Dating when you have kids at home and a possible messy past when it comes to relationships is a whole new ballgame. Your children might have their own ideas about your relationships and may be frightened or difficult when it comes to the prospect of you dating. Keeping the lines of communication open so that your children feel like they have a say in their future is a good way to help them to feel comforted with the change in events, and honesty with those that you're dating will save you heartache in the future.
Remember that when choosing dates, you're not only choosing companionship for your own social life, but you're also affecting your child's life by bringing in someone new. Once you have children, dating is not just for you anymore. Carefully consider your children when choosing a person to date.
Plan dates when your children have other engagements, such as being at their other parent's home. Leaving them to go on a date may foster a feeling of abandonment or that you're choosing your date over them. When you're with your children, be present and with them.
Create a dating rule that you don't introduce dates to your children until a certain number of dates, when things begin to progress and become serious. It can be disconcerting for your children to meet a number of dates. Arrange to meet your date at the location, or have your children with a babysitter before you leave. After five or ten dates, whatever you're comfortable with, introduce your significant other.
Talk to your date about boundaries and your children. You'll need to set up ground rules, such as calling at the house and family emergencies. Be open and honest about your expectations and priorities. Explain rules beforehand so that there aren't any misconceptions when it comes to the end of the night or other dates.
Communicate to your children the importance of dating and what it means for you and them. Explain your need for companionship and why dating is important. Listen to your children's concerns and allow them to voice them while you validate them, rather than dismissing them.
Never force a significant other on your children. If they don't seem to take to someone on the first meeting, give them another week or two before trying again. They'll most likely warm up on their own terms, and forcing them to converse or spend time with your significant other can breed contempt and ruin relationships.