What should you do when meeting someone online and he or she is a single parent? Here are some insights on what to do, what to expect, and what the best outcome is for a relationship when children are involved.
Podcast: | Subscribe: | | | | | You are a single parent. This does not mean that you have no desire for sex, romance, and marriage. You are still an emotional and sexual being as well as a parent. But, you are first and foremost a parent. That comes with certain responsibilities. The Needs of Your Children There will be precious moments when you can put your needs first, but for the most part, the needs of your children must come first.
Of course, this is a generality. Every child and every situation is different. Children need differing amounts of your time and attention depending on their age and their personalities. But, in general, meeting your children’s needs comes before meeting your own emotional and . Time and Attention Your children need your time and your attention – especially your positive attention. They need interaction with you other than “do your homework”, “stop that”, “be quiet”, “be still”, and those sorts of things.
They need fun and affirming interactions with you too. Those needs vary greatly from child to child, but your children probably need more of your time and attention than you realize. This is especially true if you are a recent divorcee.
While your children are with you, they may miss their other parent and you are their only available parent. There is no tag-team parenting when you are single and have your children. I know you have to work and clean house. I know you need some social interaction with other adults. But, when your children are with you, as much as possible, be there for them. Safety and Security Children also need their home to be a safe, secure place.
A huge mistake I see single parents make is bringing people into their home to meet their children well before that person has earned enough trust to be allowed around them. I’m not trying to be alarmist, but most victims of sexual abuse are not abused by complete strangers.
Most of the time, they are abused by people their parents allow around them. And while it is true that people can be very good at hiding who they really are, why prematurely introduce people into your children’s lives when you don’t know them long enough or well enough to know if your children are safe around them?
Stability Another huge need children have is the need for stability. This is totally undermined when they are forced to accept a steady stream of boyfriends or girlfriends coming and going time after time, year after year.
Children take it hard when they are forced to accept a new person into their lives. Then, they take it hard again when they are forced to sever ties with that person because that relationship ends. And some single parents put their children through this again and again and again with every .
It’s much better to wait until you’ve been with someone for a while and seriously think marriage might be a possibility before you introduce them to your children. Timing is Everything If you’ve been through a breakup or a divorce, when it comes to starting to date again as a single parent timing is everything.
When to Start Dating Again For your own sake, you need to to heal and morn and learn from your ended relationship. But, even when you think you’re ready to start dating, are your children ready? This could be a long process. It will take patience and it will take putting your children’s needs first for an appropriate amount of time.
How long of a time should this be? I have no idea. Everyone is different. But, I know this, it takes a lot longer than most people think. Most people think they are ready long before they actually are. This goes double for your children. It takes them much, much longer than you think. When to Introduce Your New Love Interest As I noted earlier in this post, when you are a single parent you need to be extra careful about who you bring around your children.
You also need to be careful about when you introduce them to your children. Resist the urge to introduce everyone you might be interested in to them. For the sake of safety and stability, as I mentioned above, only allow people you have known long enough and know well enough to be reasonably confident in their character to spend time with your children.
To be allowed around your children, they should be someone you have reason to believe your children are safe around and someone you might be interested in marrying – and then only when you are there too. Don’t introduce them to anyone you don’t know well enough to know if they are safe. And, don’t introduce them to an endless parade of “friends”. When it is finally time to introduce them to someone you have and are interested in marrying, go slow.
Be patient. Don’t be pushy. Let that relationship grow at a pace your children are comfortable with. Be honest. Be gentle. Share your heart. And, probably most importantly, listen to your children’s concerns. Model Healthy Dating One good thing about dating as a single parent is it gives you an opportunity to teach your children about how to date the right way.
You have the chance to be a role model of proper dating for your children. Of course, you can’t do that if you’re not dating wisely yourself. Be sure you go back and read or listen to all my posts about and . I have a lot to say about how to date better and the necessity of learning relationship skills and otherwise preparing for marriage while you’re still single.
Potential Spouses Something else you may need to do is coach up potential spouses on dating and marrying a single parent.
You may have to share all these concepts I am writing about with them. They’ll need to understand that they must earn the privilege of being around your children and that, as interested as you are in them, there are times when your children must come first.
