As a single father, I’m starting to realize how difficult it is to date with children. One thing that makes this even more challenging, is that I prefer to date women without children. Call me double-standard, but I know what I want.
I haven’t done a whole lot of dating since the divorce and have only brought 2 women around my boys in an attempt to get serious and take it to the next level. Both of them broke it off with me because of my youngest sons all-of-a-suden manipulative behavior. He would do things like ask my girlfriend to help him hang up pictures in his room, but when she would look to see what the pictures were, they were of me, the boys and my ex-wife all happy together. Another time he randomly walked up to her and handed her a VHS tape and said “Look! It’s my mom and dads wedding video”. His signature move was to go to his room and cry as loud as he could while I had her over.
How do you react when it’s so obvious that he doesn’t want you around? I don’t blame either one of them for bailing on me. Both of them have never dated a man with children before, so I’m sure this left a bad taste in their mouth about dating men with “baggage”. My oldest son seems to be okay with whatever I do. When asked how he feels about me dating, he said “I just want you to be happy dad”.
My last girlfriend suggested therapy right before she stepped out, so I set up an appointment and swore to be prepared for the next love of my life. My ex-wife, my son and I have been going to family therapy every other week since November and it’s been going very well. Basically, we want our children to accept that my ex and I are not going to get back together and we both want to move on with our lives. The most important thing is that our children are okay with this and if they’re not, we need a way to cope with these unwelcome changes.
It’s no surprise to any of my friends that I move fast! That being said, I’ve been bringing a woman around lately, but to the boys she’s just a friend. We want to start “dating”, but we know it’s not the right time just yet. When she is over there is zero PDA (Public Display of Affection). As things are progressing on the side, we’re looking for the right time to tell them that we like each other.
My son also sees the school psychologist every once-in-a-while as the behavior has spilled over into school. The school psychologist has been very helpful and has developed a special relationship and trust with my son. She is so wonderful and we are so thankful for her. I’m happy to share an email that I got from her just the other day regarding my latest “friend”.
Xxxxx and I had a good visit last week and again yesterday. He seems to be benefiting from the family therapy and able to use the strategies learned from Xxxx and from me productively, which is wonderful progress! He said the following yesterday and wanted me to report it to you.
He has talked favorably about Xxxxx a number of times and yesterday he specified that “there is something different about Xxxxx.” “She is really fun to be with” and “I like being around her.” When I asked why he thought that was true, he said, “Because I can really connect with her.” He went on to say, “She makes me feel good about myself because she is so positive about herself.” Very well said and insightful!! He also likes the fact that she seems interested in him and likes to have him around. He had mentioned that they had fun making the owl cupcakes (I believe) for your birthday. He also likes her dogs.
I thought you would like to hear this. He seems to be in a much better place which is such a relief. He is also able to do some problem solving and handle things positively when he is feeling unsure or unsettled. I am thrilled to see him being able to self-advocate (even with assistance) and also accept things that are short of ‘perfection’ in his view.
This email is good news, but I think we still need to take it slow. It’s nice to have someone that’s understanding and patient with me and my children. She knows the whole situation and has experienced some of his behavior, but things are looking up! Just last weekend we went out of town for the weekend and my son gave us both a hug upon our return. He even called her his best friend.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
How do you deal with dating with children? Let me know in the comments below!