I wrote in part two of this series on two single parents dating about how there can be major differences in parenting in philosophies. These are not the only differences that can cause issues when you are dating another single parent—the way that your children view each other and the differences in the lifestyle, rules, expectations, and discipline between the two families can be a big deal. Comparisons are inevitable and both you and your children might find yourselves noticing and focusing on how things are quite different for children in one family than they are for those in the other.
Seemingly ordinary things like chores, allowances, curfews, and behavior expectations may seem completely fine and reasonable within your own family structure. When you start dating and getting to know another family’s structure, comparisons can be inevitable. The more time the two families spend together, the more stress and tension those differences can cause—especially if you are looking towards a permanent, long-term partnership and looking at ways to “blend” the two families. If your children get $5 a week for allowance and have to do chores for that and your dating partner’s children get $10 a week with no chores—you can expect some questions and complaints. If you have certain behavioral expectations from your children and your date’s are different—when you are out as a group, this can be challenging.
I think that expecting the differences and the reactions can be a good start. That way you can talk through things and offer explanations to your kids. Keeping the lines of communication open and putting the differences and inequities onto the table can provide a means for working through things. Take your time working through this. It may not ever seem completely “fair” but by acknowledging all the differences and the challenging issues, you can at least get them into the open and brainstorm solutions.