I recently heard a really great story from a newly single mom.
Facing divorce, this mom of two's own childhood loomed large as her point of reference. After all, her parents split when she was in preschool, and she was raised almost exclusively by her mother, who was a great role model in that she rose from a store clerk to a corporate executive during my friend's childhood. It's no surprise my friend has also become incredibly successful herself.
But, she never saw her mom date. At all.
Facing her own single status, she was terrified — assumed, even — that she also faced perpetual loneliness. Why wouldn't she? That was her model: You divorce. You're alone forever.
However, this new phase of life has opened a new chapter in my friend's relationship with her mother, as these things tend to do. And it turns out that her understanding of her mom's personal life was inaccurate.
“Oh I always had an active sex life,” he mom confessed recently. “I just kept that separate from my relationship with you.”
My friend was stunned. This not only TNT'd her impression of her mom, but upturned her expectations for her own sexual and romantic life — which suddenly became so much brighter.
I love this story because it serves as such great evidence for why we should all be open about our dating lives with our children. I've said it once but it needs to be said a zillion times more:
There is nothing shameful about a mother dating. You are an adult woman who as romantic, emotional and sexual needs. Embracing this fact is great for you, and great for your kids.
Those needs do not conflict with your kids' needs of you, or your relationship with your family. In fact, happily dating is the healthiest thing you can model for your children, both now — and in shaping their points of reference in adulthood. Being sexually fulfilled gives you the energy to parent to your greatest potential. Plus, a healthy romantic life — whatever that means for you — frees your children from their own natural sense that they must fill that void, now and in the future — which is prone to happen in single-parent families.
A sexually satisfied mom is a happier mom.
Now, you know all about age-appropriate information, so I won't even go there. Because, again, you are an adult woman and you know better.
So, tell your kids you are going on a date. Let them meet the man you are seeing — even if you are not sure where the relationship is headed. The more you embrace your sexuality, the healthier it is, and the easier it will be to share with your kids in a way that doesn't make anyone squirm.
Just ask my friend.
Emma Johnson is a veteran money journalist, noted blogger, bestselling author and an host of the award-winning podcast, Like a Mother with Emma Johnson. A former Associated Press Financial Wire reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Glamour, Oprah.com, U.S. News, Parenting, USA Today and others. Her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was named to the New York Post's ‘Must Read” list.
Emma regularly comments on issues of modern families, gender equality, divorce, sex and motherhood for outlets like CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine and The Doctors. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and a “Most Eligible New Yorker” by New York Observer.