Single mom dating: How to introduce your boyfriend to the kids

Feb 11, 2010 at 11:00 a.m. ET

Sure your kids may prefer to think of you as their asexual single mom whose sole purpose is to do their laundry, make them peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and remind them to brush their teeth. And, although that is hardly the case, you're slightly to blame for giving them that impression. However when they're with their dad on the weekends you've been secretly sneaking around with a pretty terrific guy who, in the privacy of your mind, you even refer to as your boyfriend.

Single Mom with Boyfriend

While you're confident your boyfriend and kids would more than tolerate each other after seeing one too many sitcoms in which a single mom's kids feel threatened by her new beau, you're simply too anxious to test the waters and upset this carefully crafted world you've built for your kids. Yet, by the same token, you're also unwilling to resign yourself to life as a sexless old-maid.

According to single mom and style maven, Nichelle Pace, sometimes a single mom's kids may even welcome the idea of her dating.

"I date so infrequently, it seems as if when I do actually find someone to date seriously enough to introduce to my boys, it's a relief to them," says Ms. Pace. "A sort of, 'thank god she has someone to entertain her or someone else she can nag so she won't bother us about cleaning our room and playing video games.'"

Still Pace admits that dating as a single mom is certainly not without its share of problems and setting some ground rules for herself and her kids -- Julian 17, and Jonathan, 6 -- has helped her acclimate her kids to the notion that mommy has a boyfriend.

Don't expect your date to be a father figure

"I'm not looking for a new "daddy" or another "parent" just someone who can be a good friend to my boys," said Ms. Pace who is currently dating a guy she feels has been a great example to her boys and has been able to integrate himself into the family. "I also prefer to date other single parents. Relationships are hard enough to sustain as it is, so it's important that you're on the same page, and another single parent usually gets where you're coming from."

Be honest with your kids

Pace admits dating as a single mom can be especially tough on those whose kids aren't used to spending time away from their moms but ultimately being honest with your kids about your needs can help in your relationship with them and in your dating life.

"I've explained to my teen son why it's important for me to date as a single working mom, I'm very upfront about it," says Ms. Pace who notes that having a mom (her boys' grandmother) who insists on having her own play dates at least two times a week, helps support her dating life too. "You need to make your children really understand the concept of "If momma ain't happy nobody is happy."

Your happiness makes your kids happy

According to Isadora Alman, author of Doing it: Real People Having Really Good Sex and syndicated sex and relationship columnist at, unfortunately when single moms can't deal with issues such as introductions and sleepovers they might feel it's easiest to forget their whole dating life until the children are older or out of the house.

"When something is crucial to your own well being the children will reap the benefits and a single mom has to keep reminding herself of that," says Ms Alman,who admits there is no way on earth for a single mom to know what her kids are going to resent and blame her for later in life. "If you live your life in an unapologetic manner, mindfully doing what you feel is best for you and your children, decisions are easier. In an airplane emergency adults are urged to put on their own oxygen masks before tending to the children. Life is like that, too."

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