Dating single moms (and the men who are dating them) should learn from mistakes made by others. Here are four myths to avoid.
4 Myths to Avoid
Myth #1: “If I’m happy, my kids will be happy.” Single parents sometimes tell themselves that their happiness is at the center of their children’s happiness, therefore, “if I fall in love, my kids will be happy, too.” But the truth is there’s no guarantee that if you find romantic love it will improve the lives of your children, in fact, your happiness can bring unwanted transitions and, with it, unhappiness to your children.
To remain balanced in dating, give equal consideration to your needs and those of your children.
Myth #2: Your kids can’t be okay unless you are married. This myth believes that children raised in a single parent home have deficits that will be eradicated if they are instead raised in a two-parent stepfamily home. Actually, research suggests the outcomes for kids are no different. Children can fare just as well—emotionally, spiritually, and developmentally—being raised in a single parent home as they can in a stepfamily home. There’s no huge advantage one way or the other. Therefore, when it comes to the well-being of your children single parents should feel permission to stay single if they so choose. If you meet someone who is a good fit for your children, great. If you don’t, great. Either way, God will provide.
Myth #3: Marriage repairs your home and gives children a family. Of course, parents want to restore for their children an ideal family environment once thwarted by death or divorce, but alas, it cannot be. Therefore, a decision to marry and form a blended family, for example, does not give back to children a missing parent, rather, it gives them a “stepparent” and a parenting team that is very different than the biological family system they were born into. This is not to say that stepfamilies cannot be loving, healthy homes. But blended families are not “repaired” first-families; they are different families with their own dynamics, rewards, struggles, challenges, seasons, and benefits. To date and marry with the expectation that “all will be restored” is to set yourself, your mate, and your children up for great disappointment.
Myth #4: Dating as a single parent is no different than dating as a never-married single. Nothing could be further from the truth. Before children, dating is about finding the right fit between two people. It is about building an “usness” that is centered in the Lord and motivated by love. Dating with children is about all of that, plus, finding the right fit between perhaps a dozen people in multiple households. For example, dating someone with a horrible, chaotic ex-spouse is to potentially bring a life-time of chaos and ungodliness to your children’s lives. In other words, your future together should be determined both on your couple relationship and family fit.
Can single parents and their children successfully blend with stepparents and stepsiblings? Absolutely. Dating well, avoiding these myths, and learning all you can about stepfamily living greatly improves the odds.
Adapted from the book Dating and the Single Parent by Ron L. Deal. Used with permission. All rights reserved.
Ron L. Deal is president of Smart Stepfamilies™, director of FamilyLife Blended™, a popular conference speaker, and author/coauthor of a series of DVD’s, books, and curriculum for stepfamilies including The Smart Stepfamily, The Smart Stepmom, The Smart Stepdad, Dating and the Single Parent, and the book The Smart Stepfamily Marriage. His one-minute radio feature FamilyLife Blended can be heard daily on stations nationwide and online. Tune in to his weekly Periscope broadcast (follow “Ron Deal”) on marriage and blended families. Learn more at FamilyLife.com/blended.