All Articles Tagged "Parenting"

To Tell Or Not To Tell: What Will I Say When My Daughter Asks About Her Father?

January 19th, 2015 - By Kendra Koger
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What Will I Say When My Daughter Asks About Her Father?

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I remember when I made the decision to go about being a single mother.  Though it wasn’t anything that I planned, (because when you marry someone you usually think it’s going to last forever), it was something that I was okay doing.

I’m not going to lie, I was pretty intimidated because I was raised in a two parent household, as were both of my parents.  There aren’t a lot of single mothers in my family. In my immediately family I’m the only one.  Though my parents are divorced now, they didn’t follow through with that decision until I was about 25 or so.

So, I didn’t really have an example of how to raise a child by myself and how to filter through those questions of why it was only mommy and baby.  So I decided that instead of telling my daughter what happened I would tell her what I tell everyone else:  “We were just two people who weren’t good for each other.”

My rationale with this was that I didn’t want to influence her to think anything negative about her father.  If she decided to love him, hate him, or feel indifferent to him, it was all going to be on her.  I felt comfortable in that decision, until I started watching this season’s batch of reality television programs.

On “Love and Hip Hop Hollywood,” you see Apryl angry with her mother for not telling her about the events that shaped her childhood.  Apryl, whose father was in jail, was raised by her grandmother from the age of 4 until she was 11, and then moved to live with her mother and other siblings.

On “Real Housewives of Atlanta,” you see Phaedra and Apollo interacting with their children during the extremely tangible circus in the room. It was more than an elephant. There were clowns, lions, a ringmaster, the whole situation was bananas.  Occasionally you’ll see little Ayden ask his father:  “Where are you going?”

There it is, actual reality in reality television.  Who would’ve thunk it?

But along with these situations that are being played out on reality television, I’m reminded of my own.  My daughter is starting to ask questions about everything, and one of her favorite ones is:  “Where is [insert name here]?”  She goes to the window and ask:  “Where’s G-Mama/G-Daddy?” (Translation:  “Where’s Grandma/Granddaddy?”) or “Where’s Tee-Tee Kayla and Robby?” (Translation:  “Where’s Aunty Kayla and her boyfriend Robby?”)  These are people that she loves and asks for, and waits for them to show up, and I know that eventually there’s going to be a day of asking where her father is.  That’s going to turn into asking where was he, and then finally:  “What happened?”

I’m not looking forward to it, but I know it’s going to happen, especially if my daughter keeps her affinity to always ask questions (much like myself).  I feel a little annoyed with myself for not asking the right questions before I walked down the courthouse halls and got married, but there’s nothing I can do about that now.

After asking as many of my friends, who were raised in single parent households, the thing that I learned from their perspective was that timing and discernment is everything.

I learned that they were appreciative when their parents told the truth about what happened with them, while being objective.  They respected the timing their parents used when answering their children’s questions about the past.  Even when my friends thought they were ready, their parents knew if they were emotionally mature enough to handle it, and it turned out that their parents’ timing with the information was always ideal.

I plan to take their stories into consideration whenever that dreaded day comes and saying my go-to line isn’t enough for my daughter.  I also plan to continue to encourage her father to be more involved. That way when the truth does come out, it’s not as harsh for her.  Until these things happen, I’m just trying my best to give her the best life that I can as a single mother because, as my friends revealed, having a positive childhood made up for it being with only one parent.

 

So what do you think, readers?  What’s your advice and take on this?  Believe me, I’m taking ANY advice I can get at the moment!

 

Kendra Koger is holding her tongue, but her fingers are free @kkoger

No Time Like Right Now: Why I’m Choosing Graduate School With Two Babies

January 5th, 2015 - By Tanvier Peart
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Busy/working business woman

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Life always has a funny way of presenting opportunities when you least expect them.

Last year was quite the memorable one in my household considering I had my first child in January, my husband and I moved our family cross country in May, and we found out we were expecting baby number two (coming in early June). I guess you can say we were very busy in 2014!

