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Dating When You Have Children

Dating can be tricky at the best of times. Finding a partner when you are a single parent with children still living at home can often add additional concerns.

You might worry about what any potential partner will think. Or of equal concern might be how your children will react to having a new person around the house. As a parent, especially as a single parent, you will be used to putting your children before yourself.

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The perfect Parent

I remember hearing a speaker at a seminar talk of his mother. He described how his mum was the best mum in the world.

She was a single parent with five children to look after, aged between three and fifteen years old. He described how his mother always put the children first.

She would stay in every night to look after them instead of having any time for herself. Her sole aim in life was to tend to their every need. She had a few part time jobs and made just enough money to get through each week.

The speaker recalled how once, his mother even went without food for 2 days just so her children could eat. As you can imagine the audience of about 200 people all smiled and you could tell from their ooh’s and ah’s that they were in full admiration of the woman.

To be honest…

I have to be honest, while I too admired her selflessness I also had a real niggling worry about the situation. You see my mind was going to the scenario that if the mother didn’t look after herself emotionally and physically, then she might actually do herself some harm. If she became unwell because of not eating for days on end then who would look after the kids long term.

So while there is a narrow divide between putting yourself first and putting your children first, I would tend to come down on the side of “lovingly” putting yourself first. You want to be the strongest and happiest that you can be so that your kids see a happy, loving and content parent,

mum and daughter

Look after Yourself

First take a look at yourself and your own personal needs. No matter how selfish you thing they might be take a step back from your children and spend some “me time” understanding what you need to do to have the fulfilling life.

This will make you a better, stronger person who is able to be the best parent possible, more ready and able to look after the kids. Of course they are your primary concern but let’s just take a few minutes to consider your own needs and wants.

We can then check some of the concerns you might have with a view to having this work for everyone.

One thing that will make how you handle the situation change will be the age of kids. If you have a baby or toddlers you will have some different challenges than if you have an under 10, early teen or late teen.

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Making Time to Date

Let’s have a look at some of the things that may go through your mind if you have children living at home and want to get into a relationship.

As a sole parent you will probably find it difficult to squeeze dating into your life. If your children are young then they will be in bed early. So your evenings are already taken up with normal parental responsibilities.

It is important to make time for dating. Some people feel that they want to allow the child to get to a certain age when they can more look after themselves before starting to go out on dates. The problem is that the longer you leave it the harder it is to get out there and meet people to date.

You may find yourself being engrossed in being a parent and let your own life slip by. Take care of yourself by finding time to go out with friends and also time to have dates.

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dad and his children

Children and a New Partner

What if your new partner and the children don’t get on? This is a worry for many people in this situation. When a couple have a child, both parents bond with the child from day one.

This isn’t the cast if your child has been used to you as their only parent for a while. Remember your child, if he or she is old enough to understand, will want their mum or dad to be happy. So there is more chance they will like the person you are dating because they make you happy.

Introducing a New Partner to Your Child

You may worry about how you introduce your new partner to your child. Do you introduce him or her as a non-romantic friend or do you make it clear from the start that this is your boy/girlfriend. Again this may depend on the age of your child.

A toddler will not sorry about who this new person is. The child will get used to your partner and get used to the more frequent visits. Older children may have questions. Usually the best thing to do is answer them honestly. You would need to explain that loving a new person will not reduce the love you have for your child.

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Parental Responsibilities

Further down the line you will need to think about when your partner takes on certain parental responsibilities. The role of a parent is to love and reprimand the child when needed. This can be difficulty for someone who is not actually their parent. The children don’t really have a say in when this should happen. Talk to your partner and work out what feels comfortable for you.

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Making Time for Both

There are two sides to every situation. Making time for your child when you have a new partner and also making time for your partner when you are a full time mum or dad.

You will always be a good parent and time with your child is vital. They must never be neglected. However if you are going to make a success of your new relationship you need to make time for your new partner too. It might be helpful to set some boundaries to that you have a balance of not neglecting either.

Don’t put added pressure on yourself by thinking the new partner is just something else you need to fit in to a busy week. Enjoy the time you have with each and when the relationship is serious enough you will all begin doing things together.

Make time where it is just you and the child but also make some time for when you are alone to enjoy your new relationship too.

Mum and daughter


There is no need to feel guilty that you are spending time with your new partner instead of the children. You are not having an affair nor are you doing anything wrong. You are not replacing the children with your partner.

Children will understated this and accept the situation. Guilt will affect the relationship you have with your children and also what you are building with your new partner.

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Introducing a New Partner to Your Kids

Introduce your partner to your children when it feels right to you. It will take as long as it takes.

The last thing you want is to involve several new people to your children. Children thrive on stability. So it is best to wait until you know that this person is going to be around for long term before introducing them to your kids. No matter how long that might take for you to know this, wait until you are ready because you will know when it feels right to tell the kids.

Telling a Date You Have Children

An area that is often a worry for people with children living at home is when to tell the date that you have children.

While it shouldn’t be the first thing that comes out your mouth on your first date, it is best to be upfront within the first few dates. You don’t want either yourself or the date to start having feelings for you or vice versa if having a ready made family is going to be a problem.

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Understand that if you are in a happy relationship then your kids will see their mum or dad happy.

Ask most children what they want for their parents and they will almost certainly tell you that all they want is to see them happy. Having a happy parent is security for a child. Your children would much rather be around a happy mum or dad than one who is lonely and frustrated.



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