Just because you're a single parent, doesn't mean you're undatable.
Strong title for a personally motivated post... Trust me, I know it first hand.
Let me give you some back story before I begin to go in about dating as a single parent.
I have been a single parent since my daughter was born, after deciding to go back to school for a second degree in psychology (the first being fashion design,) I finally found myself teaching young children. Dating wasn't even on my radar, my first priority was becoming a solid provider for my daughter, and I accomplished that. But as I found myself in the working world, I began to crave more in the romantic world. I was still only in my early twenties, where both men and women have no idea what they want, and really aren't searching for anything in specific, and I lived in that space for quite some time. Dating people who weren't about much, didn't get to know my daughter or any of my family, if anything they were just an outlet for me, a way for me to feel relevant. That lasted for a short while, actually years. Then I grew up.
After many many failed dates and nights wondering why I didn't hear from him, I started to think I was damaged goods. Damaged goods because I already had a child, because I wouldn't be a first for my future someone, because I had "baggage." While I knew my daughter wasn't baggage or didn't qualify me as damaged, I allowed myself to be defined by the dating world/society to define my worth. I was saddened by my insecurities. I've never been insecure or thought that I was undeserving of all the things I desire, but somehow I felt I was swimming in the smaller, less desirable pool of singles...Until I took inventory of WHO I AM.
So many times we, by we I mean divorcees/single parents/widowers, think we have less to offer, or have more drama, or are emotionally unstable; this idea of our self worth being calculated by our circumstances has got to come to an end. It took me a longggggg time to get to that understanding. I'm talking years people. It wasn't easy, I tried everything under the sun to make my potential boyfriends feel more at ease about my daughter, but for what??
I quickly learned that I don't need anyone to feel comfortable about my circumstances at all. They're either in, or they're out. Stop making excuses for your who you are, and start being an example for all that you've done.
So, you have a child/children
Let's call it what it is, most people are going to have had or have children in this lifetime. Some may choose not to, and some just haven't gotten to it yet. That does not change your choices, or affect your life in any way at all. You have a child or children, meaning at some point in your life the opportunity arose for you to reproduce and you took it. Ask yourself what being a parent has done for you. I know for me, it took me out a really bad lifestyle, made me stronger, give me a deeper sense of purpose, and lightens my load EVERY DAY. Think about that. Analyze all of benefits you have experienced as a parent, these benefits aren't the same as a new skin cream... they're life changing.
The day you became a parent, most likely everything changed. You learned about true love, you understood sacrifice, you became intrinsically motivated, life held a different meaning, you strived for higher goals, I can go on and on. Now try explaining that to someone who has no idea what that is, they'll never understand. Or at least, they may not be in the place and time to understand, and that's ok. Your life plan may not be same as the guy you swiped right on. Read that again.
Your life plan may not be the same as the guy/girl you swiped right on.
You cannot make a partner ready for you.
As a parent, you're already traveling at full steam. Your daily life is full of making sure you're working at the most efficient levels, getting your child/children together, keeping the home as peaceful as possible, and all the while making sure you brushed your teeth. There isn't any time for someone who isn't ready to get in the swing of your pace. It'll only slow you down and stop your flow. Here's the thing, you ARE a parent, there's no denying it, it's a skill. Regard it as such. Not everyone is able to have happy children, keep a home and a job and find time for a stranger. BUT YOU CAN. Do not give time to those who aren't ready for all that you are, it's not that you have an excessive amount of responsibility, but that your potential date isn't ready to handle what you're able to handle. If your new guy/girl is giving you grief about what's on your table, it means they don't have enough on theirs.
Stop dating emotionally unempathetic people.
You know, as well as I know, being a parent makes you extremely empathetic, let be real, the whole gig of parenting is thinking about someone else. If you're dating the guy or girl who had full chest pics and/or said his/her cell phone was on his top 5 most important things in life, they aren't for you. We are living in a highly narcissistic society, everything is ME ME ME, "what can you do for me?" This is our double edged sword. People have become the biggest "go getters" but also the biggest jerks. We judge people based on a profile or a 9 square social media page. If there is a hint of any of this type of behavior in someone you're potentially going to date, proceed with caution. Unless you're dating with no intention and just want a free meal every now and then, you're wasting your time. Remember, eventually you will have to introduce this person to your kids, and when that happens you'll question if they're able to be selfless. Cutting someone off because they don't possess empathy or understanding is probably the quickest save you give your dating life as a parent. You will have nights where you have to cancel because your baby's sick, or because your ex-wife is needs help. This doesn't make you a hinderance to a future partner, but it does mean you require a certain level of empathy in partner. Holding out for someone who can be emotionally empathetic will save you from having to explain or make excuses, save the stress for something that matters.
It's ok to be excited about your kids.
Somehow being a parent and dating is a hush hush experience...WHY??? At what point did we as parents decide that a stranger is worthy of making us silent about our children. NEVER. I'm sure you've all been there, me included, on a date with someone, they as about your kids and you give the quickest and shortest response possible. FOR WHAT?? If someone is willing to date you in spite of the fact that you played your children down, what kind of partner do you think they'll be?? You should feel elated to answer a question about your children/parenting. Remember all the benefits that parenting has given you!!!! Now, you don't have to talk about how it made you respect breast pumps, but you should definitely exclaim how much you love them. If your intention is to look for a life partner, and you've made that clear, then do not feel like you need to shy away from that part of your life. It's who you are for the next 18 + years, once again, they're in or they're out. I've heard the whole "let them get to know you, before you talk about your kids too much," I'm sorry that's BS. While your kids don't define you, they make up a pretty large part of your life, and it shouldn't scare someone away, if anything it should be an example of not only your heart, but your work ethic and maturity.
There is a perfect fit for you.
After all this is said and done, I'm speaking from experience. I've been there way too many times, it took me a long time to figure out how to navigate the dating world, and also read the signs. I'm still currently single, I've had some amazing relationships that have led into amazing friendships. Not because they were jerks, or couldn't handle my circumstances, but because we weren't meant to be. I'm still hopeful and have absolutely no worries about meeting the man for me (and my daughter.) Don't settle for less, don't be less of who you are, and don't let anyone make you feel like your children make you less desirable. You are everything to a little someone, and you'll be everything to a big someone.