dating and childrenAlmost a third of children are being brought up by single parents. Lots of those parents date. Concerned single parents worry about how to manage relationships when children are involved. Common questions include:

When do I introduce my child to someone I am dating?

How do I manage an intimate relationship when I have children?

What happens if my relationship ends?

Unfortunately, there is little scientific data about these matters. However, an understanding of child psychology mixed in with common sense can provide some answers. Here are a few principles to keep in mind for parents who date:

  1. Young children bond to their caregivers and are primarily concerned with those relationships. They want love, attention, and stability. They don’t understand the significance of a dating relationship until they are older (usually school-age). Single parents who date occasionally should simply make sure that their children are always safe and well cared for.
  2. If you have a dating relationship that may turn into a committed relationship, proceed slowly. You might start by inviting groups of friends or relatives together for outings, parties, or picnics.  At this point, you don’t want to have your children involved in evaluating or approving a relationship. That’s your job—but you do want to see how a potential partner interacts with others–especially your children.
  3. Most likely, you’ve already gone through a breakup…not an easy experience. Take some time to examine your priorities.  What do you want in a relationship? It’s pretty natural to look for someone that seems different than your ex, but be careful you don’t overlook red flags in the hopes of finding someone to love.
  4. Again, go slowly and be careful about who you invite into your home, your children’s home. There’s nothing wrong with socializing with friends when kids are present, but showing excessive affection in the presence of your children will be noticed—even by very young kids.
  5. When kids have strong attachments with their caregivers, they tend to be very resilient. If your relationship ends make sure that you take care of yourself but also be available for your child or children.
  6. Remember that even if you go slowly and do everything right, it’s possible that at some point your child will become attached to your dating partner and feel very hurt if things don’t work out. If that happens, explain what happened at your child’s ability to understand and make yourself available to talk about your child’s feelings. However, take care to discourage dwelling and ruminating about your ex.

Being a single parent can be very challenging. Look for ways to get the social support you need. Be assured that your child or children will benefit from your love and care.

Photo by P-A-S, available under a Creative Commons attribution license.

 


Comments


View Comments / Leave a Comment

This post currently has 3 comments.
You can read the comments or leave your own thoughts.

Trackbacks

From Psych Central's World of Psychology:
Best of Our Blogs: June 7, 2011 | World of Psychology (June 7, 2011)






    Last reviewed: 5 Jun 2011

APA Reference
Smith, L. (2011). Dating, Breaking Up, and Children. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 31, 2014, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/anxiety/2011/06/dating-breaking-up-and-children/

 

Anxiety & OCD Exposed



Subscribe to this Blog:
Feed

Archives


News



Purchase Overcoming Anxiety for Dummies now! Purchase Child Psychology and Development for Dummies now!

Laura L. Smith, Ph.D. and Charles H. Elliott, Ph.D. are authors of many books, including Overcoming Anxiety for Dummies and Child Psychology & Development for Dummies.

Subscribe to this Blog: Feed

Recent Comments
  • Beverley: I am speaking as a non bpd sufferer but someone who is in a,relationship with a bpd sufferer who is...
  • Beverley: I think in response to Chris you need to shave this back a bit. There is a duty of care to yourself first...
  • Shana: I think this is great advice. Starting when my child was small, and she was afraid of the dark, we had a...
  • Gigi: Thank you for mentioning the seeming polarity of Freud with the id vs. superego concept. We could also add that...
  • glutensensitive: you can get tested at enterolab.com for all forms of gluten sensitivity, not just celiac disease....
Find a Therapist
Enter ZIP or postal code



Users Online: 12240
Join Us Now!