You’ll need to have some long, serious conversations. There will be many challenges, especially after you get engaged. One of the hardest things you will ever do is blending a family.
Read some books together on the subject. Invest in some counseling or coaching. You are not just two people getting married. You are two families trying to blend and merge and find a new way of being and relating.
Remember, step-children are one of the biggest causes of second marriages ending in divorce. So, know going in that it will take lots of work and lots of prayer. Till Next Time So, till next time: • Pay attention to the needs of your children. They need your time and attention, they need safety and security, and they need stability. • Remember that timing is important. Be wise about when to start dating again and when to introduce people to your children.
• Model good dating for your children, which means first you need to learn to . • Prepare. Prepare yourself for the challenges of dating when you have children. And, prepare anyone you’re seriously interested in for the challenges of dating a single parent and for the possibility of a blended family. Thrive On Single Parent! And, one last thought. Don’t let yourself get discouraged about the process. You can do this. Many of us have done it successfully. I did it. You can too. And as always, till next time, thrive on!
best challenges dating a single parent - eHarmony AU
Sometimes kids say it best. When asked what she wishes her mom would do differently while dating, Rachel, a smart young graduate student, replied, “I wish she would recognize her own impulsivity and emotional rollercoaster. She does and says things without recognizing that to some extent our whole family is dating this guy. This year I came home four times from college and he was in town every single time. After I went back to campus each time Mom said, ‘I never get to see you!’ Yes, well, that’s because you were with your boy.” Dating for two is difficult; dating in a crowd is downright complicated.
The kids are engaged, at least on some level, even when you don’t think they are. And everyone has strong emotions and opinions about who is involved and what the outcome might be. In other words, the whole family is dating. Table for 20! Here are a number of dating “best practices” for single parents: 1. Realize that you’re not just forming a relationship; you’re creating a family. When kids predate dating, the couple’s relationship inherently creates competing attachments.
The choice to be with the dating partner or children generally means the other is left waiting … and wondering how their relationship with you is being influenced by your relationship with the other. In addition, children commonly feel some insecurity by mom or dad’s relationship with another person. Wise singles recognize this important dynamic and don’t assume that becoming a couple necessarily means that they can become a family.
They attend to both and take time assessing how the potential stepfamily relationships are developing. 2. Avoid a quick turn-around. Parents who begin dating quickly after the end of a relationship (whether by death or divorce) or who reach a quick decision to marry after a brief dating period often find their children more resistant to the marriage.
This sabotages the ability of a stepparent and stepchild to get off on the right foot with one another and puts the family at risk. 3. Healthy dating begins with self-examination.
Smart singles take a good long look in the mirror before dating. They examine their motivations for dating, fears (e.g., their children not having a father), loneliness, and unresolved hurt (e.g., after divorce). How do you know when you’re ready to date? When you don’t need to. 4. Engage in “What if?” conversations. Even before dating, single parents begin a series of conversations with their children that ask, “What if I began dating?
How would you feel?” Periodically, they engage the conversation again and again: “What if Sara and I began dating regularly?” “What if John’s kids came over every Friday through the summer?” “What if she and I were to get engaged?” Each dialogue is both assessment (How are my kids feeling about these possibilities and realities?) and intervention as it prepares them for what might happen.
Smart single parents don’t let their children’s emotions dictate their dating progress, but they do listen and give serious consideration to how the children are feeling (becoming a couple is up to you; whether you become a family is up to them).
Engage in these conversations throughout your dating experience, especially in anticipation of each stage of a developing relationship. 5. Offer soft invitations to older children. Teens and adult children need to move toward your dating partner at their own pace. If you make it your agenda to get them to accept your partner and relationship, you may be shooting yourself in the foot. Instead, make opportunities for them to get to know each other, but don’t force it.
Soft invitations such as, “Roger will be having dinner with me on Saturday. You are welcome to join us if you’d like.” Show respect and allow relationships to develop at their own pace. 6. Acknowledge and label child fears.
