Dating as a teen mom

posted in: Advice | 0
One of the topics we cover in our sessions is dating and relationships as a teen mom. It’s an important issue – just because you’re now a mother, it does not mean that you no longer want or need a relationship. But being a mom can make dating more complicated – there’s another person to consider and choosing the right partner becomes even more important.

•You have a right to be in a relationship – whether with the father of your child, or someone else. Everybody wants to feel loved, and that’s okay.
•You have the responsibility to make sure that it’s a safe, healthy relationship for you and your child
•Many teen moms are stuck in relationships that are bad for them – and bad for their children
•Sometimes they don’t even realise that the relationship is not good for them
•What do YOU think a healthy relationship looks like?

In a good relationship:
•Both partners feel loved, respected and safe
•Both partners are able to be honest about their feelings without being judged
•Both partners treat each other with kindness, even when they fight
•Both partners have space and time to enjoy their own time alone
•Both partners are encouraged to achieve their own goals & have their own interest
•Both partners contribute equally: emotionally, financially, physically, mentally
•You KNOW that your partner will always have your best interests at heart
•You feel you can be yourself completely – you don’t have to put on any act for your partner to love you

 An unhealthy / unsafe / unworthy relationship:
 •There is any kind of abuse: physical, emotional, sexual, verbal, financial, emotional
•Your relationship has to be kept a secret for any reason
You are scared to be honest about your feelings, because of your partner’s reaction
•Your partner gets angry if you want time alone to do your own thing, or does not respect your own goals, responsibilities or interests
•Your partner needs to know where you are at all times: they want to control you in any way
•You’re not able to argue or disagree without saying cruel or hurtful things
•You feel you can’t truly be yourself with your partner: you have to act a certain way for them to like you
•You feel that you are not equal to your partner: your opinion does not matter

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How is dating different for a teen mom?

•As a mom, you have to put your child first. Your child needs your time, your emotional and physical energy. This means that there’s not much time or energy left for a boyfriend
•You have to be extra careful about who you let into your life: you must make sure that your boyfriend is a good person for your child to be around. This will mean saying NO to many potential dates. It can be harder to find a good partner
•Some potential boyfriends will not accept your child – or not want to be around them
•Some people might think you do not have the right to have a boyfriend if you are a mom
•Casual relationships are no longer an option: you need stability in your life, and for your child
•Boys of your age are often not mature enough to handle dating a mother with adult responsibilities
•Safe sex becomes extra important: you cannot afford another unplanned pregnancy, and HIV or STI’s will have a devastating effect on your life and ability to care for your child

Questions to ask your potential partner

•Do you understand and accept that my child comes first? I will not always be available for you when I have other responsibilities to see to
•Do you understand that I still need time to myself?•Will you be willing to build a relationship with my child, slowly and carefully?
•Will you enjoy spending time with my child?•Do you understand that you do not have to take their father’s place, but you will have to ACT like a father towards them?
•Will you be willing to protect my child from harm?•Can I trust you around my child?

Questions to ask yourself

•Do I feel happy in this relationship?
•Am I safe?
Do I feel like I can be myself: or does my partner require me to look or act a certain way?
•Do I feel like my partner is trying to control my behaviour?
•Does this relationship feel like more hard work than it’s worth?
•Can I voice my opinion in my relationship without fear?
•Am I giving and receiving respect?
•Are either of us using the other one: for sex, money, status?
•Is this relationship having a good or bad effect on my child?

Danger signs

If any of these are true for you – it’s time to get out

•My partner abuses me – physically, verbally (name-calling, shouting), emotionally
•My partner needs to know where I am at all times and does not like me doing things with my friends or family
•My partner makes me feel that my child is “in the way”
•He does not want to be around my child
•He gets angry when I have to be with my child and not with him
•He has been unfaithful
•He does not agree to use condoms or other contraception
•He does not agree to be tested for HIV with me
•He says that I don’t trust him, if I request condoms or HIV testing
•He is not honest about his own behaviour or activities
•He wants to keep our relationship a secret for some reason
•He believes that the man is in charge and I do not have any right to question him
•He wants me to dress or look a certain way
•He tells me that I owe him sex to repay what he gives me

The Golden Rules for dating as a teen mom

•Condoms are not-negotiable! As a mom, you have everything to live for. HIV will drastically affect your life, and your child’s life
•There is NOTHING wrong with being single. If you do not find the right partner, it is better to be alone – just you and baby – than being stuck in an unhealthy or dangerous relationship
•You do not owe sex to anyone, regardless of what they might “give” you
•A man who does not accept your child, and your role as a mother, will NEVER make a good partner
•A man who hits you once, will NEVER stop doing it
•Do not rush into finding a new relationship. It’s better to spend the early years of your child’s life focusing on baby, and finding your own way in the world, without the drama of relationships
•Do not rush into letting boyfriend and child meet. Take your time, see where the relationship is going, and what he is REALLY like, before you let them get to know each other
•Do not be tempted to date an older man so that he can “support” you and baby. Make your own way, and do not rely on other people
•Do not let any partner tell you how to raise your child
•Remember that your first responsibility is to baby: you can’t be spending all your time with boyfriend
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