Single parents face many challenges when it comes to raising their children without the everyday presence of another guardian. Statistics indicate that there are over 12 million single parent families in the US today for a variety of reasons including divorces, separations, deaths, and deciding to not get married. Though each single-parent family is unique and faces very individual challenges, most single parents eventually run into a common problem — to date or not to date.
Deciding to date can be a turning point in the dynamic of a single-parent family. Regardless of the age of the children, custody arrangements, and other family-specific circumstances, if you are the primary guardian for your children your decision to date will have an immense effect on both your kids and your relationships. Though dating as a single mother or father is commonly associated with negative reactions from children, dating again does not have to scary! Here are 5 expert-recommended dating tips for single parents to help children cope with the changes and ensure they feel included and understood.
- First and foremost, talk to your children about your decision to date again. As a parent, you know the importance of having open channels of communication with your kids, so let them know about your decision to date. You don’t have to go into too much detail, but this can help avoid feelings of sadness, surprise, or anger and remind them that you understand their concerns and their feelings.
- Consider how you would like to date. Just like daters sans children, there are plenty of dating options for single parents. From traditional blind dates, to online dating there are countless tools you can use to find your perfect match. Don’t be afraid to date on whichever platform you feel comfortable, but always remember to pace your dating to make time for your children, family, and potential matches.
- Be honest and upfront on dates or in your online dating profile. Never, ever hide the fact that you have children to prevent scaring off a date. Period.
- Research the person before agreeing to a date. As a parent, it’s your number one priority to keep your children safe, so be wary of strange behavior, never share personal information about your children too soon, and use your intuition to help keep your family protected. Researching a match online using people search services can help you to gain insight about their background history, professional identity, and online presence.
- Introduce a love interest to your family at the right time. Deciding to introduce your children to your date is a huge step, which should never take place on the first date because children typically form attachments much faster than adults. Set up meetings only when you’re sure you can see a future with your partner and when you know your children are ready to meet them. Experts suggest different types of introductions depending on the ages of your children.
- Get your love interest involved in your family. The easiest way to encourage a positive relationship between your new partner and your children is to allow them to have fun together. Observe how your match does one-on-one with your kids and let them form bonds on their own terms. If you have to force your love interest to get involved in family life, or if your kids are resistant, consider that that person may not be right for your family.