Taking It Slow

Taking It Slow

by Susan Graham Mathis

Dating as a single parent can be complicated. We’re torn between letting our date get to know our children and protecting our kids from being hurt by another person potentially leaving their lives. What’s a single parent to do?

The filter system may be the best protection for your children — and for you. Here’s how it works:

  1. You meet. Get together first with your date, away from the home and children. Bring photos of your children and talk about them, but don’t let the kids meet your date for the first few months. If children meet several people in a short period, they’ll only be confused and nervous about potential loss.
  2. You tell. As you gradually get to know your date, tell your kids about him (or her) to prepare them to meet. Talk about him as you would a friend and, if you have a photo, show it to your children.
  3. They hear. Before your children actually meet this person, let them talk with him on the phone so they can gradually get to know him. Ask your date to keep it simple to avoid emotional ties early on.
  4. They meet. If your relationship progresses to a serious point, allow him to come to the house and pick you up so he can meet the children — and they can meet him. Gradual and casual are the key words here. Stay only a few minutes and introduce him as a friend. After this initial meeting, you may want to have him over for dinner or in to watch a ball game, but avoid any physical affection that can feel threatening to a child.
  5. They connect. Only when you feel there is a strong possibility for marriage should the children begin to emotionally connect with your potential mate.

Children need your protection. Protect their hearts from emotional entanglement with people who may pass through their lives. Protect their minds from the confusion dating can bring. And protect their spirits from the hurt of abandonment. As you keep this a priority, your children and your future mate will have the chance to relate in safety and love.

This article appeared in Focus on the Family magazine.
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