Get advice on the best time to introduce your child to a new boyfriend. Learn how long you should wait, when a relationship is considered long-term and how to set boundaries. LoveToKnow's dating coach is here to help make sure the transition goes as smooth as possible.
Introducing Your Kids to Your New Boyfriend Tips
My boyfriend and I have been dating for a few months now. Most of the time we get along great until it comes to my 3-year-old boy. We argue constantly about his schedule. I am a single mother and I have been raising my son by myself since he was born. I have also been diagnosed with depression and anxiety. How do I get my boyfriend to understand that it takes time to get a child on a schedule? He has children of his own but it isn't the same. He is a stern male and possesses stronger qualities than I do.-- Contributed by: Tami
Dating and relationships are an adult thing. Children don't have the ability to understand what it takes to make a relationship work. Although many adults don't know either, they at least have the skills, knowledge and insight to figure it out. As an adult, you know it takes time to get to know if your date will be a Mr. Right Now or if the guy is in it for the long haul. You also know that it takes time to develop trust in a relationship and that trust is based on the ability for two people to respectively problem-solve issues. This means that each person has to feel comfortable sharing their honest feelings with the other person without fear of having those feelings ignored or minimized or worse, dismissed.
In my experience, developing trust in a relationship usually takes six month or longer. Because it takes so much time, I recommend that single parents not introduce their dates to their children until well after trust and the ability to problem-solve concerns has been established. Since you have already introduced your date to your son before determining how well the two of you could problem-solve, you're now faced with the reality of having problems agreeing on the parenting of your son. Unfortunately, you have discovered this difficulty over one of the most sensitive areas for any single mom, your child.
You and your date need to have a private talk about your different parenting styles and different parenting philosophies. Tell your boyfriend that while it is OK for parents to have different styles, you and he are not the parents of your son and that this difference is creating problems in your relationship. Let him know that you are enjoying dating him, but that you made a mistake by having him get so involved with parenting your son before the two of determined if the relationship was even going to be long term. Say to him that should the relationship make it for long-term, (and that for you long term means six months and longer) that the two of you would need to start talking about how you're going to handle problems when they arise. In addition, how each of you is going to contribute to the household responsibilities and discuss what the parenting expectations are for all the children.
Since the relationship is not currently at the long-term stage just yet, explain to your date that at this time you will be the disciplinarian for your child. Should he question this decision, you can explain to him that it is important for your son to have a stable and consistent relationship with his mom. Let your date know that you recognize that each of has differences, but you need him to respect and accept your parenting style when it comes to your son. If your date can't accept this request, you may need to rethink the relationship. Given that you have been diagnosed with depression and anxiety, you may find it helpful to work with a professional counselor before having this talk with your date. A professional can help you prepare for the talk and give you specific suggestions as well as role-play possible scenarios that could come up during the talk. Working with a professional will help you feel confident and give you the tools for managing this difficult talk with your date.