Nowadays, nearly two-thirds of all children are being raised in single-parent households, which means there are a lot of parents dating. The number of single mothers (9.8 million) has remained constant (84 percent of children living with one parent are living with mom), while the number of single fathers is growing: Men now comprise one-sixth of the nation's single parents.
As if dating weren't complicated enough, having your child ask you what time you're going to be home adds agony to embarrassment. By the way, what time do you plan to be home?
Let me make one thing absolutely clear: Young kids don't get dating, and even older ones don't when it comes to a parent. Trying to combine parenting with early stage dating is like walking a tightrope while wrestling a dolphin: highly slippery, inadvisable, and just plain dangerous. Take a look at the possibilities:
You like your date, your date likes you, the kids hate your date: Problem.
You like your date, your date likes you, the kids love your date: Problem (believe it or not).
You like your date, your date hates you, the kids hate your date: No problem. You like your date, your date hates you, the kids love your date: Problem. You like your date, your date likes you, your date hates your kids: Problem.
You like your date, your date hates you, your date loves the kids: Big problem.
You hate your date, your dates likes you, the kids hate your date: No problem.
You hate your date, your date hates you, the kids hate your date: No problem.
You hate your date, your date hates you, the kids love your date: Medium-sized problem.
I think those are all the possibilities, but the point is that the only times kids and dating aren't a problem is when everybody hates everybody. And best-case scenario — when there is a genuine love-fest going on — can still be trouble, since this book only covers the first six to nine months of dating and lots of things change. I haven't even mentioned trouble with exes and the confused roles between dating and parenting for you.
It's a common problem that's not going to go away, but you are well advised to keep your kids and your dates separate until you're sure of your date, which takes awhile.
1 Introducing a date too soon can make kids either clingy or anxious or both, and unhappy kids do a lot of acting out, which is psycho-babble for acting like creeps: hanging up when your date calls, telling your ex, hitting, crying, clinging, telling the teacher your date hit you or the child or kicked the dog. . . . You get the point.
1 Understand, kids get attached and don't really get hanging out for awhile to see how things work.
1 The adults need time to see if they're strong enough to be together before they test the do-the-kids-like-me waters.
1 Adult sexuality can be really confusing for kids of any age (do you like the idea of your parents "doing it"? — and look at how old you are).
This doesn't mean you have to be celibate or put yourself on house arrest until the kids are married, but you do have to be discreet and really good at juggling time and responsibilities, and have reliable baby-sitters at the ready.
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