During my older son’s pregnancy and when he was a baby, I was a single mama. I lived with another single mama and the two of us formed a sort of network with other single mamas. In our circle, we had variations in the father’s relationship with the child. In my case and that of my roomie, the biological father was not present at all. For friends, they had open shared custody agreements and did the best for their children to co-parent without drama.
And though our children did and do come first, inevitably the dating issue arises. I mean, we’re parents, but we still have a pulse!
How do you manage dating when you have a child or children, while keeping their best interests in mind?
With all of these tips, I implore you to simply use your best judgment, the same way you do with all of your parenting choices. These were some of my own and my friends’ rules:
- Find a network. If you make friends with other single parents, you’ll have people that will be willing to “trade” babysitting so that you all have free time for date or a much-needed “Girls’ (or Boys’) Night Out”.
- Keep the home a safe place. The home should be a sanctuary for your child, so don’t bring unfamiliar guests into this haven. If there is someone new who matters to you, he or she will certainly be open to meeting you child for the first time in public—if they’re “a keeper”.
- Coffee dates. Here in Charlottesville, Virginia, we have an awesome kid-friendly coffee shop. Chances are, you may be able to find one near you. If not, grab a cuppa and head to the nearest park. Funny story? On a first-date-out-for-coffee, the guy and I strolled the nearby outdoor mall. He ran into an acquaintance from a few years back. The guy asked, “Is this your kid?” He answered that it was. The date ended not too long after! Moral: Public places are a great place to get to know–and ditch–a prospective beau!
- No slumber parties. I know we all have urges, but while you must trust someone before hitting the sheets with them, you really must trust them to sleep over with your beloved child in the house. If you can’t wait, make the sleepover at the new man’s place (babysitter permitting) until it’s okay to show someone regularly in your child’s house.
- Parents only? Dating other single parents may be a good option for you. He or she will be more flexible and understanding when it comes to your children. But remember, children may get attached to one another, so perhaps follow the earlier rules and keep it at “play dates” for a while.
One single mom I knew once faced an ultimatum from her boyfriend, who had been living was bachelor’s life before they met. He asked her to choose, ‘Him or me?’ regarding her young son. You can imagine who was sent packing!
How did I find my man? He was a single daddy. *wink*
Image: bahoolala on Flickr under a Creative Commons License.