By Tina Tessina
As a single parent, you probably have so little free time that dating seems an impossible task. Yet, single parents are dating in unprecedented numbers, so if you’re looking for another “head of household” to date, you’ll find one.
As a responsible parent, you’ll want to be very cautious about whom you date and eventually bring home for the safety and well-being of your child(ren). You may feel guilty or unsure about whether dating is OK. Of course it is, as long as you do it responsibly, and your children are not disrupted by your dating.
Single parent dating involves finding a quality person you like, who likes you, and who is comfortable with your children. These extra dynamics can be frustrating, but should not be ignored or overlooked. Pressuring your children to like your date and going too fast for them to get comfortable with the situation, will create unnecessary trouble. This article presents some guidelines to help you, your children and your new date be more comfortable, and assure that things go smoothly.
If your children are small, they have a right to be primary in your life. They should not have to compete with your new relationship for your time, attention and affection. This takes planning, because your schedule is already full.
Safety/ Sensibility Issues
Because today’s society is very mobile, it’s easy for people who are not savory to hide their backgrounds. Getting to know people as friends before dating increases the safety of dating and meeting new people. To maximize safety, choose group activities, daytime activities with the children along, and stay in public places until you establish your date’s character. You may also want to invest in a system like Livewatch in order to stay safe in your own home.
Meeting other single parents at PTA, church, and school or sports events is a great, non-threatening way to begin. The public setting provides safety, a chance to get to know the other person, and to find out what others think of him or her. Meeting his or her children or other family members will quickly reveal their values and attitudes. When your children meet another parent, an adult friend, or a church or temple member rather than a date, it’s much less threatening to them. There is less pressure on everyone.
Rules for Everyone
Children aren’t the only ones who need rules to follow. If the adults involved (you, your date, your ex, grandparents, friends) do the right thing automatically, they are following their own internal rules, but if their behavior is not suitable for you and your children, you need to inform them of yours.
Setting and keeping rules may sound like a drag, but sensible and reasonable guidelines can help a lot. When everyone knows what is expected of them, they will feel respected and secure.
Parental Dating Guidelines
• Make sure you know a lot about any new person before inviting him/her into your home.
• Make friends before considering a romantic relationship.
• Always introduce new adults to your children as friends, nothing more.
• If your children are old enough to have opinions of your new friends, listen to what they have to say.
• Do not pressure your children to like your new friend, or to spend time with him or her.
• Insist that your children behave appropriately and politely to your adult friends.
• Have regular family discussions with your children.
• If you want to get serious with a date, find out his or her feelings about children, especially your children, first.
• Gradually introduce a new date to your children by doing family oriented activities together. Give your children and your date a chance to develop their own relationships.
• Don’t sacrifice your children’s alone time with you to your dating. Don’t miss sport or school events in order to date.
• Don’t share inappropriately with your children. Do not use them as “confidantes” for your relationship confusion or problems. Don’t allow them to find out about your sexual relationship.