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Sometimes kids say it best. When asked what she wishes her mom would do differently while dating, Rachel, a smart young graduate student, replied, I wish she would recognize her own impulsivity and emotional rollercoaster. She does and says things without recognizing that to some extent our whole family is dating this guy. This year I came home four times from college and he was in town every single time. After I went back to campus each time Mom said, I never get to see you! Yes, well, that s because you were with your boy. Dating for two is difficult dating in a crowd is downright complicated. The kids are engaged, at least on some level, even when you don t think they are.

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And everyone has strong emotions and opinions about who is involved and what the outcome might be. In other words, the whole family is dating. Table for 75! Here are a number of dating best practices for single parents: 6.

Wise singles recognize this important dynamic and don t assume that becoming a couple necessarily means that they can become a family. 7. Avoid a quick turn-around. This sabotages the ability of a stepparent and stepchild to get off on the right foot with one another and puts the family at risk. 8.

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Healthy dating begins with self-examination. Smart singles take a good long look in the mirror before dating. They examine their motivations for dating, fears (e. G. , their children not having a father), loneliness, and unresolved hurt (e.

, after divorce). How do you know when you re ready to date? When you don t need to. 9. Engage in What if?

Conversations. Even before dating, single parents begin a series of conversations with their children that ask, What if I began dating? How would you feel? Periodically, they engage the conversation again and again: What if Sara and I began dating regularly?

What if John s kids came over every Friday through the summer? What if she and I were to get engaged?

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