As a single mother, you have a lot on your plate, and one of the challenges you are faced with is starting to date again. Once you start dating, it is advisable that you do not rush into introducing your new partner to your children until you're comfortable with the direction the relationship is taking.
THAT AWKWARD MOMENT
When you start dating as a single mother, it is sometimes difficult to approach your children and tell them that you are seeing someone. It will always get awkward no matter how matured your children are.
But letting your children know is a good start. This opens up conversations for the children to express their fears, thoughts and feelings about the potential partner, giving you the opportunity to address them before they meet the new partner.
Thenjiwe Nhlapo, a counselling psychologist based in the Free State, says some parents do talk to their children before they start dating.
“Mothers tend to have a close relationship with their children, but it will still be difficult for the mother to approach her children with the matter, no matter how close they are,” she says.
INTRODUCING HIM TO YOUR CHILDREN
Thenjiwe explains that you should not rush into introducing your new partner to your children. She says talking to your children about you dating will be guided by their age. For example, when you introduce your new partner to your adult children, they will react differently to younger children.
“If you have younger children, it is advisable to introduce them to your partner as soon as you are sure your relationship is stable because if you are dating to build a family, then your partner needs to start building a relationship with your children sooner rather than later,” says Thenjiwe.
She says you should also be picky in who you choose to date. “Dating is a process of building a relationship with a particular purpose. So it is important for you to know what your purpose is for dating. Choose a partner who is suitable for the vision you have for you and your children."
As much as having an open relationship with your children is important, Thenjiwe advises that it is equally important to maintain boundaries with your children so that you can still have authority as a parent.
“An open relationship is important between you and your children. If, for example, your children are not happy with your partner, they should be encouraged to express their feelings regarding their unhappiness.
Reassure them you are dating someone you feel safe with,” she says. "You should think of your children’s safety and their general well-being. If your potential partner abuses recreational substances such as alcohol, that may have an impact on how he relates to you and your children.”
WHAT TO CONSIDER
For your sake and for the sake of your children, you should consider compatibility when deciding on what kind of person you want to date.
"Single mothers have a lot on their plate, so it is important for the person they date to have a good lifestyle, and emotional and financial stability,” advises Thenjiwe.
She says you should have a partner who will be comfortable around your children and be as open with them as he is with you.