According to Janet Frank, Ph.D., in Tips for Single Parenting on the Clinical Psychology Associates of North Central Florida website, as many as 59 percent of kids will live in single parent families at some time during their childhood.
For both the single parent and the other person in the relationship, dating can be challenging because the children’s needs should be considered at all times. With some helpful tips, this situation can go from being frustrating and painful to fun and something to look forward to. Below is a proven relationship checklist to keep you balance between dating and kids.
Before the First Date With the Kids
In the first chapter of relationship checklist it is important the parent should spend some time explaining the relationship to the kids, but not too much of course. It’s okay to call the other person a friend. If possible, introduce the child to the non-parent adult before the first kid-included date.
Kid Friendly Food and Activities
While planning the first date with the children, put their needs and wants first. They’re not likely to want to go to an elegant restaurant and the opera. Save that for the adult dates. Find out what the kids like to do and what types of food they like. This is to be given priority in relationship checklist.
The parent is ultimately responsible for the child, not the other adult. Everything from making sure there are enough supplies and snacks to dressing the kids appropriately and keeping them safe is in the parent’s hands. If the child needs to use the restroom, the parent should take him, at least until the child feels comfortable around the non-parent adult. When the kids get tired or fussy, the parent should make the decision when it’s time to end the date.
Non-Parent Adult’s Responsibility
Be aware of the children at all times, but don’t try to take over being the parent. In the beginning, allow the child to take the lead in the relationship checklist. Be understanding of the parent and reinforce the parent’s decisions.
Expect the Unexpected
Very young children are honest, open and sometimes brutal with what they say. Don’t be offended by anything, and try to assure the parent that no harm is done, regardless of what the child says. This may be difficult if the beginning of the date is rocky. In that case, back off and let the parent call the shots.
Be the Fun Person
Relationship checklist also suggests, if possible, engage the child in conversation and relax. Children sense tension, and it creates stress. Most kids like goofy fun, so let loose. Everyone needs a good laugh.
Time to Go Home
Be careful not to over-stimulate the child. Small children should be in bed early, so don’t stay out too late.
Single parent dating involving kids can be challenging. The main thing to remember is to allow the relationship to happen naturally. The first date with the child may not live up to expectations. Prepare the child with an introduction, find a kid friendly place for the date and let the parent be in charge.
What to Do When Parents Without Partners Date
If a man and a woman are both single parents, the temptation to band together for outings is strong. An international organization, Parents Without Partners, provides group activities and social occasions for single parents that are fun without being intimidating. It also provides therapy for the single parent in the form of discussions, professional speakers, study groups, publications, and activities for families.
Regardless, a potential couple, with children from other marriages or relationships, should limit group interactions in the early stages of a relationship checklist, however tempting it may be.
Spend Time Together as a Couple
Combining offspring seems to make sense since dating a single parent costs a fortune for separate babysitters. Also, his kids may already be friends with her kids, which is how everyone met in the first place. The trouble with this arrangement is that a man and a woman never get to know each other outside of the context of being parents. How the children feel about each other begins to take on more importance than how a man and a woman feel about each other.
Be very, very careful with this scenario. Everyone can wind up hurt and lonely or, even worse, bound together for all the wrong reasons. When dating another single parent, limit family get-togethers to once a month, and make sure to include many other friends in children’s lives to dilute the impact of the ready-made clan. Tell them to keep in mind that friends are a lot more fun than stepbrothers or stepsisters, and that two houses are actually a refuge, especially in the early stages of dating.
How to Get to Know Another Single Parent
According to The Stepfamily Foundation, 1300 new stepfamilies are formed every day in America. When children are involved, 66% of these stepfamilies break up. Don’t become another grim statistic; never feel pressured to hook up with another single parent because he is emotionally or financially needy. In fact, such behavior should serve as a huge red flag. A single-parent has a huge responsibility to choose a partner who is compatible with everyone in the family.
Make a lot of daytime dates with a single-parent friend: lunch, walks, gym time, picnics, swimming. It’s easier to find cheap child-care during the day when children are at school, or at friend’s house, or an ex-spouse’s house than during the weekend. Try to find trustworthy parents who reciprocate sleepovers so there is also free time to go out at night. Don’t group children together abruptly and often. If a single-parent couple feels events are going excessively slowly, they’re probably going just slowly enough.
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