Life has since slowed down a bit with all of us falling into a groove. Things have been very great considering my husband and I both work from home and we’re able to balance work demands (I work for myself and he telecommutes) and parenthood. We have our health, our loving family and the financial capability to plan and invest for our future. Hey, you don’t have to be the Huxtables to make moves.

So what’s missing?

I have felt like a broken record these last few years because I have been dying to go to graduate school. You would think the timing would be better before popping out babies, but it actually wasn’t. There were too many things up in the air. I kinda gave up on my “dream” once my son was born because I knew I would be too focused on parenting to dedicate any time to school. Part of me also thought it was a bit selfish.

Well folks, it seems like an opportunity has presented itself that actually seems to fit in my puzzle of a life. Our new home is not too far from a major university that offers some of the most affordable in-state tuition prices I have seen. In doing the math, I would be able to take a graduate course once a semester and finish in three years — provided I also take a class during winter and summer sessions. The campus also happens to be close to an accredited learning center that has a Spanish immersion program that’s perfect for our sons (my husband and I are are about the bilingual life). It will be especially good for our toddler to spend time with other children twice a week as he’s home with us all the time. Thankfully this location caters to the needs of matriculating parents; they appear to work with different schedules so we don’t need full-time care.

In the grand scheme of things, this does sound crazy… but not impossible. I actually know of other mothers who were able to start a business and go back to school sometimes without the help of a spouse or partner. There will always be something that will scare you into a reason why you shouldn’t pursue your dreams. Sure it’s important to weigh all your options, but don’t wait for that “perfect” time. There’s no such thing.

With regards to my situation, finances are thankfully in order where we’re paying bills, saving for a house and investing in our children’s college future. Moving from the New York City area and to a location with a lower cost of living definitely helps. The degree I eventually obtain will come in handy as I would like to head back into an office once the kiddos start school and need an advanced degree to couple with my experience.

Have you ever considered doing something, but were too afraid the timing wasn’t right?

How Raising My Son To Be A Man As A Single Mom Has Made Me A Better Woman

December 26th, 2014 - By Liz Lampkin
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Source: Shutterstock.com

Source: Shutterstock.com

Parenthood is one of the most challenging yet rewarding experiences known to all beings, and it is a privilege that shouldn’t be taken lightly. While the task of parenting is endless, tireless work, it is also a journey of innumerable lessons in life; not only for children, but for the parents as well. As I look back on the different experiences I’ve had while raising my son, I realized that as I’m teaching him about various things in life, he’s teaching me as well. While there are a number of lessons that my baby boy has taught me, the ones that stick out the most in my mind and throughout my daily life are ones imprinted in my heart. They made me adjust my life and have molded me into a better adult.

The first thing I’ve learned to do is make better long-term decisions. Before I had my son, I would make decisions that would only affect me without considering the long-term effects they would have. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never been the type of person who made very reckless decisions, but now that I am directly responsible for someone else’s well being, I prayerfully and carefully make decisions for the both of us that will produce the best results possible.

My son has also taught me to have more patience, which is important when you have a child and when you’re facing the struggles of daily life. I learned the value of pacing myself, and by being more patient, I have a new sense of inner peace, and it shows outward.

Another valuable lesson I’ve learned is how to give unconditional love and what it truly is. Throughout my life, especially growing up, I always knew I was loved. My parents constantly showed me they loved me through their actions and words. Many things they said and did I never understood, but now I know why: because they knew what unconditional love was and showed it to me so that I could pass it along. And now that I have my son, not only have I experienced love for what it really is, but I have the chance to give it.

And who knew that motherhood would bring a change in style? Before I became a mom, I didn’t always go out in conservative yet chic attire. No, I would go out dressed extremely sexy, looking to snatch a man. While there’s nothing wrong with clothing yourself in a certain type of sexy, I realize that as a mother, I’m the first woman in my son’s life, and I set the tone for the type of woman he will settle down with. Now, I know he will date around and become involved with a variety of women (not too many hopefully), but nonetheless, what he sees in me will have a profound effect on the type of woman he introduces me to.

