Single Parent Dating:
More Than Just A Single Issue
By Frank Kermit
At least 40% of marriages end in divorce. Depending on the study you read, the percentage can be higher. Even though the break down of families continues, the drive that makes people want to connect with one another does not break down. But what happens when a newly single person, ready to re-enter the dating scene...has kids? Single parents have it tough. Not only do single parents have to be careful that the person they are dating isn't actually a child predator looking to capitalize on a vulnerable and lonely parent, but they also must accept that many good potential partners may simply refuse to date single parents. In fact, there are single parents who refuse to date other single parents to avoid blended family issues, even though another single parent might best understand how he or she feels.
The biggest mistake single parents make is trying to hide the fact they have kids when getting to know someone new; Figuring it is best to have the potential partner develop feelings first and get hooked before they share this "tiny detail". In case you are wondering...it doesn't work in the long term. Can't build a future starting with an omission of truth. One of the challenges single parents face in the dating scene is an irregular schedule. A good parent, who rightfully puts children ahead of dating, makes for an unstable dating schedule.
If you are looking for something more than casual encounters, it is much more difficult to build as a single parent. If you really want to touch the heart of a single parent you are dating...chip in for the cost of babysitting, so you can see the parent more often.
When things get more serious, some people who do date single parents are not always ready for the responsibilities that come with "instant-family" which is why the pool of who will seek out a serious relationship with a single parent is smaller than for people without children. In fact, depending on where you live and the law of that territory, if the wealthier person of the couple had promised to care for the children of the single parent, that potential partner could end up paying child support after the relationship ends, for kids that aren't even biologically theirs.
If you are dating a single parent, then something you should know is not to push meeting your date's children. If you meet them through happenstance, present yourself as a "friend" of the parent, and do nothing in front of the children to suggest otherwise. Children that get too close to "the date" may end up with their own intimacy and attachment issues as they experience a parent going through a string of temp-parents coming in and out of their lives. Children lack the life experience or emotional maturity that comes with adulthood and how to interpret romantic relationships and realistic expectations. (For that matter, many adults have the same issues) Each time a child gets close to a new partner only to have the parent and new partner break up, it can be as gut wrenching for the child as it is for the parent...possibly more so. This is still only taking into account that the kids even want to get to know the new partner. In fact many children may instinctually hate the new date because some children fear abandonment from the other parent if they were too be accepting of the new partner.
Even in cases where the parents split up due to extreme domestic issues, most children still have a hope that mom and dad will work it out somehow, and the new date is a barrier to that hope.
If there was one bit of advice that every single parent must keep in mind it is this: factor in the physical, mental and emotional well being of your child into your dating life. This covers everything from choosing whom to spend time with, all the way to introducing your new love to your children when the relationship is serious enough, to creating a blended family with your new partner. The single parent has to decide what is more important: the potential exciting next partner or the potential excellent stepparent.
FRANK KERMIT MA
EXPERT RELATIONSHIP COACH
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