Thought for the Day:
“The most difficult part of dating as a single parent is deciding how much risk your own child’s heart is worth.”
Question for the Day:
As a single mother, do you date responsibly?
When I first wrote this post in 2016, I secretly feared that single moms might take offense to a married woman attempting to offer them some guidance. Although the struggle is real for married mothers as well, it is admittedly a different type of struggle. Yet for the record, my husband works two night jobs. So after 7:00 pm, I relate very much to single motherhood. It is very difficult to work a full day on a demanding job, and then come home to my second full-time job of parenting. There are plenty of nights that I just want to come home, crawl in my bed, order some take out and binge watch Netflix. Instead, I’m forced to give myself a migraine trying to decode math problems that I happily left back in junior high. Most days, I’m just flat out too tired to do anything, including write, but the call of motherhood is relentless no matter what the heck I feel like. This is why, although I can’t fully understand, I truly empathize with the challenges of single parenting.
For the single mother, life’s demands must feel even more overwhelming because there are generally less opportunities for relief. At least in my case, I can count on my husband to make dinner before he goes to work and get the kids started on their homework. I know he’ll go to the grocery store, pay the utility bills and can be available to pick up the kids from school if they get sick. I also know that at least two days a week he’ll be off and I can squeeze in a few hours of guilt-free vegetation on the couch since he’s home to back me up. Though my life as a married woman is harder than most, it is still not as difficult as a single mom’s. In my opinion, single mothers deserve double honor because they are doing the work of two people at home, and are usually holding down a job (or two) to boot. If it is up to one person to solve all the problems, remember everything, make all the plans, administer all the discipline, make all the money, pay every bill, and basically be the brains and brawn behind their family’s entire operation, it would be totally understandable for them to get tired of playing all positions and want some help! If you are a single mother who is wearing your knees out praying for God to draft a new player to your team, trust me, you get no shade from me.
Now, even though it is completely understandable for a single mother to desire a partner, it is not understandable or acceptable for her to open her life and family up to any and all takers. The “any man is better than no man” mantra might work if it’s just you and you’re up for another spin on the emotional roller coaster, but most children are not tall enough to ride that ride. As a therapist, I cannot stand to see women make horrible decisions in their love relationships especially when their kids will often pay the price for their bad choices. Furthermore, it’s terrible to have an adult in therapy who is suffering with emotional issues or addiction because they are still not over the fact that their mom allowed some boyfriend, “play daddy” or pretend “uncle” to molest or abuse them. Not only do many women overlook how bad their boyfriends may treat their kids, some will even blame their children for whatever abuse occurs. That’s not just a plot line in Precious but probably the most common story I’ve heard from troubled clients in therapy. A quick search of the internet will soon prove that abuse of children at the hands of mommy’s boyfriend is ridiculously common.
Now, not all the men that single mothers bring around their children are bad. Single women get blessed with good husbands all the time. However, if you are immature and not yet prepared to be a quality partner yourself, you may not be ready for a good man when one comes along. In fact, many single mothers are not single because they were left high and dry by deadbeats. Some are single mothers because they were still running the streets and game playing when they conceived their children. Some were just partying too hard or trying to keep a man that didn’t need to be kept. These single mothers may not be letting the responsibility of motherhood mature them and wouldn’t know what to do with a good man if he showed up anyway. Stand-up men may enter their lives with full intentions of stepping up to the plate, only to be labeled “corny” or too straight-laced for the single mother still looking to drop it like its hot. I don’t know why it always seems that the women least in the market for a quality man, tend to find them, but I know that it sets innocent children up for multiple losses and a lifetime struggle with abandonment issues.
Irresponsible mothers tend to introduce various men into their kids’ lives just to turn around and end relationships that their children may have come to rely on. It’s not fair to drag a child through your relationship drama and force him/her to cut off their emotional attachments to the man in your life on a moment’s notice whenever things get boring. All mothers know that once you have children, it isn’t about you anymore so though you’re free to “do you,” it can’t be without considering how your actions will impact your children. So, if you’re a single mother who’s in the market for a new boo, here are some questions to ask yourself before you bring a new man into your kids’ lives.
