Single moms across the world face a stigmatized and often tenuous relationship with the concept of dating. Women who, through the breakups of relationships or unexpected pregnancies, have ended up as single parents are subject to heightened scrutiny and judgement when they are out in the dating pool. Although, this societal pressure is unfair and wrongful on many levels, it is still believed by some that single moms should not be allowed to date around and explore their options. This attitude overlooks the fact that single mothers need to build relationships socially and romantically, just like anyone else, and holds them to a different standard.
Societal judgements of single moms seem tied back to a signified moral narrative stressing the importance of traditional family values. By ‘traditional' this is referring to two-parent homes: mom and dad working together for the good of their children, and maintaining monogamous relationships. However, this definition leaves single parents in an unlikely position to conform. There is a fear that these mothers will throw "off the balance" by going against normal expectations of how young children should be raised. Yet, this is a patronizing and dangerous frame of thinking for everyone involved.
First and foremost, it is misguided to assume that all single moms place less importance on maintaining dedicated relationships than those in traditional families do. Single moms are often just as capable of having healthy connections with another person, but sometimes due to circumstance need to experience several different people until they find one they can trust. Having many partners doesn't lessen these woman's capacity to be caring parents any more than having only one invalidates those who are married.
On top of this, the simple truth is – nobody should have to give up exploring possibilities and being with whomever they choose out of fear or embarrassment. Setting boundaries (dating age-appropriate partners) can also come into play as far as parenting goes, but still no woman has to live with deep remorse for seeking something different. There may be a growing necessity for role models in today's world, but not everything needs to be reduced to one accepted entree; any amount of variability creates a rich landscape in which people can discover themselves.
Another key point is that single moms don't have to put off establishing sexual and romantic relationships forever. Just because a woman becomes a parent through unexpected means does not mean she needs to subscribe fully to martyrdom and keep growth at bay until she reaches her twilight years. In the same vein, feeling guilty and holding one's self back will not create an environment where everyone involved can maintain healthy concepts of communication and connection.
Single moms are no exception from getting a chance to participate in the delicate dance of finding vulnerability with someone special; any judgements otherwise deeply disrespects their autonomy as individuals who naturally desire such things as much as anyone else does. It's adorable that some might feel more comfortable if all single parents followed particular rules about self-care, but the reality is that everyone has their own journey that needs to be respected. Singles moms can explore relationships and authentically pursue a fulfilled lifestyle without taking away from their roles as parents, so it is important not to stifle growth opportunities or deny them fundamental feelings of joy.