Have you ever been on a date with someone who was childless and thought to yourself: “If only he/she had kids, then he/she would understand?!” For some reason, it can be incredibly aggravating to listen to those who don’t have kids talk about what they would or wouldn’t do, or better yet–tell you what you should or shouldn’t do. But, just because we start dating someone who is also a single parent and has plenty of parenting experience–does not mean that the two of us will agree on how to handle behaviors, educational choices, and other parenting philosophies.
I am a fairly confident parent and I can sometimes forget that just because some things have worked for me–does not mean that they are the only way to go about parenting. All single parents are not created alike and how one person deals with simple things like bed time and homework can be quite different from another. With single parents, we also often have co-parents and step-parents who are already part of our parenting and family pie so when we start dating another single parent–there can be so many different ideas and philosophies about parenting and family life that get mixed up, it can be overwhelming and confusing! Does this make dating another single parent too hard to handle?
I think we just have to remember that we are very different people and take our time. It may turn out that we do have parenting philosophies that cannot be reconciled. I do think this can be a “deal breaker” but we need to take the time to find out. We also might find that we can be more compromising and compatible as we learn the reasons behind different parenting styles. Not to mention, we cannot expect our date’s children to be exactly like ours (and vice versa)–it might take different parenting techniques to cope with different personalities and dynamics.
Think of it this way–most people marry as single people and don’t find out what sort of parent the other person is until they have children years later. Dating another single parent gives us both a chance to get to know each other as individuals and as parents, and we can go into a relationship with our eyes open and evaluate if our parenting styles and philosophies are compatible or not.