By Rosalind Sedacca, CDC
Dating as a single parent comes with its own set of challenges.
Because you’re a parent you must never forget the child in your life, much as you may want to when out in the dating world. Parenting is a life-long responsibility. It doesn’t matter whether your child is with you full-time or you have a shared visitation schedule.
Either way, it’s crucial that you approach being single with the awareness that you are also parent. And that should influence all of your social and relationship decisions. Because your kids always count!
Here are 6 tips for smarter, healthier and more rewarding dating and relationships when you are a single parent:
- Be up front with new partners about your role as a parent. You don’t want to date people who don’t like or respect kids. Nor do you want to hide the fact that you’re a parent who loves and wants to protect your child. Never make parenting a surprise or after thought for the person you’re dating!
- Be cautious regarding sharing information about your child with strangers and new partners. Don’t provide their name, exact age, where they live and other details about your parenting arrangement. Speak in general terms such as my daughter is in elementary school or my son is a teenager.
- Depend on babysitters so new partners don’t meet your kids before it’s appropriate You want to get to know a partner well before introducing them to your child. It’s not fair to your kids or to your dates to meet a few times and then disappear from your life. Take your time getting to know, trust and deeply care about a partner before ever bringing them into your child’s life.
- Take baby steps in introducing new people to your child. Start with short meetings: a quick lunch, a picnic at the park, watching a movie together. Listen to your child’s feedback and never dismiss or admonish them if they don’t approve at first. This is a sensitive issue. Trust and respect builds over time both for adults and children.
- Be aware of jealousy issues. Kids need to feel safe with you and your new partner. When they don’t, they can make up stories, fake bellyaches or have a tantrum just to get attention. These are signs they are feeling insecure, perhaps jealous or threatened by your new partner. Seek our professional help if this is the case. Never force your friend on a child who is resistant.
- Always do the parenting and disciplining of your kids. Even when children like the new partner it’s important that they never take on the role of a substitute parent. Kids rebel when this happens. Your partner is a new friend for your children. Not a replacement for your former spouse who hopefully is still in their lives.
Remember, after divorce you aren’t just looking for someone to spend your time with. You are looking for someone to be an adult role model for your children, as well. This awareness is extremely important and should be a major factor in all of your future relationship decisions.
Your children will thank you for making a wise choice in partners – and for being a loving, caring parent they can depend on.
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Rosalind Sedacca, CDC is a Divorce & Parenting Coach, recognized as The Voice of Child-Centered Divorce. She is the founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network, which provides valuable resources for parents who are facing, moving through or transitioning after a divorce. She is also a Dating & Relationship Coach and co-host of Divorce, Dating & Empowered Living Radio Show & Podcast. For more advice on dating after divorce visit her websites: www.childcentereddivorce.com, www.womendatingafter40.com, www.womendatingrescue.com and www.mensdatingformula.com.