If your last date was to a Guns N’ Roses concert, you might be interested to know that the rules have changed a little. Your marriage ended, and you got wonderful kids out of the deal, but now you’re itching to jump back into the dating for single moms pool.
According to a recent study, the United States “has the world’s highest rate of children living in single-parent households, specifically those run by single moms.” According to the study, “Almost a quarter of U.S. children under the age of 18 live with one parent and no other adults (23%), more than three times the share of children around the world who do so (7%).”
In other words, if you are a single mom looking to date, chances are you will meet someone who is a single parent, too. So, to make the world of dating for single moms more accessible, here’s a guide to help all the single moms out there. The good news is that it’s easier than you think.
Don’t Force Yourself
If you’re only considering dating because your friends tell you it’s time, don’t bother. Only date when you feel ready. Remember, it’s been years since you’ve thought about dating and all that comes with it, including the possibility of rejection.
So, before you post your profile pic, or say yes to a lunch date, give it some time and wait until you can handle possible rejection, ghosting, and other bad behavior that goes along with the territory.
In addition, consider joining online communities for single mothers. You can talk to other women about their ups and downs in the dating for single moms world. But, again, preparing yourself for what you’re about to step into is the key.
Ignore the Guilt
Your kids will always be your priority, but you shouldn’t feel bad about wanting to have a personal life. It’s actually a good thing for kids to see mom happy in a new relationship. According to parenting author Lara Lillibridge, kids need to witness a healthy relationship role model, especially if the relationship with dad wasn’t good.
Guilt also comes in when moms see their kids staying home because they worry about mom being lonely. Parents feel like they’ve already ruined their kid’s family life, so they don’t want to ruin their child’s social life, too. If needed, have a conversation with your child. The children mustn’t feel responsible for the mom’s social life (or lack thereof.)
Consider Your Children’s Wishes
You may be bored or lonely, but now that you have children, dating is no longer all about you. Instead, you have them to consider. So, while you have to make sure you’re in a peaceful place about it, you also need to make sure your children are, too. But how do you do that?
First, before even discussing it and possibly upsetting them, watch their actions. Do your kids still talk about you and their dad getting back together? Do they show signs of missing their dad? If so, hold off. Allow some time to pass before approaching them about the possibility of dating. Just like you, they need time to get used to the new family dynamics, and introducing another person is not the right move.
Tips on Helping Your Children through Your Divorce
Divorce isn’t just tough on mom and dad; it’s also difficult for the children. They have to accept a new family dynamic and sometimes feel helpless. Divorce also has psychological consequences. But fortunately, it is possible to help reduce the impact it has on kids.
- Stay involved in their life – Divorce shakes up the family, and you can’t control that. However, you want to limit the effects it has on the children by keeping a routine as much as you can. Make time for your child so they understand your separation has nothing to do with them.
Both parents should continue being a part of their lives. Carve out time in your schedule to do fun activities or spend quality one-on-one time together.
- Be supportive when the child spends time with the other parent – Encourage your children to spend time with the other parent and the new family (if the other parent is remarried or has begun a new relationship). Any animosity you have toward the ex should never be noticeable to your kids. Children still want to see their mom and dad happy even if they aren’t together.
- Don’t speak negatively about your ex in front of the children – You may be angry at your ex, but when you say derogatory things about the other parent in front of the child, it forces them to feel like they should agree with you to keep the peace in the household.
Additionally, never ask for your child’s opinion on a situation between you and your ex. It places them in the middle of your disagreement.
- Work at co-parenting – Co-parenting can be challenging. Sometimes you fight, especially about the children. Unfortunately, the child tends to blame themself, thinking they’ve done something wrong. Try to keep your child out of arguments by discussing issues when they aren’t present. Never relay information through the child. Instead, discuss things with your ex directly.
- Encourage open communication – You don’t have to go into details, but honesty works best when explaining why you’re getting a divorce. Children deserve the truth, even if it hurts. If possible, tell the child together. Explain the impending changes to your lives, like school pickups, living arrangements, after-school activities, etc.
- Listen to your child – It is vital that you listen to your child and let them express their feelings. Encourage open and honest communication so they can acknowledge negative emotions. You want them to discuss them with you so you can help. Ensure they understand the divorce is not their fault. In most cases, they’ll express resentment, anger, anxiety, or depression. That’s OK. These feelings will gradually fade over time. If they don’t, consider family therapy.
