Dating, marriage can be challenges for single parents
By Cheryl Lavin September 16, 2013 4:18PM
Updated: September 17, 2013 10:46AM
Some things just don’t mix. Chocolate and sardines. Caramels and dentures. Children and dating.
Should you introduce your kids to your date? If so, when?
What if you remarry? What role will your new spouse play in your kids’ lives? Parent? Friend? Boarder?
Here are your thoughts . . .
DENISE: When my daughter was 16 I was dating a man exclusively. I’d been divorced for awhile at this point. She’d met a few of my dates, but I never involved her in my romantic life. I thought that was best.
But he was different. I thought we might actually have a future together and I allowed him to sleep over. I figured at 16, my daughter knew all about the birds and the bees and could handle it. Big mistake.
No matter her chronological age, emotionally, she wasn’t ready to accept her mother as a sexual being. It caused a lack of trust in our relationship and, 10 years later, I feel like it hasn’t healed.
By the way, the man and I never did get married. I would advise any parent who is dating to always, always, always put the needs of their kids before their own. If they don’t, they’ll regret it.
GILLIAN: Kids may be fine with a parent dating, but getting married may throw them for a loop. A date may be able to play stepmommy or stepdaddy for a couple of days a month but not be prepared to really take care of these children on a more full- time, live-in basis.
As a stepparent, I can attest to all the issues that come with that role. You have to deal with an ex-spouse who may or may not be an ally and a friend to you. In fact, he or she may be downright hostile even if you were not the cause for the breakup of their union.
The children will have their own ideas on what they want and don’t want from you. Are you going to be another mother or father to them? Or are you just a friend? Are you just “his wife” or “her husband” but not their “stepmother” or “stepfather?” There are a lot of issues that need to be worked out before marriage.
Then add all the things that come along with kids such as scheduling issues, money issues, behavioral issues and privacy issues.
I love my stepkids, don’t get me wrong, but children and marriage and ex-spouses complicate things. And not always in a fun way!
WENDELL: Children need time to adjust to divorce. They’re so vulnerable and not at all as resilient as people like to believe. Adults need time to adjust to divorce, too. The last thing a newly divorced mother or father needs is a new relationship.
Six months to a year is a good time frame to get into a new family routine, learn how to balance work and home life, work out the finances and assess what went wrong in the marriage.
Are you a stepparent? How’s that working for you? Send your tale, along with your questions, problems and rants, to firstname.lastname@example.org.