He’s tall, dark, handsome, successful, funny, and he wants a family! And to you, a divorced mother, he looks like the answer to your prayers. There’s only one problem. He thinks your parenting style is too progressive. Or he believes children should be seen and not heard, a good spanking never hurt anyone, and co-sleeping is out of the question. While you, on the other hand, encourage your children to speak up, would never lay a hand on your little ones, and love waking up to your children’s feet on the pillow next to you. What should you do?
Here is some advice to help you on your dating journey.
- put your children’s needs above and before those of your new mate
- test the waters before diving in
- listen to your children
- discuss your differences with your date
- add his latest and greatest parenting style to your repertoire
- compromise your values
- ignore any red flags
- let your date drive a wedge between you and your children and their father
- introduce your children to every Tom, Dick, and Harry
- settle out of fear that you will never find “the one”
When you became a parent you also became a guardian. It is your duty is to protect and keep your children safe, happy, and healthy. If you meet a man who is perfect in every way except that his parenting style includes methods you believe are harmful to your children, put your children’s needs above and before those of your new mate. If this means ending your romantic relationship, do it. When it comes to the wellbeing of your children, no sacrifice is too great and compromise is not an option.
Men know how to put their best foot forward in the initial throes of a romantic relationship. They know exactly what to say and do to impress you if they want a second, third, and fourth date. For this reason, you should take any new relationship slowly so you can truly get to know a man before becoming too enmeshed with him. If you are a single mother dating a dreamy man, take your time and get to know him very well before becoming serious. When you first meet your date he may say he loves kids and wants to be a father, which is great, but his desire and affinity alone do not qualify him to be a great father for your kids. Over time his true colors will come out, so take your time.
Most children will communicate, either directly or indirectly, how they feel about your date and how he treats them. Be sure to listen to what they are saying. Also read between the lines and take into consideration your children’s behaviors. If your children are telling you that your date is parenting in a way you never would be sure you are paying attention so you can do something about it.
If you are dating the man of your dreams and find that your parenting styles are at odds, discuss the differences with your date. Explain the techniques and practices that you use and identify those that are not your style. Ask your date if he is willing to refrain from using his preferred technique and adopt yours. If he is, share your style with him then sit back and watch him in motion. If he changes his style, thank him. If he does not, consider showing him the door.
If your date has a differing parenting style that enhances and uplifts your children’s lives, make it a part of your repertoire. Watch, learn, and repeat.
When we are staring in the face of love we want to avoid conflict and strive for harmony. But if we have to compromise our values in the process, the price for peace is too great. If you are abandoning your normal parenting style to accommodate your date’s values, ask yourself if you are honoring yourself in the process. If you are not, return to self and parent from your soul.
If your date is great with the kids except in certain ways and circumstances that make you feel a little uncomfortable, don’t ignore your instincts. Ask yourself if your date’s actions are a symptom of a bigger problem. If they are and you believe they are issues that may be easily resolved, speak to your date about the issues in an effort to change his parenting style. If he is unwilling to change or the symptom is a sign of a much bigger problem, end the relationship as soon as you can.
Your date and ex may not see eye on eye on many issues, including parenting, but it doesn’t give him permission to share his opinion with your children and/or their father. Even under the worst circumstances your ex should support you and refrain from voicing his opinion about your ex in the presence of the children for the sake of the children. The added stress your children may feel if your ex badmouths their dad is unnecessary even if you know the things he is saying are true.
Twenty years from now you don’t want your children reminiscing about mom’s boyfriend number one, two, ten, eighteen. You also don’t want your children becoming too attached to a date that doesn’t stand a chance of making it further than a few dates. So don’t introduce your date to your children until and unless you have determined that he has long term potential, which also means his parenting style is closely aligned with your own.
After getting divorced you may believe that you are never going to meet a man who wants to be with you and your children. This fear and insecurity can lead you to believe that you should not be too picky in the romance department. To put it simply, this is not true. Yes, it is more difficult to date with children because of all the schedules and personalities you have to juggle, but there is no shortage of men who love children and openly welcome divorced women and children into their lives. Heck, there are even some divorced fathers who prefer a woman who has children. So kick your doubts and your bad dates to the curb and don’t settle. You and your children deserve the best.
Dating with children after divorce can be challenging for a myriad of reasons. And if you and your date have vastly different parenting styles it can be impossible. So in your quest for new love maintain a commitment to dating men who are healthy, happy, and good daddy material. It will make your life and the lives of your loved ones easier. Happy dating!