Dating as a single parent
Parenthood is tough enough without having to go through it alone. You probably have a million other things to worry about and very little free time before you even consider thinking about meeting someone new and bringing them into your life. You have thought about going out on a date with someone you met at a business meeting but between work, taking care of your child and making sure that everything at home is in place, you barely even had room to breathe.
But it can get lonely at times and you want to give this dating as a single parent thing a try by getting your children their approval and not compromising their wellbeing. After all, whoever you bring into your life will have to find their place in the realm of your child’s existence.
Dating as a single parent is more energy and time consuming than if you were to do it as an individual. In addition to, “I like her…I should ask her on a date”, “He looks cute…hmmm”, you now have to think, “Is my little girl gonna like this man? What if my son hates her?” or “What if he doesn’t like children?” Your children are a top priority and their safety means everything. So you’d want to make sure that the new person you’re bringing into your life isn’t going to mistreat them or eventually create a drift between you and your children. If anything, you’d want them to fill the void you feel has been created due to the absence of a second parent. But before you make any drastic moves, consider the following points:
Get to know your date as much as you possibly can.
Don’t give everything away in the beginning. Take your time to assess the values, qualities, needs and expectations of your date.
Also keep in mind that not everyone you go out to coffee with has to be introduced to your children. Only introduce them to the family when you’re absolutely sure in your heart that you have a future with them. Be careful here so as not to introduce someone that you might say goodbye to after a few dates. Young children have the tendency to get attached much quickly and you wouldn’t want them heartbroken when you decide that things aren’t going to go any further.
Take time to sit down and talk with your children about how they feel about you going out with someone they can’t identify as Mom or Dad. You asking them for their opinions and acting on it eventually turn out to be an advantage for you. The more involved the kids are, the more accepting of the other person they will become. But this doesn’t mean you won’t be faced with disapproval too. They might not say it with words but they will definitely act it out. So prepare yourself for continuous rebellion.
If your ex is still in the picture, the children might have a harder time accepting your new partner. So you might want to clarify the distinction and get them to understand the situation. But don’t be shocked if they don’t seem to like your new partner no matter how hard you try. Just patiently work the situation into their heart. This might sound like a stretch but if possible, your ex can cooperate with you on this too. They can help them understand how the two of you are taking different paths. The acceptance of the situation from both sides can show children that it can be okay if Mom/Dad goes out with a person that’s not their parent.
So far we’ve talked about how to handle the parent side of your job but let’s talk a little about you.
As a single parent, you might solely be responsible of taking care of your child but that doesn’t mean you have to be at the playground all day. When you go out, you can check out places that can accommodate both you and your child. Just because you have a five year-old in your hand doesn’t mean you’re on Mommy/Daddy duty through and through. You can keep a watchful eye on your child and still mingle with an interesting someone.
Whether you recently lost your partner or finally got a divorce after years of nasty marriage, hopping on a new territory might be as difficult for you as we said it would be for the kids. So let’s take things slow and smooth. Always remember, you maybe single but you’re a single parent. Not everyone is open to the idea of getting themselves intertwined with someone who’ll have to go home early to tuck a little one to bed, or someone who can’t go out for a casual date because one of their kids has a soccer match that day.
Don’t expect everyone you meet to be open-minded about your lifestyle but don’t let it get to you or discourage you if responses to “I have a cute little daughter” or “I have two teenagers to pick up from school” is a look of disgust. People differ in their preferences and there will be someone that’ll think that you being a single parent is a courageous and beautiful thing. So be patient.