Sami Jankins discusses when a single parent should bring up they have kids while dating.
I would like to get back out dating, but am unsure how to go about things now that I have kids. Will I have a harder time finding a date? Is this an automatic deal breaker? When would be the best time to bring up my kids? I love my kids, but I’d also like to not spend the rest of my days alone.
Dating with a Few Minions
Dear Dating with a Few Minions,
I do not have minions, or tiny humans as I like to refer to them as. It would seem like I would have absolutely no insight on how to help you. Fear not! I have at minimum gone through the on-line dating process myself. My mom was also a 25-year-old widow with a five year old who had to go back through the dating process herself. I may or may not asked her for her input on all of this, especially since when she remarried it was my dad (and he had to have done something right). I’m not a licensed expert, but I am getting information from a pretty useful source.
First, yes it is possible to date. Will this be an automatic deal breaker for people? Yes, but not for everyone. Some people don’t want kids. Some people don’t like kids. These would never have been a good match for you anyways. Can you imagine someone who doesn’t like kids interacting with your kids in the future? Yikes, right?! There are a ton of deal breakers that people have. I do not have perfect health. This is definitely a deal breaker for some. Each part of our lives is a walking deal breaker to someone. Those people were never going to be good matches, so let’s just forget them.
The person you are going on a date with should know about there being kids as soon as possible, as in before the first date. This goes back the fact that if kids are a deal breaker they aren’t a good match for you to begin with. Some on-line dating sites will have a place where you can put if you have kids. When looking for a potential match, pay attention to if they have listed that they do not want kids ever. It would be a waste of time to message those people. It’s helpful when going out on a date to know if your date has a timeline. Will you need to keep your phone out in case the babysitter needs to get in contact with you? It might appear rude to just keep a phone out, but if your date knows why it would make more sense. Do you need to leave the date at a specific time? If the date is going well and you end it abruptly or are looking at your watch, your date may perceive that you aren’t interested. It’s easier to be up front so there is no confusion.
It is entirely up to you as to when you would want to bring someone you are dating around your children. I think a good rule of thumb seems to be if you were to introduce them to your general family, that may be the time to introduce them to your kids. It could be confusing for your kids to meet people too soon and potentially get attached. Make sure that you see longer potential with the other person. It will be very informative for you to see how the other person interacts with your kids.
This gets me to my mom’s advice – in dating, your kids need to be your absolute priority. If your kid is sick, the person you are dating needs to know that a date will get cancelled. If you have pre-scheduled activities you do with your kids, it is important this doesn’t change just because someone else is in the picture. If you are divorced rather than widowed, certain days for dates will depend on when you have your kids and the other person has to be OK with that. Basically, your kids will come first and the person you are dating must understand that.
My parents began dating when my dad was 22, my mom was 28, and my sister was eight. My dad knew nothing about kids. He was the youngest in his family with two older brothers. My dad thought my mom was the bees’ knees and it in no way phased him that she had a child. Actually he thought she was pretty awesome balancing being a single mother while also owning her own business. My dad found out that my sister really wanted stirrup pants (hello 80’s). Not knowing what colors she might want, he literally bought every color the store owned in my sister’s size. It was as important to him to make a good impression on my sister as it was to make a good impression on my mom. When my dad would take my mom out for dinner, he’d drop off a special treat for my sister so she didn’t feel left out. He also would always make sure she was happy with her babysitter.
As time went on, my dad would pick my sister up from school if my mom couldn’t get there in time. He also would take her out to practice basketball and eventually became her basketball coach when she was in middle school. It gave them something to bond over. Sometimes it’s just the little things that are really important. When in a relationship, your partner should grow to care about your kids as much as they care about you because you care about your kids. They should never make you feel like your kids are a burden.
Don’t let having kids concern you about your dating prospects. You might find someone else who has kids, completely understands your situation, and you can bond over parent things (I don’t know how that all works). Who knows, maybe you’ll end up with someone all Brady Bunch style. Never feel like you have to be something other than yourself to find someone to date. Just be you, find ways to put yourself out there to date (on-line sites or meetup groups might be helpful), and remember that the best possible match for you won’t mind one bit that you have kids.
Here’s for better dating days ahead,
Send your pressing questions for Sami to answer for Dating in the Digital Age to [email protected].