When two single parents are dating each other

by singlemomseeking on January 20, 2009

One year ago, I asked you, readers, to please explain: How do you tell your child(ren) that you’re dating?

I was still in the innocent world of a second grader when I put that question to you. (Kids get savvy real fast, don’t they? But that’s another post altogether.)

This purpose of this post is to introduce you to Phil, a very articulate single dad reader who often comments here. I’ve had the chance to meet Phil in person — and I’m thrilled to announce that he has a new girlfriend.

In fact, it was reading your single parent blogs that inspired this single dad of two high schoolers to go back online!

I was growing tired of spending most nights with just my kids and wanted to get out more,” Phil says.

One of the first women he noticed online was “a young, attractive, single mom. She seemed smart, funny, her profile was well written — and she lived just within the 30 minute rule. Honestly, I only wrote to her.”

“I don’t believe in love at first site or anything like that,” he says. “But when I first saw her in person, I instantly knew that I had a connection to her. I didn’t know if it would be mutual–”

It was.

They met almost three months ago. Now he’s smitten.

She has been divorced for five years — and her ex-husband died last year. About a month into dating, she suggested that Phil meet her daughters. (She also suggested that he bring some dessert. Oh, those single moms with their brilliant ideas!)

Everyone hit it off, and they’ve gone on a few kid-friendly outings together since.

So, what’s the problem?

He hasn’t exactly explained to his two teenagers that he’s serious about her.

“My son figured out that we were dating, and he would like to meet,” he says. “I told my daughter I was seeing someone. But neither of kids seem too interested.”

Here’s what I’d love to know:

Should Phil have a heart-to-heart about the fact that he has a serious girlfriend?

When I asked him, he suggested that maybe “there isn’t anything to discuss”?

After all, his kids haven’t asked any follow-up questions about his girlfriend.

So, should this dad carry on and date away?

Or, should he sit down and have a heart-to-heart with his teens?

What do you think?

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{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

Dr.Leah www.singlemommyhood.com January 21, 2009 at 5:43 am

Congrats to Phil!

Phil’s kids don’t seem to have any burning desire to meet her or know more about the relationship.

Likely, if this relationship continues to flourish (fingers crossed), his kids will be more interested in asking questions and getting together.

Let the kids take the lead on meeting his new love interest. Keep the option open and answer their questions as they come up.

And, in the meantime, have fun and “date away”!

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won January 21, 2009 at 6:30 am

After three months…my feeling would be to not discuss anything. Realistically, what is there to discuss? They are kids; they may be happy for you, but won’t share the same enthusiasm nor interest as you. Phil stated the kids “don’t seem too interested.”

As with many things, I would allow my children’s questions to dictate what is shared. Then, I would share it slowly/lightly and wait to see if there were follow up questions.

So often, our children give us the answers, if only we listen. That’s one that I need to constantly remind myself of.

won´s last blog post…Hope over Fear

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Wondermom January 21, 2009 at 6:52 am

I agree with Dr. Leah and Won…at this point, there’s not much to discuss. Follow the kids’ lead and be honest with them, but don’t make drama where there is none. Good luck!

Wondermom´s last blog post…"Men" are stupid!

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John F January 21, 2009 at 6:56 am

Let them lead the way! They know you are seeing someone and she is not some nameless woman. When the time comes to ask more questions they will.

Besides, as teenagers, more likely than not they are “scared” that further inquisitions might lead to TMI and the realization that dad actually has a sex life!

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Bad Mummy January 21, 2009 at 7:23 am

They are teenagers. Of course they are not interested in what their dad is up to. Their dad is *probably* having sex. I mean…ewww…gross!!!

Bad Mummy´s last blog post…Reader’s Digest Condensed Version

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Legal Editor Mom January 21, 2009 at 7:41 am

I agree as well. He should follow their lead. If they want to know more, they will ask. In the meantime, enjoy dating and don’t make mountains out of mole hills!

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MindyMom January 21, 2009 at 7:49 am

Yep, I’m in agreement too. Having two teenagers myself I can add that they can be pretty self-centered much of the time. When they want to know what’s up with dad’s love life they will ask. Until then, they really dont WANT to know. It’s kind of understood, but they don’t feel a need to discuss it. They get it.

MindyMom´s last blog post…Breaking "The Code"

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Kat Wilder January 21, 2009 at 7:51 am

You have smart readers because I can’t add much.

The big mistake was meeting her kids so early — why?

You can’t be in a “serious” relationship so quickly because you barely know someone in that amount of time, I don’t care how much time you spend together. They are in a monogamous relationship — there’s a difference.

And it’s so typical that a woman would want to get a man to meet the kids first — we always seem to project so much in so (seemingly) little.

If his kids ask, he should say, “yes, I’m seeing someone special and I’m sure you’ll meet her one day” and leave it at that. He should take his cues from them — teens are in the midst of their own self-absorbed puberty-fueled feelings about love and lust. They really don’t want to deal with their parents’ feelings.

