Single Parent Dating Tips
Table of Contents
Before You Start to Date Again …………………………………………….3
Where to Find Dates…………………………………………………………..4
Let Your Date Know About Your Kids ………………………………………5
Don’t Parade Dates in Front of Kids ………………………………………..5
Reassure Your Kids They Remain Important to You …………………….6
The First Encounter …………………………………………………………..6
Expect Resistance ……………………………………………………………..7
Don’t Turn Your Partner into a Parent Helper……………………………..8
Be Consistent About Sex……………………………………………………..9
Put Your Kids First……………………………………………………………10
But Don’t Be a Martyr ………………………………………………………11
Your New Love and Your Ex………………………………………………..11
Don’t Let Your Kids Dominate Your Dates………………………………..12
When Relationships Dissolve……………………………………………….13
Can single parents date again? Of course they can! But having children can make dating more challenging.
For one thing, you have to balance your commitments to your kids with the time demands a new relationship takes.
For another thing, you may be introducing a new person to your kids’ lives and that can cause confusion and tension.
Many people seem to have an opinion about single parents, and their advice when it comes to your private life is: take up needlepoint or woodworking. Forget them. A single parent can date, seriously or casually. A single parent can be seen out dancing on a Saturday night. A single parent can even have sex!
However, dating when you have children is not like dating before kids. There are some general guidelines you need to follow when you are introducing a new adult into your children’s lives.
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Before You Start to Date Again
Don’t jump right into the soup and think you should start by checking out the online personals. Remember that when you start dating, it doesn’t just affect you. Starting a new relationship will affect your whole family. So, talk to your kids about why mommy or daddy might see other people occasionally.
Before you start dating, begin by taking care of yourself. Too often, single parents who are primary caretakers have to balance so many things that they let their own self care go down the drain.
But taking care of yourself shows self respect. It also reflects your personal boundaries. If you invest time and energy taking care of yourself, you are ready to invest in new personal relationships. When you make the commitment to take care of yourself, you are practicing dating someone else. If you can’t take care of yourself right now, do you really think you have the emotional reserves to be there for another person?
You may not want to start by finding dates. Instead, look to develop all kinds of friendships. Look around your job or the people you meet from your kids’ activities and find people that you would like to get to know better. Establish friendships. These can be with men or women. The friendships will enrich your life.
If a friendship leads to romance, that is great! But, even if it doesn’t, your new friends are likely to introduce you to potential dates themselves.
By beginning to actively socialize, you are actually preparing your children for dating in the future. They will begin to see that you have social needs that they alone cannot meet. Once they are accustomed to you going out from time to time, dating won’t be a shock. Get out of the house. Hire a sitter if you need to. Think of it as preparation for a lively dating life.
Another advantage of developing your social life is that your kids will get used to you going out without them. Your social life won’t threaten them. Then when you do start to date again, the children won’t see a dramatic “shift” in your routine. Mommy (or daddy) is just going out to dinner with a friend.
Prepare your kids for your dating future. They should know whether you are building casual friendships or whether you hope to marry. You should be honest with them, but it’s also okay to tell them that you aren’t prepared to answer specific questions at a given time.
Your children are much less likely to resist another person coming in their life down the road if you lay the proper groundwork ahead of time.
Where to Find Dates
The scope of dating changes when you have children. You probably can’t hang out at single’s bars every night like you could before the kids were born. Some people find it difficult to find someone new when they are finally ready to start dating someone new.
Let all of your friends and acquaintances know that you are interested in meeting new people. Let them set you up on dates. When you do this, the man or woman that you see will be aware up front that you have kids.
When you are with your kids, strike up conversations with other eligible parents. Not all of them will be available, but some will be. The fact that they understand what life is like with kids is an added plus.
While you may not have the time or energy to go to a lot of single’s events, you may have an hour at the end of the day to visit online dating sites. Consider joining one or more of these sites. A general interest site will have some information in the profiles about whether the person is interested in dating people with kids. More specific sites exist for single parents to meet each other.