Are your children your top priority? There should be absolutely nothing and no one that comes between you and your responsibility to love, nurture and protect your children. I don’t care if he makes your toes curl or can get your furniture out of layaway. Being a good man to you does not necessarily make him a good man for your children. If all the special treatment comes at the expense of your kids, then it shouldn’t be worth it. Are you leaving them home alone more or with any and everybody just so that you can be booed up on the weekends? Are you running the streets with bae instead of being home checking homework or cooking meals? Are you forfeiting basketball money or school picture funds in the name of getting your hair and nails done because that’s what your new baby likes? If so, then you are neglecting your responsibilities and allowing a man, who may or may not be in it for the long haul, to make you lose focus on what’s most important. If he is a good man, he would never ask you to neglect your family. He would understand why your time may be limited or that you may not be available if appropriate childcare is not in place. If he doesn’t get why your children are your first priority, then he will never be a man that should be entrusted with their care long-term.
Do you want a good man or will anyone do? Are you willing to wait on the quality man God has for you or will you take anyone who “accepts” you and your kids? Remember, having children does not make you defective or handicapped. Motherhood is not an STD that you have to feel guilty about exposing your partner to. Bae isn’t doing you any favors because he’s willing to share his PlayStation with your son. If he’s a good man and you’re a good woman, then your children would be an additional blessing to his life. Don’t settle for less than you deserve because you’ve bought into the lie that you’d better consider all the mouths you have to feed and take what you can get. If you do this, then you’re also teaching your children that they are partly responsible for your bad relationship choices and therefore must put up with whatever backlash results.
Does the man you’re dating already have children and if so, what’s his relationship with them? I mean seriously, you want to bring a man with four kids and three baby mamas in on you and your kids? If he is not taking responsibility for his own flesh and blood, what on earth makes you think he’s looking to be a stand up guy for your children? He either doesn’t like fatherhood or can’t afford it. If he’s not paying child support as it is, what part of his check do you think he’s prepared to allot for you and yours? My guess is, he’s already in the rears and has his other baby mamas hounding him for payment. He might just be “in love” with you in an effort to cut expenses and keep a permanent address off the record.
Do you have unresolved childhood issues of abuse or neglect yourself? Part of our fragility as human beings is our tendency to heal pretty slowly from deep childhood wounds. It’s also a common defense mechanism for us to stay in denial about the traumatic events we may have experienced. Yet, without insight and awareness, many of us will unconsciously repeat our parents’ mistakes. If your mother only dated men who laid around and drank forties, beat her or who were inappropriate with you and your siblings, it would be very easy to choose this same type of man for yourself. Be sure that you are not playing a subconscious game in which you choose the same horrible “step daddy” for yourself so that you can rectify all of the wrongs in your past.
What are your deal breakers when it comes to your children? What will you allow in your household? What will you not tolerate? How is a man, WHO IS NOT YOUR HUSBAND allowed to treat your children? In my opinion, the only role a boyfriend to a single mom should play is to support his woman in whatever decision she makes in terms of disciplining her kids. He can help, support, encourage, and teach, but discipline is the job of a parent. And only putting a ring on it and committing to a lifetime of responsibility for a woman and her children would qualify a man as a parent. So I’m not understanding why so many women allow their boyfriends to beat, disrespect, berate, manipulate, and intimidate the children God entrusted to their care. You may try to blame your man for the sin like Adam did Eve in the garden, but at the end of the day, God is going to come looking for you.
Is the man you’re dating marriage material? If your boo is nowhere close to being ready or equipped to carry the spiritual, financial or emotional load of a family, then why are you confusing your children by playing house? Why are you carting your kids and your boyfriend off to JC Penny for fake family photos and threatening your misbehaving children with a sorry “wait ’til Ray Ray gets home?” That is not their daddy! I know you like to pretend, but don’t make your children play the role because you’re not willing to face the fact that he’s not interested in making you his wife.
Are you honestly even ready to settle down and commit yourself? Are you in the market for a husband and a father for your children or do you just need help with your Comcast bill? Are you just looking for a babysitter so you can kick it on Ladies Night with your girls or do you honestly want a partnership? Stringing men along just to get your personal needs met may work for you, but it won’t work for a vulnerable child who is already struggling with the absence of his/her biological father. They will likely be eager to attach to any good man that might promise to fill that empty seat. Live-in relationships are always serious to a child with a daddy void, even if it’s not serious to you. If you’re bent on playing the field, then cool. Just make sure you bench the kids and run your own plays.
Remember ladies, you can audition as many daddies for your children as you want. There is no sin in dating as a single mother or praying, planning, and preparing for the right man to enter your life. Just make sure you don’t burden your kids with the selection process. Single mothers who hold it down in spirit and in truth on the daily are Queens indeed. Many men are willing to “play daddy,” but only a King can be a father.
” Children are a gift from the Lord. They are a reward from Him.”