The 3 Biggest Mistakes That Single Parents Make When Dating

2011 with all it's failures and successes is gone; and 2012 is new and refreshing. This may be the year that you get the new home, job or relationship that you have been looking for. After all, 25.8% of the children in the United States live in a single parent home (according to statistics released in 2007). Which means, this year has the potential of forming a lot of new blended families. Given the possibility of new relationships on the horizon, it is important to be aware of the 3 biggest mistakes that single parents make when dating.

Mistake #1: Introducing the new guy/gal to the children too early. While whirlwind romances make great romantic comedy's, they do terrible damage to any children that you may have custody of. Many parents make the mistake of introducing their dates to their children too early. It is potentially unsafe. It may also confuse the children. (Especially if it has been done many times). Due to the different circumstances surrounding romantic relationships its hard to say exactly how long is long enough to wait before making the introduction. Although, many people introduce their new boyfriend/girlfriend to their children after going out 3 or 4 times, this is not advisable behavior. It is good to wait until the person you are dating is no longer an acquaintance to you. When you consider the person you are dating to be a "friend" that is a good time to introduce them to your children. (This could take up to 6 months- if you didn't already have a friendship with the person from work, church, family or someplace else.) Avoiding early introductions will protect your children emotionally.

Mistake #2: Moving in together/Getting married too quickly. This is not only emotionally dangerous for yourself, but it is also dangerous for the children. Many women are guilty of making this mistake because they do not want to be alone, have unresolved issues from their past, and/or have low self-esteem. A woman who makes this mistake, usually allows her new husband (the children's new stepfather) to discipline the children. The discipline issued in many cases is physical. While spanking a child may not be abusive; it could be considered abusive if the children don't know the man very well, he leaves marks and bruises on them and/or when the punishment does not fit the offense. Men who make this mistake do this because they are in a rush to find a mother for their children, and/or because they spend long hours away from their children. Even when there are no obvious parenting issues; this type of behavior may leave the children confused, feeling neglected, feeling left out and feeling like they don't matter. The children may also begin to act out or have behavior problems. Instead, do not move in together/get married until the children are comfortable with the person. Or at least until you have had the opportunity to observe your potential mate in action. At the very least, take a 10 week parenting class together before the big move. While that may not be enough to determine your potential mates parenting style, it may be enough to determine if he/or she is good with kids. Also, it never hurts to do a Google search or a background check on a person - just to make sure your not housing someone who has restrictions for how close they can live to a school or daycare facility! It's 2012. One can never be too careful when they have children. As a single parent, your primary goal is to make sure that your children are safe and healthy.

Mistake #3: Not allowing the child to speak to you honestly (as their biological parent). It is important that you allow your children to voice their honest opinion to you about the person you are dating. Many times children are discouraged about being honest about the person that will be their potential stepparent. Sometimes they are forced to "go along with the program". This only creates problems. (Especially if you, later, discover that the person is not right for you.) Nothing should create a gap between you and your children. If a gap is occurring, it could be a sign that the person you are dating is wrong for your family. Instead allow your children to be honest about your mate and the person who will be their stepparent. Believe what they tell you. It is also a good idea to join a family support group, or get counselling with your children as you begin to explore the world of dating.

It is important to understand that dating with children is not always an easy thing to do. For that reason, many parents decide to wait until their children have grown up, and have left home, to begin dating. However, if you get counselling, join a support group and/or talk with your religious leader- they can help to guide you in a healthy direction. Any tips that you receive from this blog are based on my educational and professional experience. There are no "cookie cutter" answers. Dating is trial and error. It's a good idea not to involve the children in all the trials and errors of dating.

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