- Therapy – Divorce is a big change, so your child may express negative emotions. These feelings are normal and should eventually subside. However, if they continue for an extended time, or you see your child is overwhelmed, consider professional help. A therapist can reassure your family and establish a framework for future healing.
- Reassure your children – Kids want to know everything will be OK. Change is difficult, so reassure them by telling them that even though there will be some schedule changes to their daily routine, it will be easily adaptable.
- Self-care – You’ve gone through (or have recently been through) a divorce. So, take time for yourself and make sure you are well physically, mentally, and spiritually. Do things like: eating healthy, visiting friends more, exercising, meditation, journaling, and joining a support group.
When the children see you are not falling apart and doing well, they can relax more. Additionally, your child will follow suit with the mentality of “If my parents are OK, then everything else will be OK.”
Get Ready for the Judgment
Are you ready? Because mom-shaming is about to be a part of your world. People will pass judgment on you that you don’t deserve. They’ll make rude comments about your marital and parental failures. They can even offer unsolicited advice on how to move forward, some well-intending, others not so much.
This isn’t only outsiders. The comments and judgment come from family and friends who have opinions about how appropriate or inappropriate it is for you to date. And when you bring around someone new, prepare them because they will receive the backlash, too. The best advice is, don’t take it personally.
Instead of saying this phrase, take a step back and tell your partner level-headedly what specific behavior they did and why it bothered you. This doesn’t shift the blame and can lead to a growing experience.
When the Time Is Right, Be Honest about Your Dating
You have kids, so you know that they are curious little creatures. Depending on age, being secretive only brings forth additional questions. There is no reason to hide that you’re dating again. It’s much easier to be upfront than to lie and risk getting caught, especially with older kids.
However, you don’t need to tell your kids about every guy who takes you on a casual date. However, if you begin seeing someone special, take the opportunity to discuss that special someone with your kids. Tell them what you enjoy about him and why he encompasses those qualities.
Older kids need to know that their mom is being safe while enjoying herself with someone new. But every circumstance is different. You know how your kids are and how they’ll react to you dating, so if you feel it’s better to say you’re going bowling, then, by all means, do so. After all, mom knows best.
Inform Possible Dates You Have Kids Early On
When it comes to dating for single moms, you can form your own opinions and make judgments on what’s best for your family. However, the one thing you must do is disclose that you are a parent at your earliest opportunity.
If you’re using online dating, mention it in your profile. Or, tell them on your first date, if you haven’t already.
Don’t worry about pushing away a potential love interest when you disclose the fact that you’re a mom. Honesty weeds out all those not interested in having children, and it’s better to find out sooner than on the fifth or sixth date. Of course, it can also be a topic of discussion if your date has children, too.
While your dating pool may be smaller, you won’t be wasting time and will be able to find quality men who share the same interests as you.
Screen Possible Partners Thoroughly
Talking about your kids and showing them off are two separate things. While your kids should be on your radar, wait to share photos and details until your date has earned your trust. It may be the eighth date or the eighty-eighth date. Until you feel comfortable, do not disclose information other than the fact that you have children.
Screening possible partners is one of the biggest responsibilities of a single mom. Always exercise due diligence by checking their background and personality thoroughly. You never want to put yourself or your children at risk, no matter how good you feel about your date.
Keep an Open Mind
It’s been a while, but you remember how “entertaining” dating was. Well, times that by ten. The current dating for single moms world requires a good sense of humor and resilience. Things won’t always go smoothly.
You may meet someone you have a lot in common with, but he may not have that spark. Don’t be discouraged. Instead, give it a few dates before you make a final assumption.
People dating today tend to be more guarded with their feelings, so if the spark still hasn’t been ignited after a few dates, he may be better as only a friend. And there’s nothing wrong with adding another friend to your circle.
Don’t Expect Too Much
You should enjoy this new chapter as often as you can. Laugh with your friends at those wild times. The one thing that hasn’t changed about dating is that you win some; you lose some. So take it all in stride and move on to the next one.
The best thing to do is to keep dating. But remember, have fun with it. You don’t want to date like you’re in a job interview and shoot out question after question. Instead, take the time to get to know them, and remember, keep an open mind.
The Wrap Up
As a single mom, dating again isn’t as daunting as you think. Of course, it’s been some time since you’ve been “out there” meeting men. Plus, now you have children to consider. So take a deep breath and relax. When you go into it calmly, you’ll see just how exciting it can be. Have fun and good luck!