Dating and When and How to Introduce Your Child

Updated on March 19, 2011
J.F. asks from Doylestown, PA
11 answers

OK so lets start by saying I've been separated for a year and a half, am still friends with her dad, and we just haven't legalized it for tax reasons...he cheated for years but we're still very close friends and I don't plan on being single for 18 if thats your advice I respect it and admre you but I'd rather her see that you can have room for all kinds of love and interests in your life.
So heres the question, I;ve been seeing a guy for 4 months, and I don't plan on introducing him as a boyfriend to my 4 year old daughter, or hugging in front of her...but when is it proper to introduce a boyfriend as a friend just for one or very rare meet ups? I do not want to share my time with her so this wouldn't be regualr (he would not be dating her so I feel she doesnt need to spend quality time with him or see him as anything other than a friend), I feel its important she spend quality alone time with me, but I do feel like before it gets serious that I should see how he is around kids on a friend basis, or possibly a group outing or park playdate? I know some people say wait until your in it for the long run...but isn't that too late, what if they do not click at all and you're already settled on being together, as of right now, I feel like I'm falling for him, but she is and always will be my priority, so if she does not "click" with him or he does not handle kids well, obviously I would reevaluate the sittuation. Any advice is welcome by those who have been here or haven't. Also her dad and I will not be getting back together 10 years (from when i was 14-27) of lying and cheating would make us not a good example for her...we are friends though, so please don't try and encourage that=)

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So What Happened?

So I spoke with her dad, and let him know so he could give imput, he wasn't to happy but we agreed to go to his therapist who also specializes in kids and ask his advice instead of arguing. Her dad had concerns that she would get close and then lose someone, and a bunch of other concerns, fearing I would allow to much time. The therapist agreed with me, that as a friend it would not affect her badly, and said if it was around once a month with no affection until we were more serious it would be main reason was, yes there is a chance she'll get close and then he'll go away over time, but we'd have to keep her from everyone, making new friends ...if we were worried one day they would move or drift...I know that relatives I was close with growing up drifted or moved.....and he agreed that as her parents we will have to guide her through life and while we can not protect her from the worl as long as we have her best interest at mind and help her through the tough times then she will be well adjusted and ok.
Also my main thing going to therapy was, I felt like her dad didn't trust me in not involving the new guy too much and it hurt, ecspecially because when we were together, he let me make 100% of the decisions regarding her, and now questioning me hurt. So I addressed that in therapy that we have to trust eachother in regards to her, and believe we both want the best for her, and the therapis agreed and made us on the same page as long as we're friends and consult eachother when we can before major decisions...he also said hes a phone call away if we disagree to avoid arguing and he'll be our mediator throughout her life. Which is awesome! I think ecspecially as divorced parents you need that even more, since you're not interacting as friends as much anymore so at times you're only getting the seems even more imprtant to be on the same page when divorced.
Soooo.... I had him meet her last night, for ice cream and an indroor amusement park, couldn't have went better! I was going to have him meet us there, she said, mom we pick up all your friends that come out want him to listen to music in the car with us like everyone, can't we pick up your new friend, so we did! I figured I was over stressing and had to treat him like every other friend, or she would pick up on something. It went smoothe, they got along, and she will not see him for another month.

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answers from Salt Lake City on

I think you should bring him around as J. a friend maybe for dinner or a park day or something. You need to know how they will interact

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Dallas on

here's what I did...

the first time my son met the man i'm dating, he met him as a stranger. I took my son to hibachi where you sit with strangers anyway. my son is pretty friendly, so when he's in situations like this, he will normally be polite and talk to the people sitting at our table. This let M. know if my son and the guy would 'click'. This was after about 4ish months of dating.

the second time my son met him was for real and it was for a quick casual dinner at a pizza place. we arrived separately and my son and I actually left before the guy did J. to make it more about someone meeting us for dinner than anything else. this was about 2 months after the hibachi meeting.

after that, the two of them would be around each other for 2-3 hours at a time but never at my house. meet at a park, grab a bite to eat, something like that. that lasted another 2ish months.

then i finally invited him over for dinner with my son.

it was a very long process but one that I think was in the best interest of my son.

I've now been dating the same man for almost a year and he has yet to spend the night when i have my son.

none of this would've happened if I weren't really serious about this relationship.

hope that helps.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

Actually he is dating your daughter and you. You are now a package deal and quality time with both is necessary. I would wait until you know 100% that this man will be in your life for a long time. My hubby and I didn't introduce our kids until after dating for about 8 months or so. It was really hard, but I didn't want to keep introducing M. kids to different men.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

To be really honest, I don't know that I'd be introducing him to anyone as "my boyfriend" until I was officially divorced. Even if you're still together for tax reasons or whatever....J. my 2 cents. But you sound like an intelligent person, go with your instincts. If you feel this relationship is really going somewhere, then J. go with what feels right, if that helps you at all.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

My good friend went through a very similar situation (except she doesn't really talk with her ex anymore). She started dating a wonderful man almost a year after separating, but before the divorce was finalized. She went back-and-forth quite a bit with this issue and her deciding factor was when she realized that she was spending alot of time "covering" for where she was, who she was talking to, etc with her daughter (also 4 at the time). Bottom line, she prefered to introduce her daughter to her "friend who dropped off something but is staying for dinner" than lie to her.

