Authored by Cathy L. Chambers in Dating
Published on 12-07-2009
Dating presents special challenges to the single parent. Whether you are re-entering the dating pool as a divorced person or a widower, your needs are no longer the only ones that need to be considered. Your actions affect not only you but your children. They will be profoundly affected by your actions and the way you approach dating.
The amount of information you share with your children should be determined by the ages of those children. Teenagers are more likely to understand that dating someone doesn’t mean a permanent relationship will evolve. You may wish to share the information that you are dating with older children. Be honest with your children, regardless of their ages. While you may not want to introduce your dates to your children until you know them better, you should be honest about seeing people.
Regardless of the age of your children, they will be more accepting of you going out if you have made a point of taking time for yourself. If they are accustomed to being left with a babysitter while you go out alone, it will be less of a shock when you decide to start going out.
Set rules for yourself regarding intimacy. There will probably be a time when dating may lead to a more intimate relationship. Consider what message you want to convey to your children before the situation occurs. Even if your children are very young, they will form opinions about their future behavior by watching you. Be sure that the example you set for them is one you will be willing to accept if they copy your example.
Make certain that the person you are dating understands that your children are your priority. Anyone who is jealous of the time you devote to your children is someone who should be avoided. This is particularly true if your time with your children is limited by a visitation order. Your commitment to your children must take precedence over your dating life.
When you are ready to introduce someone to your children, do it slowly. Ease the new person into a relationship with your children by starting with casual encounters before working up to family gatherings. This gives your children time to adjust to the new person slowly. Reassure your children that your love for them is not altered by you having someone other than your ex in your life.
Listen to your children. If they say that they dislike someone you are dating, ask them why. If they have concerns, such as “she bosses me around too much”, discuss it with the person you are dating. Watch their response and think about their reactions. Watch and think carefully about the way the other person interacts with your child.
Be considerate of your ex as well. Don’t ask your children to keep your dating “a secret” from your ex. This could lead your children to think that you are doing something wrong. Just let things take their own course.
Dating is difficult at anytime but single parents have special considerations. Nothing can make the process completely painless but careful consideration and honesty can make the entire process easier.