Children of all ages, young to old, benefit when a parent says, “I can see that the idea of my dating scares you. You are missing Mom/our family/etc. and probably don’t want any more changes to our family. I get it. I appreciate your being honest with me.” Use phrases like “this scares you,” “you’re afraid that our family won’t be the same,” or “you don’t want to have to change schools or leave your friends.” This type of response validates the child’s fears.
It also shows them their feelings are important to you, keeps the communication door open, and helps children put labels on their own emotions (which is very important for young children especially). 7. Pace and balance your dating. If you fall in love don’t abandon your kids by spending all of your free time with your newfound love.
It’s tempting, but doing so taps your child’s fears that they are losing you and gives the false impression to your dating partner that you are totally available to them. You’re not. Don’t lose your balance. 8. Arrange the “meeting the kids” time with care. Early on your kids may meet your date, but the first few dates should primarily be about the two of you. At first reference your date as “a friend” or if your kids are prepared, call them your “date.” Casual introductions are fine when you start dating someone, but don’t proactively put your kids and the person together until you are pretty sure there are real possibilities for the relationship.
This is especially true for children under the age of five, who can bond to someone you are dating more quickly than you can. As your interest in the person grows, gradually become more intentional about finding time for your significant other and your kids to get together. Tread lightly at first and continue to monitor and process everyone’s fears or concerns.
If the other person has children as well, it might be wise to orchestrate early get-togethers with just one set of children. You might, for example, engage in an activity with your friend and their children one weekend and then have your friend join you and your kids the next. Navigating multiple new relationships can be overwhelming.
Breaking the two families into parts can be helpful initially. Eventually, though, assuming your dating relationship continues to deepen, you’ll want to get everyone together for a shared activity. 9. Expect hot/cold reactions. Liking a parent’s dating partner sometimes creates a loyalty problem for kids: They don’t know how to embrace everyone and not hurt feelings (especially the other biological parent). Because they are caught in a loyalty conflict, children sometimes warm up nicely to the person you are dating and then turn cold.
Sometimes they vacillate back and forth. Don’t panic or judge the children too harshly. Confusion comes with the territory. Relax and work with what they give you. 10. Articulate your silhouette. Since you can’t judge lasting love by physical accoutrements or initial biochemical attractions, you need an objective measure of the qualities, attributes, and character of the person you are looking for. But you also need—and here’s where single parents fall short—a silhouette of the type of family you are hoping to create.
If the person you are dating isn’t good parent material (with your kids or theirs), for example, you ought to move on. Yes, not liking the fit between the person you are dating and your kids is a deal breaker, even if you love him or her as a partner. 11. Learn all you can about stepfamily living. Nearly 20 years of counseling, coaching, and training blended families has revealed to me this secret of successful blended family couples: They work harder at getting smarter about stepfamily living.
Getting smarter means learning all you can about how stepfamilies function, operate best, and why they have the unique complexities that they do. You may know how to drive a car, but driving in snow and icy conditions requires a different knowledge and skill set.
Nearly all blended families have inclement weather to manage as they drive (especially in the first few years), so adopt the attitude of a learner.
Feb 12 Finding Love While Balancing Parenthood Parenthood is difficult enough; add dating to the mix and you may begin to feel a bit overwhelmed. Fear not, you will be able to find love as a single parent. There is just a lot of organization that goes into dating as a single parent rather than a single person. You need to be more concerned about your time. You not only have a job, a child, and dating you need to be sure to space out your priorities accordingly.
Another obstacle is childcare. It is fine to take your child just about anywhere, except to a bar on a first date. Finding reliable childcare that is also flexible will be a hurdle you need to jump. There is hope for single parents to find love, their roads may just have a few more bumps and detours in them than others. Children Single parents have one thing different in their dating equation than other single people…the “parent” part.
Single parents are not the only person in the equation when they are dating. It is them as well as their child or children. Depending on the age of their kids will determine the type of obstacles that dating with kids will bare.
Childcare will be one of the challenges that dating as a single parent will warrant. Unless you have a live-in nanny (which is not likely) you will need dependable and flexible childcare. Kids are typically in school from eight in the morning until around three in the afternoon. This is a decent amount of time to squeeze in a lunch date if your schedules allow.
