Telling your child that you've met someone

By Peter Ehrlich

I can recall the moment in crystalline clarity: I was pushing my grocery cart at my local supermarket and I was heading to the single-parent broccoli section. And I remember mumbling these exact words: "I'll never kiss another woman again. I'll never make love to a woman ever again." I might as well have been telling that I could not foresee any situation where I'd ever be with a woman again.

For years, like many of you, I was merely the great single-dad provider for my child with no love life whatsoever. And so, my daily habits were just that I only had to focus on my work and provide a quality life for my son, and at the end of the day ,I crawled into my bed for an animated chat with my pillow. That's it, nothing complicated.

But that situation changed for me in a heartbeat when I. And if my love life can change in a nanosecond, yours can, too.

Now, you might not meet someone online, but you may suddenly crash into the shopping cart of a beautiful woman who isn’t bothered at all by the impact -- despite interrupting her as she sniffs the back end of a cantaloupe. (By the way, her melon-shopping habits are a good sign in relation to her bedside inclinations.)

Or, perhaps after 106 coffee dates, you finally find someone whom you can envision saying “I love you” to, a statement that may be difficult to fathom in your moment of singledom.

All swords are double-edged. And if we do suddenly meet someone new and the relationship seems to have some glue, as responsible single dads, we know we have to be prepared to talk about our new situation with the most important person in our life -- our child.

Meeting someone when you’re a single parent is tough, but it might prove to be a cakewalk compared to telling your child that you have met someone. Along with your child’s fear of being replaced, you’ll also have to contend with his/her fear of potentially having an evil stepmother. Such fears are, from an adult’s perspective, unfounded, but to your kid, they are completely legitimate and need to be addressed. So, how do you tell your child that you’ve met someone? Here are some suggestions, along with some, to help you on your way.

tell your child about your new “friend”

Be candid with your child

If it’s a nice, feel-good story, don’t be afraid to tell your child how you actually met your lady friend. When you paint a nice romantic picture, you are, in some way, teaching your child that romance is important and something to be treasured. Reciting your story may also cause your child to appreciate your honesty, which is a language that all children speak.

Inquire about your child’s feelings

Ask your child how he/she feels about the fact you’ve met a new “friend.” Chances are they will be happy for you. A well-loved child is an empathetic child. Our children want us be happy and they know better than anyone (hopefully) that being hugged and kissed is something everyone needs -- even dad.

Reassure your child

Remind your child that he/she is, and will always be, the most important person in your life. No one and nothing will ever change that fact.

Prepare your child to meet your new love interest Propose a potential meeting

Honor your child and show him that you believe that he has the maturity to handle the situation. Make flexible (i.e., no promises) future plans and suggest that “when the time is right, perhaps we can arrange a get-together.” Whatever you do, don’t rush the situation. It’s better to take your time and play it safe. You don’t want to get your child emotionally involved with only to see the relationship dissolve and watch your child’s heart break when you split up.

Prepare your child for the introduction

Tell your child what you like about your new friend beforehand. For example, you could show that your new interest has a sense of humor and likes to have fun with a conversation that might go like this: “You know what Alison said to me today? She said something really funny. She said that I walk like a monkey.” Doing so prepares your child and it makes it emotionally easier for the time when they do meet her. They will meet her with a sense of established trust, and children understand the language of laughter.

Maintain family traditions

Don’t start canceling family traditions because you’ve met someone. These traditions are very important to a child, and they are what have the most positive impact in their lives. Not only do children remember these traditions for the rest of their lives, but they are likely to pass on to their children the very same tradition-torch that you or your parents invented. Don’t screw with family traditions, though you can include a new participant.

Ask for permission

If you have teenage children, ask for their permission if you want a “sleepover” at your new friend’s house. Assure them that if you are away from the house, you will have your cell phone with you, and that it will always be turned on should they need to contact you.

the key to a child’s happiness

Clear and consistent is so important for our children. To feel safe, loved and appreciated, they need to know that no one is going to come into your life and take you away from them. Give them that respect, and they’ll always be happy that daddy found love again. Isn’t that what you want?

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