As I continue on this journey of motherhood, I appreciate life more. I also greatly appreciate how my son has allowed me to become a better person for him, those close to us, and myself. I’m grateful for the lessons I’ve learned thus far and I look forward to many more.

Liz Lampkin is the Author of Are You a Reflection of the Man You Pray For? Follow her on Twitter @Liz_Lampkin.

14 Things Parents Should Know When Christmas Shopping

December 17th, 2014 - By Kendra Koger
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14 Things Parents Should Know When Christmas Shopping

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Let me take you back to my daughter’s past Christmases.  They ranged from us being so broke that my then-husband and myself  couldn’t afford to get her a single thing for Christmas, to me as a single mother only being able to buy her about 8 things from the dollar store.

But THIS year, I was actually able to get her real gifts!

Now as Christmas is approaching, I wanted to share a few things that I learned and realized (and things that my parents shared with me) about Christmas shopping as a parent.  Feel free to add whatever I forgot to at the end, and let’s support each other in this endeavor, parents!  We can make it!

Nude Baby Photos? No TV? Controversial Parenting Tips Celebrity Moms Stand Behind

December 1st, 2014 - By Meg Butler
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Who never punishes their kids? Who breastfed their son until he was four? We were more than surprised to find out which celebrity moms found their way on the controversial parenting list. Prepare to disagree. We’ll see you in the comments section.

Image Source: WENN

Image Source: WENN

Alyson Hannigan: No TV Ever

Is blocking them from the TV doing too much?

Saturday morning cartoons may be made for kids, but the How I Met Your Mother star says hers won’t be watching them — even though she stars in one. Alyson says her two daughters, which are 2 and 5, aren’t allowed to watch TV at home under any circumstances — at least until they’re much older.

Dear Parents: It’ll Be Okay

October 29th, 2014 - By Kendra Koger
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Dear Parents

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Dear Parents,

Let me start this letter off by letting you know that I am NOT a parenting expert.  In fact, I’ve only been a mother for three years, and I’m still struggling with how to handle the ups and downs.

My daughter, who is one of the best things to have ever happened to me, is also a cause for my tears and frustration sometimes.  I know she doesn’t understand what she does, but it doesn’t stop her actions from being overwhelming, or make the tears to taste any less bitter (overly dramatic, eh?).

With my lack of expertise, there is something that I discovered that every parent needs to hear sometimes, but for some reason people seem so reluctant to say it.  It’s just three words to help soothe the pain, give hope, and encourage us that we can do this long journey of parenting.  For me, discovering those words really made a great deal of difference, and I repeat them to myself whenever I need to.

Parenting is a really weird time for some people.  Sometimes you look at these other seemingly happy-go-lucky parents, while they go to their Mommy-n-Me jamborees, and you feel resentful.  How are these women losing weight so fast, and their kids seem so well behaved?  How are the fathers so involved, and seem so happy to help?  Why is my child the only one screaming in the shopping cart while I spend my last few dollars to get her/him something to eat?

Some people just seem like they are naturals, and they take to parenting so well, while others are struggling.  Like some parents are finally starting to become honest and admit that they don’t always like parenting, for a very long time it was frowned upon to admit such a harsh secret.  Parenting is hard, and there’s a lot of pressure to LOVE it.

Regardless of whether you planned to have your child or not, no level of preparation will give you a true insight into how parenting is really going to go.  It’s going to be hard, and you’re going to have a lot of questions that you might be afraid to ask in fear of thinking:  “They’re gonna think I’m a bad parent.”

Do you know the three words that I mentioned earlier that will help you out tremendously?  They’re:  “It’ll.  Be.  Okay.”

The message is very simple, but for some reason, it’s so comforting.  It’s comforting to hear someone else tell you that the struggles that you face aren’t just normal, but short term.  There’s encouragement in the notion that the struggles that you encounter with your child won’t always be there, and it helps you to enjoy the small moments of levity that happen.

So, to all of you parents who are emotionally struggling through this role, just know that not only are you not alone, but it’ll be okay.  As each day progresses, you’ll slowly forget the frustrations and the tantrums, and those memories will be replaced by your child growing into the wonderful person that you raise them to be.  Until that day happens, it’ll be okay.

