Communication between parent and child is essential for single parents when it comes to dating.
Every aspect of single parenting is twofold. Starting to date is no exception. Every situation is different and it’s important you take into account your particular situation. No matter how ready you are for some adult contact and companionship, your children should always be the deciding vote in your return to the world of dating.
Talk to your kids. No matter what age, only you know the best way to communicate with them. Explain what you’re doing and why. Make sure you answer all their questions as best you can and do everything within your power to reassure them. The biggest problem a single parent can face is a child who feel’s they’ve been lied to. Depending on the circumstances that led you into the single parenting world, there may be issues the child needs help dealing with before anyone else is introduced into the equation. Its important children don’t feel anyone is being replaced. Either themselves or their other parent; kids tend to view dating as a replacement factor rather than a healthy form of interaction. It’s important you convey this fact to them.
If your child or children seem particularly hesitant towards you dating, be reluctant to bring someone home on a first, second or even third date. You need to feel completely comfortable around someone before you can even begin to think of introducing him or her to your children. Any hesitation on your part will send a red flag alert to the kids and things probably won’t go well.
Choose neutral territory for a first meeting. There will always be a degree of unease with any first meeting. Getting together at either home isn’t a good idea simply because one party will feel more comfortable than the other. First meetings at a restaurant or park, or some other place are a good idea for that first meeting. Parties at either house can come down the road when everyone’s more at ease with each other.
Discuss the first impressions with your kids. Find out what they thought and listen. Kids are great interpreters of first impressions. If they feel uncomfortable explore it, and listen to what they have to say. If you’re particularly attracted to your date discuss the matter with them as well and get their input. Knowing where everyone stands can be the best way to avoid a confrontation later.
Don’t go overboard. This can apply to a few aspects of dating so let’s explore them. First of all, don’t begin going out every chance you get. Work up gradually to getting out of the house more often. If you’re kids are used to spending a lot of time with you they’re more apt to feel you’re abandoning them if you leave them every chance you get. Second, if you’ve found someone you’re particularly fond of and want to see more often, make sure you still keep your kids in the number one spot on your ‘to see’ list. Don’t let the excitement of a budding romance take center stage. Your partner should understand this up front. Your kids come first. Thirdly, don’t go nuts trying to make everyone like each other. If the first meeting didn’t go well, give it time. Everyone needs time to adjust to every new situation. Kids are no exception and it won’t benefit anyone if people are forced to be together, or if a new boyfriend or girlfriend is all you talk about.
Keep your appointments. Special time and events you enjoy regularly should be kept the same. No matter what kind of pickle it puts you into with a new romance; again your kids always come first. Making sure your children still feel they get as close to the same amount of attention from you can really make a difference in how they react to your dating. If they feel their being overshadowed, they’re more apt to dislike the new person more than they would have if you’d kept your word and your obligations to them.
Adults should act accordingly. Just like kids can throw tantrums about situations they don’t like, adults can do the same thing. If you’re dating someone who just can’t fathom your need to put your children first, do yourself and your kids a favor – cut them loose. There are too many people who understand the society we have today and the fact that more and more people who are dating now have children. Dating someone who insists on ‘fighting’ your children for attention from you is pointless.
After reading all this you’re probably wondering, what about me? How do your needs and desires for a healthy relationship fit in? One of the most important things you can stress to your children is the need for you to have companionship and time away from them. Letting them know that it’s just like them visiting their friends, or going to their favorite place to play will help them understand it’s important for your happiness. Mommies and Daddies need play time too. Standing firm in this is essential to making sure your kids understand how important it is to you. As long as you moderate your time between your new adventures and your most precious possessions everyone should be happy in the end.