In Australia one in three marriages ends in divorce. The result? Many Mums find themselves starting again when they least expected it. How does dating even work with kids in the home? 

So now the stakes are higher… how can you keep yourself and your kids safe?

As an experienced dater, who also has children, I have clocked up well over 100 dates, so I feel qualified to comment on this. (Actually, I stopped counting at 100!) No matter how many dates you go on it’s important to protect your family during this time!

Regardless of what dating format you choose; the safety points are still the same. Internet dating cops a really bad rap in the media, yet the same caution is required if you meet someone at the local pub, at a dinner party or at a Sunday market. The fact is you don’t know this person and it will take time to know them. The distance you keep between you in the early days, could later mean the difference between walking away drama-free, or not being able to get rid of someone and feeling threatened in your personal space, whether that be home or work.

I know, I know, it all sounds a bit over defensive you might say. In a perfect world, we could trust everyone and keep our hearts open, throwing caution to the wind. Sadly, we don’t live in that world, and while there are good men around, there is a fair spattering of idiots and arseholes out there. Trust me, I’ve dated some of them. Add to that the risk to your most precious possession, your children, and we are playing High Stakes Dating.

For now, you need to keep some distance to keep it safe, so here are some of my basic rules for keeping yourself and your children safe while finding adult company.

  1. Don’t put pics of your kids on your internet profile, and don’t send him pics of your kids. For me this is a no-brainer. However, at least one quarter of the men’s profiles on popular dating site plentyoffish.com.au contain photos of their children. Posting photos of your kids puts them at risk.
  2. Give limited information about yourself. While it is important for someone to know your interest, work and hobbies, they don’t need to know exactly where you play netball on a Wednesday night, or where you work. This may seem super cautious, but if you go on two or three dates and decide you want out, it will be a bit easier if he turns bat-shit crazy when you tell him you are not feeling a spark. You may still receive the texts and pleading phone calls, but at least you won’t be worried about arriving home at night to see him waiting in your driveway.
  3. If he seems overly interested in your kids, GET OUT. Dating is a good way for some predators to get close to children through their vulnerable mothers. Several years ago, I went out with a man who was educated, wealthy, high profile and well respected in his industry. After two dates it was clear that he was way too interested in my daughter. I have no doubt that this man was a pedophile, and had I had any proof I would have gone to the police. A few months later, his house was targeted and vandalized with graffiti. Clearly someone else knew about his filthy secret.
  4. Always meet somewhere public and always tell someone where you are going. Make sure you get a last name from them and pass that on to a friend with their phone number.
  5. Never have a first date at your house or at his house. Meet somewhere on neutral territory and in a public space where there are other folks out and about.
  6. Drive yourself. You will be able to leave when you like, he doesn’t need to know your address and it will hopefully limit your alcohol intake so that you have your judgement intact.
  7. Kids come first. You need to put your children first and if you meet someone who seems to have a problem with that and wants to come first, then he is not right for you. Likewise, a single Dad, with kids at home part-time or full-time should be putting his kids before you. Any reasonable parent would feel the same. Watch how he is with his own kids, does he put them first? If he is not putting his kids first, then he may not be a match for you.

Dating as an older person – and a Mum – can be lots of fun. Good luck out there, have fun and play safe.

PS – If you’re dating has been a success and you’re getting married check out our guide to Including Children in Your Wedding

Author

Cathy is a single empty nester, ex primary school teacher, now working in aged care. Mum to Ryan 20, and Lindsay 22 and owner of two dogs. As a full-time sales manager, part time writer, and voluntary dog rescuer, life is busy and fabulous.

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