Sincerely,

Kendra Koger

 

Mother of 1, owner of the @kkoger twitter account.  

How My Daughter’s Book Helped Me Get Through A Rough Patch

October 17th, 2014 - By Kendra Koger
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How My Daughter's Book Helped Me Get Through A Rough Patch

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During idle days, my daughter and I like to walk down to the nearby thrift store and stock up on books.  Now, I’m not going to lie, not every time is a great one.  Sometimes we’ve came back with some duds, but for the most part we’re able to find some great books (including a bunch of “Goosebumps” books that I cannot wait to give her when she gets older).

After one mouth-wateringly (yes, I made that word up) great trip, we came back with about three bags of books and three board games (because, why not?), and immediately dumped them on my bed when we got home to really dig into them.  After reading about two or three duds, we came across:  “Jenna and the Troublemaker.”

The first time we read it, my mind wandered the entire time, thinking about what to cook, what I had left to do that day, and how lucky I was to get a “Sex and the City” trivia game for only $2 (it was still wrapped in plastic!  Score!).

When I finished the book, I placed it on our pile, and then left to fix us something to eat.

It wasn’t until a few months later that the book came back up in the rotation during a time that I really needed.

Sometimes life hits you hard, and that’s what I was going through then.  Things weren’t extremely horrible, but it was a difficult time nonetheless.  However, no matter how bad things get, there are no off-days for responsibilities, especially parenting.  So, when it was our reading time, and I picked the book up I wasn’t expecting it to touch me the way that it did.

“Jenna and the Troublemaker” is about an androgynous figure who creates troubles and delivers them to people (thus making him a “Troublemaker”).  While making a delivery he comes across a little girl named Jenna who is crying about how hard her life is due to the troubles that he keeps on bringing her.

To make her feel better he tells her to pack up all of her troubles and he invites her to come to his field of “troubles,” so she can trade her bag with someone else’s.

As Jenna goes through each bag, it seems to get worse and worse until she finally finds a bag that she can handle.  She takes it home, unknowing that (SPOILER) the troubles she picked were the ones she initially brought.

While reading, I didn’t realize that I was beginning to get choked up.  As my daughter started playing with her Spongebob pillow, completely oblivious to my moment of clarity, I was still looking down at the book.  I was caught off guard as to how ten cents bought me so much perspective.

Even though things might not have been perfect in my life at that time, the book reminded me that things could always get worse.  It also encouraged me to look a little more objectively at any trouble that comes my way, and know that not only is it temporary, but it’s also something that I can handle.

So to you, dear reader, if things aren’t going as great as you’d hoped, or your life is veering off your planned course, know that as horrible as it might feel now, it could be worse.  Instead of looking at the perceived notion that other people’s lives are better than yours, focus on doing what you can to help you lighten your own load.  At the end of the day, you might not like the troubles that are handed to you, but if you had the chance to trade, you’d probably still pick your own.

 

Kendra Koger doesn’t create trouble, but she does tweet @kkoger.

 

Is It Okay to Call A Kid A Jerk?

October 11th, 2014 - By Brooke Dean
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As a new mother, I have a confession to make. I didn’t always like children. Actually, let me rephrase – I didn’t always like ALL children. I think most people can agree with that sentiment, but there are others who would argue with me that all kids are likeable. I guess that’s where I would have disagreed in the past. Maybe.

Now that I have an infant son, I’ve softened my view a little bit about children and their “likeability” – mainly because I’d never want anyone to call my kid a jerk. However, if my child were behaving like a jerk, I’d take that as a reflection on me and my parenting than on my child. But not all parents think that way. I bring this up because I saw a woman on the train call a child an a-hole, right in front of his mother – and I totally agreed with her. Not with her saying it per se, but with her assessment of the child.

Now I know that may seem harsh, or even cruel – and it probably was considering an adult should know better than to address a child in that way. And you could also argue that it was disrespectful to the child’s mother. I know I’d certainly take offense to someone calling my child out of his name, and she would have caught an earful from me. But let me paint the picture for you.

