Dr. Molly Barrow

The Official Dr. Molly Barrow Blog offers educational self help advice about relationships, business, dating, marriage, parenting, teenagers and children, self-esteem, love and romance. Dr. Molly Barrow holds a Ph.D in psychology and is the author of Matchlines for Singles and the self-esteem adventure series, Malia and Teacup Awesome African Adventure and Malia and Teacup Out on a Limb. Dr. Molly is a relationship and psychology expert host on progressiveradionnetwork.com and television guest.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Dating and Kids Dr. Molly Barrow Matchlines Relationships and Self Help

First Date with a Parent?

Don't Chatter
Be seen and briefly heard. Pretend you are a neighborly friend dropping by to say hello, greet the children politely and then become quiet and smile a lot. Dating someone with children is after all in the children's mind a job application. To either fill a beloved but lost parent place or to fulfill a child's fantasy of their new parent. Both are impossible roles to play and eventually the child will feel disappointed because you are just a regular person. They are scrutinizing you for any and all defects. The best strategy upon meeting your date's children is to minimize your importance by making your meeting casual and quick, doing and saying less helps reduce this emotionally loaded event.

Try less
Less is so much more right now. Try too hard and you will be dismissed rudely or morph into the bogeyman to a toddler. The relationship is with the parent and it your developing feelings for each other that will help to turn these critical dominating mini detectives into real people that you can learn to enjoy.

Set up by your Date
Often, desperate to have their children not alienate a new (and probably the first in a long time) romance, the parent may try to convince the children how great you are. This will only increase the inevitable crushing disappointment and threatening jealousy that they feel when they meet you. The parent should instead downplay your arrival and refer to you as a friend.

Control the sexual attraction and reserve any romantic gestures or nervous giggling until you are safely away from the kids. Kids have radar when it comes to anything that diverts attention from their parent away from themselves and they will lie awake plotting how best to recover their position of control and influence on their parent usually including getting rid of the usurper, you.

During the initial dating period it is very important to have a sense of humor as much as possible, for the times that the eight year old suddenly feels sick as you arrive to escort their mom to the dance, or when the four year old talks incessantly about his or her wonderful missing father, or when the eleven year old loudly point out your receding hairline and bad breath, or the teen simply make up creative lies about you. You are a threat and they are protecting their territory.

You are not the parent
Remember you are a visitor to their home and it is not important to pay much attention to their antics or try to correct them. Just observe them and remain detached as you would while observing any other misbehaving children that you encounter like at the next table at Starbucks.

Your Date is worried about other things
Their parent is probably a nervous wreck and so stressed out trying to go from diaper-changing mode to glamour queen or king, that they are probably trying to ignore the children's antics as much as possible as should you. It takes several years to blend into an established family with children, so let the parent do the work and discipline with the children until you earn real power and respect from just hanging around a lot.
Avoid spending the night as long as possible. Their parent's bed is a private and personal territory that will set off alarms in the children's head. Be prepared to pay more for babysitters and for a few hours at hotels, but the privacy is worth every cent.

What you see will not be what you eventually get
The children are changing every day and the brat you see today will be an angel tomorrow or vice versa. With Herculean patience, time and tolerance, your new date's baggage, may one day turn into your most treasured bounty.

Dr. Molly Barrow holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and is the author of the new book, Matchlines: A Revolutionary New Way of Looking at Relationships and Making the Right Choices in Love. She is a leading forensic expert and authority on relationship issues and a licensed mental health counselor. A member of the American Psychological Association, Dr. Molly has appeared on NBC, PBS, KTLA, GO-CO feature film My Suicide, WGUF-FM, the documentary "Ready to Explode," and interviews for Psychology Today, Newsday, O Magazine, MSN.com, Match.com, The Orlando Sentinel, Hitched and The Nest. For more information, please visit: www.askdrmolly.com


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