Make sure to read part one of my “Single Mom Dating” series, “Single Parenting: Dating, Starting with Me.”
When we realized things weren’t going to happen between us, Cameron’s dad and I laid out a simple ground rule. It wasn’t to dictate how or who the other dates, but the way that Cameron was involved in the whole process. We knew that when you’re a parent and dating, the kids, or kid in our case, do/does become a factor in how and who you date. It’s tricky territory, considering incorporating someone new in a child’s life. So we set 1 base rule, but then I added on about four more guidelines that go right along with it, just for me.
1. Our son doesn’t meet the people we date unless it’s exclusive, serious, and going somewhere.
This is the rule that everything else is centered around and that Cameron’s dad and I decided on early in the game. Like I said, I don’t want people coming in and out of my son’s life. While we he may have two separate homes, I want those homes to represent stability and comfort for him, and having people coming in and out of them willy-nilly isn’t a way to cultivate that kind of environment.
2. The kid comes first.
This rule is more unspoken, but obvious. If someone comes into our lives, it’s OUR lives. Not just mine. My son and I are a package deal, and if you don’t want him, you don’t get me. I’m also not sacrificing my time with him for someone else. My son comes first always. As a mom, parenting to the best of my abilities has to be the priority. For me personally, dating can’t come first because as adults, we’re whole people. Yes, we have lots of physical and emotional needs, too, but my son has yet to develop the same self-security that our parents instilled in us throughout our lifetimes. On top of that, there’s an understanding that as a parent and child, we’re a combo that doesn’t allow for substitutions. It’s intimidating to a lot of people, that getting involved with a single parent means having a built-in family if the relationship gets serious enough, but that’s the reality. Like I said in the first post of this series, you can take me or leave me, but this is what you’re going to get.
3. No significant other will ever replace the other parent.
That is to say that no matter who I end up with, Cameron’s dad will always be his dad, and I’ll always be his mom. I’d hope that whoever his dad and/or I end up with would be people he can look up to and would be comfortable approaching, but I also hope he trusts and respects both his father and me enough to know that our significant others will never take the place of one another.
4. No sleepovers while the kid is around.
I suppose this is more an addenda to number 1, but it goes like this: unless we’ve actually decided to move in together, we don’t have sleepovers when the kid is around. Keeping the home and personal life separated keeps the kids out of the crossfire if things go south. No one wants to grow up as the kid who “had a lot of uncles staying at the house,” nor do I want to be that parent.
5. Be optimistic.
There’s someone for everyone and that includes me. I know the rest of these guidelines don’t sound terribly optimistic, but sometimes things don’t work out (I wouldn’t be a single parent if they had, you know?), and that’s okay. That’s why I have these guidelines in the first place. And I’m much more optimistic than I sound – after all, these plans do account for the best case scenario, too.
I will say that these rules are incredibly personal, but they set a foundation for a really healthy relationship with my son, whoever I choose to date, and my son’s father, whose friendship and partnership as a co-parent is still incredibly important to me.
Now I want to hear from you! What were your guidelines when you were dating? Or if you’re currently single, what are your guidelines?