As the newly anointed "Head of Household" one's mind eventually strays to thoughts of finding a partner. It may take awhile -- but sooner or later the specter of dating pushes its way to the forefront of your mind!
For this article we'll only consider separation or divorce as the precipitating factor of your new found status. The impact on family dynamics when a parent has passed away is intricate, deeper and requires greater thought and more measured action.
They key to successful dating is complex, stressful, rewarding and ultimately indescribably satisfying.
As the "head of household" and a concerned parent there are two critical components to dating. The first deals with the impact on your child/children and the other when you feel you're ready to get out there, kick up your heels and have some fun.
Scores of questions come to mind when you consider dating for the first time in your new role as head of a single parent household. Here are a few:
- How will my child react to my dating?
- Will he/she feel I am being unfaithful to my ex?
- Does my youngster blame her/himself for the break-up?
- What's my child's general state of mind? Are we communicating?
- Should I hide the fact that I'm dating until a later time?
- Raising my child alone is stressful enough -- am I ready to add dating to the equation?
A day rarely passes without one if not all members of your family getting stressed out over something. It's the same with virtually all households -- no matter the configuration.
So how do you determine if your child is ready for you to date? This is a bit of a loaded question because some kids might prefer you never date again. After all aren't you too old to date -- yech. Adolescents may be particularly trying! Others will come to a point when they realize it will make you happy and much easier to be around!
A quick guide to follow.
Single parent homes tend to be a bit chaotic. The family is often in a state of upheaval. It would be great if you could simply snap your fingers and a "calm" would magically descend from the sky -- but that's not going to happen.
Your goal is providing to the best of your ability a stable environment in which you create opportunities for your children to flourish. Life isn't perfect under any circumstances. However actively interacting and discussing the changed family situation is vital.
In a "perfect world" your child will feel empowered," have basically come to terms with the break up and not hold themselves responsible, be generally content and positively interacting in most areas of their life. But don't hold your breath for all of this to happen at once. It's a slow process.
Actively work with your children on these goals and then -- use your best judgement. Consider the impact of dating on your family and choose the appropriate moment to consider it a viable option. If you're doing all the right things -- the household will survive!
Now let's discuss your readiness to meet someone interesting to hang with -- one who won't be asking you "what's for dinner," or "why do I have to do my homework?"
No matter how smoothly your life is running chances are that the thought of dating raises your stress index.
A few questions to ask yourself.
- Have I adapted to the "head of household" role reasonably successfully?
- Am I able to put aside daily "mindfulness moments?" In other words -- find time every day when I can relax, chill and appreciate my life.
- Am I actively addressing family issues?
- For my emotional sanity do I feel I need to get out and date?
If you've answered yes to the four questions above, then chances are you're itching to get out there and enjoy some adult companionship -- yet often parents hold back?
Here's the bottom line. There may never be "the perfect time to date." Just as in all aspects of life we make decisions based upon the best information we have, our intuition and what our gut tells us to do.
If we always wait for the perfect moment to take action then "inactivity" will rule our lives.
The take away from this article is two-fold.
First, take appropriate action to support everyone in the household. Look for ways to empower your kids. Fostering clear open communication leads to positive outcomes.
Second, you need to care for your physical and emotional health. As the head of household you bear the ultimate responsibility for the welfare of your entire "village."
If getting back into the dating scene will help relax and put you in a positive frame of mind, not only you but your family will benefit.
It's a win-win for all concerned.
My question to you -- if you're ready to date, what are you waiting for? Go out and enjoy yourself!
If you'd like a Mind Acrobatics exercise entitled "Am I Ready To Date" e-mail Dave with "Ready To Date" in the subject line at: email@example.com