A single mom who wants to date will often have to juggle priorities and the needs of many people in her life. But it’s fair for her to have time to herself where she can meet new people and have fun without the kids involved. Every individual family operates differently, so moms have different boundaries when it comes to dating. Whatever your boundaries are, it’s best to be clear and up front with both the kids and the people or person you’re seeing.
Whether a single mom is dating or not, she should have personal time to herself. This can be spent with friends, recharging alone or out on dates. Designate your personal time and make it clear to the kids that this is time to yourself, and is therefore private. Moms who share custody of the children might choose weekends when they are out of the house, or designate every other Saturday for dating and set the kids up with a babysitter or family member to take good care of them. Any worthy partner will understand that you need to balance time between him and the kids.
Setting an Example
Remember that whatever you do in your dating life sets an example for the kids later. Focus on developing healthy relationships to set a positive example of two adults who respect and care for each other. Set boundaries with your kids so that they don't know everything about your relationship. When they are involved in your dating life, they should see healthy examples of romance and dating. If the person you are dating does not respect you, consider how that crosses a boundary with your kids and remind him of how you expect to be treated.
Waiting to Introduce
Many moms will talk about their kids on dates but wait to introduce a potential partner to the kids for a certain period of time. Decide what that period or mark of time is for you. Susan Dutton, a single mom with ten years of experience as a wellness coach, and founder of SmartRelationships.org, will only introduce a boyfriend to her kids after they’ve been dating for at least nine months, because that’s how long it takes for her to assess his character and the probability of a long-term partnership with him. If a long-term partnership is what you’re working toward, it’s good to wait until both of you are ready to work toward that commitment. If you’re dating casually, it’s probably best not to introduce the kids to your dates at all, lest they get attached to someone who will be here today and gone tomorrow.
Always remember that your kids have a right to feel safe and have privacy in their home as much as you do. For this reason, Dutton doesn’t let the men she’s dating sleep over at her house. She also guards her privacy on the initial dates by not telling men she doesn’t know where she lives. She reminds single moms that when a boyfriend joins the household, the risk of abuse for kids jumps 2200 percent compared to the risk of abuse for kids living with their married, biological parents. Always guard your child’s privacy and safety first, and keep the house a family area. If you do decide to introduce a boyfriend to your kids, let it be in a group setting, and introduce him as a “friend” so there is less pressure on the situation.