This is a safe way to bond as a potential blended family. If this stage is not rushed, it can also be a great opportunity for you to have prayer with each other’s kids and be part of their bedtime rituals. Once trust is established, kids enjoy falling asleep with grown-ups talking in the living room. They feel safe. (Of course, they need to hear you only talking.) It is also important to tell them you will be leaving soon after they fall asleep. Even so, they will stay awake for the first few times — until they hear the front door close after you leave. They want desperately to believe you. So let them.

4. Go Home

Keep a curfew, and let your kids know when you are going to be home. Maintain the same rules you would expect them to maintain when they date. Call if you are going to be late and give them the reason.

No grown-up overnights. Period. Kids can sleep over. You can’t.As my relationship with Karen progressed, her daughter and my two girls spent more time together and had sleepovers on the weekends. They found it absolutely hilarious that while they got to spend the night, I had to go home. Many weekends, I would return to Karen’s on Sunday morning to take the whole crew to church. After the Saturday night sleepover, they would be eating pancakes and bacon, enjoying the next morning together when I came into the house. It was wonderful. They were able to bond in ways that I could not, and they moved in together long before I did.

Dating as a single parent can be a traumatic time for everyone. It can also be a time of great fun and family development. Take it slow and enjoy the building process. Remember, your children need to develop trust as much as you do. Include them as much as possible.

Single-parent dating is the ultimate group experience. Even though you and your date may spend time alone, dating is never just about the two of you: It is a family affair.

This article, originally entitled "Dad, Did You Kiss Her?" can be found at the center for single-parent family ministry.

Andrew Stenhouse eventually kissed Karen. They are now married and living in Costa Mesa, Calif

The center for single parent family ministry (founded by Gary Sprague) was incorporated as a non-profit corporation in 2003, led by a Board of Directors and supported by an Advisory Council. Today, we humbly follow where God is leading in order to bring about hope and healing in the lives of single-parents and their children, the modern-day widows and orphans (James 1:27).

Publication date: October 25, 2012