As a topic that’s often met with raised eyebrows, I feel like there’s somewhat of a stigma attached to starting a new relationship while already having kids, especially for us women. It’s almost like we are expected to do nothing with our lives except be Mom and then become lonely old spinsters who sit at home with our 4 cats and never get to feel the touch of a man again.
The truth is, meeting someone else or at least the desire to is intrinsically programmed into most of us as human beings.
My foster mom always says “in my day, you just got married and had kids and stayed together.” It’s only been over the last few years that the idea of separation and divorce after having children – especially moving on and kindling new relationships afterwards – has become more socially acceptable.
I separated from TJ’s Dad over 3-and-a-half years ago after a 4-year relationship. We were never truly happy but when our little boy was born we stayed together for him, despite the infidelity and constant arguments. Eventually, we decided to throw in the towel; Why stay together for his sake, for him to get old enough to notice just how unhappy we were and in turn, it affect his wellbeing?
I never expected to find love so quickly after we ended. Some people have this need to always be in a relationship and very quickly gravitate from one person to another in a bid to feel wanted and secure, but I was quite happy being alone. Getting into a new relationship actually took some persuasion. The only thing that won me over was how I couldn’t help but feel that I’d be missing out on something amazing with such an incredible person.
Admittedly, it was quite soon after we broke up that I started seeing Alex, just a few months, but we have worked together for a couple of years beforehand. While there was never anything like that between us, I do feel like it made me a little bit more confident in his intentions. Thankfully, I’ve spent the last 3 years we have been together understanding what true love is and what it’s like to be appreciated and cared for by a man. And one of the most important things is that he genuinely cares about TJ as well as myself, and they both have an amazing bond.
There are so many critics who will tell you matter-of-factly that there is a specific length of time you should wait before introducing a new partner to your children but there are so many varying factors that could influence your decision.
TJ’s Dad and I made a promise to each other that it would be at least 6 months after either of us got into new relationships before we introduced our partners to him. I kept that promise, despite Alex’s eagerness (not to be confused with pushiness. I think a person that pushes you into introducing them to your children before you’re ready should definitely raise a red flag.)
On the other hand, TJ’s father also started seeing someone else but despite almost hitting that big 6-month mark, he refused to introduce her to our son as he didn’t feel like the relationship was destined to last. They broke up shortly after.
Would it have had any impact on TJ or our relationship had I have introduced Alex to him sooner? Probably not. I was confident that he was a good egg, and he was always so open-minded from the beginning about the fact that I had a child from a previous partner. I’m not saying insist on a DBS check on every man you talk to (which is easy for me to say, I guess, since the line of work we were in required one and I DID see Alex’s, haha!) but you can never be too sure of someone’s character when it comes to them being around your kids.
TJ’s Dad has always been a huge part of his life and he was with him at least twice a week at the time Alex and I started dating. TJ’s grandparents also loved to have him overnight occasionally. Alex and I took every single opportunity we could while TJ wasn’t with me to get to know each other properly. Most of the time we would meet after work and not get home before 2am! Even after a few months when things started to get more serious, I didn’t feel ready to introduce Alex to my family before TJ so, when he stayed at his Dad’s house, rather than bring Alex home we would spend the night together at hotels instead.
Understandably, some just don’t have the support of family to care for their children on a regular basis, or maybe the father isn’t in the picture for whatever reason. In such cases, finding time to date can be seemingly impossible.
Dating while being a parent is definitely a game of prioritisation. Your children should always come first. Do you have supportive family and friends that would be willing to care for your child? Or does your child attend school or nursery in the day? If the answer is no then the opportunity to meet someone without your kids around may only come once in a blue moon, if ever at all. On the other hand, it’s not necessarily responsible to have your children around people that you’re getting to know so soon. Maybe it’s time to consider whether dating is realistically attainable right now? After all, it won’t be like that forever.
When he eventually met TJ, I introduced Alex as a friend. TJ was only 3 years old therefore didn’t really understand the concept of romantic relationships, so it was pretty smooth sailing. They both hit it off from the get-go and it wasn’t long before TJ was as obsessed with him as much as I was!
I also made sure I discussed them meeting with his Dad. Of course, this isn’t always plausible, but if there’s an amicable relationship between you both, it’s respectful that they are in the know.
Depending on the age of your children, it can get so confusing for them knowing that mommy and daddy are no longer together. Especially if you were previously living as a family unit and then you add another man into the mix. Part of the reason we waited 6 months before Alex met TJ is because we knew that if it sadly didn’t work out, TJ would remain unaffected. Most relationships fail in the first few months if they’re not going to last and it ensures that when the right one comes along, your child doesn’t develop attachment issues as a result of seeing men come and go.
My top tip would always be: don’t rush. If a person is for keeps, you have plenty of time to solidify your relationship and get serious by introducing them to your children.