A NEW WAY OF CELEBRATING VALENTINE’S DAY [PERSONAL PERSPECTIVE]
There is no sexual inuendo in the title of this article. Instead, we are focusing on the families who are separated and dating again or may have embraced a new partner. Like many separated or divorced parents, there comes a time for you to dip your toes into the dating pool. Rachael Scharrer, Relationship and Divorce Counsellor and Separation Strategist, share her experience dating as a parent and how her Valentine’s Day celebration perspective has changed.
When you are dating someone new, you may not want to divulge a tonne of personal information. The question stands: when do I share with my date (or potential date) that I have children? I know many people who don’t like to say that they have children on the first date or two. They worry about their security or they are concerned that it may scare off a potential partner. Others like to be more upfront including their parental status in their profiles to weed-out the people who aren’t interested in someone that already has children.
With the rise of divorce and shorter relationships, the likelihood of being in your 30s, 40s and 50s and dating someone that has a child is on the rise. We need to move away from assuming that dating singles are without dependents, that relationships are not without complexity and that families are without skeletons.
One significant misconception in relationships is that you are only dating each other as adults. WRONG (in the case of parents)! When you date a parent, your partner is actually taking on you and your children or dependents - you are a package deal. Similarly, if you are dating a single parent, you too are taking in the package of partner and children.
In my household, I often hear myself say “I just want a moment with my boyfriend” to which I often get the following retort from Mr 11 “he’s the family’s boyfriend” or “he’s dating me too.”
Valentine’s Day has accordingly taken a different look…. it isn’t about a single parent demonstrating love and gratitude to her children. It isn’t just about a single parent sharing time with her boyfriend. Instead, it has turned into another opportunity for a family celebration. In the past few years, we have gone out to dinner as a family of four. The boyfriend buys 3 gifts (one for me and one each for the children). Similarly, I have had to buy something from me and the children want to buy something each for the ‘family boyfriend’.
Baggage or bonus? Depending on how your partner sees your children, their attitude should tell you a lot about who they are as a person and the role that they want to play in your life. Does your partner see your children as a challenge or road-block to getting what they want? Or does your partner see your children as an added source of joy, laughter and memory making? Then you can ask yourself “does that match what you want too?”
Do you celebrate Valentine’s Day in a different or unique way? I’d love to hear your story. Please drop me a line via the contact page or email firstname.lastname@example.org