Kat Wilder´s last blog post…Experienced, or just a slut?

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judy January 21, 2009 at 7:59 am

ditto…ditto…ditto…

And good for you Phil. I love this line “I was growing tired of spending most nights with just my kids and wanted to get out more,” I am there as well but am not on-line dating and usually end up getting involved in female things

Enjoy!

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T January 21, 2009 at 8:40 am

Wow! I’m happy for Phil!!

And it sounds like we’re all in agreement here.

When love is in the air, even self-centered teenagers can sense it. I’m sure they know something’s up if they’ve seen Phil and his girlfriend together…

T´s last blog post…Fingers on my frets

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Amy Sue Nathan January 21, 2009 at 8:42 am

Phil – I have two teenagers. Less is more. I think they want to know that you care about someone, but going into the details of your feelings might make them uncomfortable. I’m a writer and subscribe to the good old “show don’t tell” adage. Your behavior is a better indicator of your feelings than your words. When they see you getting dressed nice to go out, spending time with someone, introducing them to her, bringing her along to family events, they’ll know she is important and then you can back it up by saying how you feel.

Good luck!

Amy Sue Nathan´s last blog post…Do you use things you chose with your ex?

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singlemomseeking January 21, 2009 at 8:44 am

Note from SMS:

I was too fast with the early morning fingers and accidentally deleted “Mama Crazy’s” comment (sorry!!) from:

http://randomocityblog.blogspot.com

“First – I finally remembered to check out your blog… I like!

Second: He should talk to them.

They may not be asking questions for a reason. They’re teens so they should understand that Dad needs a life too, but they should be included in this.”

Mama Crazy´s last blog post… http://randomocityblog.blogspot.com/2009/01/president-barack-obama.html

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Jorge Fitz-Gibbon January 21, 2009 at 8:54 am

Good for Phil getting back out there. And I agree with much of what I’ve read above: Be honest with the kids. I do think it’s inevitable that a single dad or mom is going to date, and meeting the love interest after a few months seems natural, especially if we’re talking teens and not younger kids. (That might be a different matter). The bigger question has yet to come, and that is when it comes to sleeping over and more serious commitment issues that will involve the kids more thoroughly. But one step at a time.

Jorge Fitz-Gibbon´s last blog post…Eye-popping summer camp price increases

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Phil January 21, 2009 at 9:02 am

I generally prefer to take the devil’s advocate approach with any topic…so you are making my day difficult by discussing me.

As far as my kids go – they are older and relatively mature. I’ve told them about her and they will meet her in the not too distant future. They are independent and it isn’t affecting their lives. They get it – what is there to discuss if they aren’t asking questions?

To answer Kat – it was 2 months before I met her kids. (not 1, if that makes a difference) She has young kids full-time, it was difficult NOT meeting them.

Thanks for the support. I was expecting more disagreement…

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Kat Wilder January 21, 2009 at 11:10 am

Hi Phil (sorry to chat one-on-one here …) One month or two, it’s too soon, and I say this not in judgment but in experience.

Kids, especially young kids, have a lot of complicated feelings about their parents’ “friends” even if they don’t show it.

It’s a good idea to wait; many “experts” (and I’m not one of those, although I sometimes act like I am!) suggest six months or so.

You’ll both have a much better idea about your “couplehood” and commitment and the idea of melding families (because that happens as you progress in a relationship, way before moving in together or marrying). A breakup is heartbreaking to kids, especially since they were “abandoned” by their dad (I know it was a post-divorce death, but it is not uncommon for kids to feel abandoned, as if the parent had a choice!)

In any event, I wish you both the best.

Kat Wilder´s last blog post…Experienced, or just a slut?

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Mike January 21, 2009 at 11:12 am

I’d say he’s doing fine. I’ve been there and got all the T-shirts. Biggest difference is I started dating when mine (all teens or older now) were teens and younger. While they met VERY few of the ladies I dated, they all knew I dated. They were aware that if I ever found the someone special enough that they could have a step mother. It was never a taboo subject and I’ve found it made things so much easier for them and me. Never had to worry about how to deal with it if I found someone I wanted merge families with. I say merged, because my children were also aware that I stopped seeing women who were not mothers. And they understood why. I grew up in a single parent family and learned that communication and understanding made life for me as the child, and my father as the parent, so much easier.

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singlemomseeking January 21, 2009 at 11:30 am

Kat: I’m really glad you raised these points about meeting the kids. (Maybe I’ll get to interview Phil’s girlfriend??).

I’m also an advocate of the waiting rule — especially for kids who are five years and up.

But I know what reality is like. Because I’m a solo parent like Phil’s girlfriend, I realize that following a hard-and-fast rule (“No kids in the picture for six months!”) like this can be tricky.

The last time I introduced my kid to a guy, it was at a big party, with a lot of her friends there. It wasn’t a big deal.

That’s different than coming over to their home for one-on-one bonding time with the kids.

Would anyone else like to chime in about this?

