Dating with children

Single parenthood has become a common and normal part of today’s society, but as ordinary as it is, there is still a stereotype against dating a person with a child. 
This is especially a challenge for single mothers, who want to start dating again.
In my culture, it is believed that a woman who has had a child out of wedlock is ‘stale’ and this makes it even more difficult for single mothers to find love.
In some cases, as a relationship gets serious, even if the man does not mind, his family might have a problem with it.  Once you do not have the family’s support for the relationship, then your chances of a life with that man become slim.
I have seen relatives and friends with children go through hell, as they navigate through the dating world.
It is never easy to find a person willing to commit to someone with ‘baggage’.
A male friend of mine recently revealed the reasoning of men, who may be sceptical about getting involved with someone who has children.
He said that there are several reasons why it is very difficult for a man to date someone who already has a child.
The main reason, according to him, is the fear that the lady they want to date will expect her boyfriend to take care of her children. 
There is also the fear that he will not receive the woman’s undivided attention, as a good mother’s priority is her children. This will inevitably lead to times when she is unavailable to her boyfriend, my male friend argued.
If the children are older, he may fear that those children would never respect him, because they know he is not their father.  In fact, they may resent him for taking up their mother’s attention. 
Ironically, few women mind dating a man with children; their main concern is the ‘baby mama’ and her role in his life, not the kids. 
Everyone has baggage of one kind or another; it is just a pity that in the case of single parents, it is so blatantly obvious.
I never get shocked when I hear stories of women initially not disclosing to their partners that they have children.
In fact, there are some women who keep their children a secret from their partners until after marriage, but this becomes tricky at the end of the day as such concealment can cause an immediate divorce, or even the annulment of the marriage.
There are marriages that have abruptly ended in divorce, because the husband found out that his new wife had a child from a previous relationship, but never disclosed it.
All too often, single mothers have a fear that if they say anything about their children from a previous relationship, then they will be left out in the cold, as they search for new love.
Women complain that they meet someone, but the minute he hears that they have a child, they cut all communication.
It is this pressure that has caused some women to try to live a lie regarding their children.
As a single parent, I have had people give me strategies of how to approach the situation, when I decide to start dating again.
I was advised (by a man) not to disclose anything at the beginning of the courtship and to “wait until the fish has been hooked” (when the guy falls in love).
In his view, many women make the mistake of laying everything on the table, during the first date.  In some cases, too much information, too soon, puts men off.
He added that it is important that even after you have told your prospective boyfriend of your child, you should not make it a habit to mention your son or daughter all the time, and rather wait for him to ask you how the child is doing.
At the end of the day, it seems like a lot of work to have to watch what you say when you choose to hide major things from your boyfriend; especially when one of the reasons why people establish relationships is for companionship and open conversation.
For me, my child is a part of who I am.  If someone loves me, then my child is a part of that.  Love is supposed to be patient and kind (as it says in the Bible), so in my view, if you cannot find someone who is willing to accept you as you are, with your beloved ‘baggage’, then that relationship is not worth it, and that is not the man for you (or your child!).
It is important that we strive for honesty and happiness in relationships, and break this trend of unhappy unions, where people say the right words, but don’t really commit.
If you end up single, then so be it. It’s better to be the captain of your own ship, and happy, rather than being miserable in an uncommitted relationship.