June 11, 2010

How to Date a Single Parent

(Reposted from Ask Dan and Jennifer)

You are jogging in the park one sunny morning, when you find yourself keeping time with a beautiful woman. She smiles, you smile, and eventually, when you slow down, you ask her out on a date. “Sure,” she says, “but can I bring my kid along?”

Eek! Don’t worry. This is not typical of single parents, although that seems to be a big fear in the minds of kid-less folks. Here is what it’s really like to date a single parent.

Finding the Time

Regardless of whether or not you like kids, you may find yourself in a situation where you are drawn to single parent. Depending on your depth of emotion for this person, you may decide it is worth the extra time and effort. The first hurdle you’ll encounter is her abundant lack of time. As a single parent (presumably working), she is always on the go. Doing the job of two parents means doing double-duty. In order to go on dates, you need to be prepared to book pretty far in advance. Not only that, but dates may be cancelled at the last minute due to flaky babysitters or sick kids. You will have to be patient and understanding, two things that can be very hard to remember by the third rain-check.

One of the most important things to remember in dating a single parent is to let them run the show where their child is concerned. Rushing them along before they’re ready for the next step will not make your relationship progress faster. It’ll make it die harder.

Dealing with the Kid

The kid presents a myriad of problems in himself. For one thing, he may have lingering issues about his father (whether he’s absent or in the child’s life still) and who the heck is this new guy? Another situation is that the kid can feel jealous of his mother’s attention (once completely wrapped around his finger) now being somewhat focused on a stranger. This all depends on the child’s personality. He may love or hate you, want to be around you all the time, or want his mother all to himself.

Fortunately for you, many single parents are extremely protective and may choose to not introduce you to the child until you are both serious about this relationship. This is a great sign, as it shows that she can keep her single life and motherhood separate.

Dating Another Single Parent

This situation can either be a fantastic situation…or the Apocalypse. Think about how hard it is to date a woman when there is a child involved; now think of how much harder it would be with two or more children involved. All of a sudden, he’s worried about her kids liking him while she’s worried about his children. To make it even more complicated, the kids may not like the other kids. It certainly adds a very complex level, yet if you can make it work, it can be turned into a unique, but loving family unit.

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