Have you tuned in to Paternity Court lately? It’s heavy on the drama even heavier on the lessons. On the show, Judge Lauren Lake, a wife and mother herself, has a tough job to do. She resides over difficult paternity cases daily and it’s up to her to lay down the law when it comes to how to best put children first. And, she doesn’t take her job lightly. “There are many times in our courtroom that I’ve literally had to fight back tears,” she tells us. “I constantly tell these litigants, the child is the most important thing.” Agreed. Keeping that in mind, we asked Lake to give us her verdicts on some common single mom dating dilemmas we've heard our readers bring up.
The Offense: A Man Meets Your Kids Before Things Get Serious
Lake's Verdict: “Guilty!”
The Justification: “It's important for children to have structure, normalcy and familiarity. Bringing men in and out of the house does not give them that consistency. You need to know if you like them for the long haul. It’s also an attachment issue: If your child gets attached to this guy because he’s coming over every day and spending the night—we see that on Paternity Court—then your child may get attached and not understand why these men are coming and going. What does this say to our young men and boys? A woman’s home shouldn’t be a revolving door. You have to kiss a lot of frogs to get to your prince, however your child doesn’t have to watch you kiss 'em."
The Offense: Bringing A Date Along When You’re Spending Quality Time With Your Kids
Lake’s Verdict: “Uh, guilty!”
The Justification: “There are certain things in a family life that I think are sacred and that, as adults, we can take for granted—that time alone with your child when you’re not focused on any other individual and you’re just focused on your child. We multi-task in life but I think there are certain things and certain people that deserve that single-focus time and being with your children is one of them. I don’t think mixing dating and family fun time if you’re not in a marriage or a serious relationship is appropriate."
The Offense: Letting Your Kids Call Him “Dad”
Lake’s Verdict: “Guilty!”
The Justification: “Everybody’s guilty. No. No. No! It’s not only dysfunctional but it’s so emotionally problematic. Although your intentions may be good, in the sense that you want your child to have a male role model or male connection, you have to understand that if the relationship is not serious, and you’re not married or going to be in this relationship for a long time, having that child identify him as ‘daddy’ is very, very difficult. Whereas your heart may be right in wanting your child to have that father figure. I don’t think it’s healthy. You have to check yourself and make sure you’re not having your child call him ‘daddy’ to keep him more on the hook rather than to benefit the child.”
To find out what station Paternity Court airs on in your state, click here.