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Dating on Your Day Off… AKA: Single Parent Dating

Dating depends on the age and temperament of your child. Now the good thing news about sharing custody. The times that your child is with the other parent, you can date all you want. You can have someone sleep over. You can do whatever you want because you are single then. The times your child is with you, that’s the time you bond with your child, you’re a team then. You don’t really include anyone else. If you are maybe going to have a dinner date over with someone you really want to meet your child, you do it as a friend. Like a play date like your children do. You don”t do it as a lover. Its not good for the child to see their mother intimately with someone else.

Whats a good tip for dating another single parent?

I love dating another single parent. I think its really important. I think the best thing about dating another single parent is they know that your child is the most important thing, and if they don’t then you don’t want to date them. And that they know what the issues are. They know that the child comes first, they know that things come up and they understand the rules of dating as a single parent.

◄◄ REW ► PLAY ▌▌PAUSE █▌STOP ►► FF

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Finding Time for YOURSELF

 As a single parent, we learn the old ways of doing “life” no longer work; we have to modify our BUDGET as it relates to money, time and energy. Where before we shared responsibilities and duties, NOW we become mother, father, cook, taxi driver, bargain shopper and baby sitter. We sometimes don’t get to greet ourselves until our children are asleep, and even then we are too tired to notice who we are when we look in the mirror. So what do we do? 

How do we find time for ourselves – our relationship to US. You know the drill. The airlines use it…”Ladies and gentlemen, please place the mask over your mouth first and then on your children”. It’s the same old thing for us now. Until we take care of our needs, we’re no good to anyone else. If mommy and daddy aren’t happy….no one’s happy. 

So first we need to find the time for ourselves within our time management budget. Then, we need to know the shortcuts in our time allotment – for the essentials, for shopping for helping with homework, and for schlepping to sports events and piano recitals. I’m a big believer in the Buddy System – so anyone on our single parenting ship (be sure it’s not the Titanic) can be our buddy as far as a “baby sitting club” (taking turns so everyone has a life) and co-op shopping (buying large and splitting the tenders) and just plain emotional support. 

This helps us keep going and adds to our time management budget. It’s like having a life jacket  in the shark infested post-divorce murky waters. We need the support. And, we deserve it after what we have been through! So pat yourself on the back and know you are not alone. Sometimes being creative is all it takes. 

It becomes a formula of imaging the end result and then moving backward into the steps that get us there. It’s in the creative thinking and the addition of supportive groups (or a buddy system) that we find peace and a piece of our single parent sanity. Just knowing we are not alone and that others have walked this journey before us – leaving bread crumbs for us to follow makes us feel safe and secure in the knowing we can survive and prosper as a single parent!

The Teenager Challenge

Some of us remember very clearly what it was like to be a teenager; the hormones, the penetrating fears and desires, the need to be accepted by our peers and the growing pains. Add to the equation – being raised by a single parent and the divorce phenomenon and all that entails.

As single parents we are drawn to feeling our teenager’s pain and being ever aware of our lack of control and ability to share our wisdom without a gut-wrenching sigh or their famous eye-rolling techniques. We really have to draw from our memory of what it was like to be a hormone-sensitive teenager when we parent through these years. We no longer have a child to mold or a child to ‘boss around’.

We have our parent karma inherited from our parents…those words daunt us “may YOU have a child that treats YOU the way you treat me”. Those words have always created panic in us; it’s the curse that is passed down from parent child.

I love the idea of passing down my knowledge and state of being to my son, even though he isn’t quite wise enough yet to know it is his gift to the world. These teenage years are tough for parents – yet alone SINGLE parents. There is NO “wait till your father gets home” or “Your mother will deal with you about this”. All we have is the male and female within US…

What a hormonal challenge the life of a teenager is – and as parents — oh my god – give us strength. We’ve been there but the world is SO different now than it was when we were teens and there we are without a compass or a map! All I know to do is be there for our kids to make sure their wrong turns aren’t dangerous and that we don’t squash their creativity or dreams in the meantime.

We’re all teenagers at heart, some of us never grow out of it and others can’t wait to jump into adulthood and all the details therein. I believe it’s a time of growth, compassion, unconditional love and bonding if we can keep the lines of communication open so that our teenagers know they can come to us even in their dark night of the soul. And, it IS a lesson in patience, believe me!

Jaded After Divorce?

I over hear conversations in the nail salon, at happy hour and at the gym about how jaded some people get after a divorce. I gave it a lot of thought and queried my friends to hear what their feelings about it were. Are we really jaded after a break-up – and do we broadcast that without even knowing it? WOW. Have I become jaded? Untrusting? Nonchalant? Waiting for the other shoe to drop and therefore not moving forward?

