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When Is It OK to Introduce My Kid to a New Man?

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As a single mom, protecting my child has become my priority. We moms are always worried about what's best for us and if that is also best for our children. I can't count the conversations I've had with other single moms asking when it's OK to introduce a new partner to their children. I have one friend who waits an entire year and another who seems to jump in head first when her heart says love is afoot. Neither of them has had lasting success.

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I tend to believe that my son is safe with me and his father's love and care. It doesn't necessarily matter who comes and goes in our lives as long as our son knows we are his steady love and support. But dating as a single mom is complex because it's my job to be responsible for my son's temperament. He has strong feelings and tends to love deeply, almost instantaneously.

When I divorced from his dad, I became ultra-aware of the ease with which my son bonds with people, and it broke my heart to see him longing for my ex's former girlfriends. Years after my ex and his girlfriend parted ways, our son would still recount events and experiences he'd enjoyed with her. He'd ask for her over and over again. On two occasions I even took it upon myself to stay connected with my ex-husband's girlfriends in order to allow our son to see them and their children.

Dating as a single parent is a great adventure. I just don't want to take my son on each and every roller coaster ride.

All of this made me very wary of introducing my son to the men I'd date, and in the last six years I've only invited one man to spend time with us as my boyfriend. His presence was very impactful on my son's life—they spent time at the beach swimming in the ocean and my son loved being with him. When we ended our romantic relationship, I was careful not to decimate our friendship and attempted to prevent more disappointment for my sweet son. This was no small thing to accomplish, as adult breakups are complicated events. Children do not understand how love can end as they lack life experience and have hope eternal. It is beautiful.

I'd rather introduce a boyfriend early on to see if he connects with my son; I'd hate to find out that they don't get along after I've been dating them and bonded. But it has been several years since I've even considered introducing my son to anyone as my partner or boyfriend. Mostly because now I understand that whoever I bring into my son's life must be someone I can have as a friend should our romance subside.

I've recently started dating a man I've been friends with for a long time. He invited my son and me to Legoland with him and his son. We spent the entire day at the park riding roller coasters, eating, baking in the sun and splashing at the water park. The whole experience was so refreshing for me; having another adult and child to do things with reminded me of how important family and community are.

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So here's wishing me luck with my latest dating experience. My belief is that our long-term friendship is permanent regardless of the direction in which the winds of love blow. Dating as a single parent is a great adventure. I just don't want to take my son on each and every roller coaster ride.

I can barely handle it myself, and I know his little heart is more tender than mine.

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