When you’re a single mother, sometimes your son is the only constant male figure in your life for long periods of time—especially if you’re not dating often or at all. As he grows up, he becomes more and more the man in your life. The relationship changes from you being his protector and caretaker, to him being yours.
But what do you do when you get into a serious romantic relationship with a man?
Well, your maternal instinct will tell you put your child first. And, you should do that—within reason.
Putting your son first does not mean not dating, not spending quality time with your significant other, and not making your significant other part of the family, just because your son doesn’t like him (or any man dating his mother).
What it does mean, however, is not exposing yourself and your son to negative male influences by dating the wrong kinds of men, or neglecting your son to spend time (or money) on your man.
You can do the former without doing the latter.
Now, how to find the perfect balance.
Depending on how old your son is (and how ‘cool’ he wants to be), he may or may not want to spend an afternoon after school or a Saturday hanging out with his mother.
But regardless if he wants to hang out or not, you and your son should spend quality time together, just the two of you, doing something you both enjoy, to keep the bond between parent and child strong. If your son is younger, do this once a week, if your son is a teenager or older, once every two weeks or once a month, to give him some independence.
This will remind your son that he is not being replaced by your significant other, and that he is still the most important male in your life, and you the most important female in his. Enjoy this now. There will come a time where there are other women in his life and he no longer care if he’s the most important man in your life or not.
And what about your man?
Well, you should do the same thing with him. At least once a month, if not more often, have a date night, just you and your man, to keep romance alive—and also to assure your man that despite putting your child first, as a mother should, there is still plenty of room in your life and in your heart for him, too.
Your son will grow up and move onto his own adult life and romances, but your significant other will be there after all the children are grown. Remind your partner—and yourself—of that. The most important part of raising a child is raising an adult. A good, well-adjusted, and mature adult.
It’s hard to let go of your son, especially when it was just the two of you against the world for so long, but that is ultimately what you should want and the way it should be. Letting go doesn’t mean never seeing him, or spending time with him again. It doesn’t mean he won’t love you anymore, or you won’t be as important.
It just the next step in the relationship between mother in son; no longer parent and child, but two adults relating to each other as equals and friends. Part of the way you teach and allow your son to be an adult, is modeling appropriate adult behavior. Dating is a normal part of most adults’ lives. Even if your son’s father is not around to educate him about how to be a man, you can still shape the man your son becomes by only dating the kind of men you’d like your son to one day be. If he sees the men in your life treat you with love and respect, he will go on to treat the women in his life with the same love and respect.
A long term partner, and eventual stepfather, can also be a crucial and defining influence for your son—especially if he is not close to his biological father. Children, especially boys, need a father figure in their lives. It does not have to be an actual father; it can be a boyfriend, stepfather, grandfather, uncle, teacher, mentor and any other good man who helps guides the child.
Your son may feel like he was not good enough for his father or not worthy of his father’s love. Having a stepfather, or other male role model, will aid him in realizing he is worthy of a father’s love and attention, even if his biological father was not the one to give it to him. So, another thing you must do to balance the relationship between your son and your man, is for the three of you to spend quality time together. It may be awkward, at first, but in the end, you three will develop a powerful connection that will make it completely worthwhile.
Having love and romance in your life is important as a human being, even if you happen to be a mother. These things do not have to wait until your children are grown. Not only will you benefit as woman and a mother by having a man in your life, your son will benefit from having a father figure in his mother’s life.