When you start actively looking for someone, you will probably be pleasantly surprised at how many people there are to date.
Let Your Date Know About Your Kids
You should let your date know about your kids as soon as possible. If you wait, they may feel that they have wasted their time if they are not interested in kids.
But, more importantly, you will have wasted your time. And, for single parents, time is precious. Don’t think that you can lure someone into loving you and then spring your kids on them after they’ve fallen in love. It just doesn’t work that way.
Don’t apologize for being a parent. Your kids are a big part of your life. You are justifiably proud of your relationship with them.
If your date expresses any hesitation about your having kids, that’s a good sign that you shouldn’t pursue the relationship. If he or she seems only tolerant of children, it’s a good sign things won’t work out.
Find out how they feel about having more children and how they see integrating the families upfront as well.
Don’t Parade Dates in Front of Kids
Introducing someone new to your kids should take serious thought. For instance, having a series of “uncles” come into a child’s life can be very confusing. It should be a big step to introduce someone to your kids. It’s taking the relationship up a level.
Before you introduce your kids to a new love, you should be in a committed relationship, envision this person as a potential member of your family, and talk between yourselves about what this means. Make sure your love is ready to accept the responsibility of being a part of your kids’ lives.
Additionally, before you introduce your new man or woman, really get to know them. Do a background check if you feel that is important. When you introduce someone into your family, you make your kids vulnerable to them. Make sure that the person is not a psycho or a child abuser. Remember, the only “rule” is that your kids don’t get hurt.
Reassure Your Kids that They Remain Important to You
Realize that when you introduce another person into the “family,” your kids are going to feel threatened by the new person’s presence. Therefore, you are going to need to reaffirm the children’s centrality to your life.
Tell them that just because you love another man or woman, it doesn’t mean that you love them any less.
Share your enthusiasm about the person you are dating. Tell your kids why you love him or her.
Use this opportunity to talk openly about love relationships. They will later model what you do now, so your reassurance about love is important.
The First Encounter
When you first introduce your new boyfriend or girlfriend to your children, you may want to tell them he or she is a “friend.” Let them get used to the person before you up the ante.
You want the first encounter to be fun for everyone. Don’t plan a big event. Keep it small and fun.
For instance, go to the park and play on the swings, or for older kids, play Frisbee. Have a special treat like ice cream from the vendor to make the occasion extra “sweet.”
Keep the occasion short. Spend an hour or so together.
It may be best to arrive at a venue in separate cars rather than meet at one house and drive together. That way, if things blow up (and they might), you can quickly leave.
You are also probably going to be concerned with the impression your children make on your new love. That’s natural. But you should let your kids be kids. You’ll stress them out if you try to make them “perfect” for this occasion.
If you have older kids, this is not the time to have big fights about holey jeans or make up. Teenagers in particular may “push back” by pushing all of your buttons. Realize that it is stressful for them to meet an adult figure that may play a role in their lives.
Give your children and your new love space to develop their own relationships. The bond between them is going to be forged naturally. You can’t force it.
You can facilitate it though. Have family style dates. Do fun, kid-oriented things together like going ice skating or to a movie that the kids have been dying to see.
But, if your kids are shy or uncomfortable with the new person, don’t push it. If their relationship with the new person never forms, there is nothing you can do to “make” your kids love the new person.
You may dream that your kids fall in love with your boyfriend or girlfriend immediately. But, unless they are very small, they are probably going to resist him or her.
That’s because they see your new love replacing their other parent.
Be patient with your kids. This is hard for them.
With younger children (under 10), assure them that you are not replacing their other parent. Tell them that it is okay to love their mom or dad. Let them know that this new person will never take that place in their life.
Another issue with younger children is that they feel your new love is “stealing” their time. They won’t want to “share” you with someone else. Tell them “I love you as much as ever, but sometimes I’m not here when you want me to be. I like to spend time with my friends, just like you do.”
If your kids continue to object to your new love, you should listen to them. This doesn’t mean that they can nix your relationships. But, if he or she doesn’t listen to them, doesn’t pay attention to them, or makes them uncomfortable, you should listen. These may be signs that the relationship won’t work with your family.
