The important thing is to remain patient and understanding of your children in this new phase of their lives. Relationship advice and statistics tell us that step-families can and do work all over the world, so hang on in there because things will get better.