Guidelines for Single Parents
By Tina B. Tessina, PhD
As a single parent, you probably have so little free time that dating
seems an impossible task. Yet, single parents are dating in unprecedented
numbers, so if you're looking for another "head of household"
to date, you'll find one.
a responsible parent, you'll want to be very cautious about whom
you date and eventually bring home - for the safety and well-being
of your child(ren). You may feel guilty or unsure about whether
dating is OK. Of course it is, as long as you do it responsibly,
and your children are not disrupted by your dating. Single parent
dating involves finding a quality person you like, who likes you,
and who is comfortable with your children. These extra dynamics
can be frustrating, but should not be ignored or overlooked.
Pressuring your children to like your date and going too fast for
them to get comfortable with the situation, will create unnecessary
trouble. This article presents some guidelines to help you, your
children and your new date be more comfortable, and assure that
things go smoothly.
If your children are small, they have a right to be primary in your
life. They should not have to compete with your new relationship
for your time, attention and affection. This takes planning, because
your schedule is already full.
Because today's society is very mobile, it's easy for people who
are not savory to hide their backgrounds. Getting to know people
as friends before dating increases the safety of dating and meeting
maximize safety, choose group activities, daytime activities with
the children along, and stay in public places until you establish
your date's character.
other single parents at PTA, church, and school or sports events
is a great, non-threatening way to begin. The public setting provides
safety, a chance to get to know the other person, and to find out
what others think of him or her. Meeting his or her children or
other family members will quickly reveal their values and attitudes.
your children meet another parent, an adult friend, or a church
or temple member rather than a date, it's much less threatening
to them. There is less pressure on everyone.
Children aren't the only ones who need rules to follow. If the adults
involved (you, your date, your ex, grandparents, friends) do the
right thing automatically, they are following their own internal
rules, but if their behavior is not suitable for you and your children,
you need to inform them of yours.
and keeping rules may sound like a drag, but sensible and reasonable
guidelines can help a lot. When everyone knows what is expected
of them, they will feel respected and secure.
* Make sure you know a lot about any new person before inviting
him/her into your home
* Make friends before considering a romantic relationship
* Always introduce new adults to your children as friends, nothing
* If your children are old enough to have opinions of your new friends,
listen to what they have to say.
* Do not pressure your children to like your new friend, or to spend
time with him or her.
* Insist that your children behave appropriately and politely to
your adult friends.
* Have regular family discussions with your children.
* If you want to get serious with a date, find out his or her feelings
about children, especially your children, first.
* Gradually introduce a new date to your children by doing family
oriented activities together. Give your children and your date a
chance to develop their own relationships.
* Don't sacrifice your children's alone time with you to your dating.
Don't miss sport or school events in order to date.
* Don't share inappropriately with your children. Do not use them
as "confidantes" for your relationship confusion or problems.
Don't allow them to find out about your sexual relationship.
2004 Tina B. Tessina From "The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again"
B. Tessina, Ph.D., (www.tinatessina.com)
is a licensed psychotherapist in S. California, with over 25 years
experience in counseling individuals and couples and author of 11
books, including "It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction"
(New Page 2003)""How to Be a Couple and Still Be Free"
(New Page 2002) "The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again"
(Wiley 2002) and "The Real 13th Step: Discovering Self_Confidence,
Self_Reliance and Independence Beyond the Twelve Step Programs"
(New Page 2001) She publishes an e-mail newsletter: "Happiness
Tips from Tina" and hosts a weekly hour long radio show:"The
Psyche Deli: delectable tidbits for the subconscious" on www.WPMD.org.
She guests frequently on radio, and on such TV shows as "Oprah",
"Larry King Live" and ABC news.