Would You Leave Your Kids Alone with the Person You are Dating?

October 2, 2012

in Relationships

man with kids

Admittedly, I don’t have all the answers to life, love, and parenting; I simply opine on the topics based upon my personal experiences and observations.  Quite often when I write on a particular subject, something wonderful happens: people leave wise comments, enriching the dialog I begin with my post. In August just such a discussion evolved from a piece I wrote about struggling to know when it’s the right time to end a relationship. I am thankful Marie Nicole gave me more to think about when evaluating relationships as a single mom through the comment she left. Here’s what Marie Nicole (from My Cyber House Rules) wrote:

“So, when DO you call it quits? When your little voice says ouch. When you look at the man and ask yourself, ‘If I were to leave town on business, how would I feel leaving him alone with my children overnight, for a weekend, for a week?’ And if your answer is a solid ‘Bah. No problem, they’d have a great time’ then stick with it. But, being a single mom-I think you have to tell yourself that if the answer is anything else than that then-ditch. Walk away. Follow the exit signs.”

Not only have I ruminated over her words since she left the comment, but even more so recently as I have been presented with a real-life scenario similar to the example Marie Nicole shared. This week I am teaching an evening course and am without childcare for the kids. Unhesitatingly, I asked Sean if he was available to spend the evening with Princess Daisy and Monkey. This means Sean will have to be in charge of dinner, homework, and bedtime routine in my absence. For me, this was a significant request to make of him. In the moment I realized I wanted to ask Sean, it became clear how comfortable I am with him related to parenting, being in my kids’ lives, and as my partner.

It’s not that I have dated pedophiles or men who would hurt my kids, but I have chosen to keep my love life separate from my family life for the last several years. With Sean, though, I made a conscious decision to involve him in our family life in the early stage of dating. I knew this time I wanted a partner instead of an every-other-weekend boyfriend.

I don’t like to say Sean has been given a series of tests, but candidly, that is what has happened. I have observed Sean with my kids, his children, and my neighbors’ kids. We have also spent time with the kids doing various activities as a couple with children. It was a frightening decision to test out a new guy on the kids after keeping that aspect of my life separate for so long, but I am glad I took the risk. As a result, I have learned Sean has what it takes to be The Guy; he’s partner worthy.

Have you reached a level of comfort in relationships to have the person you are seeing care for or spend time with your children?

What has been your experience?

Please share below.


{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Kim @The G is Silent October 2, 2012 at 12:12 pm

I tried to keep my relationship with my now husband who has recently adopted my son as generic as possible for as long as possible, but that’s really hard to do. I distinctly remember sitting on my bed cross-legged facing him while he sat against the back wall, legs straight, one foot crossed over the other, and I said to him, “I need to know right now – before we go any further – if you have the capacity to fall in love not just with ME but with my child, whose biological father has obviously chosen not to include Noah in his prioritizing.” He was there for the semi-visits and watched them stop. He told me, “I already am.” I was done in at that point. You just know this stuff, and if you don’t – then there’s an answer as well. We love our kids WAY more than future husbands, so our gut tells us when it’s right and when to ask for verification.

In my opinion.
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Naked Girl in a Dress October 2, 2012 at 12:28 pm

This is an excellent observation, Kim. We do love our kids more than any future husband, and our kids’ happiness means so much. If we were dumb enough to go against the little voice that said this guy wasn’t right with the kids, we would be giving our kids less than they deserve.

I am so happy you and Noah have a wonderful man in your life.

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Brook L. Dame October 2, 2012 at 12:52 pm

I think that’s the right approach for all involved. From the kids’ point of view, being left out of a significant part of mommy’s life can be jarring once they meet The Guy if he’s not included relatively early on. You want to know as soon as possible whether everyone will mesh well together. Deciding that the person with whom you’re spending time is worthy of being in the company, on his own, of your children is HUGE and says so many positive things about the future of this relationship.

(((HUGS!!!)))
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Naked Girl in a Dress October 2, 2012 at 1:10 pm

With how important being a mom is to me, you are right; it says a lot about the future of this relationship. I have a significant comfort level with him related to children.

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Momma Sunshine October 2, 2012 at 1:11 pm

I think that it really depends on when in the relationship you’re talking about, how serious you are with this person, what you see their potential as.

It took me a long time to get comfortable with the idea of leaving my daughters with my boyfriend (now fiance). Of course, the nature of our relationship had something to do with it (we were long distance for almost 4 years). It took him a while to become comfortable with parenting my girls, and so in that regard, we made the decision to take things slowly, giving them plenty of time to get to know each other and get comfortable before leaving the three of them alone. Had I used the “do I feel comfortable leaving my kids with him” test early on, then we wouldn’t have made it past the six month mark. Does that mean that he’s not good with kids? Nah. Just means it takes him a while to bond. No biggie.

