New Relationships: What a new girlfriend needs
Just because you’re a single dad doesn’t mean you have to be single. But dating again after a relationship break down can be tricky for all concerned – especially your kids. Dan Roberts looks into how to help them accept a new woman in their life...
Having been a single dad for nine years, I know only too well how tricky it can be to combine a rewarding love life with the needs of your children. It’s only natural that, after a healthy period of mourning for your old relationship, you should start dating again.
It’s also natural that your kids should find this difficult, perhaps resenting new girlfriends because they’re not their mum; that the new girlfriends should have some issues about taking on a man with kids and an ex; and that your child's mother should worry about new women entering her children’s life.
In short, it’s a potential minefield. To help you negotiate it safely, I asked Relate counsellor Mo Kurimbokus for advice – and spoke to some single dads to see how they juggle kids, new partners and their child's mum.
WHAT A GIRLFRIEND NEEDS
The last person who may struggle with this situation is your new partner, especially if she doesn’t have kids herself. "If your relationship is really solid, the fact that you have kids needn’t be a problem," advises Mo. "Some women may accept them easily and treat them as their own."
"For others it may be more difficult, depending on the issues they have – they might want a man who gives them all his attention, not one they have to share with his kids."
- Be honest with any potential new partners about your situation. Without trying to put them off, make it clear how important your kids are to you and how much time you spend with them. That way they are entering the relationship with their eyes open.
- Don’t expect her to plunge straight into a hands-on parenting role. If she doesn’t have much experience of kids, that can be daunting. Take it slowly, perhaps starting with an hour in the park, then gradually build the time she spends with them.
A DAD'S STORY
"I’ve seen a few women since I split from my long-term partner. Some have been fine with the situation but one really hated it – she said she couldn’t share me with my kids, so we broke up. Then my kids got really attached to another one, so it was rough on them when we split."
"Basically, I always put my kids first, so anyone who takes me on gets them too. I think that is hard for a lot of women, but my kids are a much bigger priority for me than a girlfriend." - John Davies