Posted by: Ed Young
Topic: Dating when you’re a parent – what is the one key move to make…and the one to avoid?
Dating is such an adventure if you’re single and alone (no kids).There are so many things that you have to consider and roadblocks and road signs to look for.Throw a few kids into the mix and the considerations just multiply exponentially. If you’re a parent, you’re not the only one hooking up in the relationship. You’re also signing up the children and taking them into new territory. A conscientious parent dates wisely for him or herself and for the sake of the kids. Just imagine the dating roller coaster that anyone experiences. You wonder about the connection and if he likes you or she likes you. That is the easy part when you’re a dating parent. Dating as a parent means you have to look beyond the relationship that you have and see what it means for your children.
All too often I’ve seen parents date with total disregard to how it involves their children. My advice to them is to think past themselves and their feelings and think about the impact of this relationship on the family. You may be saying, “Wait a minute, this is casual and we just aren’t that serious.” Well, hold on. Many times what is casual or insignificant to you, the parent, is a big deal to the child. I would advise you to take seriously any potential dates because they could be potential mates! Consider a few things for me….well, not for me, but rather for you and your kids. Before you hook up with someone, think about the qualities in an individual that you want to influence your children. Does the person you’re dating respect you? And does he or she look past the “chemistry” piece to the commitment piece? Whoever you’re with is ultimately with your kids even if they haven’t had a personal introduction. You may just be seeing them casually but they are infiltrating your life and ultimately influencing you in some way. This has an affect on the kids vicariously through you. Just be cautious because there is a lot at stake with the children’s feelings.
And, speaking of their feelings, be careful how quickly you bring someone home for that personal introduction. Children, especially younger children, don’t know how to process a new person that holds this relational position. They’re just not sure where the date fits in and what role they will play in the family dynamic. A lot of times, the hopes of the kids rise at the possibility of having a father or mother figure coming into the picture. In contrast, there is the other end of the spectrum where the child becomes angry because this substitute is here to take the place of their real mom or dad. Any way you look at it there are some serious feelings and emotions to balance. Live your life and pursue those dating relationships as the opportunities arise, but don’t forget that it's a family affair.