The Garter Brides are a sisterhood of women all of whom married over the age of 35. For some, it was a first time marriage, but for many it was a second marriage and they came with kids.
This can present a whole different set of concerns – when should you mention you have kids? What if they don’t get along?
We interviewed so many moms when we were writing Love for Grown-Ups: The Garter Brides’ Guide to Marrying for Life When You’ve Already Got a Life. We asked them how they had handled dating in the years after their divorce and got some pretty sound advice, which we’re happy to share with you:
When Do I Tell Him I Have Kids?
One thing that we reiterate throughout our book is that whether you’re a single mom or not, the most important thing is to be honest! If you’re online dating, it’s fine to mention you have kids on your profile. If you’re being set-up with someone, tell him on the first date.
Nothing feels worse than falling for a guy and then finding out he has no interest in kids. Some of our Garter Brides were nervous about broaching the “kids” subject, saying “what if he’s not ready for kids?” We say that if he’s the right man for you, he’ll accept you as you are, children and all. If he doesn’t, he wasn’t right for you anyway!
How Do I Introduce Them?
This is a delicate situation that will depend on the relationship between the two of you and your kids. Many things play a factor in deciding when your kids will be ready to meet your new guy, like whether they still live at home and how close you are with them. The circumstances of your divorce can also play a part in determining when your kids will be ready to meet your new guy.
First, we recommend that you have a conversation with your guy and decide if both of you are ready to take that step. As we always say, “Laughter is the best icebreaker.” A light activity like bowling, a carnival, or mini-golf could be a great low-pressure and fun way to introduce them. If he has kids as well, you might want to meet them alone first and then introduce them to your kids because meeting everyone all at once could be a bit overwhelming.
What If Our Kids Don’t Get Along?
All sibling relationships go through tense phases, so the same will most likely be the case for step-siblings. The first thing we tell our Garter Brides to remember is to keep your expectations realistic. Your relationship with your guy took time and it’ll take time for this relationship to evolve as well.
What Happens Next?
A lot of our Garter Brides wondered how to handle the next step of the relationship, as it can be very scary to have the “Do you want more kids?” conversation. But we do recommend having it before the marriage talk, to avoid any unpleasant surprises later. If having more children is important to you, or if it’s something you definitely don’t want to do, make sure you’re both on the same page before you start hearing wedding bells.
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