Relationship advice from Aunt Nikki: A single mother’s guide to dating

Me giving relationship advice? A good joke, yes? I figure if anyone knows how to screw this shit up, it’s me, so I’ll tell you what I did and you’ll know very well where to steer clear.

And just so you know where this all began, I’ll tell you that bit too… A wee while back a gorgy, young, recently single mother asked me about dating with a child. It seems there isn’t a lot of advice out there for those who find themselves with a kid, at a stage where they still want to head out and socialise with other (potentially and probably childless) people, and possibly want to date one of those fine (or not so fine) people. So I thought I’d use a few of my disaster stories my experiences to start a bit of a convo on the matter. And also say how bullshit some of the taboos of single parenthood are.

A single mother’s guide to dating (not exhaustive or accurate or even very helpful)

1) I can tell you now, your kid will not be damaged by being exposed to new people. Your kid will be damaged if you think they’ll be damaged and treat them accordingly. I took the “be honest” route and found that Hannah was particularly perceptive about it all. I mean, they have no idea about the nuclear family at this stage so why should they be hung up on it? It changes a little as they get older and they get a smidgeon fixated on having a “daddy and mummy”… but the honesty thing has been working well for me. It also helps if you send your kid/s to a school in Wellington where the nuclear set seems to be in the minority. Damn Auckland and its conservative nature.

2) You didn’t sign a vow of chastity when you had your kid. You are more than able to date someone without having to be a mother and let loose a little. I did it a few times (2009: the year of fun, anyone?) and didn’t really intend for those “dates” to turn into a lasting relationship and it just pissed me off when I was asked about the kid. Especially with an exceptional hangover after a certain person caught a pic of the kid on the screen of my phone as I checked the time. He got dangerously close to being kicked out on the spot. So, anywayyyy… you are allowed to have fun. There’s no rules saying you have to have a courting period in this whole dating game.

3) And while we are on the subject of fun… a kid walking in on you having sex can be quite distressing. But it’s probably just as distressing as if it were their other parent, so don’t worry about that either.

4) Sometimes kids are a pain in the ass to new people. Don’t take the kid’s behaviour personally. And neither should your partner. Hannah barely ever listens to Dion. And sometimes she refuses to give him hugs or kisses. It breaks my heart. But when I think about, she never listens to me either and often declines by attempts at affection so I don’t know what I’m worried about! She doles them out when it suits her.

5) Bribery is a beautiful, beautiful thing. Treats can win over kids. And no, don’t feel guilty about it. They are fickle little demons.

6) Sometimes it’s a logistical nightmare dating with a kid. So creative date ideas are handy. Childless people [mostly] don’t seem to understand that it is a massive pain in the ass to get babysitters. Especially on a regular basis. But it needs to be remembered that dates don’t have to take place in the evening, and don’t have to be somewhere you can’t take the kid. Or can be at home!

7) There’s no such thing as going on a date with a new person being “too soon” after a relationship ending – or at least when you think that’s being dictated to you by other people anyway. If you find someone you like then that’s fine… if you need a bit more time by yourself, that’s fine too.

8) When hanging out with a new person it’s kinda hard to figure out how much of your identity is you, and how much is that of a parent. You need them to know your kid/s to know you, but then you need them to know you so they’ll be able to accept your kid/s. Catch 22. Basically, if they are worth it then it’ll work out.

and I guess the last thing I’ll say is…
9) Figuring out what kind of relationship your new partner and the kidlet/s will have is a work in progress. It can change. As I said in number 1, the honesty thing helps. It’s a hard one entering an insta-family – the parents have the chance to grow and learn with their kids from birth while a new partner often has to learn to deal with a kid from day one. I’m not terribly surprised it takes a bit of getting used to when I start to think about that. Never an excuse for being an asshole to your kid though. Remember that.
I think that’s enough from me without regaling you with stories of specific, horrific dates. Perhaps I’ll save those for another day. If anyone has any much better advice, feel free to share that too.
Love,
Aunt Nikki

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7 thoughts on “Relationship advice from Aunt Nikki: A single mother’s guide to dating

  1. Love the advice Aunt Nikki.

    I broke up with my husband/partner of 13 years, and dated someone 3 months later. I was informed that this was WAY too soon as we had 2 children together, and the date had 3 children. However, we are now happily engaged, and living together with all 5 kids. Do what is right for YOU not anyone else.

    Like

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