Dating as a single mother is tough. And if you’re anything like me, overthinking and mild panic attacks commence when certain decisions need to be made throughout the dating process. I’m a working mother as well, with what seems like a million things on my plate and way too much for one person to handle. My dating life always seems to take the back-burner. I tend to prioritize my life and stick to what’s most important such as taking care of myself and my spiritual life (so I can take care of everything else), spending quality time with my daughter, my job (teaching – which is basically 500 jobs in one), maintain a (somewhat) clean and organized household, make sure we eat (somewhat) healthy, get enough rest (or exercise) to function properly, and have (somewhat of) a social life.
THEN, comes dating.
Unfortunately, for potential Mr. Right, he must be patient enough to wait to spend quality time with me once I take care of my priorities first. Free time for a single, working mother is so valuable, so any guy who is granted that time is sure to be something special.
I’ve been dating a guy for a few months now and the question arises in my head time and time again, “When should I let him meet my daughter?”
In the past, I have dated guys who I thought were really great guys. They ALL have been really great guys. But for one reason or the other, they didn’t work out and I would be left with a heaping mound of guilt for ever introducing my daughter to them in the first place. I would feel more shame for letting someone in, only to see them leave in the eyes of my daughter, more-so than the actual breakup itself. Part of my job as a single mother is to protect myself and my daughter, and I would feel like a complete failure each time I THOUGHT they were in it for the long haul.
So here I am again, new boyfriend, same dilemma. When should I let him meet her? He is another great guy, with what seems to be good intentions, and claims he’s here to stay. Same song, same dance. Only this time I am more careful, more guarded, more skeptical than ever, for the sake of my child.
They say wisdom comes with experience, so here are some suggestions on how to know when it’s the right time:
Make it CLEAR from the start
Have a full discussion with your guy to make it CLEAR that you are dating to marry and that your children are top priority right now. Make him fully aware of what he is getting into as far as dynamics of parenting, co-parenting, your ideas of how to raise a child, the reality of how much free time you’ll actually have, etc. There are SO many things that need to be discussed to let him know that you are serious and you are not just a fling. This is a serious decision he needs to make with careful thought.
Talk about your child to him and see how he reacts
If he’s interested in knowing more about them, that’s a good sign! The more interest a guy shows in my kid, the more comfortable I am in knowing his intentions.
Wait longer than sooner
I know the beginning phases of dating are fun and exciting and you automatically want to think they are THE ONE. But it takes a while to really get to know someone. Have a few disagreements before letting them meet the kids. I always like to think that how a couple handles disagreements are a good deciding factor for if it will last or not.
Wait until you are 100% about him
If you are having any doubts about him or the relationship, wait until you’re sure. And vice versa! If he’s showing doubts or you feel like he’s holding back, wait.
Does he make the effort to show he’s committed to you AND the kids?
If guys are in, they will find ways to make sure you KNOW they’re in. If you have to question whether he’s serious about you AND your kids, then he’s not serious. You should never have to question it. They will find a way to make it known.
See if he’s willing to wait
I have no idea when I’ll be ready for my boyfriend to meet my daughter. It could be two weeks from now, two months from now, maybe even longer. The dating process is prolonged due to the lack of free time that I have, but I cannot risk my child meeting another guy unless I KNOW I’m 100% sure of this. Letting the guy know that you will wait as long as it takes until you are ready is so important and a great gauge to see if he’s willing to wait it out or not. If he’s the right one, he’ll know that a few months (or more) is nothing compared to a lifetime spent with you.
Since I don’t get to see my boyfriend often, FaceTime is our savior! Just about every night we FaceTime each other and it helps a great deal when going long periods of time without seeing each other. If you feel like you’re almost ready, FaceTime is a good way for them to “meet” and see how they interact without them actually meeting in person.
Meet in a public place first
When you are ready, set up a time to have them meet somewhere outside of the home, like the park. Your home with your kids is a safe space and you don’t want to bring in a complete stranger who could potentially make them feel uncomfortable. Even if you are comfortable with your guy, they may not be. Let them warm up to each other elsewhere before bringing the guy into the home.
The key to making it work is to communicate. Tell them your past or your reasons for waiting. Let him know that your job is to protect your kids and the last thing you need is to have everyone get attached, only to see him leave. It’s a hard blow for you AND your kids once feelings are involved. Be honest with him and ask him to be honest with you.