Many older women are divorced or they also find themselves looking for love as they juggle the responsibilities of being the primary caretaker of a child. Here are some of the pitfalls I recommend single moms avoid on their quest to find Mr. Right/Mr. Perfect Stepdad.
1. Stop worrying about your ex's love life. As long as heís not introducing your child to the people he is dating without talking to you first, his love life is (thankfully!) no longer any of your business. Your child is all that matters. His new woman? Not so much.
2. Be flexible. Your situation isnít always perfect; but no oneís life ever is. Sometimes you have to cancel plans because your child comes first Ė thatís real Ė so be understanding when the men you date also have to make adjustments to their schedules.
3. Donít expect him to overcompensate for your exís shortcomings. Your ex may have been inattentive, distracted or perpetually broke, but that doesnít mean the new man in your life will immediately put on a Superman cape and save you from all of those frustrations. (Let him be his own man.) That said, you shouldnít put on that cape either. Keep being the good mother you are and donít worry about overdoing it or expecting him to.
4. Don't assess his parenting abilities on the first date. Remember fun? It was this great thing you used to have when you went out on dates and things were still fresh and new. Itís still OK to have some, even though youíre a mother now. As long as your child is taken care of and youíre careful of who is and isnít in their life, thereís no reason to turn a first date into an interrogation. Just go with the flow.
5. Don't force it with the little ones. just canít control how they will or wonít feel when youíre dating again and you finally introduce them. You canít take it personal if your child is disinterested in the new guy. Give your little one the space he or she needs to figure things out. Donít force it.
6. Accept that your kids will still like dad more. Sure, we get it. He hasnít done what you think he should be doing. But, heís still your childís father. Itís only natural that your child still loves him. After all, dad has been there since the beginning (ideally) and new guy is, well, ďnew. Give the kid his or her space.
7. Don't feel guilty about getting back out there. Youíre a mom, but youíre still a human being. You still want love and thatís totally okay. You still need attention and affection, and thatís expected. As long as youíre taking care of business at home, donít feel bad for wanting to get a babysitter and have a nice night out with someone special or someone new. You deserve it!
8. Don't try to do it all on your own. Being a single parent is overwhelming. When you start dating again, reach out to your larger social network Ė family, friends, people you trust Ė to help you navigate the waters between single mom and single mom who dates.
Youíll need these individuals for both emotional and physical support. (Not to mention the occasional babysitters.) Donít feel bad that you need people to get the job done right. That comes with the territory.
9. Don't bad mouth your ex. (Especially while on a date.) This rule applies whether youíre talking to your child or a date. Nothing good comes from badmouthing your ex. When you have a child together, you have to co-parent. This means youíll need to interact and try to have everyone get along. Plus, bashing the old guy to the new guy makes it seem like youíre still not over that relationship. No one wants to date the woman still hung up on the last guy.
10. Don't introduce him to your kids too soon. This is the biggest, most important thing to always remember when dating as a single mom: You can date someone, but they donít need to go to your house or get to know your kids, unless things are really serious Ė like marriage serious.
Children grow attached quickly to people and are emotionally shattered when those people suddenly disappear because a relationship didnít work out. Donít make the mistake of letting your new boyfriend watch your children. He may not be fully capable of caring for a child Ė let alone one thatís not his. Get to know your partner first and get to know them well.