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Dating as a widow parent of young kids

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Captains wife:
I started dating when my son was about 2 years old but I left him out my dating world until he was about 4 and I was dating someone exclusively. I have my in-laws relatively close by so I could do some overnights - this guy also spent nights at my house (in my spare room) so I wouldn't have to worry about a sitter. I initially felt so awkward dating since my schedule was somewhat limited (and I used to apologize a lot) but I realized over time that the "right" guy will understand and make accomodations to help support your schedule (like staying with you more often). The right person will also embrace that you have a child and be inclusive - once you have decided you want to go in that direction. I also have reliable, hired child care help so that too gives me some flexibility -  I want adult nights out to help maintain a somewhat balanced life. Now, I am dating a divorced man with a young child - and our kids get along so we often meet up and all spend time together. Its nice - although it does have his challenges and I have to say I have more flexibility in my schedule than he does - given his strict custody schedule (which is really back and forth but also has no flexibility in it).

Ill also offer a different perspective - I was so worried about my son getting close to someone I was dating and then feeling a loss if we broke up. I was super overprotective (and in a way we need to be) but when the first guy and I didn't work out, my son honestly forgot about him very quickly and was just fine. I mentioned his name the other day and my son said - "who?". One mistake I made in that relationship was keeping my son and him apart for TOO long..Now that my son is 6, if my current serious relationship didn't work out, I think the loss would be greater for my son and I'm mindful of that. But I also learned that my son is more resilient than I thought.

Finally, agreed that keeping open communication about these things is good - especially so you can guage how the person you are dating can/is dealing with your widow status. I know from experience that certain guys will have limited patience with our 24/7 parenting but I was also pleasantly surprised to meet a number of men (including those without children) who were willing to be flexible with schedules to be supportive.

I am 4 years out, started dating 2 years out, and my daughters are now 18, 16, and 10. I have done all of the above. It's definitely situational, and depends on the child. All three of my daughters have reacted to me dating differently. This probably isn't what you want to hear, but I think the older they are the more difficult dating is. Just my experience. I date less than friends with younger children. It's a lot of juggling around schedules, driving, and activities. Plus older children are more aware and more likely to express their opinions. It's definitely more challenging than a divorced parent. I'm thankful that my in-laws help me so I can get out some.

I started dating 2 years out, when my youngest was 3 (now 6). By that time my oldest was 12, so he could babysit for a few hours while we went to dinner or a movie. My kids all met NG very early on, because he came to do some work for me and that was our fist meeting. It worked out, but I probably wouldn't have done that in a more regular or more casual dating situation.

It does suck never having a night off for a sleepover, etc. My parents are very conservative, so I wouldn't be able to ask them to watch the kids while I had an overnight with NG, and 4 kids is really too much to ask a friend to watch. So in our first two years of dating, I think we had a total of two sleepovers together when I was able to work it out that all of my kids would be gone. Over the last nine months or so, since getting firmly committed, and then engaged, NG stays over on weekends. It took a while for me to really feel comfortable with it, but the kids just took it as normal. NG won't move in until after we are married.

It is definitely a whole different world. Do what you feel comfortable with, what feels right for you.

Dragonfly, you're in exactly the right place. To add my two cents, another different experience - I never 'dated' as such, it is more of a thing here these days (I'm in NZ) than when I was younger but I honestly think I could not have done online. I ended up with someone  I'd known years ago, who helped out with chores every few months after my husband died. So the children (they were six and three) knew him a bit before we became an item. He said he would've waited as long as I wanted but ahem, it took a whole two weeks before he was staying over three nights a week. I knew myself well enough to know it wouldn't be long. And don't have any beliefs surrounding premarital sex, children seeing a bloke sleeping in the same bed as me, etc. That said, it would indeed have been much harder with older more 'aware what mummy is doing' children, I think. And in hindsight (we are happily at 6 years now), it was a gamble. But I would never have actually got to be in an adult relationship with him otherwise.
Though the reasons may be different, logistically there are actually a lot of people, mainly women, out there in the same position, where the other parent has left entirely or was never there to start with, and they too have been left in charge 24/7. Those friends are nice to have too, they have some understanding.

Bear Tomás:
I found it impossible to date before my youngest was into high school. 


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