The child, a boy about 10 years old, was kicking the stranger’s chair and her leg. She politely asked the mother if she could tell her son to stop kicking the chair, and the mother complied. But the boy kept doing it, all while looking at his mother and the stranger as if to say “F-you.” The mother asked again, and he said “no!” By now we’re all expecting the mother to knock said boy into next week, but instead she just gave us all an exasperated look – defeated. So the stranger took it upon herself to get up and move, to which the boy replied, “Yes, you move you stupid lady.” I think my head spun around. What?? I wish MY son would.

Again, everyone looked to the mother to see if he’d catch a kick to the throat, but instead she did nothing. We sat there stunned, and angry at his mother’s actions…or lack thereof. That’s when the stranger said it – “you’re an a-hole.” Right to the little boy’s face. And just like that, he got his act together. The mother…again…said nothing.

Now again, I’m not saying that the woman should have called the child an a-hole. But to a complete stranger, that’s what he was acting like, whereas to others he may have just been behaving like little kids do. At nine months old, my son is starting to assert his independence. But rebelling against a diaper change and being a 10-year-old who is kicking a woman’s chair are two totally different things. At 10, he’s old enough to know better. By that age, there’s a difference between testing boundaries and being outright disrespectful. By 10 years old, behaving like a jerk is a choice. And by 10 years old, parents should have laid some sort of foundation where good behavior is expected and bad behavior is punished.

But how do you know when a child is just being a kid, or when they’re being a jerk? Without knowing a child’s back story, their upbringing, what is going on in his home (or isn’t) and what his family dynamic is, it’s hard to tell if a child should wear the label of a jerk or if you should feel compassion for him. I’ll admit, it’s hard for me to feel sorry for a kid past a certain age – and 10 years old is pushing up on that number. I can see a child who is, say…4…acting up – because they may not have the communication skills necessary to say “I’m tired,” “I’m hungry” or “I’m bored…and that’s why I’m turning into the Tasmanian Devil.” But by 10 years old, if you’re well-fed and well rested, then you don’t get a pass from me. You’re just a jerk.

Now I know what you’re all saying – maybe it’s the parents who are the jerks, and are therefore raising jerk kids. I agree with you – I usually blame the parents. But guess what – that child is still a jerk, no matter how he came to be that way. Most a-hole adults were a-hole kids. And so the cycle continues.

So what to do? I guess if it’s not your kid or a child you have an influence over, there’s nothing you really can do except pray that the child either outgrows his “a$$holery”, or the parents step up their parenting game before it’s too late and they have a grown up jerk on their hands. That said, maybe I’m an a-hole for calling kids jerks in the first place – who knows. I’m willing to own that, so pray for me. Like I said, I’m a new mother with a new compassionate outlook on children and their behavior, so I’m willing to concede that I may have been too harsh. And for that I’m sorry. I’m working on not being a jerk myself so I can be sure not to raise one. But to all my parents out there – have you ever thought your kid was a jerk, and if so, would you ever admit it? I’m interested in the answers to this one!

Having A Second Child – Is It Too Early To Tell If I Should?

August 24th, 2014 - By Brooke Dean
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having a second child

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I was a month shy of my 41st birthday when I gave birth to my son. Being pregnant at 40 was nothing like I expected. It was magical, but it was scary…nerve racking yet miraculous. Meeting my son was the best day of my life, and its hard to imagine anything coming even remotely close to that moment.

Now that my son is 7 months old and I’m finding my rhythm as a mother, folks are beginning to ask that inevitable question – when are you having another one? I’m just now starting to average 4 (5 if I’m lucky) hours of sleep a night and I’m learning more about my son every day. The thought of having another baby hasn’t even had a chance to plant itself because I’m too busy trying to figure everything out with the baby I have. Yet I feel like I get that question from people at least once a week.

