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Dating in general can be challenging but dating as a single parent comes with very unique challenges that if not handled with care, can leave both mom and child scarred.
I can’t fathom the amount of creativity it takes to meet someone AND stay safe as family life looks very different today, than it did 11 years ago when I was dating.
One thing is for sure, if you are a single mom, dating for you looks very different from the dating life of your other single friends. I get it, I’ve been where you are. I was a single mom for 10 years before I began dating my husband and I remember exactly what it was like to date during that time.
I definitely did not get it all right.
There are several things that in hindsight I would have done differently. That is my motivation for helping women win in various aspects of their life. If I can prevent just one person from falling into the pitfalls that I fell in, I would feel that I’ve accomplished what I am called to do.
According to The Pew Research Center, one in five children come from a single parent home. Considering this, I get a sense that at some point a guy will date a woman that has children and they should do their part in making sure that they enter into dating with a little more precaution.
For instance, in her writing on 15 Things You May Not Know About Single Moms, Patricia Osei-Oppong states that one thing they should consider is that single moms are doing the best they can as they raise their children.
Additionally, as a former single mom, it is my belief that the impact of your dating experiences ultimately lie in your hands. Here are 6 things that I believe single moms should consider if they are on the market for a new boo.
1. Dating is no longer just about you.
Yeah, I know that this one is pretty obvious, right? Wrong! There are some that believe that you should only date with you in mind. That could not be further from the truth. In fact, in an article published on 10 Things Single Moms Want You To Know, the very first suggestion is that a mother’s time spent with their children is precious and it absolutely is, which is why it is so important to consider your children when deciding who you will date.
Some things to consider when choosing a potential partner:
- What is my child’s temperament?
- How do my child respond to strangers?
- What type of personality does my partner need to have that will work well for my child?
- Can this partner be a Godly leader for both me and my family?
As you work through these questions, I’m sure others will arise. However, you will began to craft a guide that will help you weed out the men that will not be a good fit for both you and your child.
2. End the relationship with the other parent.
As a parent, you want nothing more than for your children to not be impacted by your choices. Reality is, they will be. However, there are some things that you can do to lessen the impact.
There are some parents that are genuinely in love and want to make both their relationship with the other parent and their child work.
However, some moms are holding on to an idea of what they wish their relationship would be like with the other parent.
This is when it becomes unhealthy and you need to face the reality that you will never have the relationship you wish. Doing this will free you to mourn the loss of the relationship (or your idea of the relationship) and will help to bring you closure.
Dear one, the fact is that you are not obligated to maintain an open invitation to your heart for the other parent. Keeping the open invitation only creates confusion and further hurt if the two of you have not decided to pursue a relationship and are actively doing your parts to make it work.
3. Create healthy co-parenting boundaries
This brings me to learning how to create the healthy boundaries that are needed for both parents to move on with their lives, individually while maintaining a strong co-parenting relationship.
The first step is to realize that you are in this together for the good of the child. If you are a single parent as a result of divorce, your co-parenting challenges may be a tad different. You can read more on being on the same page with the father here in this article on Co-Parenting Strategies For Divorced Parents.
Some other things to consider when creating healthy boundaries with the other parent is:
- Custody Agreements
- Financial Support
- School Functions
- Visitation and Phone Calls
Thinking about and coming to common grounds; will help you to create a more cohesive parenting front, develop a feeling of security for your child, and will clearly communicate that you are ready to move on.
4. Be selective about who you date.
If no one else has given you permission to be a bit cautious about who you are dating, I will.
In case you need a little reminder from my opening, you are not just dating for yourself. You are dating with another little human in mind and who you date will impact both of your lives.
Therefore, it is imperative that you take your time and examine the motive, character and integrity of the person you are dating BEFORE you let them meet your child. If the person does not pass your test, they should not be allowed to meet your child.
Additionally, just because I feel like I need to throw this one in, don’t ignore red flags and settle for someone out of loneliness or your desire to have a significant other. This will only backfire in the end and remember, you want to save you and your little human the emotional turmoil of an unhealthy relationship. After all, he is watching you to know how a woman should be treated.
5. Guard you AND your child’s heart.
In being selective, you have to understand what it means to guard your heart. One translation of scripture puts it like this:
“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”
-Proverbs 4:23, NLT
This is a pretty powerful scripture because it lets us know that the things that impact our heart also impact other areas of our lives that will ultimately impact our choices in life. A real life example of this is when I was dating a man off and on for 5 years. I knew that he was not the person that I wanted to be with, not because he wasn’t a good man but because he wasn’t a good man for me.
I wasted 5 YEARS of my life—time that I will never get back, that I could have been focusing on something else. On top of that, it was emotionally hard for me when I decided to let go, which in turn, temporarily impacted me as a single mother and as a college student.
6. Set dating expectations and communicate them up front.
I believe that God gives us guidelines in relationships for our own protection. Along the same lines is why you should create dating guidelines and expectations—to protect you and your child. Some things to consider when setting dating expectations:
- How do I feel about celibacy?
- How late/often do I want to talk/text?
- How do you know it is time to introduce him to your child and other family/friends?
These are just a few questions to consider to trigger your thinking. I encourage you to take 30 minutes to create your own dating expectations and practice how you are going to communicate them to the person you are dating.
If you are already in a relationship and realize that you have not communicated your expectations to that person, it’s not too late to do so. In fact, setting healthy boundaries will never go out of style and is not based on a time line. Therefore, you can create and communicate them whenever a need is presented.
This is by no means and exhaustive list of tips to consider when dating as single mother. The pressures and responsibilities that come along with being a single mother can be overwhelming and sometimes isolating as friends and family members without children may not understand your position.
They also may not have what it takes to offer the support you need such as advice on how to thrive as a single mom.
Often times forgiving yourself for past choices you have made is difficult, leaving you feeling stuck in feelings of inadequacy and shame that ultimately leads to a dark place that you find it hard to climb out of.
The key to overcoming these things is finding someone who will offer you support in various ways. Some single mother create a community with other single mothers where they take turns keeping each other’s children. That is one thing me and my single mom friends did when I was in school.
Whatever support you need, don’t be afraid to seek it out.
Single Parents and Dating Videos
If you find that you are In need of one-on-one support, you can go here to sign up for a free lifestyle consultation.
Signs you may need a consult:
- Relationship and Family Issues
- Toxic Relationships and Bad Break Ups
- Boundary Setting
- Struggling With Forgiveness
- Career/Education Guidance
In November, I offered more tips on single dating relationships on my social media platforms. If you are not following me on social media, go do that… NOW!