Dating choices: what should I do?

You may be thinking of dating again or maybe you’ve just started dating again after a break. Either way, you have some important decisions to make. One of the first is an important question: will you introduce your new partner to your children? If yes, when?

Dating with a child: when to introduce them

Making that first date successful for you and your date can be easier than breaking the ice at the office Christmas party.

You don’t want to show up with your little ones at the most inopportune time, and you certainly don’t want to tell your date you have kids only to have them show up unannounced at the last minute.

It’s important to remember that your children are individuals and they all have different personality traits, interests, hobbies and friends, whether biological or step.

Things to remember:

Dating: make time for each other

It’s normal for dating partners to want to spend time together as much as possible. But if you’re living with other people, it’s important that you all get along.

How you manage your dating relationships depends on what’s important to you. If you want to get to know someone before having a relationship, you need to communicate about your intentions.

Make sure you have time to spend with the other people in your home, and talk through any problems that arise.

Dating decisions: what to consider

Family-friendly choices

If you're thinking about dating, it’s a good idea to know what makes dating a family-friendly activity. These things are important to consider:

- Are your dates’ families and friends accepting of your relationship?

- How will your relationship affect your social activities?

- How will your relationship affect your children?

- Will your date put you at risk?

- Will your relationship affect your parenting?

- Are your date's values similar to yours?

- How do you feel about your date?

- Is dating right for you and your situation?

- What are your expectations?

- What are your hopes for the future?

- What are your goals?

- What are your family’s rules and expectations about dating?

- Do you have a support network?

- Who have you talked to?

- What would they say?

- What have you learned?

- How did you feel?

- What will you do?

There is no right or wrong answer to these questions. The best decisions are those that fit the individuals and their situation. And it’s important to talk things through with people you trust.

Related articles: Family relationships, Family planning

Dating: how to manage after you meet

Finding a partner for a romantic relationship is always a challenge. But when you have children, the choices you make can be even more important.

Section Text: Where you meet to find a partner does matter. When you are dating, you might choose to meet someone in your circle of friends and family. It’s natural to feel comfortable around the people you know best.

But you might want to think about spending time with someone who is not a family member, friend or co-worker. You need to think about what a relationship might look like if you met someone at work.

Section Text: Deciding who you spend time with is always about balance. You might want to think about how you balance your romantic or sexual relationships with your friends and your family relationships.

Section Text: If you’re in a relationship that feels right, it’s important to discuss your family values and any expectations you might have with your partner. If you have children, it’s important to talk with your partner about how you want to raise them.

Section Text: If you’re dating, there are lots of questions to ask yourself before you start a relationship:

"How important is it that this person accept my children?"

"How would we handle plans?"

"How does this person feel about making major decisions together?"

"How do we both handle conflict?"

"How does this person feel about family time?"

"How easy is it to talk to this person?"

"How does this person handle stress?"

"How do we handle difficult subjects?"

"How do we feel about sharing our feelings?"

"How do we feel about planning for the future?"

Section Title: Parents and partners: how to talk about your relationship

Section Text: "Talking about your relationship with your partner is important because you want to be sure to stay on the same page.

Section Text: A good way to keep your relationship healthy is to share your feelings with each other every day. Sharing your feelings is something you can continue to do even when you are adults and have children.

Section Text: Talking things through with your partner can provide lots of benefits:

When you talk, you can work out how you both feel about an issue.

And things that might seem difficult to discuss when you’re just thinking about it can often sound easier when you explain how you feel.

Talking things through also helps you explore possible solutions to problems.

In most cases when you’re talking about a problem, you can come up with ideas about how to solve it.

Just talking about a problem can ease the tension in your relationship.

And when you’re in a close, happy relationship, talking things through can help you stay that way.

"Remember, if you think your relationship might be in trouble, you can always talk to someone who can help."

Dating: your child may have questions

As your children grow and become more independent, they’ll want to spend more time with their friends. They’ll also want to spend some time with you and have your attention.

This is a natural part of growing up. It’s not a competition.

It’s important to set limits and rules that are right for you and your children. But it’s also important to think about the rules you have, and why you have them.

You can talk about your rules, and the reasons behind them, with your children so they understand.

- Depending on your family’s values, beliefs and rules, your children might have questions or concerns about friendships that they think are OK but that you or your family don’t agree with.

- Children might ask you questions about what types of social relationships are OK for them.

- If you allow your children to have sleepovers, they might want to invite friends who you think aren’t appropriate.

- If your children are allowed to invite friends to your home, they might want to invite friends who you don’t want to have sleep over.

- If you allow your children to use social media, they might want to invite friends who you don’t know.

- If your children are allowed to invite friends to your home, you might be uncomfortable with the friends they choose.

- If you allow your children to use social media, their friends might use it in ways you don’t agree with.

When these issues come up, you might feel uncomfortable. It might feel difficult to say “no”.

But it’s really important that you set clear boundaries, boundaries that you can explain to your children.

And while you’re setting those boundaries, you can remember that your children will go through all sorts of changes as they grow. It might help to think of the boundary as a “trial period”. You can say “no” now, and if your children ask you to change your mind, you can reconsider if your feelings change.