After he left, she said, “What do you think of him? My date and I were like, hey, we’ve got the whole house – let’s do something wild in the family room.That would be exactly when one of the kids would come home to get their homework.

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He came out without his wallet, he explained as he settled into his chair, in mock tones of lament. He told me he was an inventor, but when I inquired of his creations he grumbled that other people had gotten to all his best ideas first. He told me how much he’d paid for his home, citing a vast number that made my eyes go big. And so went my first foray into the universe of dating as a single parent. For all of the halting, inelegant dating when I was young and single, I could never have predicted how romance-seeking at this stage in life would play out.

But when I dropped him off later (he had no car), he admitted he was a renter, and that he’d paid that much toward his apartment over the years. The rules defining the game were essentially the same, but the players might as well have been parachuted in from a different sport.

The happier and more balanced we are, the better we’re going to be for our child,” she says.

Which brings us to single dad Frank*, and his current status along the dating-parent trajectory.

When women surface from separation and divorce, we can feel we have to overcompensate for the loss of the other parent and the opportunity for our kids to grow up in a family.

“Of course there are sacrifices for single mothers, but we needn’t give up everything.

When he was at the stage to introduce her to his children, he was concerned about the effect this development might have on them. Because Andrea is a ceramic artist, Frank thinks a clay-working visit with his kids might be a good entrée for introducing his new friend.

“Andrea is more than willing,” he says, “and I thought it would be a good way to ease her into the lives of the children.

Frank was caught unawares when his 11-year marriage ended a year ago.

He and his two children, aged 10 and 12, are still adjusting to the change.

One such challenge is the guilt of dating, and the weight it brings to bear on our perception of our entitlement to a healthy relationship.