Dating isn’t without its fair share of challenges – perhaps even more so for single parents.
According to Melanie Schilling, who dishes out her love advice on Married At First Sight, the dating world is a complex place, even more so if kids are part of the mix.
Speaking to 9Honey, Ms Schilling said children will always be the number one priority for dating parents, and stressed the importance of communicating this from the outset.
Scroll down for video
Dating expert Melanie Schilling (pictured) has been sharing her words of wisdom to prospective partners on reality television show Married At First Sight
‘Let them know where your boundaries are and ask them to respect this.’
The relationship guru, who has been sharing her words of wisdom on the reality television show for five seasons, also said that newly-dating parents should be prepared to take it slowly at first to give themselves time to adjust.
‘You probably need your training wheels on for a little while as the rules have changed,’ she explained.
Rather than rush into dating, Ms Schilling believes it’s better to approach the situation slowly (stock image)
Ms Schilling also discussed one of the bigger concerns most single parents face – when to introduce kids into the dating scenario.
Her key recommendation is to start by having an honest discussion first with a prospective new partner and then with children to explain the situation.
She said: ‘These little humans in your life with opinions and perspectives and emotions and preferences, and they count too.’
Ms Schilling, whose guidance has helped some of TV’s couples into longstanding relationships, said there are also some guidelines to follow for those wanting to date parents.
The dating expert said it was important to have an open discussion with children and to take into account their opinion (stock image)
She noted those dating single parents needed to be aware that parenting commitments could mean there was less time, or less availability, because children should be the priority.
Children will always be the main priority, Ms Schilling said
Ms Schilling suggested that an open and respectful conversation could help in terms of discussing where children fit, and how to make this situation work.
Once a dating situation has progressed and the children are more familiar with a new partner on the scene, she advised against rushing to become a ‘stand-in parent’.
Instead, Ms Schilling believes a more laid-back approach in terms of building a relationship with children could be more effective.
She said it was important to foster a presence as a reliable figure – one that’s seen as a role model or friend – more than one that has some parenting sway.
‘Try to be their friend without over-stepping the boundaries in terms of discipline and parenting. If some of these issues come up, speak to your partner about it.’
Parenting expert Justin Coulson agreed: ‘We will do well to remember that our children usually know and comprehend that the new partner we bring into their lives is not their new parent.
‘While children should be respectful of all adults, many will reject any suggestion that a new partner can replace or substitute for their dad (or mum),’ he said on his blog.