27 June 2012
10 things to remember when dating a single parent
by Fran Creffield
If you are dating someone who has kids living at home there are certain things that will be unique to this situation which you ought to know – especially if you haven’t got kids yourself.
All relationships have their challenges, especially at the beginning when you are first getting to know each other. Few people live in isolation and ideally you will have a few dates to get to know the other person, and how you feel about them, before the wider circumstances of their life – like their family, friends, and job – begin to have an impact. If, however, you are dating a single parent, the impact is likely to be felt right from the beginning. Here are 10 things it is good to remember in this situation.
1. Childcare – every time a single parent makes a date they have to find suitable, affordable childcare for their kids and this isn’t always easy. Meeting for lunch when the kids are at school, or on the weekends if they go to stay with other family members, are sometimes better alternatives to traditional evening dates.
2. Time – it might be frustrating for you if you want to spend time with your new love and they simply can’t get away. Try not to take it personally – they probably would want to spend more time with you if they could. Use other means to keep in touch – texting, phone calls and emails and value the time you do get together.
3. Meeting – if, when and how you meet the kids has to be the decision of the parent. They will naturally be reticent about introducing someone new into their children’s lives too soon – they will usually want to be sure of the relationship themselves first.
4. Attention – 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 their kids get the largest share of their attention. Even though you know that is how it should be, it may still cause feelings of jealousy – whatever you do don’t nag or complain for more – this is likely to make your date feel like they have taken on another child rather than an adult date.
5. The ex – many parents don’t live together but share responsibility for raising their children which means your date will still be in regular contact with their ex – this may be the best thing for the kids but it can bring up difficult feelings for you – if you really can’t handle it then maybe this isn’t the right relationship for you.
6. Parenting – some people assume that if they are dating a single parent they are expected to take on a parenting role themselves. Do not assume that this is the case. Concentrate your efforts on developing a good, solid relationship with your date and as time goes on talk to them about the role they would like you to have in their children’s lives.
7. Disharmony –when you meet your date’s children they may not like you, or you them. This is a difficult situation but it is important to remember that just like with any other relationship it will take time for trust to develop – the kids might feel very loyal to their absent parent or may be misbehaving because they are upset by all the changes in their life. Remember you are the grown up and they are the kids – talk to your date if you don’t know how to be with them.
8. Be yourself – try not to adopt a certain role, or lavish children with gifts to win their affection, they will see through you. You are setting yourself up for a fall later on if you pretend to be something you are not.
9. Adult relationship – 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 mum or dad for a while and engage in the adult world. By fulfilling their needs they will be more able to give their children what they need.
10. Be honest – dating a single parent can be challenging for some people. It requires you to be able to deal with lots of different feelings, be patient and understanding when the kids come first and also to be clear about what it is you want from a relationship. It is not the right kind of relationship for everyone and even though you may get on great with your date you need to be honest if you are struggling with the whole package.