So many thoughts flooded my mind after my divorce was finalized.

Damaged goods? Single mom? Divorcee?… Yeah this is great. Who is going to want me?

After going through the healing process, I wanted to give love a try again. I am in love with the idea of love. In my mind, there IS someone for me who can love my imperfect self perfectly.

I knew I had to take it slow and be cognizant of any decision I made. There are two people involved: my son and myself. Believe it or not, our precious children suffer the most during our love shenanigans. It impacts their lives just as much.

They too get attached, love, create bonds and reap the benefits of someone being around. It creates a pseudo family unit that we all desire.

Dating for one is difficult, but dating while considering your children can be stressful. 

My focus shifted from looks, style and swag to beliefs, morals and future plans with children involved. When the relationship ends for us, it ends for them as well.

The game of love is abstract, but when you have children you have to make sure the foundation is as strong as concrete by creating rules.

Here are some best practices that I follow in the game of dating with a child:

1. Ask the appropriate questions

Engage in “What if?” and “Do you see yourself dating someone with children?” questions early on. You need to know their thoughts before moving making a commitment.

There’s no need to get involved if that’s not what that individual wants for their future. Spare yourself and save yourself the heartache later.

2. Get to know your potential partner first

Date them for months before a formal introduction to the kids. Make sure you are not dating a serial killer, sex offender, the Spawn, or a master manipulator prying on a single woman to fulfill his needs.

3. Make sure the timing is right

Create a time and space where the initial meeting is as non-threatening as possible. A family setting will be ideal, such as an entertainment complex, sports game, or a family function.

You don’t want the meeting to be awkward, forcing your child and your love interest to shut down. You will find yourself torn trying to mend fences and feelings.

4. Don’t get so caught up that you abandon your children

Don’t spend every free moment on your new love interest. If you’re on the phone while traveling to and from work and when you are cooking dinner, when do you devote yourself fully to your children’s needs?

You have to remember the ones that were there loving you unconditionally in your single days. I know it feels good to have a new boo, but pace yourself and balance it out.

5. Meet your Daddy

Negative! Introduce your love interest as your friend first not someone there to replace their father. Make sure roles are defined and everyone knows the position they play on the team.

Reassure your child, there is only ONE father.

6. Everyone isn’t privileged enough to meet your kid

Children are your most prized possession so treat them as such. You may have a revolving door policy, but don’t allow your children to see that. You set the tone of their relationships later on in life.

7. Listen to your children

Out of the mouth of babes speak the truth. Kids say it best. If your child and your significant other do not get along, take heed. Make sure that your children are just as comfortable in this relationship as you are.

8. Your children know when it is right

They have the ability to see things that you ignore. On the day I got married, my son wasn’t happy at all. People tried to coax him to smile, take pictures and be in the moment. No matter what we did or said, he wasn’t happy. When asked he said, “This is a mistake.”

Sad to say, he was right. He could see it way before I could.

9. Let nature take its course

The universe tends to unfold the way it should. Don’t give disclaimers to your children such as, “Be nice” or force feed your new love to them. Let it happen naturally and allow them to form their own opinions.

Remember, your children are little people with feelings.

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