Dating for Dads

Dear Mr. Dad: I’ve been divorced for almost a year and I’m just getting to the point where I’m thinking about dating again. My kids (8 and 10) and I have a very close relationship and we talk about everything. But when I mentioned dating to them, instead of being happy for me, they were angry. Is there anything I can do to get them to be a little more supportive?

A: Close relationships between parents and their young children are wonderful for everyone. But occasionally lines can get blurred, which is exactly what happened with you. Your social life will undoubtedly affect your children—especially if you get into a serious relationship. But it sounds like you’ve given them the impression that their close relationship with you entitles them to an actual vote in the matter. It’s really none of their business. You’re their parent, not their friend, end of discussion.

Aside from the boundary issue, your children may simply not want to share you with anyone. It’s been just the three of you for a long time, and they enjoy having you all to themselves. Any time you spend with other people—whether it’s going out for a beer with a buddy or dating a woman who’s not their mother—is time you won’t be spending with them. You’re in a delicate spot here, but here are few steps you can take to get your kids on board (or at least to reduce their hostility).
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Lessons from Asperger’s + A Mind for Numbers

Jesse Saperstein, author of Getting a Life with Asperger’s.
Topic:
Lessons learned on the bumpy road to adulthood by a young man with Asperger’s.
Issues: Surviving the world of online dating; navigating the challenges of college; understanding how others perceive you (even if they’re wrong); keeping a job; confronting memories of being bullied; serving as a role model to the next generation.

Barbara Oakley, author of A Mind for Numbers.
Topic:
How to excel at math and science even if you flunked them both in school.
Issues: The essential creativity underlying math and science; our biological instincts–how the brain is designed to do extraordinary mental calculations; simple mental tricks we can use to our learning advantage; tips to enhance your memory; what zombies have to do with math and science.

Helping Kids Through Tween Transitions


Michelle Icard, author of Middle School Makeover.
Topic
: Improving the way you and your child experience the middle school years.
Issues: Helping your kid through real middle school problems, including social media, questions about sex, mean girls (and boys), and fitting in, dealing with bullies, fashion, peer pressure, dating, independence, and more.

Teen Girls and Dating? Uh, Not While I’m Still Breathing

Dear Mr. Dad, My 14-year-old daughter is obsessed with the idea that she needs to start dating. She says “all of her friends” are doing it, and feels left out. Fourteen just seems too young. I don’t think anyone—boy or girl—should start ‘til at least 16. I want to tell her “over my dead body” but I also don’t want to be that dad. What can I do?

A: As the father of three daughters—two of whom made it through their teen years without getting pregnant (the third is only 10 and I’m confident she’ll do the same)—I feel your pain. The very idea of your little girl, alone with a … boy, can bring up all sorts of emotions, headlined by anger (“Boys that age have only one thing on their mind”) and worry (How can I possibly protect her?”).

Let’s start with the “only-one-thing-on-their-mind” idea. Do you really believe that? TV, movies, and the Internet put a lot of pressure on teens to have as much sex as they can as often as they can, with as many different people as possible. But the reality is that the majority of boys your daughter’s age are petrified of girls, and what’s most likely on their mind is, “I’m hungry.”

As far as the “how-can-I-protect-her” idea, you have two things going for you. First, your daughter herself doesn’t sound like she’s all that into it and just wants to date because everyone else is. By telling you that, she’s almost begging you to say No. Second, even if dating were her idea, you’re right: 14 is too young for serious one-on-one dating.
That said, you can’t just play the tough guy and expect her to be happy about it. In fact, the more forcefully you forbid dating, the more you’ll push her towards it. Here’s what to do instead.

  • Really Talk to Her. You have a wonderful opportunity here. Your daughter actually came to you with a problem. That says a huge amount (in a good way) about your relationship. Ask her to tell you more about the dating her friends are doing, the pressure she feels, and what she actually means by “dating” (you might be thinking, “dinner, movie, make out in the back seat of the car”; she might be thinking “hold hands and share an ice cream cone”). Listen carefully and don’t be judgmental. When you sense an opportunity, talk to her about the dangers of dating, including violence (which, by the way is just as likely to be initiated by girls as by boys). Talk about relationships, sex, and the finances involved. You’re not going to wrap this up in one conversation, so take it a step at a time.
  • Establish some dating rules. Number one is that group dates are okay, one-on-one dates are not. End of story. Group dates let her be with the boy who makes her blush, but in a setting where inappropriate behavior is a lot less likely.
  • Tag along. In my view, groups of young teens shouldn’t be out and about without an adult nearby—there’s too much opportunity for things to go wrong. And if you want your daughter to see how serious you are, be the chaperone. Don’t be right in the middle of the group or try to be everyone’s buddy—that would only embarrass your daughter. Instead, walk half a block behind and sit a few rows away in the movie. But be there. Watch carefully, and let her enjoy herself.

Ending Daily Battles with Your Kids + Single Mothers Dating + Like the Child You Love

[amazon asin=0142196924&template=thumbleft&chan=default]Noel Janis-Norton, author of Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting.
Topic:
Five strategies that end daily battles and get kids to listen the first time.
Issues: A step-by-step plan that will help you raise a child who is cooperative, considerate, confident, and self-reliant. The five strategies are: descriptive praise, preparing for success, reflective listening, never ask twice, and rewards and consequences.


[amazon asin=0465018947&template=thumbleft&chan=default]Rachel Lehmann-Haupt, author of In Her Own Sweet Time.
Topic:
Finding love, commitment, and motherhood as a single woman
Issues: Testing your fertility and what the results show about your ability to conceive; what it’s really like to search for a sperm donor; how to date while still thinking about motherhood; the joys and challenges of becoming a single mother by choice.


[amazon asin=B002F082A8&template=thumbleft&chan=default]Jeffrey Bernstein, author of Liking the Child You Love.
Topic:
Build a better relationship with your kids even when they’re driving you crazy.
Issues: Taming the most common toxic thought patterns that stop us from parenting effectively, including the “always” or “never” trap, seething sarcasm; emotional overheating; “should” slamming, and dooming conclusions.

Google Hangout with Single Dad, Comedian, and Author Josh Wolf

It Takes Balls: Dating Single Moms and Other Confessions from an Unprepared Single Dad

[amazon asin=1455511676&template=thumbnail1&chan=default]In case you missed it, Paul Banas from GreatDad.com and I did a terrific Google Hangout with comedian and author Josh Wolf. His new book,It Takes Balls, is a hilarious look at dating, coaching, raising kids, and the mysteries of being a single dad. But there’s something there for everyone.

Watch the Hangout here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=WNfMo5S3x2A