Dating Tips for the Single Parent
After finding myself single following a gruelling divorce, the last thing I wanted to do was get back into the dating scene. I was a 48-year-old woman with a fifteen-year-old daughter, a career, and bills to pay. My focus was surviving and trying to be the best parent that I could be for my daughter, these two objectives left little time for dating. Even though emotionally, I realized I needed the support of finding a stable relationship, dating was a daunting proposition. My insecurities about dating were ominous and my personal responsibilities felt overwhelming. Then, there was the issue of finding someone to date that did not have a problem with the fact that I had kids and finding someone who my daughter would like. These factors were reason enough to avoid dating and to remain single. The prospect of being rejected because I had a child or of trying to find a suitable kid friendly partner who was trustworthy with my daughter just made me want to avoid getting to know someone new altogether, but I still wanted intimacy and companionship. However, after a couple of years of trial and error, I picked up a few tips that may help you if you are wrestling with the idea of dating as a single parent.
The first thing that a single parent needs to do when re-entering into the singles world of dating; is to keep an open mind. There are many people[s1] that are willing to accept a partner that has kids. The empathy and patience you have developed from raising children are appealing traits to anyone. There are also other single parents who are looking for someone just like you. They have the same fears and apprehensions that you are feeling and are looking for someone who understands that being a parent comes first.
It is a good idea to be upfront and honest from the very beginning. Do not try to hide the fact that you have children. This will save you a lot of time and hassle in the long run. There is nothing worse than developing feelings for someone and pursuing a relationship with them only to find out that they are not interested in kids. This can lead to many bad feelings in the end. It can also make a breakup hard and create animosity between both people. Honesty is the best policy.
Talk with potential partners about their views on children. Don’t waste your time dating someone that has no intentions or desires to have kids. It will never work out in the end. A general, casual conversation can go a long way towards helping you to find the best potential partner. This does not have to be a major conversation or a big deal. Just ask “how do you feel about kids?” Be open and listen to their response, you can learn a great deal about whether someone is a good fit for you by just having a casual conversation. Oftentimes, the thing that scares someone off is a single parent that is entirely too pushy or tries to force a person into a relationship that he or she is not ready for.
Be prepared for possible animosity from your children. Children, especially teens often have difficulty accepting a new person in their parent’s life. It signals the end of the relationship between you and your former partner but more significantly it signals the finality of the divorce and the loss of their family of origin to your children. New parental relationships can often re-traumatize children of divorce. Remember they have had no control over parental decisions to split the family. Expressing distaste toward their parent’s new significant other is often an attempt to regain some control of the situation. In extreme cases, children may even attempt to sabotage new relationships. Be open and honest with your children about your desire to begin dating. Don’t expect instant acceptance or instant like. Give the children opportunities to express their feelings, listen but don’t be argumentative. Remember you are the adult, and you make the decisions. Introduce the new relationship into the family dynamics slowly. Don’t expect instant acceptance of your significant other or any children your significant other brings into the relationship. Be prepared to take things slowly. Spend time with your significant other when the children are with their other parent and don’t change plans with your children to accommodate your significant other. They need to be reassured that they are your top priority and even though you may be excited by the new relationship it will take some time for your children to adjust to the idea of you being with someone new.
Another important point for single parents to keep in mind is that they should not lose hope. They are not doomed to failure. It is quite possible for single parents to meet people and to date and have meaningful relationships. Maintain honesty and open communication with your children and anyone you might be dating. Set boundaries, clarify to your children that they do not dictate your relationships and be clear to anyone you are dating that your children come first. Dating takes patience but building a life for yourself is important enough to take the time to do it correctly.