Older children and teens are likely to rebel. They’ll test their limits by pushing back against your new love.
Handle this by giving them some control over their lives. While they shouldn’t control your dating, getting their input on things that they can have a say in – like whether they’d be more comfortable if your date joined you for dinner at the home or if you all went out together can facilitate their acceptance of your new love.
Ask your kids for a monthly “date” with just you and them. That will make them feel like they are still special to you. By phrasing this in terms they’ll identify with, you will allow yourself to grow closer to them. When you go out on your “date,” do things they want to do.
Remember that you are the parent though. Ultimately, you are the adult in the house. It’s great that you respect your child’s opinion on the matter, that you’re open about discussing the situation and that you’re trying to keep peace in the home. But, in the end, you are the adult and if you want to date someone and your teen doesn’t like it, that’s just too bad.
Don’t Turn Your New Partner into a Parent Helper Right Away
Your new partner is a love interest. You should spend your initial months together in romantic ways. The most important thing you can do for your relationship during this time is to seal the bond between you.
If you ask him or her to help you in significant ways with the kids, you are imposing an obligation on them that they are not ready to take. Just as you shouldn’t ask your kids to start treating your love like a parent figure right away, you shouldn’t ask your partner to take on parenting duties.
They may offer to babysit or do minor child chores at first. You have to decide whether this hurts or helps your relationship. Remember, the relationship should come before any “assistance” with your kids.
Similarly, you have to factor in how your kids will view this “assistance” from your partner. You have to give them room to get to know the new person before he or she will be fully accepted by them.
Another note on this topic is that experts almost universally agree that you should not allow your new love to discipline your children at first. Your partner is a friend, not a parent to them. If you do ever allow your partner to parent in this way, it should only be after they have become an official step parent through marriage.
In short, your kids are not his or her responsibility until the relationship has been taken to a level where they are part of the “family” in whatever form that takes.
Be Consistent on Sex
One of the things you need to be clear about when you start to date when you have children is the messages you want to be sending your kids about sex.
Parents have many views about sex. For instance:
- No premarital sex
- Sex only in committed relationships
- Sex is for adults only
Whatever you are going to tell your kids about sex, you need to practice it yourself. It’s not enough to tell them to “do as I say not as I do.” Your children will pick up on any hiprocracy right away.
The next thing you need to do is decide on sleeping arrangements. Perhaps your love only sleeps over when the kids are on visitation with the other parent. Or, perhaps you make every night a slumber party. You need to figure out these things ahead of time so that a last minute hormonal decision doesn’t harm your relationship with your children.
Finally, if you have older kids, you need to think through how you are going to talk to them about sex in light of your new relationship. Intimate moments are private for a reason, so you shouldn’t let them pry. But you can also use your own life as a living “teachable moment” for them.
Put Your Kids First
When you are a parent, your kids come first. No matter what. If a child’s soccer game conflicts with your new love’s company picnic, you should be at the game. Don’t skip a concert performance for a night on the town.
One of the things your kids will be looking for when you start a new relationship is whether you still care about them. They are going to be jealous of the time you spend with the new man or woman thinking (perhaps rationally) that it takes time away from them.
That’s why it is so important to put your kids’ “big events” ahead of your new love’s.
Beyond specific events, you need to put your kids’ needs above the new person’s. That may make things less romantic, but it’s part of being a parent.
If you are a single parent who only sees your children on weekends, you need to make it very clear to your new partner that these visitation times are for the children and they are not to schedule things with you or that conflict with the kid’s time.
Finally, you should always consider your children’s health, emotional welfare, and safety when you make any decisions about your relationship. You’ll never forgive yourself if something bad happens because you didn’t put your children first.
But Don’t be a Martyr
Having said that your kids have to come first, you also should know that you shouldn’t be a martyr to them.
Don’t use your kids as an excuse to avoid intimacy.
If you are a martyr to your kids, you will sabotage any chance you have at finding true love.