While my son is not an only child – he has siblings from my husband’s previous marriage – they are a lot older than he is. Growing up, I always said that I’d want to have at least two children who would grow up and be best friends like my sister and I are. Having one just never seemed like an option. But in that vision, I never saw myself as an older mother married to a man who already had children. Now that that is my reality, I think I’ve adjusted my thoughts on having more than one child.

Maybe if I were 31 instead of 41 this decision would be a no brainer. Now, just the thought of paying double for child care makes me cringe. Ideally, I’d be able to space them at least 3-4 years apart so that my husband and I could catch a financial breather, but the idea of being pregnant at 45 doesn’t necessarily appeal to me. All of that genetic testing I had to go through with my son was enough to drive me crazy. I feel blessed to have a perfect baby boy, so I don’t feel the need to make myself sick with worry a second time since I’d still be considered an even higher risk the older I get.

Then there’s this thing called sleep. Call me selfish, but as my son gets older and sleeps longer, adding another newborn to the mix would simply make me delirious. Waking up twice in the middle of the night now to nurse only takes 5-10 minutes tops…and then we’re both back to sleep. We’re getting there, and I just don’t see myself wanting to lose more sleep than I’m currently getting. Sure there is a case to be made for doing it now while I’m used to being sleep deprived…but I don’t want to consider that logic right now. At least not until after I grab a nap anyway.

Then there’s my husband. Right now, our household is cozy and functioning with the three of us. His other children don’t live with us, but visit often – and that works out well for our unit. When I want to take a nice long shower, I can hand the baby off to him so I can bathe in peace. When he wants to go work out for an hour, I got the baby. It’s a juggling act we’re getting the hang of, and adding another child to that act would probably throw us off-balance in a way that we may not anticipate. He’s already used to being a dad, while I’m still navigating being a mother. With another child, I think we’d both become just parents rather than husband and wife, and maintaining a marriage while looking after more than one child in the house might become a job that neither one of us has the energy and mentality to prioritize.

Lastly, there’s this silly idea I have that I might not love them equally. Yes, call me crazy – but as I sit and stare at my angelic child, I can’t imagine loving another child the way I love him. Everything with him represents my first – my first heartbeat, first ultrasound, first pregnancy, first birth, first love. I will never experience those “firsts” again, even though I’m sure having another child will be special and unique in its own way too. Logically, I know this…but part of me wonders if I can love another one the way I love him. I know I shouldn’t try to measure the two, but it’s hard to imagine my heart getting any bigger than it already is filled with the joy the little one has brought me.

And the converse of that is wondering if I’d be able to spread myself equally between the two. Will I ignore my oldest child because the younger one would require so much of my attention? Will he become jealous, or try to compete for my affection? If I have a girl, will I love her differently? These are probably all ridiculous things to ponder – but I do anyway…and it makes me wonder if I should stop at this one and just love him up with everything I have.

Loving him up is easy. But am I loving him selfishly by not giving him a close in age sibling to be his best friend? Who knows. Maybe I’m assuming too much. He might be close to his other siblings, even with the age difference. He might not want another sibling. And if he had one close in age to him, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’d be best friends…even though that would be my hope for them. At the end of the day, I might be making much ado about nothing.

And maybe it’s still too soon to even be worrying about all of this. For the time being, I think I’m just going to enjoy being a new mother and growing with, learning from and nurturing my son. Time will tell if having another child is in the cards for us, and the next time someone asks me if I’m ready for the next one, I’ll just tell them to check back with me in a year while I pray on it – and buy myself some time.

Ask A Very Smart Brotha: I Have A 1-Year-Old Should I Stay Out Of The Dating Game?

August 20th, 2014 - By Madame Noire
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Source: Shutterstock

Source: Shutterstock

Dear Damon,

I’m single, 25 and have a 1-year-old. Daughter. I’m currently pursuing my bachelor’s degree and have moved back in with my mother to focus on school instead of working full time. I’m holding off on dating because I feel like in my situation I’m unattractive to stand up guys or the type of men I find attractive. Even after I finish school and get back on my own I’m afraid being a mother is a big turn off. Am I being insecure or am I right to stay out of the dating game?

Signed,
Down About Dating

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