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Rules and Boundaries

Rules and Boundaries are important when dating, but if you are a single parent of small children, the rules are crucial.

I separated from my ex-husband when my children were quite young, ages 6 and 3.

Although my ex and I have our issues, and we infuriate each other, we never fight in front of the kids. We try, as hard as it is, never to make negative comments to the children about the other parent.

We realized early on that we are going to be in each other’s lives at least until they are 18 and even beyond. We were credited by the school and our day care provider for doing a good job at not putting the children in the middle of our divorce. Not that they were completely unscarred, but they are well-adjusted and welcome any significant others either their dad or I bring into the mix. That being said, my rules have always been to refrain from mixing my dating life with my family.

I am a firm believer in waiting until there is a foundation of a relationship before introducing the kids to the person I am dating. Of all my "dating rules" I believe this is the most important. I don’t want to look back someday and know my children had 50 "Uncle Johns." I want to be comfortable and secure as a couple before I introduce them to my children. My date also needs to earn the right to meet the kids. How many times have you gone out with someone a few times and, although you were into them early on, a month later you are not so sure anymore? There is always a "honeymoon" phase where everything is perfume and roses … until all of a sudden you get too comfortable. This is the time where you and the other person are exposed to all the faults you tried to hide.

Usually, children have the other parent in their lives. Don’t look for a substitute parent for them as you look for a mate. Don’t approach dating as searching for an instant family. Of course, if you are a parent you do need to look at things that would be red flags - things you wouldn’t ever want your children exposed to. I do not approach dating as finding a daddy for my kids because no one will ever take that place or the importance from my ex. And it could confuse the children as well because they might feel as though they need to pick sides or stick up for a biological parent.

I have plenty of time to go out when I don’t have my children and I reserve those days for that purpose. My children are not affected at all by my going out with the friends who I’ve met via TheSingleEvent.com or dating. They have stability and know that when I have them, I am here with them. I am not implying that I am the best mother in the world and I certainly have my faults. But I am certain that mixing my family and dating too early is detrimental to them.

When they look back on these years as they enter into college and create their own families, I hope they will remember that I was always here and protected them from outside dangers. Of course, every situation is different and only you can decide for your own family what is an appropriate time frame to introduce your children to someone.

Just slow it down and don't rush the process. Your children might appreciate it and your relationship could have a stronger foundation.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

jason alster March 08, 2012 at 09:28 PM
I think you have a great blog- Keep blogging-Jason Alster
Joel Waldron March 10, 2012 at 04:39 PM
Kimberly - excellent and critical advice for single parents. I'm a life coach and I see many a child put in second place behind the parent's relationship of the moment. A child's well-being has got to be a parent's primary responsibility and focus. Well done!
Kimberly Oryell March 10, 2012 at 06:21 PM
Thanks Joel, I truley appreciate your comments.
Jean Weidlich March 10, 2012 at 06:25 PM
Kimberly, I too agree that your advice is very good and you are on the right path to both being a mother and being single. I have been a single mother for 10 years and have been dating on and off for the past 5 yrs I still find it a difficult balancing act at times. No matter how old your children are you will always be a mom and if whoever you meet or date doesn't see or understand that tread lightly and look before you leap. Jean Weidlich, West Hartford.
Kimberly Oryell March 10, 2012 at 08:27 PM
Thanks Jean. I am so glad my own experience can help other single parents. This feedback has been very much appreciated.

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