I admire and respect single parents. They overcome many hardships and challenges, which they face with grace, all the while caring for their children and creating a safe, happy family.
But, you know, single parents are human. They have human emotions and human needs. They need love and affection not only from their children but from other adults who are not also relatives. Like most of us, they need a companion for their life journey.
Some people tell me it’s not right or appropriate for single parents to go on dates. They say that the time for dating in single parent’s life has passed – that the family and children are everything. They tell me that single parents who date are promiscuous or irresponsible.
I strongly disagree. I think single parents have as much right to a social life as anyone. After all, they are single, aren’t they?
Everyone needs love, and most of us want a partner in life. To let society’s whims force us to be lonely is wrong. Single people have a right to be happy and to find someone who will want to help them and support their children.
When you’re the only adult in a household, raising a family is hard. Kids really need two parents when they’re growing up to get a healthy balance of role models and realistic ideas about gender issues. A single parent can’t give that to their children.
And children always grow up and move away. They have families and lives of their own. If a single parent shouldn’t date, you’re saying they are doomed to grow old alone. That just doesn’t seem right.
Some people seem to think that single parents must meet different standards than the rest of us. They may think single parents are immoral people just because they have children and aren’t married. Single moms get criticized for getting pregnant too early or getting pregnant without a husband. Single dads may be accused of being irresponsible or of being more likely to cheat in a relationship. What are people thinking?
The truth is that almost all single parents are hard-working responsible people who care about their families and love their children deeply. They work hard to make a good living for their family and to balance work with school functions with no one to share the burden. It just makes me mad when I hear people judging others for what they assume to be personal mistakes. It just isn’t so.
But single parents may be the best potential mates a person could find. They are mature and responsible. They are obviously committed to their families and children, or they wouldn’t be struggling with the single-parent lifestyle now. It’s the best thing in the world when a single parent dates and finds a partner to build a new life and a strong, normal family.
Finding a partner isn’t easy for single parents. First, they are carrying some baggage from their previous relationship. Whether it ended in death or divorce, there are feelings and habits to break. Second, they have children, which can be a real problem for some singles who don’t have children.
When you’re dating a single parent, you have to accept that they have another set of important priorities in their daily life. You may be tempted to try to compete with them. But that would be a mistake, because you’d always lose. The best thing to do is to accept them for who they are and what their life is like today.
You need to recognize that they love their children very much, and you need to respect that. After you meet the children and get to know them, you will most likely love them too. After all, when you’re in a serious relationship with a single parent, you’re really in a relationship with a family. The kids come with the package.
You may have to deal with some single-parent-specific issues if you want a serious long-term relationship with them. They may have been hurt badly in the past, and they could have some trust issues. You’ll have to show them over time that you can be trusted.
My guess is that you’ll have to demonstrate your maturity, responsibility, and loving nature before a real relationship can get off the ground. And once you gain their trust, you’ll have to earn the trust of their children. That could be even more difficult, since the kids may thing you’re trying to replace the missing parent in their hearts.
The kids will be protective and possessive of their single parent. You might as well be prepared for that. They may suspect that you have evil intentions. Or if the previous relationship was marked with a lot of fighting or violence, they may fear a repeat of those very uncomfortable times.
By being a friend without being pushy, you may be able to begin a relationship with the children. You’ll have to be tolerant of and patient with their moods and suspicion. You’ll have to be loving at the same time you acknowledge they already have (or had) another parent. You’ll have to take it slow with the kids, one step at a time, to build a relationship that will someday be a strong foundation for the happy, healthy family you hope to have with their single parent.