Parents Without Partners
How To Start Dating Again When You Have Kids
Dear April Masini,
I'm a single parent and am very devoted to my kids. But now that they're getting older and are in the house less and less - and with their friends more and more, I'm realizing that I don't have much of a social life. So, I've been thinking of starting to date again. I have really mixed feelings about this though...and even feel a little guilty. What do you think about single parents dating? Do you have any advice for single parents dating with kids?"
April Masini's Advice :
Dear Parent Trapped,
As you likely know, there are few roles tougher or more demanding than being a single parent, which is why it's understanding that you may not prioritize dating at the top of your list, or even believe it's appropriate.
Well, I'm here to tell you that it is worth investing the time in, and it is most definitely appropriate...even beneficial to your kids! First, if it's been a while since you've dated, or a while since you've dated someone you were excited about, I suggest you pick up Think & Date Like A Man (for women) or Date Out Of Your League (for men).... They are stock full of tips and advice that will help you get your new dating life off to a successful start.
Tips for You:
I don't need to tell you that being a parent is one of the most rewarding things you can do. But that's not to say it's the only thing you can do, or more specifically, it doesn't mean you are only a parent. Being an adult - with romantic, intimate, and sexual desires and needs - is also an important part of who you are. Lose that, and you lose a very real and very valuable part of yourself.
Tips for Your Kids:
Not only is dating important for you, it's actually important for your kids, too. It is healthy for them to know you are a full and complete person - not just their mom or dad. It's good for them to see that you can be happy with another person other than their other parent. And, perhaps most importantly of all, by dating and participating in a healthy relationship with a good person, you're setting a good example for them to follow...when the time is comes for them to date (yikes!).
Tips to Take Away:
Okay, we've established why it's important for you to date, but you still may have questions about how to date (i.e., what's appropriate and what's not, how to broach the subject with your kids, etc.). To that end, I've composed a list of the top 5 essential dos and don'ts for becoming a safe, smooth, and successful single-parent dater.
The Top 5 DOs & DON'Ts of Dating (as a parent):
DON’T have a constant parade of new people coming in and out of the house.
DO introduce only those people who you think will become "regular fixtures.”
DON’T spring the idea of dating on your kids.
DO gradually introduce the concept, emphasizing that this is something all adults do.
DON’T bring your kids with you on every date.
DO remember that dating is a time for you -- as an adult. It's okay to take time for yourself.
DON’T allow your children's concerns to dominate your actions.
DO listen to their concerns, but be clear that this is not something for them to decide.
DON’T ask your kids to keep your dating life a secret.
DO create an atmosphere of open, honest communication - and make sure to include your ex-partner so your kids don't feel any confusion or torn loyalties.