By: Natasha Archary
I’ve been putting off writing about this for a good few months, so when I was roped into an on-air discussion with Dr Makhosi Khoza on dating as a single parent, I could procrastinate no more.
Dating in general is a ridiculous process. Maneuvering the maze of feelings that tug at heartstrings and have you questioning your judgement. Second guessing every decision, letting your guard down and allowing yourself to give into these overwhelming feelings for someone who, until recently you hung out with casually.
Entering the dating scene as a single parent, well now, that’s a whole other ballgame and usually takes some tactical moves, comes with it’s own unique set of rules, boundaries and of course, innocent little people.
What is it like to date as a single parent?
From personal experience, it’s exhausting. Weeding out the weaklings and sifting through any potential is no easy feat. Then there’s the admin of scheduling the date when you or future love is free, in other words off parent duty.
Sure, online dating apps may sound like the convenient solution but when you’re scrolling through thousands of profiles, you’re more likely to give yourself carpal tunnel syndrome than find your soulmate.
I know the odd couple or two who found their missing puzzle piece online and I’m by no means knocking the possibility. It’s just tedious, impersonal and boring to date tied to your keyboard and screen. So when you’re holding out for an organic, serendipitous spark that gives you goosebumps, online dating falls short.
Questions before you take the path less ventured
You shouldn’t be seeing someone you don’t trust. Full stop. But when it comes to kids, especially with everything that’s been happening in the country with children of late, who you let into their lives is an especially important factor.
- Is this person kid friendly?
- Can you trust them around your child or are there red flags with behaviour you need to watch for?
- Do they want to be a part of your child’s life or are you taking a more casual approach?
- How soon into the relationship do you introduce your kids to them?
- Is there an easy way to break the news to your kids without confusing them?
- If things don’t work and you move on, do you then introduce your kids to the next person? Will this be the new norm?
- Are you giving your kids stability with each new relationship? Or do you just test the waters and take it step by step?
- In instances where the other parent is still in the picture, how do you disclose your new status to them?
- How much time do you allow them to spend with your child?
- Will their status in your child’s life be defined?
- Kids get attached or they show no interest, will this be something you’re ready to get through as a couple?
When is the right time to introduce your kids to your new love?
As a parent every decision you’ll ever make, you reach with not just yourself in mind. Navigating the dating scene means you scrutinise more, view things practically and toss the rose tinted glasses aside. It’s not a game. Not when you’re trying to protect your kids in the process.
We all have pasts. Failed relationships that did not go according to the text book example. Trying to move on and find hope to love again along the way. Many have so all hope is not lost.
There is no right and wrong in life because we’re all so different, no two love story has the same characters. Sit down Disney. I believe if things are going well between you and your new partner and it’s at the point where weekends together are a regular occurrence, it may be time to broach the subject.
How to introduce your kids and new partner?
Single parents do have their walls up when it comes to their kids. They will only introduce you to their kids if they really see this working. Taking into account their children’s wellbeing and feelings are a given and they will not just jump at the suggestion of you meeting their kids.
If you’re considering an introduction between your partner and kids, I suggest doing it gradually. A casual introduction at a neutral place, “Honey, I’d like you to meet a friend of mine.”
Suss out their reaction. Spend some time sitting down together, all of you, talking about the child’s interests and see if there is active participation between your child and beau. Keep body contact between your partner and yourself to a minimum. The point is to build trust between your partner and child and this takes time.
When you’ve made it through the first introduction, you can then set up a lunch or dinner at home, working towards having your partner over more often.
Listen to the podcast of the on-air discussion between Dr Makhosi Khoza, Mbali Dlamini and myself here:
What’s worked for you when introducing your child to your new partner? Share with us by tweeting @KayaFM95dot9 using the hashtag #KayaOnline