I know from raising my son from Kindergarten through High School that most of the kids in his classes are from divorced homes. And I know that a lot of the men I have dated post-divorce should have come with warning labels, when they are newly divorced. It is so painful to hear about the ex or their attorney or the poor kids on a first date, although I understand how hard it is to move through the death of a marriage, or relationship. We all have wounds and memories; we are all children somewhere inside.

I always wondered if my own son will grow up with certain issues that actually stem from the loss of living with his mom and dad in a home together. Kids have a way of getting away with things when they move from one house to another. And we all know OUR parents ‘did the best they could with what they were given’…however, how many hours of therapy did THAT take to really get it.

There are no shortcuts, but there is a get real time we all have to go through, facing who we are and taking our own inventory. Am I kind? Am I honest? Am I carrying the pain of someone else’s lies with me? We certainly don’t want to be punished for someone else’s mistakes and neither do we want to project onto a new date or partner what happened to us in the past. Therefore, it is important to make sure we have gone through a healing, however we do it (with friends, a trusted counsellor, anyone you feel safe with). It is important not just for us and our future, but also for our children’s future relationships. Remember, we are role models. Gulp…..YES, our children’s eyes are upon us!

Joint Custody (IE: Sharing the Children)

The hardest thing about divorce can boil down to sharing your child with the ex. It can feel like a part of you is missing an arm, a leg — a piece (peace) of your heart. It’s a challenge for your child as well, and all we can do is love our child and ourselves enough to move through the feelings of loss and create a new way of being. It’s called “independence” from our old way of being, a restructuring and redesigning of the framework we held dear in marriage (if that’s where we came from).

What we can do, as single parents sharing custody, is be the best we can be while we have our children with us, and be the best we can be for ourselves when we’re sans children. In other words, learn to take care of our own selves once again. How do we do this? Are the methods stored somewhere in our cells? Can we actually learn to be women and men outside of our mother and father roles? Yes, I know we can and once we get the hang of it — we can start enjoying it too! And, so can our children. Children don’t want to feel guilty or sad when they leave us to go to the other parent’s house (that sad look on our faces doesn’t help their separation process either).

So, as we get used to and acquainted with, the new lifestyle we have, our children will also adapt and adopt new ways of living with the two parents they have. For those single parents who say goodbye to their children every other weekend, this may be less traumatic — but still an issue in letting go and an opportunity to create a life for oneself (whether it means a time to date, take up a hobby, travel, or read a good book).

Being a single parent is defined as being a multi-tasking responsible parent in today’s world and being a single adult in this new millennium, neither of which are no small feat. Don’t forget to get all the emotional support you can get by joining groups, networking with other parents, learning who is a single parent in your neighborhood or school district.

Remember, you were single before, try and tap into that memory (ouch) and recall where the solace was. Did you write, did you go out with other friends in your situation, did you exercise more, did you join a dating service? It’s important to treat yourself like you would your child when she is in need, take good care of YOU when you have the free time to do it. Your child will thank you for it when she sees how much happier you are.

Carrying Pain from Divorce?

I over hear conversations in the nail salon, at happy hour and at the gym about how jaded some people get after a divorce. I gave it a lot of thought and queried my friends to hear what their feelings about it were. Are we really jaded after a break-up – and do we broadcast that without even knowing it? WOW. Have I become jaded?  Untrusting? Nonchalant? Waiting for the other shoe to drop and therefore not moving forward?

I know from raising my son from Kindergarten through High School that most of the kids in his classes are from divorced homes. And I know that a lot of the men I have dated post-divorce should have come with warning labels, when they are newly divorced. It is so painful to hear about the ex or their attorney or the poor kids on a first date, although I understand how hard it is to move through the death of a marriage, or relationship. We all have wounds and memories; we are all children somewhere inside.

I always wondered if my own son will grow up with certain issues that actually stem from the loss of living with his mom and dad in a home together. Kids have a way of getting away with things when they move from one house to another. And we all know OUR parents ‘did the best they could with what they were given’…however, how many hours of therapy did THAT take to really get it.

There are no shortcuts, but there is a get real time we all have to go through, facing who we are and taking our own inventory. Am I kind? Am I honest? Am I carrying the pain of someone else’s lies with me? We certainly don’t want to be punished for someone else’s mistakes and neither do we want to project onto a new date or partner what happened to us in the past. Therefore, it is important to make sure we have gone through a healing, however we do it (with friends, a trusted counsellor, anyone you feel safe with).  It is important not just for us and our future, but also for our children’s future relationships.

Remember, we are role models. Gulp…..YES, our children’s eyes are upon us!