Dating can be a complicated process for anyone. Add kids to the equation and it becomes that much more challenging. That doesn’t mean that being a single parent and dating cannot mix, of course. It just requires more consideration and mindfulness than it would if it was just two singles dating.
This is true for both parties in the relationship. A single mom or single dad needs to consider the emotional and physical safety of their children as well as themselves when it comes to choosing whom they should date. And it’s up to the other person to decide if they’re comfortable potentially being an influence on someone else’s children.
Each side has its own special circumstances to consider. If you find yourself in a single parent dating situation, we’ve broken down the things you need to consider into a series of do’s and don’ts below.
You’re a Single Parent
So, you’re ready to get back out there. Fantastic! Just be sure you’re really ready for the challenges of dating with children in the picture. To prepare yourself as a single parent in the dating world, try to keep the following tips in mind:
- Tell your date about your kids right away. Be honest and upfront with this from the very beginning. Your date’s reaction to this information can tell you right away if the relationship is worth pursuing.
- Be extra-aware of what you need in a partner. By this point of your life, you should have a pretty clear picture of the qualities and values you want and need a person to have, especially one who may very well spend time with your children.
- Be careful with introductions. Introducing your kids to a new significant other can come with a lot of conflicting emotions on their part. That’s just one reason why you really want to be sure about the person you’re dating before having them meet your kids.
- Moving too fast. Examine why you feel ready to date. Are you really ready? Or do you actually feel desperate to get your kids a new mom or dad, or want to punish an ex by getting back out there first? Be honest, and make sure you are actually emotionally equipped for a new relationship.
- Feeling guilty. Being a parent does not negate your need to have and feel romantic love. Nor does the pursuit of such a relationship necessarily take away from your parental duties. You deserve and can handle both.
- Ignoring your children’s fears and feelings. It’s common for kids to react negatively to a new person, at least at first. But if that negativity appears extreme or long-lasting, there could be a good reason for it. Don’t dismiss it.
You’re Dating a Single Parent
When it comes to dating a single parent, the idea may either thrill you or cause you a lot of anxiety…or somewhere in between. If you are interested in moving forward with dating a single parent, it’s important to understand the following:
- Be patient. The person you’re dating has other responsibilities, and they often can be unpredictable. So, be ready for cancelled dates due to sick kids, absent babysitters or late school projects. And be understanding about it.
- Understand you’re dating a family, not just a person. While you are technically just seeing one person, that person has other people attached to them for the rest of their lives. So, if you’re in it for the long haul, you need to keep in mind that those people will always be a part of your relationship.
- Try to make things easy. Being a single parent isn’t easy. So, do your best to not make things harder. Even better, try to make things easier on them. Make dinner for them, lend a sympathetic ear, and otherwise give them your support.
- Pushing to integrate yourself. You can’t rush the process. Ultimately, it’s up to the person you’re dating and their kids to determine if and when they are ready for you to meet each other.
- Offering unsolicited parenting advice. Even if you’re not a parent, that doesn’t mean you can’t have an opinion about how to raise kids. But offering a contradictory and unrequested opinion to a parent can raise their hackles like nothing else.
- Wasting the other person’s time. Really think about if you’re willing and able to take on another person’s children. If so, that’s great. But if not, you should break it off as soon as possible so as not to waste each other’s time.
For more information and advice about dating, marriage and other relationship issues, be sure to check out the PeopleFinders blog.
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