When you date in later life it’s almost inevitable that somehow, children come into the equation.

Maybe you have little ones and shared custody with an ex, perhaps you are a single parent with teenagers or you meet someone with a family of their own.

Whatever the scenario one thing is certain: Dating when you have kids isn’t easy.

If your relationship progresses then there are even more tricky questions to face about when to introduce your new love interest and what to say when you do.

But even your first meetings can be fraught with dilemmas about whether you’re doing the right thing.

We asked the experts – parents – for some thoughts and tips on dating.

Katie, 45, said:Don’t be a baby bore and make them the main subject of conversation. A date is about the two of you. Do explain to date they may have to be patient because you can’t always just drop everything to go out. It takes planning with kids. If they think you’re worth it, they’ll be willing to wait.

Ian, 32 adds:Children may be scared about a potential change in their life. My view is that you don’t have to tell them anything until you are ready and that can be a long time after meeting someone. I never told my daughters I was dating as I didn’t want to freak them out. I am happy with how it turned out after I met my new girlfriend. I can’t say they get on brilliantly but in my opinion it could have been worse if I had introduced her too soon!

Kelly, 37, feels you need to be realistic.

“There’s no getting away from the fact your kids come first. You have to be honest with a date that you have children and if they run a mile that says more about them than you.

But there are plenty of single mums and dads out there, why shouldn’t they get together? And then there are the single nans and granddads – companionship is a great thing and there’s nothing wrong with going after happiness.

Don’t let your children lecture you on who you should and shouldn’t see. I think dating when you have grown up children can be more complicated than with younger ones!

Everyone thinks they have a right to dictate what you should and shouldn’t do.

But you have one life and this is yours – know what you want in a partner and go for it.

Chances are you’ll be attracted to someone fun who also loves being around children too – so it’s a win-win situation!

I think having children makes dating more serious, in a good way – you may need to evaluate earlier on if a relationship is going somewhere as you don’t want to mess your family around.

If it’s a joint decision with your new partner to actually give it a go, then knowing that early on can be a huge bonus and confidence boost.

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