As a single parent, have you ever wondered what your kids would say about the way you date?
When asked what she wishes her mom would do differently, Rachel, a young graduate student, replied, “I wish she would recognize her own impulsivity and emotional rollercoaster. She does and says things without recognizing that to some extent our whole family is dating this guy.”
Dating with two people is difficult; dating in a crowd is downright complicated. Single parents need to consider tricky questions. For example, when and how do you include your children in the process? How much should they influence your decisions about dating? Or, if you’re dating a single parent (with or without kids of your own), what should you be looking for?
Dating Myths for Single Parents
Wise dating begins by avoiding these three myths:
1. “If I’m happy, my kids will be happy.” Single parents sometimes tell themselves that their happiness is at the center of their children’s happiness, and therefore, “If I fall in love, my kids will be happy as well.” In truth, there’s no guarantee that finding romantic love will improve the lives of your children. In fact, your happiness can actually bring great unhappiness to your children. To remain balanced in dating, give equal consideration to your needs and those of your children.
2. Your kids can’t be successful unless you are married.This myth claims that children raised in a single-parent home have deficits that will be eradicated if they are, instead, raised in a two-parent stepfamily home. Actually, research suggests the outcomes for kids are no different. Children can fare just as well when raised in a single-parent home as they can in a stepfamily. Therefore, when it comes to the well-being of your children, single parents should feel permission to stay single if they so choose. If you meet someone who is a good fit for your children, great. If you don’t, great.
3. Marriage repairs your home and gives children a family. Divorce or the death of a parent fractures a family, and understandably, single parents want to restore their family to a state of wholeness. But in truth, this isn’t possible. A decision to marry and form a blended family does not return a missing parent to the home. Instead, remarriage provides children with a stepparent and creates a parenting team that is very different from the biological family system into which they were born. This is not to say that stepfamilies cannot be loving, healthy homes—they can! But to date and marry with the expectation that “all will be restored” is to set yourself, your spouse, and your children up for great disappointment.