“Haven’t you dated?” “Why haven’t you remarried?”
My friends and family often ask these questions while they generously share all the reasons they think I’m a marketable single woman. Of course, while that sounds nice, I have absolutely no interest in finding a husband or live-in partner — at least not while my kids are under my roof.
That’s not a bad thing for me. This is a choice I made years ago because I introduced my kids to the wrong men at the worst possible times. I was newly divorced and freshly sober, and my poor kids had so much going on on their young plates.
Bringing a man into our fragile family unit who they called a “stranger” put a huge strain on my relationship with my children and my relationship with this man.
When the relationship failed, hindsight made it clear to me that I had made a conscious decision. My children will be first until the day they escape the nest. There is no room for men in my life. We are healing. I am learning to love myself. Dating is put on indefinite hold, and when it resumes, it will be part of my world, not my child’s. In other words, I will go from no date to private date.
Now, 10 years later, yes I have dates and no I haven’t told my kids. They never met their significant other again, nor did they learn any details of my dating life.
As it turns out, I’m not the only one who chooses this way. Jen-D., a mom of four from Texas, had a similar experience when she introduced the wrong man to her children three years after her divorce. According to Jen, it was after that experience that she started dating privately.
“[I] decided not to introduce my kids [to significant others], or even tell them I was on a date or going out,” she said.
While she’s not looking for a serious relationship, Jen occasionally goes on dates, and when she does, her “kids, her friends and [even] her family don’t know.” The upside — “it’s nice to have a meal and a cocktail once in a while and have a good laugh” — but she doesn’t want, need or want anything more serious. “I’m happy on my own,” she said. “I can’t even imagine a man coming into my space.”
Jen and I may be in the minority when it comes to single parenting and dating, but I always felt my way was right for me—until it stopped feeling quite right. At some point recently, my feelings about dating became mixed. I turned to licensed psychologist Glenda Lux for advice, which I found clear.
Lacks tells new single parents to take their time: “Give your kids their place and their sense of security within this new, changed family system and schedule,” she says. “Introducing a new love interest too early can be another source of instability for kids after separation,” she says, “which is something you want to avoid.”
Then, once you’re back outside in the dating world, vet anyone your kids meet and make sure the relationship has a future. Interestingly, Lacks also advises parents to be careful about keeping the secrets of our romantic lives. “At what point, while everyone is healing and adjusting, does the decision to protect your child shift to avoiding something unpleasant?” she noted.
I always thought I put my kids first, but Lax challenged that belief. “If parents value openness and transparency, they’re likely to inform their kids that they’re dating (preferably after everyone reasonably adjusts),” she says. She stated that my approach to private dating was based on the assumption that “putting the kids first included not telling them that [I was] dating”.
However, Lax stresses the importance of honesty between parents and children. She also reminds us that kids are smart; they can pick out lies, which can be a huge threat to relationships. “When [information is withheld], maybe there’s some degree of unintentional anger. It can erode trust in the parent-child relationship. Children can handle more than their parents judge them by,” Lacks said. .”
These treasures of wisdom tug at my heartstrings. I do value honesty! I preach this. I often tell my kids that honesty is always optional. However, I had lied to them to cover up my dating life and it didn’t feel right at all. So what now? Dating and lying? Date and keep it honest? Or if I can’t date in an honest way, I don’t date at all. For me, being a dating parent is complicated and uncomfortable, no matter what.
Jen-Dee, on the other hand, seems to know better than I do. “I’m just happier,” she said. “I’m not alone, [nor] seeing other people with their significant other and feeling jealous.”
If I were truly transparent, I’d say I want the best of both worlds — the solitude of being a mother, but the coupling in my down time. And I’m not going to lie about that. Lax once again offered some words of wisdom. “Dating after separation is not a crime,” she said. She said: “It’s normal and natural to want to be in a loving relationship, and it’s okay not to put your child’s needs second. Parents can date during their ‘off-get off work’ time. That doesn’t mean they need to keep dating.” secret”.