My 6-Year-Old Son Doesn’t Want Me To Date—What Should I Do?

Dear Dr. Bill,

I am the father of a wonderful 6 year old boy.  My wife & I divorced before he was born, my wife has primary custody, and I have visitation rights.  My son doesn’t like to “share” me with anyone else which has created a problem for my own social life.

I had a girlfriend in the past that he really disliked, so I ended the relationship.  But now I’m getting serious about another woman that my son has never met.  Whenever I mention her, he doesn’t want to talk about it.  He says he doesn’t care if I have a girlfriend as long as she stays away from HIM!  What should I do?


Dear Jeff,

It’s only natural that your son doesn’t want you involved with another woman.  No one can replace his mother, and his 6-year-old mind, that’s what you’re attempting to do.

When I counsel single parents about dating, I strongly suggest that they DON’T involve their children in the dating process until the relationship is well-established and couple is seriously considering marriage.

I wouldn’t push your son to develop a relationship with your girlfriend until the two of you are sure you’re moving forward into a lasting commitment.

At that point, you’ll need to have a heart-to-heart talk with him.  Assure him of your own commitment to him, and tell him you realize that no one could ever replace his mom.  Explain that you don’t expect your girlfriend to be his mommy, but that because you love her very much, you want him to get to know her as well.

Take it slow, and introduce your son into your relationship gradually.  Don’t expect instant bonding, and don’t pressure your son and your girlfriend to become instant buddies.  You might start by including your girlfriend in some activities that your son enjoys, such playing at the park, bike-riding, or going to a ball game.

Thanks for writing, Jeff.  If you have a question for me about family issues or Christian living, click the “Questions” link on the Family Expert page.

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