Video: Single moms need to get over their shame about being a sexual adult

Huffington Post Live invited me to participate in this discussion about single parents and dating based on my post Dating as a Single Parent is the Same as Dating as a Teenager. think these moms and dads are too uptight when it comes to introducing their kids to their love interests. You have this madonna-whore complex when it comes to dating, holding tight to antiquated notions that you cannot be both a nurturing, responsible mother AND a single adult in need of love, companionship, romance and a sex life. A few facts to consider:

  • Dating is normal. You hide the fact that you date from your kids, you teach them that romance and relationships are shameful. Because YOU think dating is shameful. Get over it.

  • No one wants to hurt their kids. Duh, people. And yes, you may introduce your kids to someone who may then leave your lives.

  • Loss — like romantic partnership — is part of life. In September my daughter will leave the daycare, school and teachers that has been a part of her life for 35 hours per week for four years. That is a huge loss. It will be sad. It is also a natural part of life.

  • It is your job as a parent not to shield them from the realities of life, but to teach them how to deal with life’s realities. Adults need adult relationships. Adult relationships often end (remember: you’re divorced!)

  • Wait to introduce your kids to someone you’re committed to, all kinds of stuff can happen. They may hate your kid. You may see a not-so-nice side of that person. You might start to reconsider jumping into a blended family. After all, second marriages suffer way, way higher divorce rates than first marriages.

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13 thoughts on “Video: Single moms need to get over their shame about being a sexual adult

  1. Thanks for this post. It’s helped me think about this totally differently. I don’t particularly want to introduce my kids to anyone I’ve dated so far, but it makes me feel better about the inevitability of them meeting their dad’s girlfriend. (My kids are the same age as your kids – still very little.) All the conventional wisdom and parenting-after-divorce books advise waiting until you’re in a seriously committed relationship to introduce kids and significant others … but I’ve worried about that! What if I become attached to someone and then that person and my kids don’t mesh? My kids and I are a package deal. That would be heartbreaking … and I don’t really want to do that kind of heartbreak again.

  2. Thanks for this Single Mom. Other things to consider: LIFE! If you want to get to know someone, you have to spend a ton of time with them. Time is precious – especially as a single parent. Also: What if you meet a guy through your kids – at school, playground, etc. They will know that guy from the beginning. People need to lighten up and GET REAL.

  3. Ideally, I would wait until it was someone that I could at least SEE myself getting serious about. Unless, yes, it was literally someone you met on the playground or something. But even then, I think it would just be very casual, brief encounters until we are getting serious. For now I do want to keep my romantic life separate from my family life. I don’t want to feel like I’m lying to my kids either – but I feel like I can mention dating to them without them having to meet the person for a while.

    I also will admit that, while one reason I wouldn’t want to introduce my kids is to protect them, another reason is probably to protect myself. Like to me, since the only man to hang out with them that I’ve been romantically involved with was my ex/their dad, it just feels like a BIG step. For me, not just them. Like you’d be introducing your real life to them, as opposed to just the separate fun of dating. You’re opening up more to them and becoming more vulnerable. I get what you’re saying about lightening up… and I’m sure some of my paranoia just comes from inexperience and over time I’ll get more comfortable with everything. But I do think it’s a balance… I don’t want to expose the kids to too much either or too early just because it is more convenient, for instance. I do want them to stay children and not be thinking too much about my dating life.

    1. Erica- It is really insightful that you recognize that dating is a big deal to YOU because of your inexperience. But I take issue with this: “I do want them to stay children and not be thinking too much about my dating life.” As I’ve said in this post and others: There is not one shameful thing about dating. That you have needs and wants as a person and woman will not corrupt your kids and rob them of their childhoods!

      1. it’s not shameful but it is mature. I assume you do agree their exposure to dating needs to at least be age appropriate? And to me that includes them not meeting every man that might flit into my life for a bit.

  4. girl, you are so right about this. new guy needs to meet your littles and you need to watch how they interact… before a ring is on your finger. sing it sister!

  5. Of course all children are different, but I do agree with Emma overall. The “experts” in my collaborative divorce talked about not introducing kids and new partners until it’s very serious. So we told our kids that’s how things would unfold. They were in middle school at the time. A few months later when ex was ready to introduce his girlfriend, the kids knew it was serious, he told them it was “very serious” and this made my kids feel like they *had* to like her and that they were going to get married. This was rough on my kids as they felt they had to go from zero to sixty on a dime- bam! here’s someone you didn’t even know about but now here she is and we are very serious and you better like her. I introduced in a much more casual way after about three months of dating, assuring them while we intended to date for while there were no guarantees in life. They had a completely different relationship with my boyfriend, whom I continued to date for another year, and they all got along very well without feeling forced.

  6. Lisa, thanks for this. That is an interesting story re: your ex and the heightened expectations. These scenerios can be so loaded and forced when instead they can be a really normal, casual and healthy relationship for all parties involved. I’m sorry your kids went through that and good on you for learning from it.

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