Are you a single parent seeking love? Do you know how to satisfy your children’s need for your attention along with your need to find love in a new relationship? You’re about to learn a dating strategy that places the needs of your children first, while it also improves your dating relationships. Does it seem counter intuitive? I’ll explain why resisted it at first, and how I realized this dating strategy can be good for your children and your love life.
A few months after my divorce, I’d met a wonderful man for a few casual dates when he asked if he could meet my children. I thought they would like him, so I agreed. We met for dinner at an outdoor cafe one warm summer evening. My early-teenage son was friendly. His younger sister was silent, unless we nudged her to answer questions from my date. Then she was rude and totally unlike herself. In a private moment, I asked my daughter what was wrong.
“I think he was mean to me in another lifetime,” she said, as if it were the worst flaw she could imagine on short notice.
Was she sabotaging my first budding relationship after my divorce?
No way. I could feel her pain. I knew she wasn’t ready to see me date. I hugged her and decided it was time to accept the dating strategy I’d learned in my divorce counseling.
Simple Dating Strategy For Single Parents:
Keep your dating life private from your children. Do not let your children spend time with your date, unless you plan to marry this person. This means no sleepovers with your date when your children are home. No exceptions. I’d felt like Ophelia being banished to a nunnery when I first heard that advice. As a mother, I’d understood the reasoning behind it, before it was explained to me.
Why should we accept this dating strategy?
Your children are adjusting to your divorce. They want and deserve your unconditional love and undivided attention, instead of sharing it with your date. That want you to have a calm relationship with their father. They can deal with him dating because they don’t live with him. Your home is a safe haven for you and your children. Keep it that way.
As a responsible parent, our primary focus is to put the needs of our children first and help them bloom after a big change in our family unit. Does this mean a custodial parent should stop dating?
Absolutely not. Remember, the strategy is to simply keep your dating life private from your children. Here are several reasons why this strategy can be good for your children and your love life:
You’ll be encouraged to choose a date who understands and supports your dating boundaries and parenting goals. You’ll build a new relationship slowly, waiting until you foresee a long-term future together before you introduce this special friend to your children.
Until then, you’ll have incentive to take an overnight trip with your date, to meet in a motel, or have a lunch rendezvous at home while your children are at school. This dating boundary may spark a sense of intrigue in a short-term relationship, which may end if there are no common interests or values to bond you and your date after the intrigue wears off. Why is this good news for single parents?
You’ll wisely move on from a short-term relationship with your love lessons learned, without having placed your children in a position to bond with your date and go through another breakup. You’ll be confident in the long-term compatibility with your new partner before you let your children get to know them.
Why do some single parents resist this advice?
They may desire the pleasure of regular overnight bonding with their date. They may want to enjoy cozy time at home or on outings with their date and their children. They may not want to postpone these family-centered pleasures until they’re in a serious, committed relationship. Are you thinking of other reasons to resist?
What do family experts say to single parents who resist this dating strategy?
Parents are role models for children. Parents who conduct a series of short-term relationships in front of their children, will most likely raise children who will be sexually promiscuous at young ages. So said Lois V. Nightingale, Ph.D., Director of Nightingale Counseling Center in Yorba Linda, California. In a recent ThirdAge article written by Charles Downey, Dr. Nightingale concluded, “Modeling is the most powerful parenting tool known.”
Take a moment to ask yourself some questions:
What kind of role model are you? Do you put the needs of your children first?
Do you help them feel secure in all aspects of life after your divorce, even if this includes having a calm, positive relationship with your former spouse or partner? If your children lost a parent through death, are you helping them grieve lost love while they see the love that’s left?
Do you make sure your children feel no need to compete with your date for your attention? Do you see this as a small personal sacrifice that gives big gifts of confidence and trust to your children?
Do you see how this dating strategy may change when your children start dating? Then you can show them how our dating choices may inspire happiness and well being in ourselves and our family.