Single and Dating With Kids: From the Perspective of A Child Who Grew Up With A Single Woman
Let me start this article off by saying I wrote from this perspective because it’s the only one I know. I don’t have kids yet, but I remember seeing my mom date growing up. As a young girl who was raised by a beautiful, black, single woman, I ended up learning certain things about the opposite sex and dating not only from the things my mother told me but also from the things I saw and noticed. As I grew older and became a woman, I took certain things my mother taught me directly and indirectly into my dating life. With all of that being said, I hope this article opens your eyes to what your children could see, hear, and notice about your dating life. From there, you can apply certain things to how you date in front of your children to your own personal dating life.
To be honest, I don’t have any vivid memories of my mom dating when I was a toddler. She married and divorced young and before she met my father. Eventually, she decided not to stay with him because he wasn’t the greatest human being. One thing I remember (when my memories of her dating life come through) is she introduced no man to me as my “uncle”. (Thank God.) She told me their name, but never added any type of nickname to it. As a little girl, I didn’t think twice about it, but now as a woman, I’m grateful that she never introduced anyone that way. Parallel to the creepy uncle thing she never did, she let me know at an early age that if any man she brought around me said something inappropriate touched me, or even looked at me funny, I was to tell her immediately. She always made me feel protected and that the way I felt about any man she introduced to me mattered to her. It wasn’t a situation of “If you don’t like him, I’ll stop dating him.” It was more so, “If he makes you feel uncomfortable for any reason, or does something funny, let momma know and I’ll take it from there.”
As I became a little older, she allowed her boyfriend at the time to stay overnight. Luckily, my mother never dated creeps, so there wasn’t any funny business. However, she never allowed anything inappropriate to happen in front of me. When I entered my teenage years, she talked to me about boys and answered questions I had not only about my dating life but some aspects of her dating life too. She was honest about the mistakes she made in her dating life and the lessons she learned along the way. She talked to me about the way boys think and would even compare her adult dating life to my non-adult dating life sometimes. She wasn’t just my mother; she was my teacher and I know she knew that. I always believed she understood that I watched and absorbed everything I saw from her. I also think that’s why she was so careful around me and took my feelings into consideration. I mean I don’t remember her asking 9-year-old me, “Do you approve of this man I’m dating?”, but I would always notice how she watched my reaction when she chose to introduce someone to me.
Even though my mother handled dating and being a single mother with absolute grace and humility, she was also human. Humans go through human things and make human choices. As I became older and dated as a young adult woman, I realized that pretty much everything I knew about dating and the opposite sex came her, whether intentionally or unintentionally. After that realization came the next one which made me realize that my mother isn’t a superhero, but rather an imperfect human being just like everyone else in the world. From there it became about me choosing, as an adult, to begin to understand what I learned from my mother and what dating lessons I would keep and let go of. I’m grateful that a beautiful, strong, single black woman who owned her body and sexuality raised me. Being raised by someone with the self-confidence she has was truly was a blessing in disguise. I never saw her being abused or mistreated or tolerating any type of abuse or mistreatment from anyone, as well. Beyond me never seeing it, she flat out taught me to never allow those things for myself either.
No, my mother wasn’t a perfect human in her dating life but she was an exceptional mother who took into consideration not only my feelings but also what she would intentionally and unintentionally show me. She understood that she was my example, and I was watching every single thing she was doing. From my childlike perspective, I felt protected and safe because of her choices and from the perspective of an adult I feel grateful and humbled by the lessons she taught me. She was honest with me about certain things she went through in her dating life and would be even more honest about how she didn’t want me to go through some of those same things. When I became old enough to understand, she explained dating lessons she learned throughout the course of her life; lessons I keep with me ‘till this day. I say all of that to say this: if you’re a single parent who wants to date, do so. You’re an adult. Are you required to ask your child’s permission to date your intended suitor? No. Should you make them feel safe, protected, and comfortable like my mom did? Absolutely. If you take anything away from this article, I hope it’s that your children watch and listen to everything you do. Eventually, they internalize the things you’ve shared with them, and how you considered their feelings throughout your dating life. Then those kids become adults and you get to see the lessons you taught them (intentionally or unintentionally) happen in front of you as they grow older.
If you want them to date people who respect them and treat them with kindness, make sure that’s the people you’re dating and bringing around them. Your child doesn’t expect for you to be perfect, but they expect for you to keep them safe and bring people around them who are just as safe and considerate as you are to them. Just know they notice absolutely everything you do, whether on purpose or not. Wanting better for your child shouldn’t just apply to financial and educational status, but should also include who they end up with. Be the example, because like it or not, not only are your children learning how to be good humans from you, they’re also learning how to date and interact with the opposite sex too. I ask you… what are you showing them?