I’m very protective of my girls, as I’m sure you are of your children, as well. I’ve started dating a new guy who I really like. We’ve have been able to see each other often and, after a bit of screening, comes over in the evenings after my girls are in bed. Marcia and Cindy have asked to meet him but I told them no, not yet. It’s not appropriate. I have explained to my children that they are #1 in terms of importance to me and that I am protecting them.
My sensitivity is around introducing them to anyone new too soon. For example, if things didn’t work out with us early on in the relationship, not having met him would save my children the potential heartbreak of having another person leave their life. As it is right now, my children understand that he and I are dating…a process where we go out on dates to movies or dinner, etc, he brings dinner for the two of us some nights after the girls go to bed, I talk to him on the phone and we text each other; a courtship if you will. The girls see my reaction to everything and I’m open with them about how this relationship makes me feel. If this man makes it past the screening process, and he and I determine we want things to progress to a more committed stage (however this commitment is defined), then I will make the introductions.
Conversely, I have also told my children that, as their mother and protector, I want to meet anyone they date right away as opposed to waiting until they are “in a relationship.” I want to normalize this expectation now while they are young so it’s not strange later and I don’t get the “But MOOOooooOOOM…” that would inevitably follow.
I plan to tell my daughters that when they do start dating, I expect that their date will come over to have family dinner with us 2 or 3 times BEFORE they will be permitted to go out on a date on their own. I plan to tell my daughters that I value close personal relationships with intimacy. I want to help them grow in love and closeness to the person they are dating before they get intimate, even if I haven’t always done this myself. I plan to point out that they are wonderful, whole little beings right now as they are and that getting older doesn’t mean they need another person to COMPLETE them.
Will it be possible that they even look forward to dating this way? I think laying the foundation now along with my values explanation is what is important. So far, I have shared with them (often!!) that no matter what they do or which path they choose, I’m going to love them totally and unconditionally. And I hope my behavior thus far has set that foundation for them to understand that I’m speaking the truth.
So, from now until they start dating, I’m going to do my best to continue to be open and non-judgmental about sex and sexuality. I’m going to try to be open with my children about the feelings I have about dating. We already talk openly about sex; I’m sure somewhere down the road soon Marcia will inquire about whether or not I’m having sex with this person. I’ll cross that bridge if and when I should get to it.