The balancing act between putting your kids’ needs first and making space in your life for a new love is one of the hardest things for single parents who start dating to do.
Your New Love and Your Ex
One of the hard things about starting a new relationship is letting your ex know you are dating again. If he or she is still in pain from the divorce, letting them know that you have moved on may be painful.
But, as hard as it may be, you need to let your ex know that you are dating again and that someone special has entered your life.
You should also take care to not use your new love as a weapon against your ex. While it may be tempting to let your ex know that you’ve moved on, it’s unfair to use a date as a weapon. Your children will no doubt mention that you’re dating when they are with their other parent, and that’s fine. Don’t ask them to keep it a secret or they will feel like you are doing something wrong. Simply let things take their course, and answer their questions honestly.
In many cases, both partners in a relationship have kids of their own. It’s the whole “Brady Bunch” scenario.
It is important for your children to be properly introduced to his or her children because it sets the tone for how the group will get along in the future.
While an adult can absorb bad behavior on your children’s part, a kid has a hard time.
You should also know that your kid is going to be stressed about meeting people who could become their siblings. There are a variety of ways that this stress is played out. Often, one child will start to bully another child.
While you may have some tolerance for bad behavior toward an adult figure that comes into the relationship because you naturally assume an adult can handle it, you should have zero tolerance for bad behavior toward another child.
You should also have zero tolerance for allowing your new love’s children to bully yours.
Remember, a new relationship is hard on the kids. Adequately preparing them emotionally for all of the new bonds that are being made is of paramount importance.
Don’t Let Your Kids Dominate Your Dates
Separate out your dating life. Some dates will be “family dates” where you include the kids. But, other dates will be “grown up dates” and the kids don’t come along.
Or do they?
Too often, a single parent spends a lot of their dating conversation talking about their kids. While this may seem natural because your kids are such an important part of your life, it can crowd out the important bonding between two people.
So, try to limit the talk about how “charming” or “dreadful” your kids are and focus on the other person. Talk about things and interests you have in common. Try to allow the other person to talk as well.
While you love your kids and they are the most important part of your life, your new relationship cannot be based solely on them. You have to have an “adult” component to the relationship as well.
Therefore, you shouldn’t bring your kids along – even in conversation only – on adult dates.
When Relationships Dissolve
You may have done everything right. You:
– developed a social life so the children wouldn’t notice when you started to date
– when you started to date, you kept the children in the dark until you were in a committed relationship
– prepared your children for the introduction to your new love well
– reassured your children that you love them every bit as much despite falling in love with another adult
– facilitated the development of the relationship between your children and your partner
Thus, your children have fallen in love with your partner much like you did.
But, then something went wrong in the relationship. You no longer see a future together and you want out.
How do you break it to the children?
First of all, be compassionate. Remember that they have already seen one relationship fall apart (yours with their other parent) and may see your break up as further indication that they can’t expect the adults in their lives to stick around. This is the worst case scenario.
Therefore, you have to be compassionate about the break up. If they want to occasionally see or phone your old love, facilitate that.
But you shouldn’t stay in a relationship “for the kids” either. That’s a bad reason to stay in a marriage and an even worse reason to stay in a dating relationship.
Change and loss are part of life, things everyone has to deal with. If a particular bond is really strong, perhaps there’s a way for that adult and child to maintain a connection. But, don’t stay in a relationship that has run its course just because of that attachment.
Dating after a divorce is tough because the children need a strong adult presence in their life. Instead of having two parents in the home, they have two homes with one parent in each.
There are also challenges to actually dating when you have kids. You have to balance your romantic life with your family life.
Before you jump into any relationships, you need to think through what your plan of attack is. Make sure you have prepared your children for what’s coming next before the occasion arises.
Before you had kids, dating was much simpler. The demands on your time were simpler. The emotional demands were simpler as well.
But, your kids have brought you a lifetime of joy. Their needs and desires are a part of any new relationship. Now that you have kids, the dating relationships you have will become more complicated.
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have them.
Take the single parent dating tips in this report as a roadmap for how to proceed when you are dating with kids. read more free eBook at love advice