According to the U.S. Census in 2000, there were nearly 10 million single mothers in the United States. Assuming the statistics are similar today, there are an astounding number of women in this country who are or may be considering entering the dating pool again. If you are one of these women, a task which may have seemed like a piece of cake before you were married may now seem daunting and unfamiliar. Now that you're a mom, new questions are probably running through your mind. How soon should you tell a potential boyfriend that you have a child? How will your kids feel about a new man in your life? Do you even have time for dating? Below is some practical advice to help you ease your way back into the single scene while also giving your children the love and attention they deserve.
Take it slow. Robin Goldstein, PhD, author of The Parenting Bible, says it is common for kids to have a hard time when their single parent begins to date. She also says that most children resent their parents' dating because they believe it makes a family reconciliation less likely, or they might worry about receiving less attention once the parent begins dating. By taking your new relationship slowly, you will give your kids a chance to get used to your new partner without compromising the amount of quality time you spend with them.
Don't feel pressured. Andrea Engber, author of the nationwide column "Single with Children," says not to feel like you have to commit to the first person you find yourself attracted to. One of the big mistakes a single mom can make is feeling as if she has to justify a romantic relationship by making it seem more serious than it really is. Recognize a casual relationship with someone as simply that - a casual relationship.
Expect some resistance. Just because you're dating a nice guy doesn't mean your kids are going to warm up to him right away. Your children probably like him just fine, but it's what he represents that influences their feelings toward him. Maybe they feel like they used to have you all to themselves, and now they have to share you. Acknowledge and accept their feelings. Talk with them about it until you are both on the same page. Tell them you love them as much as you ever did, but you like to spend time with your friends sometimes, too, just like they do.
Don't jump the gun. You may be excited to have a new person in your life, but it isn't necessary to introduce your kids to every guy who takes you to dinner. Sure, you're excited about the prospect of a new relationship, but wait until you're securely with him before you let your children perceive someone as your boyfriend. While any decisions you make will impact both your life and your child's, your love life is your own business, at least during the early stages of a relationship.
Be honest. Discretion is one thing, lying is another. You can't expect your children to be open and honest with you if you are not honest with them. When questions arise about this new person in your life, answer them with patience and sincerity. Conduct yourself as you want your kids to as they get older.
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