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Dating as a single parent may post difficult challenges and adjustments along the way, but having children should not prevent you from finding love again. Here are some helpful guidelines…
You should always let people know you are a single parent. Honesty is any relationship is important. Being a parent is part of your identity, don't shy from that. Let a potential date know that you have a child or children. You don’t have to tell your life story and you want to keep some things private such as your children’s and your personal information. Getting to know someone is a process. Do not let a complete stranger know where you live or where your kids go to school. At the same time, you are putting yourself out into the world so it is OK to be a proud parent. Also, if you plan on seeing that person more consistently, be honest and upfront about your schedule. If it is really busy with child related obligations make sure you let that person know what to expect with your parenting obligations.
Not everyone is interested in dating for marriage. Some people want to date just to “test the waters”. Figure out what is the purpose of your dating first. Are you looking for someone serious who will treat your kids well? Are you looking for something fun and light with no expectations and no strings? If it is the latter, you might not need to ever bring kids into the picture as you’ll date when you have “time off” parental duties. If you are looking for something serious and meaningful, then you should find out if the person you are dating also wants to have children someday. Ask them how they feel about kids and what their future plans look like. Give them an opportunity to think about it and consider various circumstances before requiring an answer. Some people take more time than others to think about whether they even want kids, if they don’t already have their own.
Prioritize your children. Children from broken families, more than others, need to know you prioritize them, offer them stability and won’t abandon them. Let potential dates know that your children are your first priority. Additionally, find out if your lifestyles are even compatible for having children or becoming a family someday. Sometimes lifestyles are conflicting because children need consistency and stability. Is the person you’re dating someone who you can build a healthy stable lifestyle together with?
Make sure you don’t introduce your kids to that person too quickly. Kids don’t need to feel they are competing with your attention, that you are not stable or that this person you may be dating is going to be instant here for a moment and maybe not later step dad. A good general rule is that it is always good to make sure you are secure with your relationship prior to introducing your kids to them. If you feel confident that this could lead into marriage or something more serious, then see how comfortable that person is with meeting your children and more importantly how comfortable your children are with meeting him or her. Remember to keep parenting out of the equation. The new relationship is not there to parent your children but rather, test to see if the children and new person may enjoy each other’s company.
Lastly, always trust your intuition. Your gut instinct will never steer you wrong. Take things slowly, be open and honest, and Carpe Diem!