RULE #1: Wait, wait, and wait some more before introducing a mate.
- Your child does not need to meet every guy that takes you to dinner. Studies have shown the revolving door negatively impacts a child’s perception of relationships and commitment. Children are wired to desire nuclear families, so seeing Mom with another man is an adjustment within itself. Sure, he’s dating you and your child but there is no need to open the door for emotional bonds unless it’s something you all plan to make official.
RULE #2: Don’t sacrifice special moments with your child to see a man/woman.
- At times a shot from cupid can tempt you to start putting Mommy’s romantic needs first. Though it can get lonely raising a child on your own, be careful not to push your child aside to fill that void. School plays, baseball practices, dance recitals and all other activities still come first. The amount of involvement you have in your child’s life should remain the same. They should never feel like you’re investing in a new relationship more than them.
RULE #3: No Sleep-overs.
- Kids aren’t stupid. They have an idea of what’s up when a guy spends the night in your room. Frankly, it’s nothing they should ever have to see or ponder. You can’t be surprised if your 10 year-old daughter wants her boyfriend (that she’s already too young to have) to spend the night because you do it. Until, he’s your husband he needs to sleep in his own bed in his own house.
RULE #4: Meet at neutral locations (or just not your house).
- To be on the safe side, don’t allow men to pick you up from your home. You never know who is or isn’t crazy, and you don’t want to put your child in danger. Predators are notorious for targeting single mothers who they believe are more vulnerable. This is a precaution that should be taken until you’ve had the time to conduct a background check and really get to know him.
RULE #5: Leave and return home at reasonable hours.
- Leaving the house after 8:00PM and coming home after midnight is unacceptable. Dating hours should be kept within a certain time frame to set a good example. As your children watch you date they learn how the process works and you want to be sure to set a good example. Leaving and returning at “proper” times prevents the implication of wrongdoing. Date the way you want your children to date.
RULE #6: Don’t share intimate details of the relationship.
- Keep the PDA to a church hug and don’t discuss the lovey-dovey details of your relationship with your kids. Occasionally parents cross the parent-friend line and share things with their children about personal relationships that they shouldn’t. Remember your child is just that your child; and, it’s better to keep things bottled up inside than confide in your baby.
RULE #7: Discuss the difference in the love you have for your child versus the love for your boyfriend.
- When things get serious, sit down and talk to your child so they understand your feelings and their unwavering importance to you. It’s not uncommon for children to feel threatened by boyfriends, fiancés and new husbands. In an age-appropriate way explain how Mommy has enough love for everyone.
RULE #8: Have a purpose.
- Casual dating isn’t for the single parent. There are just too many places to put your efforts other than toward entertaining random men. Don’t waste your time with men only looking for a good time. And, if you’re not ready for something serious, lay low. There’s no need to take time away from your child to play around.