Establish boundaries. If your new boyfriend doesn't have children of his own, he may not realize just how much time they actually take up. Let him know up front that your kids are your top priority, and that the time you spend with him needs to be planned ahead of time. Even if you are able to arrange child care at the last minute, you're still likely to be less available than a woman with no kids. At the same time, let him know that this doesn't mean you care for him any less. If he doesn't understand, he may not be the right person for you.
Don't push him to be another parent. According to psychotherapist JoAnn Magdoff, it is important to resist the urge to make your new boyfriend a partner in parenting before he's ready. For example, don't ask him to pick up your son from soccer practice just because the field is between his work and your house. When the time is right for him to offer a helping hand, you'll both know.
Don't worry about what other people think. Some people have the opinion that single mothers shouldn't date, whether it's serious or casual. They don't think you should be out dancing on a Saturday night, or even having sex. What do they expect you to do instead, take up needlepoint? Forget them and move on. Honestly, who cares what they think? There is no point in wasting your energy trying to change someone's mind. There are plenty of other people out there who will love and support you, no matter what.
Have your priorities straight. As much as you may enjoy the idea of a weekend in the mountains with your boyfriend, it may be more important that you are home to help your daughter with her science project. Keep your hormones in check when making decisions. If you'd like to go away for a weekend, plan it in advance for a time when there is less going on.
Don't neglect yourself. When you fall head-over-heels for someone, especially if you're a single mom, it is easy to forget your own interests and needs. Don't put your personal desires and values on the backburner for someone else. Remember to nourish and take care of yourself as much as you do your children and your new relationship.
If you're unhappy, end it. Breaking up with someone your children have grown to care about can be very hard to do. Don't stay in a dysfunctional relationship, or one you're no longer happy in, for the sake of your kids. Many married couples make this mistake, but it benefits no one. Staying with someone for this reason makes even less sense when you're not married to him. Many important life lessons are learned through change and loss. You want to make decisions that are best for everyone involved, which includes you, your partner, and your children.
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