Dating can be difficult! Especially if you are a single mom. How do you talk with your kids about your decision to date? You may be wondering if you should disclose this information at all. How much information should you disclose to your kids? Below are a few helpful guidelines to talking to your kids about when you decide to date as a single mom, as well as, warning signs your date may not be ready to date someone with children.
Honesty…at their developmental level. You want to make sure you are honest with your children.If your children ask if you are going on a date, it is best to be honest and tell them you are. They will ask questions, and it is your job to identify which questions are appropriate to answer according to your child’s developmental level. For example, a 10 year old will understand what it means to date, where as your four year old may not. Also, give yourself permission to not answer a question if it would not be helpful for your child to know or tell your child you do not know the answer to a question.
Wait to Introduce. When you start a new relationship, you are most likely excited and want to introduce your new significant other to everyone you care about. You do not want to introduce your children to every single man you date. This is confusing and difficult for children. You want to introduce your children to men who you would be considered in a serious relationship with and feel it is safe for your children to form an attachment to him. If you do not think the relationship will last, your children may feel abandonment if they get attached to this man. While you cannot always control what happens in a relationship, it is best to have a conversation with your children about meeting your significant other and how you hope the relationship will be long lasting, but there is always a chance it may not be. Now remember this may be more of a conversation you have with your 10 year old, not necessarily your four year old.
Listen and Understand. When your kids get to an age when they start understanding dating or if you have introduced them to a significant other, they will most likely have many thoughts and feelings about what is going on. If your kids are teenagers, they may have some negative opinions to tell you. It is very important for you as a parent to be open to talking with them about their thoughts and feels about having a new adult in their life. While it will not always be easy for you to listen, it is important you encourage them to talk with you and you listen without judgment. If your kid has been hurt is someway, then, maybe you do have to take action, but in most cases they want to feel heard and understood. It is also important to remember you are the adult. You may have to make some tough decisions your kids do not like, but it is best for them. On the other hand, there may be an instance where you have to make a tough decision based on what your kids have told you, and you need to make sure this is the best decision for you and your kids.
By warning signs, I am referring to signs that may indicate your significant other is not ready to be in a serious relationship with someone who has kids. I am sure many of you have experienced orknew a friend who dated a man who said all the right things, but in the end, he was not ready to be in a relationship where children were involved.
What are some warning signs?
Immaturity. Sometimes this is easy to identify, but other times it is not. Immature men may make unwise choices with their money. For example, if he has difficulty paying his bills, but spends money on meaningless items. Another example may be he cannot take criticism. Instead of trying to change an issue he ignores the issue.
Not taking responsibility. This may take the form of not accepting his own faults and blaming others for his mistakes. It can also be a form of immaturity like discussed previously with not paying his bills or expecting others do for him that which he can do for himself.
Says one thing, but does another. Specifically, he states he loves kids and would like to meet them, but when the time comes, he avoids meeting your kids. Also, maybe he makes many empty promises that he never keeps.
Avoids the topic of kids and the future. While there is nothing wrong with wanting to live in the moment or not being the type of person to worry about the future, successful adults plan for the future in some way. It is important that a man you get into a serious relationship with has plans for the future and that future would include you and your kids. If the man’s future plans are unrealistic or something that you could not see yourself being a part of, then maybe he is not the right man for you.
How does he treat members of his own family? Does he treat his own family well? If he has kids, does he see them? Do they have a good relationship? Does he have good boundaries with his ex? Is he respectful of his parents? Does he live with his parents or depend on them? These are all questions to think about and can give you insight into how he lives and what his priorities are.
Since you are a single mom, your children are in the picture when you are dating. Remember to give them information at their developmental level. Give yourself permission to say “I don’t know” to a question or let your child know they are not old enough to know certain information. Most importantly be honest with your kids and listen to their feelings about your relationship!