As with everything else in the dating world, it’s completely relative. It’s tough to try and come up with a “one-size-fits-all” solution.
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Naked Girl in a Dress October 2, 2012 at 1:27 pm

I agree that it is difficult to have a single answer to questions such as these I pose. It’s what drives thoughtful conversations through the comments, often adding another level of support and community for readers here.

My personal experience has led me to believe it is important to know when it isn’t going to work with the kids factored in. In the past, I have seen questionable parenting from guys I was dating, and knew it could not progress. I was also dating a guy for a while before bringing him into the fold only to realize he wouldn’t be right as anything other than an every-other-weekend boyfriend. At some point the person evaluating knows when it should feel right. It either does or doesn’t, and it might mean it’s time to walk as a result.

After my last experience, I wasn’t willing to put a lot of time and emotional energy into a relationship with a guy who wasn’t going to be right for me in this area of my life. It was not something I was willing to compromise.

Thanks for sharing your experience with CBG here.

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Marie Nicole October 2, 2012 at 1:20 pm

OHMYGOD!!! You found him? So fast? I wish you could see me smiling right now and know that you are the source of this deep deep feeling of utter joy for another person.
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Naked Girl in a Dress October 2, 2012 at 1:31 pm

You are awesome, Marie. Thank you for this lovely comment. I am happy you are happy for me. That’s what true friendship is all about.

{Shhh….don’t tell anyone. I do think I found him. Finally.}

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Hey Monkey Butt October 2, 2012 at 2:23 pm

Good advice from your reader and it’s definitely an important issue. :) Awesome post!
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Naked Girl in a Dress October 3, 2012 at 10:09 am

Hey, thanks! I am glad you enjoyed it. It’s always a wonderful thing when a reader can inspire our writing.

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Jester Queen October 2, 2012 at 3:42 pm

Kickass AWESOME Kelly. Now, it sounds like it’s time for the two of you to talk some Mumford. (waggles eyebrows suggestively)
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Naked Girl in a Dress October 3, 2012 at 10:08 am

Getting Mumford on just might need to be code for us now with the kids around. Thanks for this, Jessie!

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Vinny C October 2, 2012 at 3:57 pm

I can’t speak from personal experience, but if I were in that type of situation I’d have to say, yes. I say this because if I were a single dad, my kid(s) happiness & well being would of primary concern. With any woman I decided to seriously be in a relationship with I’d not only have to consider my own happiness/future with this woman, but their’s as well.

At least, I’d like to believe I could be that level-headed.
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Naked Girl in a Dress October 3, 2012 at 10:07 am

This is a great comment, and I do think you would take this approach as a single dad.

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Mikki October 4, 2012 at 9:42 am

I talk about this quite a bit with Choice Moms — single women who opt to have a family on their own before it was too late to start one.

One myth I wrote about in a blog is the fear some have before they become a parent that no one will want to date a single parent (http://www.choicemoms.org/blog/473/myth5). And it’s true that most of us don’t even have the energy to think about dating until our kids are school-aged. But you’re right (my kids are now 13 and 8)…. we have an amazing tool after parenthood for picking stronger partners. Some potential partners simply shine in their understanding of not only how to “be” with our children, but in recognizing what our own priorities tend to be day-to-day. We love the ones who “get it.” And don’t have to bother, unless we’re simply looking for simple non-mom distraction time, with those who don’t.

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Naked Girl in a Dress October 4, 2012 at 9:58 am

Thanks for sharing this great comment with my readers, Mikki. You are right; we do have a unique way to evaluate potential partners with our kids being the barometer. I find myself falling more in love with a man as I see him understand fully my life, and interact well with my children. My heart simply opens wide for him. It feels great to share all of me, too.

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Random Girl October 4, 2012 at 4:47 pm

What a great feeling, to know in your soul that this guy is in it…all the way in it, and that everyone is happy is about it. I have given my steady-ish guy a few baby steps with my princess and I feel fairly confident that he can handle it and that the princess would be ok with it but I still am not 100% with where I am with him so that makes it very tricky.
I think you are being smart and are obviously happy so you know that makes me super happy for you!
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Naked Girl in a Dress October 9, 2012 at 8:45 pm

Thanks, RG. I am really happy allowing him in my life with the kids. It continues to work well for all four of us.

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