Several months ago, I wrote an article about dating and how the word “date” does not have to be considered a 4 letter word. I believe that with all my heart. Having been in a relationship the last several months, hiccups and all, I feel I am in a better position to expound a bit more on dating and some of the obstacles single parents face.
I will admit that I have done my share of dating in the 5 years I have been single. While I have dated, I have been in only 2 relationships I would consider significant. That includes my current one.
The lady I have been seeing is a wonderful person and she has opened my eyes to many things. Things I have known, but refused to acknowledge.
The only other relationship I have been in lasted a couple months and we were separated by 100 miles, so I was able to maintain my lifestyle and continue living as I had without fear of opening my life to scrutiny. That’s not the case now. I can’t hide who I am or what I do, and I am happy about it. We all know the phrase “perception is reality”. That is not always the case. It hasn’t always been the case with me.
The biggest challenge single parents face when in a relationship with someone who also has children is the difference in parenting. You can search high and low, but the chance of finding someone with similar parenting ways is extremely difficult. When I say “ways”, I do not mean values or morals. Most of us would not get involved with someone who does not have similar values and morals. For the sake of this article, let’s assume both adults share similar desires for themselves and their children. “Ways” is more about how you teach, love, understand, discipline and show compassion with your children. It can be much more difficult to find commonalities in these areas.
So, you have a choice. Either you are accepting of the differences or you are not. If you are not accepting of the differences, there is no need to be in the relationship. It will only cause pain and resentment down the road. Plus, the effect it can have on your children has the ability to drive a wedge between you and them, which is not something you want. It will cause friction between you and your children, and friction between you and the person you are in a relationship with. It’s not a recipe for a successful relationship.
On the other hand, there is more to acceptance than just acknowledging the differences you have. Acceptance also means being open to change. That has been my biggest obstacle. I am constantly reminded how stubborn and hard-headed I am. I don’t disagree. I have raised my children by myself over the last 5 years and had no one show me what I might be able to do differently. Truth be told, I don’t know that I would have listened anyway. I feel like my kids are well adjusted considering all they have gone through these last few years. Why would I want to change anything? I’ll tell you why, because there is always room for improvement. We are talking about our children. Why would we not want to improve how we parent? As hard as it is for me to admit, I am not the perfect parent. I have never been more aware of this than over the last several months. I know I have room to improve. If you are doing a good job as a parent, there will be areas others can learn from you as well.
You can have a wonderful relationship if you are willing to accept each other’s different parenting ways. Keep an open mind and know that you can learn from one another. You will be a better person and a better parent.