Dating as a single parent means you need to improvise. So rather than a steakhouse evening date you may need to meet up for a lunchtime salad instead. Either way however, you get a good conversation and time together. This is not to say that you are settling for a lunchtime date, it is just that is when you are childless and able to see a gentleman caller. Weekends are another tricky time for dating. If it is their exes weekend for custody then you are wide open. Make sure to plan your weekends wisely to be sure to squeeze every ounce of time together out.
You also need to make time for yourself so don’t overbook with dates all weekend long because self-care is just as much a part of this as anything. For those of you that are single parents with family close that may be a good opportunity to have fun weeknight dates. If your parents live local and can take care of after school duty and bedtime then you can have a casual evening of drinks and dancing. With that being said, the sexy dates may have to wait a bit longer than you would if you didn’t have children.
Dating sans children you could leave your house at the drop of a hat to grab drinks or meet up for a quick meal. That is not the case anymore and whomever you choose to start seeing you will have to explain all of this to them so they don’t feel shorted or blown off when you can’t make a date or event without proper planning. That may seem less sexy and impulsive to have everything planned out ahead of time but that is the reality of it all.
Time Time management is a challenge for anyone. But for someone with a lot more on their plate than the average dater it is even more of a challenge. When you have children your children have activities, friends, appointments, etc. You name it and your kid needs you for it. Baseball practice carpools, PTA meetings, flute lessons, and doctor appointments. All of these are part of your life and you need to manage your time accordingly to fit in time for you and time for dating.
First and foremost, know that online dating is probably your best shot at organizing and controlling your dating life best. This way you can easily browse potential suitors, talk online at anytime, (for example while you are waiting to pick your kids up from various activities), and you can also precisely plan dates for when you have no obligations as well as a sitter for your children.
There is so much more that goes into dating when you have children that not all people will understand. Creating an organized environment for love may sound silly but it will be effective. The Ex Navigating your life with an ex husband or wife can be trouble enough when you enter the dating world when you are without children. For those of you that have to deal with custody of your children with said ex is another battle.
With proper communication anything can be navigated. When you start dating again, no matter how “over” you and your ex are he or she will probably feel a hint of jealousy in the beginning because it is human nature to feel that way.
You have children together and that is a connection you will share with that person for the rest of your natural born life whether you want to or not. When you are fresh in the dating game try to plan your dates when your ex has the children so that you can have the freedom to meet new people without having to worry about getting a babysitter when you are just starting out and not sure how things will go.
Another tip you can use when dealing with the challenge of an ex while newly dating is also to not switch your days around to fit a new dating schedule, this will cause him or her to think you are prioritizing your social life over your days with your children. Keep a schedule and stick to it. They do not need to impede on your life anymore than necessary. And being honest also helps. Keep the lines of communication open with both your ex and your new beau.
Let them both know what is going on so that nothing gets lost in translation because you must remember that at the end of the day the safety and happiness of your children is what matters most.
Feeling Less After having children you may feel “old” or “used” however you want to put it, you feel different dating as a parent whether you are 25 or 45. A child ages you not only mentally and emotionally but physically as well. Be sure to keep up self-care so that you love yourself. Loving yourself is the most important part about dating at any age with any number of children.
If you love yourself then you open the opportunity up for others to love you as well. Having a child does not put you off the market and it also does not mean that you wasted your “best years” raising kids so now no one will want you.
It is not true that men only want tight young things and women only want six packed lovers. There is someone for everyone and you will get a chance to find love again if you put yourself out there and know that you are NOT less. You are MORE, more experienced with life because you have a family. You have gone through different experiences than the people you may date and that will make you see very fascinating.
Own your role as a parent and know that it is part of you, not ALL of you. You are still a happy and smart person regardless of the fact that you have kids. Dating is fun and not just for non-kid having young people. You can date at any age whether you have kids or not. People also don’t write of men or women with children like you may think.
As long as you are honest about your life with the person that you are dating they will fall in love with the person that you are and eventually fall in love with being a part of your family someday.
Finding LOVE when you're a SINGLE MOM!!!