Ahhh, Valentine’s Day as a single parent! We “solo’s” spent most of the week prepping candy and cards for the elementary school party instead of spending time planning a romantic liaison full of champagne, candles, and mood music. Still, we do have a social life and many of us probably have someone in our lives – in some capacity.
When you date a single parent there are many unique challenges that one faces that are not usually found in the romantic world “sans kids” and I often find myself amazed at how much I need to explain in certain situations. So, with that in mind, I give you an introduction to dating a single parent – think of it as a handy little guide for those of you who want to brave the waters of romance meets real life!
10 Tips For Dating Single Parents
Every time a single parent makes a date we have to find suitable, affordable, reliable childcare and this isn’t always easy. Take it as a compliment that we put in the effort. But also know that meeting for lunch when the kids are in school, or on the weekends when they go to stay with family members or friends, are both much easier ideas than traditional evening dates.
It might be frustrating for you if you want to spend time with your new love but we simply can’t get away. Try not to take it personally. We want to spend more time with you if we could. Trust me, a night at a nice restaurant sounds a lot more fun that another parent/teacher conference but we have our priorities. We use other means to keep in touch. We swear by texting (usually much easier than long phone calls), but we do have phone time… right after bath time, story time, and bed time!
It is natural to want your new love to lavish you with attention and affection but if you are dating a single parent the chances are that our kids get the largest share of our attention. And even though you get this, it may still cause feelings of jealousy. Again, it isn’t personal and whatever you do don’t nag or complain about it. This is likely to make us feel like we are potentially getting another child instead of an adult partner!
MEETING THE LITTLE ONES
If, when, and how you meet our kids has to be our decision. We are hesitant and do not want to introduce someone new into our children’s lives too soon. Again, don’t take it personally. We just want to make sure that there might actually be a relationship on the horizon before the kids start requesting that you going us for dinner on Saturday night.
Many divorced parents share responsibility for raising their children which means your date will still be in regular contact with the ex. It is a fact of life. Hopefully it is a good relationship and there is no friction but it can still bring up difficult feelings for you. We get that and sympathize but, if for whatever reason you really can’t handle it, then maybe this isn’t the right relationship for you. We have usually spent a lot of time and effort getting to a “happy place” with our ex and we don’t need a jealous third wheel upsetting that apple cart.
Nope – you are not instantly a parent! Some people assume that if they are dating a single parent they are expected to take on a parenting role themselves. Do not assume and let us handle that part… we have it down to a science. You just need to concentrate on developing a good, solid relationship with us (and the kids) and, if we get far enough down the road, we will talk to you about the role we would like you to have in our children’s lives.
When you meet your date’s children they may not like you, or you them. This is a hard situation but it is important to remember that just like with any other relationship it will take time to get used to each other and develop a connection. The kids might feel very loyal to their absent parent or may be misbehaving because they are upset by the changes in their life. Remember you are the grown up and they are the kids – talk to us if you don’t know how to deal with them.
This is a biggie! Do not try to adopt a persona you think is “good for kids”, or lavish our children with gifts to win their affection, they (and we) will see through you – FAST. You are setting yourself up for a fall later on if you pretend to be something you are not.
Make sure that you continue to see your date as a man/woman in their own right rather than just as a parent. Most single parents are dating because they want to shed their role as “just” mom or dad and get back into the adult world. By fulfilling our needs we are more able to give our children what they need. However, this does not mean that we will be showing PDA’s instantaneously! We do not plan to explain to our kids anytime soon why we were wrapped up in your arms nor do we plan on having a forced “birds and bees” talk because you don’t know the definition of “appropriate!”
ULTIMATELY – JUST BE HONEST
Dating a single parent can be challenging for many people. It requires you to be able to deal with lots of different feelings, be patient, be understanding, and be a part of a traveling three ring circus all at the same time. Remember, our kids come first but we are obviously interested in you or we wouldn’t be bothering to spend time with you. However, us single parents also know that our “package deal” is not for everyone – and we are OK with that. You and I may get along great but ultimately a ready made family may not be your piece of cake. So don’t waste our time or yours. We will all be happier for that decision in the long run.
I hope you find these tips for dating single parents helpful in knowing a bit more about what to expect and how to communicate best. Do you have any tips to share?