Not big lies, but "Mommy, who's on the phone?" "What did you do when I was at daddy's?" "Whose shoes are next to your bed?" :) They didn't jump into family life for quite a while, but he was over weekly for dinner or lunch or a trip to the park and slowly they J. became a little "family unit". He J. moved in and we're really happy for all of them!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on gotta remember she's a girl and you're a role model.
Finalize the divorce and if you feel this relationship is "the O.", then introduce them. Otherwise, I wouldn't. At all. It IS possible to keep your "dating life" separate from your daughter.
There are SO many questions from people with troubled/strained/unfair and failed "step" relationships that I don't think anyone could be 'too" cautious.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Gainesville on

Ok I am in that situtation now, and I think you are right to think about meeting at the park or dinner and J. introducing him as a friend and she how it goes. My girls met their dad's girlfriend before we told them we were divorcing- yes we were separated, and they saw then kiss that same day- my 13 yr old was super upset. I introduced my boyfriend after only about a month- he was the first man they met, but they knew I have been dating b/c I talked to some other men on the phone that they knew about.( or really it was my oldest). My boyfriend was introduced as my boyfriend and he did a great job of interacting with them. We are now engaged and getting married. I think its important for my girls to see what a good relationship between a man and woman can look like b/c they Never saw that with M. and their father. I want them to see an adult man being affectionate and loving, and helpful in the house and not J. yelling etc. And being my partner, because their father was NOT my partner although he was my husband. I did have to tell my kids that their father & I would NOT be getting back together many times.

My mother and father divorced when I was 5 we lived with my mother's boyfriend for 3 years and she dated other men who I know slept over (it was the 70's) My father I never knew was dating until he told us they were buying a house together..I knew the woman as his friend ( I was 10) The only negative thing I can remember from my childhood experience was when my mother and stepfather were dating she ofetn brought us over to his house to sleepover! And I hated it! Instead of insisting he stay at our house (he didn't want to b/c that house she had owned with her prevoius BF)
Anyway I can see you have your daughter's need in mind first so good luck and I wish you happiness.

LOL After reading some of the other posts I did talk to my BF previous to him meeting my kids about "background check" He offered up that he worked for univeristy and they did thourough check etc (and I had "verified his employment b/c I had met his boss etc been to place of employment). I didn't actually ask for background check. We did talk about STD's of course & I went to dr about 3 weeks after our first** and had an exam...


answers from Detroit on

Been there. Done that. Would do it all over again.

My ex and I separated when our daughter was 4. We're ok with each other. I wouldn't say we're friends, but we don't hate each other either.

My daughter met her now stepdad at an outing that her and I went to often anyhow. A local carshow. It started as meeting in public places where many people I knew were like that. The thing that kind of sped up the process with my situation is that I found out I was pregnant about 2mos into dating my now husband. But he wasn't officially a part of our little family unit until she said it was ok for him to move in with us... I was already 1/2 way through my pregnancy.

So, basically... I'd say that if you introduce as a friend in a public setting with other friends around... She'll J. see him as your friend. J. like the rest of your friends. My daughter responded well to that.

Good luck!

And for the record, that's similar to how my ex introduced our daughter to her now stepmom as well. The only difference was that she has 2 boys from a previous marriage and they did the playdate thing.

ETA- My divorce wasn't legally finalized until 2 days before my son was born! I had to call my lawyer to fax paperwork over to the hospital while I was in labor so they wouldn't put my EX's name on the birth certificate!!!



answers from Philadelphia on

there is a great book written by a local woman called, "Mom there's a man in the kitchen and he's wearing your robe". I'd say take a look at it, it could be helpful.


answers from Chicago on

Ok, so I think that at this point it is time to do a few things
1. background check
2. credit check
3. std check
I think these are responsible things for both parties to do at this point (child or no child), especially if you think you are falling for him. If you are thinking about having someone in your life, esp one that you are looking to introduce to your daughter. Here is my opinion on asking for these things, and yes I asked for these things once I began to get serious with someone and their reaction and the info told M. a ton about them and my info about them in return. If you ask for these things and offer these things in turn (with SSN's marked out and other too personal info marked out if needed) you first establish trust, and honesty. You also show that you are responsible and they show you the same in return. One thing that I think you are missing is that you are now part of a package and what he does effects both of you directly and indirectly. She needs to start understanding the difference between friends and boyfriends as well. Even at 4 this is something that should be learned "boyfriend" talk comes earlier and earlier with kids. Plus he may have an issue with "no effection" infront of your daughter and that could put a serious rift between you two. I understand guidelines such as hand holding, hugging and a gentle peck only, but how is she supposed to learn what effection between a man and a woman should be if you do not set a good example. Unless you plan to be a serial dater (I did not get that impression) it is an appropriate time to discuss these things with him and to tell her about your boyfriend and what that word means. Hiding things from your children is not a healthy habit from my perspective. My own experience from my parents, my father jumped in too quickly but hid it and all of a sudden I had a step mother and I had only met her a few times before and my mother, whom I respected greatly, tried dateing but was not ready so she held off until ... well she is J. now starting to be ready 20yrs later! So, you do what you feel is right, these are my suggestions take what you will.


answers from Cincinnati on

I think you sound like a great mother. And personally 4 months is a good amount of time for a casual meeting. We want to protect our children from confusion or pain, but if your significant other has shown interest in meeting her, then why not? If he has never mentioned it or doesn't show interest, hold off. I don't think sharing a pizza or meeting at a park to swing would be bad at all!

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