With sites like POF, Tinder, and OkCupid, and living at such a fast pace, a lot of people have turned to online dating to find a friend, partner, or spouse. But, as I have seen recently with some of my own friends, this can be murky territory. People can present themselves one way online and be totally different once you meet them. It is important as single parents (which this site caters to) to be even more careful since there are children involved. Here are seven steps to help you navigate this terrain:
Post a clear pic of yourself that is current (within a year) and without location markers in the background. This is important if you meet a future stalker, you don’t want this person to be able to look at your pic and figure out where you and your family lives.
Cross-reference. Once you have found someone who interests you online, do a little digging on the Internet. Check them out using a Google search, LinkedIn, etc. See if they are being as transparent as they can online and truthful.
Keep it online initially. The reason I say this is so that you can learn more about the person while you are still in the safe zone. Some feel the opposite and want to meet in person as soon as possible but, if the said individual is not safe, you have averted a possible dangerous situation.
Believe what they say. While corresponding with them, they immediately mention that they are not looking for anything serious believe them. If after chatting with them numerous times and they are always making sexual innuendo but you want something deeper, let go and move on. Do not waste time living in la la land. Do not look at the pic or see them in person and let the physical override your common sense. Remember there are children involved.
Initially meet them in public place. Do not have them pick you up at your home or even relatives house. Great first dates can happen during brunch time and early evening hours.
Try hard to take it slow in the beginning. Sometimes people can put on a show for 3-6 months but usually it quickly unravels after that. If you move too fast, you risk the chance of becoming attached to a person and feel conflicted because you want to leave but comfort and emotions and overpower reason.
Do not immediately have them around your child(ren). This one is self-explanatory.
Of course, there are other precautionary measures to take but, I thought these were the biggies. I would love to tell you, just have fun and throw caution to the wind but as single parents that may not be the smartest thing to do. I, myself, have been toying with the idea of getting on one of these sites in the future when my life settles down but in the interim I have seen through my friends and even colleagues, that serious consequences can occur. So, I’m sorry but not sorry for the heaviness of this post. Everything should be alright if we use our heads.
When I think of my mother, I think of a strong woman whom worked hard all of her life until she retired on disability. This is the same woman who had two children early in life and then was surprised by another (myself) in her late thirties. Needless to say there was a lot of adjusting that needed to take place. With an 18 year gap between myself and my sister and a 20 year gap between myself and my brother, my mother and I have always struggled to bond as she wasn’t used to children any longer.
Now don’t get me wrong, she was the best mother she could be but, she, herself had grown up with a mother whom did not show love in the emotional sense, but through her ability to provide for and take care of her kids. The emotional piece had been missing for generations. I’m sure the fact that my grandmother growing up in the south and experiencing racism to an extent that I never had probably contributed to the hard demeanor that she presented. I am also sure that that was passed on to my own mother.
Now, as a parent myself I find it easy to show affection to my children while they are young but not so much as they get older; please do not beat me up for saying this. I currently have a 13 year old whom is going through her own hormonal changes and in need of emotional support of which I am not familiar except by the examples set forth in the family sitcoms I watched growing up.
I am thankful that I noticed my waning emotional support immediately (thanks to being a teacher and experiencing it firsthand with my students and their parents) because I was able to dig deep and surface the source and then research ways to remedy it.
I am happy to say that it is possible to break generational strongholds. I believe in purposeful parenting because you can never get back the years lost with your children but you can make a significant change for the better at any stage that will positively impact their lives. I am constantly searching for opportunities and creating opportunities to provide that emotional support to my daughter. I can’t say that I am an expert or that I am doing it correctly, but I am trying.
Purchased Groupons to brunch in the city for just her and I
We read a good book together or talk about whatever she wants to freely
We have created traditions that are unique to us and will be different for myself and her brother once he gets older
I purchased a devotional geared towards mothers and daughters to read with her every night
I do not allow electronics at the breakfast/dinner table to allow for conversation between her and myself
I have recently looked up more volunteer opportunities that we can do together
I am constantly looking for ways to create the emotional support that she needs as it is vital to her self-esteem and self-awareness. Recently, I read a book called How Full is Your Bucket by Tom Rath and my goal is to fill her bucket daily with positivity. I recommend reading this book and also StrengthsFinder 2.0. Just because something has been a certain way in your family for generations doesn’t mean that it can’t stop with you (and I am referring to something negative). You must proclaim that it will be different for you and yours. Purposefully parent!
So, I have been home for a little over 2 months and I have been writing for the Examiner and doing other little assignments along with taking care of a 2 month and eleven year old. It has been busy, busy, busy. My office is anywhere from the living room to the dining room. I may be surfing freelance opportunities while nursing the baby and waiting on hold to speak with a representative from one of my many bills to get them to extend my payment due date. This is the reality of the day in the life of a single writer mama.
My must-haves are my Vera Bradley agenda, red pen, black gel ink pen, pencil, notebook, calculator, fee chart, laptop, iPad, sticky notes, cell phone, house phone, folders, and assortment of paper clips and binder clips. Oh yeah and baby wipes, a few diapers, pacifier, and burp cloth.
My ideal office would have a door attached to it and I would have a nanny to assist me with childcare. I would have multiple items bought from The Container Store to help organize my countless files, notes, pens, pencils, and other office items. I would have a Mac desktop computer along with a wall calendar and a name plate as a constant reminder that I am a professional writer even though I am at home and don’t have countless published books out there. Inspiring art work would adorn my walls and my business cards would sit prominently on my mirrored desk. My awesome ergonomic fuchsia chair would keep me comfortable during my long hours of work and research. Is there anything that I am missing? Send a comment if there is something I should add.