Everything from divorce and death to dysfunction and domestic abuse brings people of all ages and all walks of life back into the dating world; a typically uncomfortable place for those who had no intentions of returning. Many are also adjusting to a life of solo parenting. Their kids are, by proxy, introduced to the dating scene too, and their discomfort level likely tops that of the parent.
With this growing occurrence of single, divorced and widowed parents in the dating scene, there’s a growing concern about prioritizing children’s needs while balancing personal ones.
Solo parents have a lot on their proverbial plate. Taking care of children can be challenging enough for two adults, but when only one has the responsibilities and roles of mom and dad, it can certainly be overwhelming.
Still, with all there is to consider, it’s important for single parents to remember that children are being molded by their circumstances. And, for the record, it’s not the single-parent situation that poses any threat. Just like divorce or death, it’s how the situation is handled by the parent that determines whether or not a child will flourish.
Of course, how solo parents handle the balancing act involved in entering the dating scene is certainly a determining factor.
Think Before You Date
Though there is certainly a need to move forward with your personal life, it is vital to think about your child’s needs, feelings and experience before diving head first into the deep end of the dating pool. Children don’t always have the developmental skills necessary to communicate their needs or feelings effectively. It is your job as the parent to know what they need and ask how they feel.
Learn ways to compassionately and openly communicate with your child. Creating an emotionally, physically and spiritually safe place for communication is key to gaining their trust so they can open up. This also lays the groundwork for open lines of communication necessary to prevent any dating situations that might otherwise be disastrous for and detrimental to them.
Kids need more than physical safety, food, shelter and clothing. Those are merely basic survival needs. Educating yourself via online resources or parenting and child development books is one way to be sure you are considering your child’s holistic needs while honoring your own.
Exercise Extreme Caution
In the dating world, there is a very real threat of predatory circumstances and abuse that all too often occurs in solo parent situations.
Single, divorced and widowed parents can sometimes be vulnerable to these predators simply because they may be struggling with their own emotional, spiritual and personal growth issues. In these instances, solo parents can become too trusting too quickly as a result of their need to ease their own grief or feelings of loneliness. Don’t introduce children too hastily without first considering the potential for harm.
Even without the worst-case scenario of inadvertently inviting a sexual predator or abuser into your child’s life, children can certainly become emotionally attached to any individual, especially if they are also seeking to fill a void. If you are not yet certain about a commitment, this can lead to a revolving-door situation which will ultimately leave the child confused and struggling with varying degrees of compounded grief.
Be patient with the dating process, maintain healthy boundaries and respect the privacy of and duty to protect your child.
It’s Not All About You
Remember, as a parent, your first priority is your child. As you likely know, it’s not all about you anymore. So, when it comes to entering the dating scene, keep that in mind. Your child’s needs, safety and overall experience must be considered, first and foremost.
Gently remind yourself that what is typically best for your child is also best for you. The dating process and potential life partners are no exception. As such, your decisions with regard to who and how you date, as well as the speed at which you involve your child directly, will have a lasting impact on everyone. In that way, honoring your child’s needs, feelings and experience will also honor that of your inner child, creating a positive lifelong lesson for the kids and a life-changing experience for you.
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