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Love of mother and son is strongest.

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Dating as a single parent has its challenges. There’s no rule book and it can be hard to tell when it’s the right time to introduce your children to a new partner. There’s no timetable that guarantees a positive outcome and, unfortunately, there’s no crystal ball that can tell the future. Thus, all decisions are left to the discretion of the parent, which can be anxiety-inducing and stressful. While every situation is different (and only you know your situation well enough to determine the right time to bring a new partner’s into your kids’ life) there are a few universal signs that suggest you should not introduce a new love interest to your children. Here are a few of them.

Their attitude towards kids is questionable

Not everyone is cut out to be around children. When your new love interest makes troubling comments about kids — whether it be their own children, those of family members, or random kids you two encounter in public — it should not be taken lightly. Anyone who has a negative attitude towards children, in general, will not suddenly experience a change of heart and display a different attitude towards yours. If you’re unsure about your new beau’s attitude towards kids, it’s a good idea to keep him away from yours until you figure things out.

You’re not in it for the long haul

If you have no intention of being with a person long term there’s no reason to introduce them to your children. For children, meeting a parent’s new boyfriend or girlfriend can be a difficult experience fueled by anxiety and mixed emotions. Additionally, when the relationship inevitably ends it can be painful for the child to lose another adult figure in their life.  If there’s a good chance that this person won’t be around long, it’s best not to even get the kids involved.

Your kids are just not ready

No one knows your children better than you. Some children simply are not ready to process the idea of mom or dad being with someone else. Bringing a new partner around your kids too quickly can backfire.

“Don’t hurry to introduce someone new to your kids,” Aaron Welch, a licensed therapist, explained to Dads Divorce. “The tendency is to be very excited that you’ve met someone you really like—especially after a tough divorce. Because of that excitement, people believe their kids will share that same feeling.”

You fear they could be a negative influence

Not to sound like a broken record, but not everyone who wants to be around children is cut out to be around them. If your new boyfriend or girlfriend makes questionable lifestyle choices, it’s better to keep them away from your kids all together. Children are impressionable and you never know what bad habits they will pick up from the adults who are around them. If you have concerns that a boyfriend or girlfriend’s lifestyle could have a negative influence on your kids, it’s best not to introduce them at all. You may believe that you can shield them from this aspect of your partner’s life, but it’s better to play it safe when it comes to your kids because you just never know. You may want to consider a new partner as well.

They act jealous or resentful towards your kids

Some people are not wired for relationships with single parents and people who display jealous or resentful attitudes towards kids fall under that category. Anyone who wants to be in your life has to understand that your kids are your top priority. A person who can’t accept that will attempt to compete with your kids for their place in your life and the outcome can be emotionally damaging for the children involved.

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