The Single Parent and Dating; is two really better than one?
By Krisi Davis
The other day I typed “Christian Single Parent” into an on-line search engine and was surprised when more dating websites came up than parenting sites! The obvious message, “two is better than one” came across loud and clear. You’ll get no argument from me about the concept, I emphatically agree that two parent households are the ideal, that marriage is the intended status and that God hates divorce- but where does that leave the single parent that is in that position due to death of a spouse, a marriage that ended because of adultery or abuse, or the parent that adopted or became pregnant through insemination because they yearned to raise a family? Is the concept “two is better than one” accurate?
I have been a single parent for ten years. My husband was unfaithful numerous times and relapsed into a cocaine addiction; counseling failed and we divorced in order that I would be able to provide a safe and nurturing environment for our children. Now, ten years later, my children and their father are just beginning to take steps toward having a relationship now that he is sober. These last ten years have not been easy, but they have allowed for me to be an intentional parent and to focus all of my efforts on my son and my daughter without interference from an adulterous and addicted spouse.
I want to dispel the myth that “two is better than one”. I want to ask you to press “pause” in your search for a mate and focus on yourself and your children. The messages are in every magazine, web ad, commercial and billboard- meet your mate here but the content is wrong. It is not about meeting the right person, it is about being the right person.
As a parent you have a limited number of years with your children; there are days that are much longer than others, but after eighteen years you are done. I made a commitment to spend the years that I had with my children focusing on them. I was committed to providing a stable and nurturing environment where they would grow physically, spiritually and emotionally. Children deserve to be the focus of a home, regardless of how many parents are occupying it but society is promoting the message that the home is not complete unless there are two parents. There is a pressure to date and re-marry but what isn’t promoted too often is the even higher divorce rate of second marriages than first.
The need for companionship is strong- it is a driving force in our lives from the time that we begin to socialize with others. The single parent has a fierce need to be validated, understood and supported. That need is best met by other single parents who can relate to the experiences first-hand. Reach out and establish a support group of friends whether through church groups, parenting workshops, parents of your children’s friends or local organizations.
Dating is a difficult obstacle for the single parent. We all would love to believe that our soul-mate is out there and that we’ll meet them and live happily (or even just contentedly) ever after. Dating before children was difficult enough but dating with children is downright tricky. When will you go out? Who will watch your children? When is the right time for your children to meet the person that you are dating? How emotionally invested will you allow yourself to become? Don’t fall pray to the pressures of society. If you determine that there is room in your life after your commitments to yourself, your children, your family and your relationship with God to invite someone into the equation without compromising anything or upsetting the balance of your life, proceed slowly.
Too often single parents believe that they will be able to compartmentalize their lives and what they do in one area won’t affect another. Take careful inventory of your life to be sure. Talk with your children about your decision to date and listen intently to their questions or comments. Your children didn’t sign up to date- you did. Your children may not be comfortable with that decision and until they are, it is my personal opinion that dating not be your priority. Your children have only one childhood and you will have the rest of your life to pursue relationships.
If your soul-mate does arrive on the scene then he or she will understand, and in fact desire, that your relationship with your children be the priority during your dating relationship. A quality person with honorable intentions and a strong moral fiber would want to preserve the sanctity of your relationship with your children and not compromise any stability in your home for their own needs or desires. That soul-mate will work with you to provide a safe environment for everyone and will want to join you in your efforts to raise your children in the best possible way!
My decision was to take these years to parent and to develop myself. I decided to invest in myself before I take the time to invest in someone else. I am doing that by putting the needs of my children first and by pursuing a graduate degree, publishing The Sea Glass Hunter, Living a Productive Life as a Christian Single Parent, enjoying my position as the Executive Director of a non-profit organization and learning to golf. I want to know that when my children leave to go to college in a few short years that I taught them everything I could, I was the best role model I could have been and have no regrets about the choices that I made. By making the decision not to date while raising my children I also know that I will have taken the time to become the best person I can be and that will make a difference in any relationships that come down the road!
Make your choice intentionally, prayerfully and deliberately and put yourself and your children first!