According to the Center for Disease Control:
•Birth rate for unmarried women: 44.3 births per 1,000 unmarried women aged 15-44 years*
With a statistic like that, the likelihood of single parents dating is pretty high…here is one girl’s experience:
At age 17 I found out I was pregnant. I knew from the moment I was told, that I would be a single mom. The father of this baby was a mess. The issues he was faced with would be a lifelong battle and I had already ended the relationship. Pregnant and wanting the best for my child I set out to do everything different in my next relationship. I started dating a guy when I was 6 months pregnant. This guy was there for me in every way. He took on the “father” role instantly. When my son started saying, “Da, da, da, da” my boyfriend said, “Don’t encourage him to say that to me.” I immediately was hurt and offended; it was my dream to be a family and give my son the closest thing to a family I could. I asked him why…He said, “We are not married I am not his dad, which means, I have not legal rights to him and if I let him call me dad and I call him my son, then if we break up, now I lost my son and he thinks I abandoned him.”
Some quick tips for dating when you have children:
1. Recognize your own impulsivity and emotional rollercoaster. Emotions are a great thing but sometimes they take us places we shouldn’t go.
2. Respect your kids, the person you are dating, and the other parent by taking this process slow.
3. Model love not infatuation.
4. No rebounds or quick turn-around relationships. Kids respond to this by thinking it’s not safe to let people into their life and it sabotages future relationships from being able to grow in a healthy manner.
5. Know your standards and actually live by your standards. The only way to do that is to know yourself and live by your convictions.
6. Talk to your kids, don’t let emotions dictate the dating progress, but do listen and give serious consideration to how they feel. Remember it is not up to your kids to determine who you date. But whether or not you become a family IS up to them.
7. Make opportunities for everyone to get to know one another. Don’t force it. It’s not wise to move fast in relationships when kids are involved. Give them time at their own pace and realize everyone has their own pace.
8. Acknowledge and label fears. Welcome them sharing how they feel and do not be offended if they are not as excited as you. Or on the other hand, be careful, your kids could bond faster with this new person than you do. Therefore if the relationship doesn’t work out they could become angry with you and/or feel abandoned by them. (This happens frequently when the kids are younger.)
9. Pace and balance your dating. New relationships are exciting you naturally want to spend all your time with them. Realize that your kids may develop fears and feel abandoned. Tread lightly at first and continue to monitor and process everyone’s fears and concerns.
10. Always remember there are loyalty factors that kids have for their parents. Therefore they may be up and down with their feelings. It can be a bit confusing and stressful but just do the best you can with what they give you.