The first man I dated seriously as a single mum was a great guy with a child of his own. After a few months of long weekends and late night chats, my ex-husband unexpectedly had to work on a day he typically had the kids. I called the guy and told him that the kids would be joining us for dinner.
I was not prepared when he told me he didn’t think he was ready to meet my kids. In hindsight, that should have been a red flag. At the time, though, I simply cancelled our plans and spent the evening with my little loves thinking it was his loss.
Still, his rejection stung — and it made me wonder when it was the right time to meet the kids. Finally, I took the question to a private Facebook group for single mums.
One woman said she keeps all men away from her children unless he is someone she could see marrying. She wants to protect her kids from a potential broken heart if the relationship doesn’t work out.
Another introduces men to her children as they come and go in her life, reasoning her daughters don’t realise he’s any more than a friend. She keeps all signs of affection to a minimum and is sure not to call any of them her boyfriend.
I'm somewhere in the middle.
After my first faux pas, I made sure not to even mention dating around my kids. My current boyfriend met my children when he came over to help mend my fence. He struck up an easy conversation with my son, said hello to my daughter, and when he left, he simply gave me a brief hug. My children, accustomed to my standard greeting and farewell, didn’t blink twice.
Another few weeks went by with equally casual encounters and my son finally asked if I’d thought about going on a date with that nice man who fixed the fence. I expressed mock shock and agreed I’d think about it.
A year later, they know he’s my boyfriend and treat him as a cherished friend. Sometimes I worry about what might happen if things don’t work out, but then I remind myself that once upon a time I wasn’t quite so cynical.
When do you think it’s appropriate for your children to meet the man you're dating?