There will be a time when the pain of divorce or breakup has lessened and being single again feels more normal. This is when you start to notice men again as potential partners. Your friends start trying to fix you up and you begin to consider going out to meet new people… of the opposite sex. Despite your early protests about never wanting another relationship, you are beginning to think about dating.

While shared custody is becoming more acceptable, most divorced women still have full custody of their children. With traditional visitation, single women with children
may have every other weekend available to date. Women who do not have a co-parent have even less time to devote to dating. What do single mothers do about dating when they have children at home?

If possible, plan your dates and your single social life for when the children are with their father. For casual dating, or going out with friends, a schedule of every other weekend is a good one. It allows a good balance between responsibilities to the children and your new life as a single woman. It also builds in a structure to help a newly single woman slow down and take her time meeting just the right person to date.

When meeting potential dating partners, be up front about the fact that you are divorced (or single) and have children. There is no need to apologize or feel less desirable because you have children. Over 50% of marriages end in divorce, so there are a lot of single parents out there. You are looking for a relationship with somebody who will fully accept and appreciate your children, so you don’t have to downplay the importance of being a mother. On the other hand, you don’t want to monopolize the conversation talking about your kids when you first meet someone. This is your time to reconnect with yourself outside your role as wife and mother, so enjoy talking about other things in a social setting.

If you meet somebody you really like, and it looks as if the relationship is developing into something special, then is it time to introduce him to the kids. And this depends
on the ages of the kids. Teenagers, of course, are more able to understand how relationships develop and also realize that some relationships work out and some don’t. They can know you are dating somebody special fairly early in the dating process. Just let them know that you are just dating right now and do not know if the relationship
will work out or not. Introduce your teenager briefly to your date and don’t expect him or her to be particularly happy about it. Teenagers are dealing with their own sexuality and really don’t want to think about yours. And please resist the temptation to use your teenager as a confidant. You are the parent, not their buddy, so don’t share the details of your relationship with them.

With younger children, wait longer into the dating process. It’s hard to pinpoint an exact time, but make sure the relationship is going well and looks like it’s heading toward a commitment. For a first meeting, plan some kind of activity outside the home that includes the children and your new love interest. Gradually increase the time you and your new partner spend with the kids until they have had a chance to adjust. Hopefully, the relationship will work and your kids won’t have to deal with another loss.

Give yourself a lot of time to observe your new man with the kids. Look for red flags. Remember, this person is on his best behavior with your kids, and if you see problems now, there will definitely be problems later. By all means, don’t have casual dates spend the night at your home when your kids are there. If the relationship looks serious, be very discrete about your sexuality around your kids. If possible, leave the sleep-overs for when the kids are visiting their dad. As the relationship becomes more serious and you want to spend the weekends together with the kids there, be very aware of your privacy and don’t put the kids in an awkward position. Remember, to young kids whoever is sleeping in the marital bed is pretty much a sure thing, so don’t set them up for disappointment by rushing into a live-in relationship.

Dating when you have children is difficult, but not impossible. Use good judgment and be a responsible parent. The right man will appreciate that you value your role as a mother. If he doesn’t, it’s time to move on.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Jennifer Sowle, PhD., is a Licensed Psychologist and Marriage andFamily Therapist. She is also a certified Sex Educator and Counselor.Dr. Sowle's website, gives information onpsychological problems such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, and eating disorders. She also provides help for relationships, such as conflict resolution, family finances, communication techniques, divorce, parenting,and sexuality. Dr. Sowle offers free advice on personal, family, and relationship problems and presents new relationship case studies on a regular basis.