Yesha Callahan

Single Parenting & Dating: When to Make Introductions

I’m a single parent of a 13-year-old boy, but not a parenting expert. Every day is a learning experience, and I realized early no two days are the same. Before I found out I was pregnant, my son’s father and I had already broken up and gone our separate ways. He was in Texas and I was in New Jersey, even though our child was made in Maryland.  After my son was born, although we remained amicable, I knew the responsibility of raising my son would fall 99.9 percent on my shoulders and I was fine with that.  I was only 24, but I was well prepared for the challenge and was already settled in my career and home, and I had a support system that consisted of close friends and family.

Throughout my parenting career, I haven’t had a significant number of relationships. I’ve dated a bunch, but rarely did I bring any of those dates around my son. I didn’t want to be like so many other women constantly parading men in front of their children. Unfortunately during my childhood, my mother happened to be one of those women. After my parents’ separation and eventual divorce, my mother went on a dating spree. There was my baby brother’s pulmonologist.  Then her high school crush.  Then her high school nemesis, who turned out to be a long-term relationship, but we didn’t care for him at all. Even into our adulthood, my mother always had a “flavor of the year.” The biggest mistake my mother made while dating was allowing us to feel as though we were being abandoned. There were several times when she made us feel we were not the priority. Even after she would introduce us to her boyfriends, we were never made part of the equation. Most of these men received the gas face from us when she brought them around. It wasn’t the fact that we were loyal to our father, but we could smell a rat a mile away. We weren’t disrespectful to them, but we didn’t act as if we were interested either.

A few years ago on Super Bowl Sunday Doritos ran this commercial:

After watching the commercial I wondered how long was it before this woman brought her date home to meet her son, especially since she introduced them to each other as if they hadn’t met. I know everyone who’s a single parent, whether a dad raising a child alone or a mother, has his or her own ground rules for introducing someone to children when first starting out.

My rules are pretty simple and straightforward:

  • I don’t let a date pick me up from my house and always prefer to have a common meeting place.
  • I don’t introduce the man I’m dating to my son until about four to six months later, and that’s dependent upon how the dating relationship has progressed.
  • I don’t invite dates to my house, even if my child isn’t home. When I tell men this, it usually has them raise an eyebrow, but most tend to understand.

In dating, as in being a parent, keeping the lines of communication open with the person you’re seeing is necessary. Letting them know your “rules” is an important factor so there won’t be any misunderstandings or hurt feelings.  In past experiences, most men are fine with my rules, because nowadays, a lot of men aren’t trying to meet someone’s child immediately.  Also, most importantly, your child should know they’re not being replaced. There should be dialogue between a parent and children to reassure them they still are the priority in your life, and just because someone has been added to the equation doesn’t mean that’s going to change.

When the time came to introduce my son to someone I’d developed a relationship with, I tried to plan an outing everyone could enjoy. The first time my son met a long-time male friend I’ve dated off and on, it was after a few months of dating him, and we simply had lunch at the mall. At the time my son was about 4-½ years old, so the conversation centered around cartoons and video games. Over the next few months there were other outings that involved my son, and till this day, although we’re not in a relationship anymore, this man is still a big part of my life and he interacts with my son occasionally.

In my son’s 13 years, he’s only met two of the men with whom I was in a serious relationship. As he’s grows older, I wonder if I’ll have a hard time breaking out of these rules I’ve set for myself. As the saying goes, it’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks.

If you’re a single parent and dating, how long do you wait until you make the introductions?

  1. July 21, 2012 - Reply

    Yes. A lot of women don’t think about how their dating life might affect their children. You say you felt abandoned. A lot of kids get confused and hurt when mothers bring different men around. If a boyfriend starts to spend time with them, the kids will start to see him as a father figure. When you all break up, they will feel sad and abandoned. It really hurts when it happens over and over. That is why it is very important to wait until you are serious about someone before introducing him to your kids.

  2. July 21, 2012 - Reply

    It seems that what you have been doing is appropriate and safe for you and your son. I think with situations like this, you instinctively know when to make introductions based on how solid a relationship is and if you feel that man is a good man to have in your son’s life. Like you did with HWSRN. I do not have any personal experience with this as I am not a single parent nor am I a product of a single parent home but in my opinion, I think keeping the meetings casual, honest, and open is a good way to introduce a new man into your son’s life especially at his age now when he is mature enough to understand.

