Wednesday, 14 October 2015

How to Find Love (and marriage) as a Single Parent

Many  single parents out there find it difficult to find love not because they do not have admirers or people who are interested in having a relationship with them, but because they do not state clearly to their partners how important it is for their children to be accepted.

Before we go into the business of the day let us look briefly at who a single parent is….
Who is a single parent?

A single parent is a parent who is separated or widowed or who has never been married and is responsible for taking care of his/her child (or children) on their own, without the help of a partner. During the last 20 years, families with only one parent have become increasingly common, with the number of single-parent families being expected to rise each year indefinitely. Also, a single parent sometimes called a solo parent is a parent, not living with a spouse or partner, who has most of the day-to-day responsibilities in raising the child or children. In other words, a single parent is considered a parent with the other parent completely absent from the child’s life.

Historically, death of a partner was a major cause of single parenting but single parenting can also result from separation, death, divorce of a couple with children, adoption, child abuse, abandonment by biological parents, out of wedlock pregnancy i.e., parents that never married. There are different reasons why a person becomes a single parent. They may choose this lifestyle, they may have been in a relationship which they left, or perhaps their partner has died or left them.

Now as a single parent how do you find love and probably marriage?

For some people it is usually very easy for them to meet someone to fall in love with. They end a relationship then start another one almost immediately.  For people like that, everything just falls beautifully into place. The single mother/father meets a new love who embraces both the parent and child and all three go on to live happily ever after. For some however, it is usually not always as smooth as that. Sometimes the child seems to be an obstacle to finding a partner (especially for the single mother). One man after another says something like, “Well, I love you but your children are in the way of our relationship.”

Firstly, let’s take a look at the things you should or shouldn’t do………..

If you are a single parent looking out for marriage and you believe you are in love with someone, make sure the person defines in clear terms what they are willing to do about becoming a special part of your family before you start planning a wedding. If that partner is someone who wouldn’t want anything to do with your child(ren) or can’t stand the person you had those kids for (especially when the other parent is in the picture), or the relatives of the person in case of a deceased spouse, you need to tread softly. For women, marrying a man who wouldn’t take your children as his may have huge implications for your relationship with your children and your relationship with him. This also applies to single fathers. Children are very sensitive beings, they can see through people. If the person you are considering spending the rest of your life with is someone who will definitely never love them as his, they won’t like him and they will be angry with you for bringing him into their lives. Such a man won’t be involved in their lives. This may make you resentful that he isn’t taking charge of the daily demands of managing the home. He would also at some point resent the time you would be spending with the children too.

It would be bad for you to think you can still be as romantic as you were before you had children because back then you were young and child-free. It is harder to be in a relationship when you have to see your partner less because you have to attend to a sick child or have to take care of their needs. Some men may not understand this ‘distraction’ and may resent you for that. You on the other hand may also resent him for his lack of understanding or concern for your children’s wellbeing.

You may find yourself considering making uncomfortable compromises concerning your children so as to keep your relationship but believe me; you would lose respect for yourself from your partner. When going into a relationship, have it at the back of your mind that your children can disrupt the best laid plans and also carry your partner along as much as possible.

As a single parent looking out for love and marriage, these are the things you should have in mind or look out for in a partner—

·       They should be ready to love your children: Your children are part of you and they are not going anywhere anytime soon. It’s true that marrying a person without children is not as complicated as marrying a person that does but it’s also more rewarding. Why is that it makes you start a family instantly so if you two would be having children together, it would be easier for you to adjust. As a single mom, a man who embraces your children as an opportunity to have even more love in his life is someone you should take seriously.

·        They understands that your children take priority while you adapt to being a wife/husband: You singlehandedly met your partner, and then you fell in love with him. The truth is the children didn’t. They will probably be hesitant no matter how loving your partner may be to them. They may not be happy about not having your attention all the time like they used to before you met your partner. They may likely not want to adjust to the changes that come with marriage. This is when you should be mature as adults, be tolerant and encourage them to handle the little changes that come with moving to another house or accommodating another person in their home and in their lives.

·       That partner understands that loving you means getting involved with the whole family: To be sure you are in a relationship that can lead to marriage, your partner must understand that to  make a family with you, he/she must be willing to accept the grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and whoever is related by birth or by choice as part of their life as well. From experience, I know that children love being connected to their extended family as long as that family is reasonably sane and ok. Your partner also should make it clear to their extended family that they now have more children to love as their own. 

·        They know that loving you means partaking in the task of parenting: It is very important that both of you make decisions about how you will both encourage and discipline the children. It is an important decision that should be made during your courtship. This is because for children to grow into loving adults, they need parents who agree on issues and are on the same page almost all the time. They should have both parents teach them how to be faithful, honest and responsible for their actions. A partner who is interested in deciding how to be a parent to your children as well as whether he or she is allowed to be a parent is definitely a good one.

If you can find a partner you really love, loves you back and has all or most of these qualities, you are in a good relationship. You may just walk down the aisle soon.

However, as a single parent in a relationship, it is of high importance that you hold on to the things you strongly believe in….. Those values you want in a soul mate that are non-negotiable. It is beyond all doubts that there are some qualities you want in a partner that cannot be compromised. Probably it includes finding someone who practices the same religion as you so that the children don’t end up confused as to which religion to go for or you want someone that is financially stable enough to complement you. It is advisable that you hold on to those qualities or values you want in a soul mate because it would go a long way in giving you the happiness you want in your marriage.
A note of warning however....... do not set unrealistic standards for yourself because if you do, you may end up remaining single for a very long time!

Wish you all the best in your relationship.


Bukola Oyetunji

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