In the months after I became a sudden widow and single mom, I was surprised how quickly my kids brought up the subject of dating. Two encouraged it, four were silent about it and one was downright angry over even talking about it.
Dating when you’re a single mom is complicated for multiple reasons and foremost is the impact it has on our children. Some experts even advise not to start dating again until children are 18 years or older. But what if you want to start dating again before then? Let’s look at 4 questions surrounding dating as a single mom.
1. Do you need your child’s permission to date?
No, a parent doesn’t need her child’s permission to date. But what is permissible is not always beneficial. If a child is sullen, angry or withdrawn about dating, address why and work through those emotions with him. That child is likely still grieving and hurt, which needs focus and processing before anyone new is brought home to the family.
2. Do you have the margin?
Though dating may seem like the answer to all sorrows and losses, our primary role is a parent. Sometimes, we’re our child’s only parent. Time, energy and attention are scarce for a single mom juggling home, work, finances and more. Beginning to date will further divide already limited time and attention, and may take a single-parent away from her children in formative years that neither can get back.
3. Is it safe?
Dating as a single mom opens the possibility of other adults coming into our home and interacting with children. We must make absolutely certain our children are always safe physically, emotionally and spiritually. Moving too fast can obscure problems like a pattern of behavior, money issues or family drama.
4. How do you introduce dating to children?
Introduce someone new slowly and carefully. A child will begin to form a relationship with a parent’s boyfriend or girlfriend. They make memories, share life and imagine a future. When a child has suffered loss from death or divorce, the last thing we want to do is see him wounded all over again through the parent’s dating relationships.
How have your children responded to conversations about dating again?