Dating as a Single Parent

by Paul Smith

If you are a single parent, obviously your priority will be your children if you have from your previous marriage. Introducing a new partner into their lives, whoever they may be and however you meet them will be a major step. If not handled well, it can add to the inevitable stress that will have been caused by the initial breakdown of their parents or careers relationship. However, handled sensitively, a new relationship can make your children feel more secure and can be a really positive step towards a happy future for you all. For the most part, your children are more likely to be happy if you are happy.

Children of any age will naturally view a new partner with some suspicion well before you actually introduce them. They will be concerned about having to compete for your attention and may feel some degree of jealousy towards your new partner. In younger children, this can lead to temper tantrums and problems at school, while teenagers may withdraw and become (even more) difficult to engage in conversation.

Try to ensure that your absorption in your new relationship does not leave your kids out in the cold. If you are the absent parent, make sure you never cancel access visits or arrangements in favor of your partner. They have to understand you come as a family package and your first responsibility is to your children, particularly in the early days. For any parent, it is important to keep your dates at a distance from your home and children until you are certain they can be trusted to be part of your life.

Finally, try to keep your sex life discreet. Your teenagers will be horrified and your younger children confused if they are not spared some of the details! Think about how you would feel waking up to find an unexpected visitor in the house! If your kids are prone to nocturnal visits to your room put a lock on the door – or wedge it shut when necessary! Until the relationship is a well-established part of your kid’s lives, limit overnight stays to when they aren’t around.

By showing some consideration to how your children might feel about you embarking on a new relationship and ensuring that they are safe, secure and happy, they are far more likely to respect your need for happiness and support you in your new life. Stepparents and partners can have a really positive impact on children’s lives and can be one of the best things to come out of a relationship breakdown.

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