After many months of emotionally recovering from divorce or the loss of your spouse, you finally feel as if you’re ready to get back into the dating game. You feel stable, secure and mentally able to move on. However, you won’t be moving on alone; you have children to consider. For many mothers, dating can be an issue. They feel uncomfortable, guilty and worry how to handle awkward situations like telling a man they have children and when to do introductions between that man and their children. While dating with children can be a new challenge for you, it does not have to be an unpleasant experience. Follow these tips to improve your chances of not only finding your way through the world of dating, but enjoying the journey as well.
Make sure you know who you are… While divorce or the loss of a spouse can be an emotional roller coaster that leaves little time for self exploration, before you venture on to unknown territories make sure you’re familiar with your own first. By this I mean, reevaluate your priorities. What do you really want out of a relationship this time round? What type of man will make you happy? What did you sacrifice or compromise on in your prior relationship that you refuse to do again? Answering these questions puts you in a clearer state of mind when you begin dating. Remember, this is a fresh start, so this time around make sure that your happiness comes first and you’re really in the relationship that you want to be in.
Talk to your child… When you feel that you are ready to begin dating again, discuss those feelings with your child. Make it clear to them, if this conversation is applicable, that you are in no way trying to find a replacement father for them, but instead you are simply looking for new companionship or friendship for yourself. Create an open forum where they can ask questions and express concerns and address those questions and concerns the best that you can. By having this conversation before you begin dating, you can relieve your children’s apprehension about the situation and what to expect.
Go slow… When you begin dating again, do just that; date, don’t fall in love right away. Of course many will argue that the heart wants what the heart wants and I agree that is often the case. However, a heart that’s been broken or feels empty is notorious for confusing like for love. Do not allow your loneliness to trick you into another relationship that you’re not ready for. Date a few different people, make friends, have fun and go into every new date with no real expectations. If after a while you begin to zone in on one person in particular then by all means explore that; however, give it a few months to see if this new person is really “the one” or simply just “someone” who is there to fill your void.
Spit it out… Many mothers wonder when is a good time to tell a date that they have children. The answer to that question is simple; right away. Now, I do not mean that if a man approaches you and asks your name you should reply, “Hi I’m Sarah and I have four kids.” What I am saying is that once introductions turn into an actual date, lay it out there. It is inevitable that he will ask you to tell him more about yourself, and while it’s perfectly fine to lead in with what you do for a living or what your favorite hobbies are, never forget to mention your children. No matter how hot the guy is or how long it has been since you’ve had this type of attention, your children are a permanent fixture in your life and completely non-negotiable. It is better to know straight away if he’s against dating women with children than to waste several weeks with him, become attached and get dumped for having forgot to mention it sooner.
Save the introductions for later… Yes, you may be dating again, and hey maybe you’re lucky enough to be dating quite a bit but that doesn’t mean that your children have to meet a single one of them. Whether your newly found single lady life is due to divorce or less fortunate circumstances, parading an entourage of men in front of your children is never a good idea. Having them meet Joe Smith one month, the growing tired of Joe and bringing in John Doe the next month will only confuse your children. They are already experiencing a world of changes; both mentally and emotionally, so don’t make it any more difficult for them. Keep date nights to nights when you’re children are not around or are with a babysitter or grandparents. If after a certain period of time you feel that there is one person in particular that you would like to begin a relationship with, then slowly begin bringing that person around. Never force the relationship or insist that anyone get along right away, instead allow your children and this man to adapt to each other on their own terms.
Children come first, end of question… While there are always exceptions to this rule, generally speaking it’s a no brainer. If your new man is at any time cruel to your children, acts as if your children are a bother to him or even hints at an “It’s them or me” type of ultimatum, time to send that man on a one way tip to “Mama don’t play that” land. Yes, if you fall in love again you will have to make this man a priority and do things just for him, but your children, especially until they are much older, are just that; children. A real man will never question his spot on your list of priorities and quite frankly wouldn’t want it any other way. If he is complaining or making your life hell, time to cut the cord. Don’t hang on and waste your time or your children’s on a man who isn’t worthy.
So no matter what your dating strategy is, make sure you do it mindfully this time around. Get what you want out of your next relationship and make sure that your children are getting what they need. Companionship is a beautiful thing, but only when it’s right. Never sell yourself short because you’re lonely; you don’t need a man around to make your life better, but one who is worthy of the opportunity to be with you will eventually be a man that you want . Know the difference and for both yours and your children’s sake, choose carefully.