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Navigating multiple new relationships can be overwhelming. Yes, not liking the fit between the person you are dating and your kids is a deal breaker, even if you love him or her as a partner. Getting smarter means learning all you can about how stepfamilies function, operate best, and why they have the unique complexities that they do.Breaking the two families into parts can be helpful initially. Liking a parent’s dating partner sometimes creates a loyalty problem for kids: They don’t know how to embrace everyone and not hurt feelings (especially the other biological parent). You may know how to drive a car, but driving in snow and icy conditions requires a different knowledge and skill set.If the other person has children as well, it might be wise to orchestrate early get-togethers with just one set of children. But you also need—and here’s where single parents fall short—a silhouette of the type of family you are hoping to create.
Soft invitations such as, “Roger will be having dinner with me on Saturday. Children of all ages, young to old, benefit when a parent says, “I can see that the idea of my dating scares you. and probably don’t want any more changes to our family. I appreciate your being honest with me.” Use phrases like “this scares you,” “you’re afraid that our family won’t be the same,” or “you don’t want to have to change schools or leave your friends.” This type of response validates the child’s fears. If you fall in love don’t abandon your kids by spending all of your free time with your newfound love. This is especially true for children under the age of five, who can bond to someone you are dating more quickly than you can.Do you remember what dating was like before you had kids?Perhaps you prepared for hours, trying on a dozen outfits, flat-ironing your hair to perfection and engaging in imaginary conversations with the person who could possibly turn out to be “the one.” Now imagine being a single parent on a date. Is this guy really worth the an hour in babysitter fees? When asked what she wishes her mom would do differently while dating, Rachel, a smart young graduate student, replied, “I wish she would recognize her own impulsivity and emotional rollercoaster.She does and says things without recognizing that to some extent our whole family is dating this guy.