(Exhibit A: Me.) “It’s important for a single mother to find a partner who is at her level and has the maturity to be a step parent,” says Dr. “He or she doesn’t have to be much older to be both of those things.” Known best for being the experimental and selfish decade, your twenties are certainly a time for exploration and growth – not only for your interests and travels, but for who you are as a person.
There are plenty, like me, who are blissfully lacking in life experience, have yet to reach the big 3-0, and spend more time swiping left on Tinder instead.
Real talk: Considering the 200 different directions I’m pulled in each day—which include working full time; waking up with my six-month-old daughter at ungodly hours; cooking; cleaning; carpooling; bathing; co-parenting; dealing with temper tantrums; and still attempting to take care of myself—the mere of dating can sometimes seem nothing short of impossible.
“You already have a family, so if you want more than a fun hookup, your focus should be on a man who’s clearly father material,” says Susan Winter, relationship expert and bestselling author of . “Keeping your sex life separate from your child is crucial,” she says.
It makes perfect sense to me: My needs and desires have changed since having a child, so I want a more stable partner to be around regularly—not just for a booty call. “Having someone come in and out inconsistently isn’t good for any child, especially if they’re mourning the loss of two parents breaking up, or the absence of a parent in general.” As a young, single mom with a full plate, it’s a surprisingly common fantasy to seek out older partners for their wisdom and life experience—but experts advise not to date anyone just because he or she is your senior. “By locking into specific age, you may miss the perfect woman or man who’s right in front of you by applying these limitations.” Remember that age really doesn’t equal maturity.
Stay focused on the kids.” And, as the saying goes, know how to pick and choose your battles.
“If you’re splitting your kids’ time between you, remember that what happens at your ex’s house is up to him or her, and what happens at your house is up to you, unless it’s a safety issue,” she says.
“The most appropriate time is when you have a solid commitment that he or she will help change diapers, and cheer your child on,” says Silvia.
“If that’s not there, there’s no need to introduce him or her to your family unit.” Money isn’t everything, but a potential date’s financial situation should matter to you when you’re a mother.
Of course, you can’t expect everyone you date to make a triple-digit income, or alleviate your own financial burdens.