Dating as a single mother is much different from the same activity experienced as a young, carefree “twenty-something”. No longer do you have the time or the money to spend hours choosing a flattering, coordinated outfit, getting a manicure, having your hair done, or soaking in the tub in pleasurable anticipation of a glamorous evening.
For a single mother, a date must be squeezed in between the children’s suppertime and the baby-sitter’s curfew. You have responsibilities and you’re on a schedule, and that’s only a few of the difficulties you face. Among others, the major problems are:
1. Finding a suitable date.
You are no longer just seeking an amusing companion. You have to ascertain whether your date likes children, and judge whether he would be a suitable step-parent. You are the head of the family and you and your children are a package deal. No doubt they suffered a major upset when your marriage ended. They should not be subjected to another distressing experience if a long-term friendship or relationship breaks down. You must choose wisely before introducing the children to a date who appears to be a possible permanent family member.
2. Regaining trust in your judgment.
Since you are a single parent, your original choice of a spouse must have been faulty. The one you chose to co-parent your children was unworthy or immature or unable, for some reason, to assume the responsibility for the long-term. You will be plagued by self doubt. If you chose wrongly once, aren’t you likely to do so again? You must convince yourself that you have learned from your mistake and will choose more wisely a second time.
3. Learning to trust your new partner
Your original spouse let you down, and left you with the day-to-day responsibilities of raising your children alone. During the preliminary stages of any new dating relationship, you are likely to be more suspicious of your date than a younger, inexperienced person would be. Try to explain your insecurities to your new dating partner. Through his response, and his sincere efforts to allay your suspicions and set your insecurities to rest, you will grow in trust and come to rely on his sincerity.
4. Resisting the impulse to take advantage.
A single parent always needs help. A child has a dentist appointment during your work hours. The tap in the kitchen leaks. Your car is making a strange noise. If there is a handy person around who enjoys your company and is anxious to help, it is tempting to take advantage of his goodwill. Be cautious! These are your problems, not your date’s. If you let him insinuate himself into your family life before you’re sure that he’s the right one, it’s not only unfair to him, it will upset the children when he’s no longer around.
5. Keeping your priorities straight
Your children must always be your first priority, and your date must understand and honor your commitment. For example, if you planned to attend an important function with him, one connected to a possible career advancement, and one of the children gets sick at suppertime on the day of the big event, your place is home with your sick child. He can be comforted by the fact that you will do the same for him after he becomes part of the family, if he becomes ill and needs your care and comfort.
Dating, for a single mother, is a thorny path, and one difficult to maneuver. However, it’s one that can lead to a worthwhile conclusion. If Mom is fortunate enough to find a loving husband and a caring step-father for her children, she will end up with an intact family far superior to the one which was originally shattered by the withdrawal of her first husband.