I've been thinking a lot about how or if I could apply the same standards of dating to my own life that I have for my teens while they live in my household. As I described in a previous post, basically there is no unchaperoned dating permitted, and both our family and the family of the "significant other" is involved in the relationship.
So here are my current thoughts on the matter. Warning: they are still in the formation process, so there may be inconsistencies or flaws in my reasoning. Feel free to point these out to me if you notice them. It will help me.
Originally, I thought it would be impossible for someone my age who has been previously married to do "family dating," especially since conventional wisdom says that a parent shouldn't introduce her dates to her children until the relationship is serious. However, I disagree with the conventional wisdom. I believe that it assumes that a person is going to play the dating game by the standards set by our culture, which basically means serial monogamy.
I have to reject that idea. I have tried it and it doesn't work for me. Traditional dating is a lot like going shopping for clothes, and trying on one outfit after another. I don't mind trying on clothing (well, except for swimsuits...that is just depressing), but trying on men? Uhm, no. There is just something wrong with that model for finding the love of my life.
So if I am not going to do the serial monogamy thing anymore, I need to figure out the "rules" for how this works on my own.
Here is what I have come up with.
1. I don't want to go out with strangers. I would prefer to "date" someone whom I have met in a place we both frequent anyhow, like church or the cafe my kids and I hang out at. So chances are, my kids will have already met this person in that context anyhow.
2. I don't want to start to build a relationship with someone, possibly lose my heart to him, and then find out that he and my kids are not compatible. I've already had that happen, and I am not willing to go through that again.
3. If the man that I am "going out with" has children of his own, I want to know that his children can get along with me and my children when we are all together as a group. This makes sense to me, since if we ended up marrying one another, our children would be forced to live together.
4. As a single parent, my dating time is limited, so I would prefer "dates" that include accomplishing something, or at the very least, having fun with my kids.
5. As a previously married person, chastity is a challenge for me. I know how sweet the forbidden fruit is, so I need some pretty firm boundaries to keep me away from it. Having my children along on dates would definitely provide those boundaries.
6. It is possible to have private adult conversations without being in a tempting situation. Just having the kids in the house (although not necessarily the same room) provides boundaries, but can allow for privacy.
7. If I choose to remarry, one of the ways that I will know that it is God's will is if my children are accepting, or dare I hope, even enthusiastic about it. Thus, they need time to get to know any man who may become a major part of our lives and to watch how he treats me and them, so they can determine whether or not they would be able to accept him into our family.
I am sure there are many aspects of this I am missing here, but it is a work in progress. What do you all think? Is this kind of relationship possible for a divorced, single mom?