  3. July 21, 2012 - Reply

    all i have to say is that many children (esp girls) who are molested are victimized by the mother’s boyfriend.

    just keep that in mind.

    i don’t have a child, but if i did and was seriously considering allowing someone in my life, i’d need to do a background check on him.

    i only skimmed the story so i don’t know if this was addressed…

  4. July 21, 2012 - Reply

    6-12 mos of exclusive dating before meeting kids & family. We must also be in the same page & share similar relationship goals.

  5. July 21, 2012 - Reply

    I don’t have kids but if I did I wouldn’t introduce a man to my kids until we are darn near engaged. Yes, its that serious. I don’t think its fair that children have to see men in and out of their lives when the men aren’t serious. Plus, many men have hidden and sometimes dangerous agendas

  6. July 21, 2012 - Reply

    damn from the comments , being a single parents certainly sucks and is limiting.

  7. July 22, 2012 - Reply

    You know, I’m not a big Steve Harvey fan but i remember hearing him say something about single parent dating that made me shake my head in agreement. Introduce fairly early so if he isn’t feeling the kid, you haven’t wasted all this time. Now, only you know how early is too early but as someone who has multiple boyfriends and girlfriends in and out their life as a child, I would definitely suggest making sure the dude genuinely likes and cares for the kid. Not just tolerates them cause you given it up on the regular.

    • July 22, 2012 - Reply

      @sharay

      I agree and remeber reading that in Steve Harvey’s book. It makes sense to take care of that early on, of course after a discussion with the person your dating and learning if kids are something they can deal with. You don’t want to put all that time and effort into someone, who is only going to bail or figure out after the fact that this is not something they want. So, I introduce about 1 month to a 1 month 1/2 in if things are going well and go from there.

  8. July 24, 2012 - Reply

    Im a father I don’t know if that makes a difference but I have never had any women around my son other then his mother and my ex. Who I was off and on agian with before he was born. I don’t want him to fall in love with some I don’t fall in love with and be hurt if he never sees that person again.

  9. July 25, 2012 - Reply

    I have mixed feelings about when to introduce your child to someone you are dating. It seems waiting too long and then finding out the kid(s) don’t like him causes problems. But introducing too early can feel wrong too because then the number of men introduced increases, especially if your child does not like or get along with them. Kind of a catch-22. I think knowing your child and at least having age appropriate discussions about the fact that you date people is important. Giving your child a head’s up helps and letting them be a part of deciding when/if they are ready to meet your date/boyfriend. If it’s getting serious let your child know there is someone special and you’d like them to meet soon. This makes the child feel a sense of control about the situation and not thrown a curve ball and feeling like this new man just showed up and is a part of the family. Using wisdom, trusting your instincts and paying attention to your child’s response is a delicate balancing act.

    • July 26, 2012 - Reply

      @RichSingleMomma

      To me, it depends on why the kid “doesn’t like” the person. If they have a valid reason, ok. But you can’t just acquiesce to a child’s demands. Children are going to be predisposed to dislike anyone who isn’t their parent. You can’t let them run your life.

  10. July 29, 2012 - Reply

    I think it depends. And you know, children have their own opinions, likes, dislikes, and ideas that sometimes completely contradict the parent no matter what happens because, well, children are people, too.

    I think if both dating partners are honest with one another, it shouldn’t matter.

    As a child, I wanted my mom to date and yes I would try to hook her up. Of course, she shrugged me off. It wasn’t because my mother was needy but because I wanted her to have fun.

    I think we have turned dating into this prolonged job interview. Have fun folks. Of course be careful as in any fun situation, but have fun.

  11. August 1, 2012 - Reply

    I totally agree. I am recently divorced and I could not imagine bringing random men that ask me out to meet my children. We would have to be just about engaged before that happens. I understand the backlash of meeting so many different ‘uncles’. It’s not all about the time frame of dating but the growth of the relationship as well as my children. This article pretty much sums up my plan for bringing any man into my childrens’ lives. Great job, it’s great to date and have fun but never forsake the responsibility you have for your children just for the sake of fun.

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