My husband died 10 years ago. My children were aged 9, 3 and 1 at the time. I was always (and still am) probably too extreme in my stance on relationships with men, since my husband's death.

I had observed many single mothers (and single father's, but as I am a woman, I focused on my peers), having de facto relationships, that would fail, and then often repeating the same process with another person.

Although I could see my children had the need for a father figure, I was not keen to introduce them to anyone unless I was as certain as I could be that they would be a permanent fixture. I didn't want them to go through any more unnecessary loss due to my poor judgement (in this case, possible poor partner choice).

There was also a lot of events where a step (whether by marriage or de facto) parent would harm (even murder) their step child. Obviously this is rare, but it would make the news headlines here and I would get really paranoid.

The other thing I didn't want, is my children to meet a string of men and as adults piece it together, oh mum must've slept with those men, how gross.

Now these are my thoughts and may not be helpful, as I have raised my children alone, rather than risk introducing someone.

My question is this:

How does multiple partners being introduced to children of single parent families, affect the children?

  • My children are aware of the latest relationship only
    – user21179
    Commented Nov 19, 2013 at 3:48
  • 1
    "The other thing I didn't want, is my children to meet a string of men and as adults piece it together, oh mum must've slept with those men, how gross." Why would your children think sex is gross?
    – user606
    Commented Jan 2, 2014 at 19:57

1 Answer 1


One of the most effective ways of learning, especially about life, is by doing it and making the mistake ourselves or by learning from the mistakes of others. In relationships where the partners are together for the duration of the childrens' growth, there is still relationship conflict which needs to be addressed -- and the children will learn from those conflicts and how they are resolved.

It is the very rare person who has one and only one relationship during their entire lifetime. Once you know someone well enough that you feel your children are safe around that person, I see no problem in introducing that person to your children. Outside of that person's presence, I would talk with the children to identify that that is who you are dating and explain that dating is a process of getting to know the person better, not necessarily a lifelong commitment, and emphasize that you want their feedback on your relationship. Should the relationship not work out, explaining that you found that you weren't a good match with that person, so you decided to move on, will help them to see an example of making proper relationship choices.

IMO, by keeping all relationships from their view one inadvertently teaches something else... what that is depends on the perspective of the child: "relationships are scary", "you only get married once", etc. And because those "lessons" are quietly learned, they are hard to address until they crop up directly later in life.

I have actually lived by this philosophy: my daughter knows who my partners have been (I had even re-married), but in keeping an open line of communication with her, I hope that I have shown her effective means of working in relationships to try and resolve conflicts and when it is time to simply say goodbye.

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