9780825439308-copy-16The most asked question of single parents when they consider dating is when do they introduce a date to the children?

Children have had their world turned upside down. Someone significant has left. Will introducing them to a date be upsetting when that date doesn’t stick around?

Another little-addressed issue is that we must be ultra vigilant about who we allow to come into contact with our children. Boyfriends, stepdads, stepbrothers, and their extended family and friends don’t have familial feelings toward our children. I know of too many cases where these men were sexually attracted to the daughters of the women they were dating. Many daughters have a huge need for male approval since their dads exited and these lovely young ladies don’t have the maturity to discern the difference between healthy attention and selfish motives.

It is our job to protect our children. Women often pretend they are unaware of what is going on right under their noses when in reality they know something is amiss. Tragically, I’ve seen it happen over and over again. Never should my need for a man in my life cause me to compromise the safety and purity of my children.

Meet with your date in public places for a period of time. Observe this person in a variety of settings including church and with your friends and his friends. Listen to the observations of family and friends. Once you are confident this person is a positive influence, bring the children into the equation.

While there may have been brief encounters such as seeing each other at church, make the first meeting with the children centered around them. Go out for ice cream sundaes, play mini-golf, laser tag, or another activity that the children enjoy. Allow the process of getting to know each other to be slow and natural. Don’t force anything. And listen to your child, acknowledge your child’s feelings. Remember that parents are often six months ahead of the children’s emotional readiness for their mom to begin dating.

Excerpted from Rediscovering Your Happily Ever After; Moving from hopeless to hopeful for the newly divorced mom