My daughters father and I broke up 2 years ago. I am now dating a wonderful man who I am very happy with, but I am not sure how to explain this to my five year old daughter. She is very good friends with his daughter and has met him before when they've had play dates but she doesn't know that we are now dating. His daughter does not know either. He told me he wanted to tell his daughter, and I agree that the time is right I just don't know what to do. Should we tell them together or tell them separately? Is there a right or wrong way to go about this? Any tips or suggestions?
Well at first, you shouldn't handle it as a big deal, if you make a big deal out of dating someone your child will do as well.
Probably a good way to introduce your child to the idea that you are dating is to show your affection to him openly while your child is around, like you would if she wasn't. I guarantee you she will ask herself very fast, and then just talk like you would to for example working colleges or an aunt.
Problems usually appear with older children (post or within puberty) and if you start with: "I have to explane you something" or "Please sit down I have to tell you something", because that suggests that this is bad news for her.
Just asking "How do you feel that Joe and me are going out together?" is probably as sensible a way of opening the conversation as any. As you say, she's already probably worked it out, and it's not like it's something you've been hiding.
Not "would you be okay with it?" but just "So this is happening and I thought I should check how you were handling it"
One thing to get clear in your own mind is "Is Joe supposed to be like her daddy, or is he just one of Mummy's men? How attached should she get?" Just knowing where you are in the relationship will make it easier to discuss with her.
Another way to introduce it might be to watch a film or read a book together about this stuff. There's plenty of novels and films for kids where single parents start dating again (Sleepless in Seattle springs to mind, although there are probably better options). Normalise it as much as possible as "a thing that happens".
Since your daughter is only 5 years old, It really shouldn't make any difference to them if your 'seeing' them. What you need to do is just enjoy the company together as 'friends'. If you've already been doing this with the children on both sides, then this is terrific, since in reality, it's not just you dating this man, but children are now involved and it really should be more of a family 'dating' another family. Remember, your biggest obligation isn't yourself or to please this man, but it's to take care of your child. You don't want to confuse your child by dating this man, then in another 1-2 years, break-up because you both jumped in too early or whatever.
I can't judge your current situation, but I do know that you have to really consider placing your and his childs needs first. Just take it slow, continue to enjoy each others company. You'll know when the 'right time has come' to take it to the next level. However, I believe that if you're truly happy and it's a great fit for you, him and all the kids, I honestly don't think that there would need to be a 'sit down' session to make an announcement that you're dating - it would just be implied by the way you all smile at one another, sincerely enjoy each others company, etc.
Love doesn't begin with a formal announcement - it just 'happens'.
Very best, tTurn3
If the friend is important enough and the relationship is serious, I'd introduce him as a friend. I would not kiss or share the same bed unless you want a child doing those same things with her boyfriends in your home. You are always teaching your child how to act in the world. She is too young for boyfriends today, but she won't be in ten short years.
If the relationship with this man is becoming permanent, let him spend some alone time with your child. Let her tell you if she likes him without the pressure of knowing you are going to be living together. If she says she hates him -- get counselling. If she says she likes him -- there's your opening.