Dare to Date: A Discussion with a Single Special Needs Parent
In a world when your child comes first, single parents are often reminded that they should never be focusing on themselves in any capacity - including finding love again in their lives.
Even under the best of circumstances trying to merge two lives that already come with a host of experiences or what some people refer to as "baggage" can be trying and complicated.
Parenting a child with special needs is very demanding, emotionally challenging and exhausting.
Doing it alone simply increases the demands on singular parenting. Pursuing personal happiness is not a selfish move, but rather a personal investment in replenishing your reserves and remembering your self-worth.
Susan Lake, is a mother to a child with special needs named Reiley.
She has been divorced for over two years legally, having split from her husband one year prior.
She has gone on a bunch of 'meet and greets' and what usually happens is she is asked more about her daughter's condition, and then men start to squirm in their seats, or they don't, and then she never hears from them again.
Susan says this happens "9 times out of 10."
Susan only had one occasion where the guy didn't have any issues with her child's special needs, but after three dates there was not a love connection.
Susan had several dates with another gentleman, who met her daughter after thirty days of dating but it ended shortly thereafter.
Because of the care giving involved for her daughter, she is limited to places where she can meet single men in person, as such her primary way of meeting men has been from several online dating websites.
Susan expressed that she, "gets frustrated with men who can't accept my life as it is, as a mom of a special needs child".
Susan recognizes she has some greater challenges with dating but still wants to find someone to share her life with.
Reiley's diagnosis looks scary on paper.
Susan says it is a lot for someone to take in when you're explaining to someone who is not a part of the special needs world, that your kid has multiple things going on.
Reiley has two different medical devices implanted in her to help keep her thriving.
She gets sick so easily that she is home basically 24/7.
But she is also just a normal little girl who likes to play, have friends, loves music and she loves people.
Susan knows it is hard for men she is dating to get past the scary parts.
Susan also feels that many men in her age group wish to be, "empty nesters", and don't want to assume the care and responsibility of a child with special needs.
I asked Susan what her greatest advice would be to a single parent who has a child with special needs who wants to date.
Her advice: to be completely honest.
I've had friends not be completely up front, and it only caused heartache in the end for them.
If they can't accept you, your complete package, they aren't what you need in your life.
Eventually they say, someone will accept it all and love you and your child(ren)."
Although Susan has had challenges with dating men who are willing to accept her situation and her daughter's medical conditions, she continues to remain hopeful that the right man is out there and continues to be open to all of her options.
If you are a special needs parent, who is dating, tell us your experiences!