New Relationships: What your child's mum 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 your child's mum needs
The other person who may well have a hard time with you seeing new people is your child's mother – especially if the choice to break up was not hers. "The mum may not have moved on, especially if it wasn’t her idea to separate," says Mo. "If she’s jealous or angry, good communication is the key – try to be patient and understanding and tell her, as you told the kids, that this new person is not going to replace her or try to take her kids away from her."
- Your kid's mum may be worse off not being in a relationship with you, both financially and having to cope with the kids on her own for much of the time. Like you, she has suddenly found herself a lone parent – try to remember that if she reacts badly to your new relationship.
- But if she is hostile to you or your new partner, she needs to deal with those issues on her own and not use the kids as a weapon against you. Remind her that their needs come first and that you are handling the situation as sensitively as you can.
A Dad's Story
"My wife left me for someone else a couple of years ago, which was very painful and totally put me off dating for a while. I’ve only just started seeing someone, but I’m taking it really slowly, as I’m not up to anything serious yet. I haven’t introduced her to my two boys, and won’t do so until I think it’s definitely going somewhere."
"But she knows all about them and the problems I’ve had with their mum. She’s been really kind about it all so far, but I wonder how it would be when she actually meets them. That’s another reason I’m taking things slowly – and because I’m worried about how my boys will react to her. Sometimes I think it would be easiest to stay single for ever!" - Tony Graham