How do you tell your child that you’re dating?

by singlemomseeking on March 17, 2008

holding_hands.jpgCrazy Computer Dad recently commented that “you really want to make sure you let your children know you are dating.”

He added: “The backlash and alienation can be severe if they learn through some other means or very late in the process.”

As I read Crazy Computer Dad’s advice, I was relieved. After all, M is way too young to know or care about dating. She’s only seven (fine, she will turn eight in April). She doesn’t talk about boys at school, and all any reference to “having a crush” seems to go over her head.

It’s pure innocence over here, right?

The last time I dated a man, seriously, M was five years old. She had just started kindergarten, and I’d explained to her, simply, that I had “a new special friend.” While M is a very perceptive kid, she hardly asked me any questions.

I guess it’s time for me wake up.

As you know, I met the Biologist the first week of February. Thanks to the crisis on our second date — during which he led me into the poison oak — I hit the pause button. In the meantime, he has apologized profusely. He brought me wine, chocolate and flowers. He took me out for a really nice dinner. We’ve had a total of six dates, and we now laugh about the fact that the poison oak might have brought us closer. (We didn’t kiss until the fourth date, and I was in euphoria.)

When I told the Biologist that M was giving a speech on Madam Curie to her second grade class, he scored lab coats and mixing bottles for her. This was the first notion that M had of the Biologist, after I told her that the supplies were from “a scientist friend.” But M was so immersed in mixing up a concoction that might explode, she didn’t bat an eye.

This weekend, however, she caught me off guard.

I was telling M that she’d be having a slumber party at a friend’s house. Usually, when I announce this, M dashes off to pack her dolls. Her focus is on herself and having fun. She has never asked me where I’m going or what I’m doing.

Until Friday night, when she said, “Mommy, what are doing when I’m at my slumber party?”

Me, flustered: “Uh, I’m going to dinner with a friend–”

M: “But that’s too late for dinner, Mommy. Restaurants aren’t open that late.”

Me, trying to think very quickly: “Your favorite pizza place on the corner is open to 2 a.m.”

Her: “Oh.” And then: “What friend are you seeing?”

Me, biting my lip: “Remember when I told you about my scientist-friend?”


“That friend.”

And she was off, to find her American Girl doll, who arrived home Friday night from the hospital. But it didn’t end there.

On Saturday, after the slumber party, my little social butterfly had another play date. As I drove M to her friend’s house, I explained that I’d be down the street, working at a cafe. (And, yes, secretly, I was hoping that the Biologist might swing by after his bike ride.)

M: “Who’s going to meet you at the cafe?”

Me, feeling just a tad defensive: “I’m going to be working, honey.”

Her: “Really?”

But I didn’t feel right. What happened to that open, honest Mom I want to be? Was I keeping secrets? Help.

I glanced at M in the rear view mirror.”Honey, I know you’re curious about what’s going on,” I said.

She nodded her head.

“Well, remember when I told you about my scientist-friend, the one who got you that lab equipment?”

Her: “Yes.”

Me: “Well, I’ve been spending time with him–”

Her: “Mommy, will he teach me how to do a science experiment?”

“Uh, maybe,” I said. “But he actually studies birds.”

Her: “Then, will he show me how to get a bird to land on me?”

Me: “I can ask–”

We drove up to her friend’s house, and that was that.

Please help me out here: Did I say too much? Should I have said more?

I need to hear from single parents who’ve talked to their kids about dating. What did you say? How did you say it?

Photo courtesy of Adrian

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