According to Newsone.com, “72% of African-American households are headed by a single parent.” This means for men or women, the odds that you have a child or will meet someone with a child is quite high. Of course these chances go up as we age. So, people over 40 will no doubt meet someone who has a child. So, the question becomes, when should we introduce kids to the new dating partner? I’ve always been of the opinion that, unless a couple enters into a serious and committed relationship, the children should not be brought into the picture. A relationship has to move through the process of friendship, dating, and into a serious relationship (or courtship).
As a man, I have always been slow about meeting the children (or child) of the woman I am getting to know. I guess for me it was natural to want to take it slow in that area, because the truth is… I may not even like her enough to think we have a future together. However, we can’t dismiss the need to accept both the parent and the child if we want a long-term future with someone.
As we all know, kids tend to get more excited and attached to your new partner – faster than you may realize. Of course, there will be expectations. However, overall, most kids enjoy having someone new to play with – even if it’s an adult. For this reason alone, it is important to avoid having the child get attached before you are serious about the person. Once the relationship is going in a healthy direction it will benefit the child and the relationship even more. Believe it or not, when a child lacks a mother or a father, they will see your new love as a future mother or father.
Another issue with introducing kids too soon into your relationship is confusion. A child should never see several men or women enter and leave your life. It will make them wonder what’s up with you and create anxiety for them. Children can sense when they are important to you or even when a man or woman is more important. A child needs to see you work together as a couple and exhibit family values. Even though you aren’t married, you need to show habits of healthy family behavior when the time to meet is appropriate.
Another reason waiting is a good idea is based on the idea that you need to get to know them without the inclusion of a child. Meaning the getting to know process should be all about you and the person, so you can clearly learn what you need to learn before going into something deeper. You don’t need the emotions children will bring into that decision making process, because it will cloud your judgment and leave you deaf to hearing from God. Furthermore, your new dating partner doesn’t need to feel you are looking for a father or mother for your child; because it could be a huge turn-off.
Often when we think about the idea of introducing or meeting the children of the one we love, we have to understand we are entering into co-parenting. No matter if we agree with this thought process it’s exactly what is happening. So, how are you going to act when the man or woman disciplines your children? Or is this something you will neglect discussing because you think it’s not an issue? When a child becomes a part of the life of who you love, that person becomes a parent as well.
Also, please keep in mind when you are texting, emailing, or even having a phone conversation with your new dating partner… the children (or child) will notice the name of the person eventually and you will get the “Who is ________” inquiry. And your answer should be “they are a friend” and don’t discuss any details. You should never keep who you are dating a secret, but you shouldn’t go into details either.
My final thoughts It’s selfish to enter any relationship without considering your children or not considering how the other person may feel about children (or the number of children you have). Have open and honest dialogue about children and never mislead anyone. It’s just as important if one person has children and the other person does not, to determine their feelings early in the getting to know process. Also, let’s not leave out those with no children at all on both sides. Do you want kids? Does he or she want kids? Don’t neglect discussing the depths of everything and lay it all on the table. –