According to the U.S. Census, in 2010 there were close to 12 million single-family households in America. Given these statistics, if you are a single adult, it would not be surprising that you find yourself attracted to someone who has children. As you read through these suggestions, remember that children come in all ages and some may not even live at home. The tips below will help you thread your way through some of the intricacies of dating a single parent.
1. Ask yourself: Am I willing to be in a relationship with someone who has children? Do I like kids? Am I willing to enter into a relationship with children? This is important because you cannot separate the parent from the children. If you are dating a parent, their children will be part of the picture at some point.
2. Check your neediness quotient. Often, the attention, time and resources that a parent devotes to his/her children can make one feel jealous or resentful. Are you self-assured and independent enough to accept that the children of your date will be the priority?
3. Know the boundaries. Single parents are likely to set basic boundaries with regards to their children. These boundaries can range from time devoted to children, to dietary/nutrition concerns, to when late night guests are acceptable. It will save everyone a lot of angst if you simply ask your date and openly discuss how you can help make this a positive experience for all concerned.
4. Carefully observe. If you are dating a single parent and your relationship has progressed to the point where you spend time together with the kids, notice how your date parents, the kids’ behaviors, and the family culture. This may sound like a covert operation, but if you find you are uncomfortable with or disapproving of these things, this may not be a situation that is compatible for you.
5. Be authentic. Kids can spot a fake a mile away. Sometimes when we meet the kids we want to make a good impression. Maybe we try too hard: excessively friendly, overly generous, or uncomfortably upbeat. Everyone will feel much more at ease when the new person in mommy or daddy’s life is kind, sincere, and genuinely caring.
6. Appreciate feelings of reservation. It is natural that children may be somewhat leery of a new person in the mix. They may worry that dad or mom doesn’t love them as much as before or that they are lacking in some way. Depending on their background, kids may be fearful of a newcomer in their midst. Don’t take it personally. Simply understand these feelings may exist and that it is not about you.
7. Enjoy. Once you have managed to thread your way through some of these obstacles that are inherent when dating a single parent, relax and enjoy the experience. Children can add a lot of delight and gratification to a relationship.
The willingness to date or pursue a relationship with a single parent requires patience and understanding. It can take time to develop a comfort zone, not only with a new person, but also with the kids and with the new person as a parent as well. If you answered YES to Tip #1, you are a special person who likely has a great deal to bring to the relationship. Navigating the next steps with compassion, good nature, and a sense of humor will help assure that the experience is joyful and fulfilling.
What would be your best advice to someone who is dating a single parent?
Dr. Mary Jayne Rogers is an Exercise Physiologist specializing in whole-person wellness and fitness education and instruction. As an educator, Mary Jayne brings multi-dimensional wellness and fitness experiences along with a welcoming and genuine teaching style to inspire students and wellness enthusiasts of all ages. Dr. Rogers is the owner of Profound Wellness LLC.