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Phil January 21, 2009 at 1:20 pm

I hear what Kat is saying, and I won’t be writing a book (or a blog) on how to raise kids. Like Rachel says, there are rules of thumb and then there is reality…

We are both well aware of the complexity and issues. I’m doing my best to be there as a friend, not a substitute parent.

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Mike January 21, 2009 at 1:29 pm

For me, meeting the children is based soley on where the relationship is. When I know enough to feel that it may go the distance, then I start thinking about it. I also don’t expect when I’m ready to be the same time that the mom is ready or visa versa. Each parent makes the choice for when it’s right for them.

Accounts for why so few of my dates have ever met my children.

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GLSD January 21, 2009 at 8:52 pm

The fact that his kids are in HS I think he should go with the flow. The kids know about her and have gone on a few kid friendly dates. When it becomes apparent that they are moving on to the next level of this relationship, then I’m sure he’ll want to keep it real and talk to them more openly. For now enjoy the times he’s sharing with his GF and the time he spends with his kids. Good Luck! I’m sure the GF being a single mom and no ex in the pic after his death is using her better judgement too. It can be complexed. I think if it’s working now just go with the flow. Kids generally get attached easily and I wish them boht the best of luck!

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Leah January 21, 2009 at 9:39 pm

Nothing much to add here, other than my congrats to Phil for finding love.

I am thinking about this complex question of when and how to introduce the kids. A single dad “friend” who might be interested in more (I’m not sure) invited me and my son (3) over for dinner to his house in a few weeks and I accepted. Our kids are about the same age and get along well. I guess this would be a big no-no for some. But if it was a new female friend inviting me over for dinner and a playdate, I wouldn’t worry about my son getting too “attached” if the friendship didn’t work out.

I think as with most things, kids pick up on our energy. If we’re relaxed and comfortable, they will be, too. If we are second guessing ourselves and feeling like we’re doing “the wrong thing,” they’ll feel that as well.

Leah´s last blog post…MTM comes clean…

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singlemomseeking January 22, 2009 at 12:16 am

Leah, you point out what I’ve often said here: your kid’s age really does play into this “meeting game.”

“But if it was a new female friend inviting me over for dinner and a playdate, I wouldn’t worry about my son getting too ‘attached’…”

So true, and it’s especially challenging if you’ve met THROUGH your kids!

This is the wisdom, however: “I think as with most things, kids pick up on our energy.”

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Erica January 22, 2009 at 7:30 am

I would like to comment, but am ignorant on this subject. So I’ll just leave this babbling comment to let you know that your blog accompanies my morning coffee.

And good luck, Phil, you little devil you.

Erica´s last blog post…Parenting Joy

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Attainingme January 22, 2009 at 9:05 am

If she is really important to him, I think including her in the life of his children, is just as important. I understand the children may for now be indifferent. But if he makes an effort to express, not only will it lay the foundation for the relationship he wants them to have with her, but it will also cement his feelings for her. A tremendous gift of knowing how much he cares/

Attainingme´s last blog post…To marry

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Leslie Miller, LICSW January 22, 2009 at 6:17 pm

Generally I offer dating tips for single parents on my website. It sounds like you are getting excellent advice here. Being open and honest with your children is the best policy without overwhelming them prematurely. When you are ready to take the next step, planning something brief and low-key will help make them comfortable with the situation. Best to you! L.Miller http://www.therapyontheweb.org

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Canadian Bald Guy January 26, 2009 at 7:13 pm

Not much more I can provide other than what’s already here.

I’ve got a 10-year old and I’ve been dating somebody now for 2 months. She was quite close to my ex-wife and I’ve been finding it difficult to say that I’ve met a “lady friend”. I want to wait, but on the other hand I don’t want to feel like I’m keeping a secret from her.

There’s no need to make a huge deal about anything yet, but it’s also important I feel to be as honest as you can and just let them know what’s up.

Canadian Bald Guy´s last blog post…Daddy issues

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SDMktg January 27, 2009 at 5:08 pm

Age is definitely a factor. My dad remarried when I was 14 and I had only met his wife 2 or 3 times before the wedding. Then she was at everything…football banquet, graduation, all of my life events and I didn’t even know her. My mom did the same thing 10 years ago. I met her husband twice before the wedding.

I would agree with the “go with the flow” comments until things get really serious. Then the kids need to be able to “catch up” from a getting to know each other standpoint so there’s enough time to develop some trust before they have to accept a new member of the family. In the long run I think meeting too soon is probably easier to deal with than too late.

SDMktg´s last blog post…Sports Licensing and Tailgate Show Day 1

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carolyn thatcher May 6, 2009 at 6:47 am

I’ve been seeing some one for almost two years, he isn’t divorced but hasn’t lived with his wife for about 20 years. He has married children but hasn’t introduced them to me, that makes me feel bad. Also last year on Mother’s Day he went to his family’s, I am hoping he doesn’t this year because if he does I feel I won’t be able to accept it, am I wrong?

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