Online dating can be tricky under the best of circumstances. Is this the one? Is that the one? Are they genuinely cool about me being a single parent? Do they want kids? Ugh. Weeding out the Mr. and Ms. Wrongs from the Totally Rights can be a challenge — but that may seem like no big deal at all when you think about how your children might react to your big news. “So kids, I joined a dating app and am about to invite an evil step-monster into your lives!” While that might not be accurate, to a child those fears are absolutely legit, which is why it’s crucial to handle this properly.
Honesty Is Everything
The best way to deal with this? Well, it definitely doesn’t involve using your BFF as a cover for your date. Be forthright! There’s no use hiding that you’re dating from kids who are old enough to understand the concept. And let’s face it, kids are so incredibly intuitive that it’s likely they’ll figure it out eventually anyway. Still, always consider their age before you reveal your news. There’s no need to be overly informative when your kids are too young to grasp what it all means.
A few simple words can initiate the conversation: “This is an easy way for me to make some new friends.” “It’s like a playdate for adults!” Explain that you’re meeting one of your new friends for lunch or dinner. Make sure to tell them when you’ll be back home. Kids are attached to their parents, and they may feel a sense of isolation if they aren’t involved in your world. Keep them in your circle! This will help you feel a little more at ease too.
Consider how they feel when you go out occasionally without them. Are they generally cool and carefree when you leave the house to grab dinner with friends? Or does it turn into a full-on meltdown, complete with histrionics and all kinds of wild shrieks and antics? Are they comfortable in the company of a babysitter you trust? These types of factors matter.
If there’s a sense of separation anxiety at play, and your little ones get nervous when you aren’t around, you do need to tread carefully — and gently. Be mindful of the fact that you aren’t the only person in the picture anymore. Once upon a time, joining a free dating site (or app) was just about exploring what was out there and testing the waters. That’s still the general story, but the chapters read a little differently when your kids are involved. Be respectful of their needs and how they feel.
Do you need to delve deep into the nitty-gritty world of every single date? Not at all. Single parent dating is a journey, and it’s one you should navigate on your own, without your little private investigators hitting you up for all the details. In general, less is more where your little ones are concerned. Be honest, yes, but don’t overshare the way you would with a close friend. Odds are they won’t have any interest in hearing about it anyway. When in doubt, ask yourself if you would have wanted to hear that kind of thing from your parent at a young age. Did you want to know about their dating misadventures? There you go.
But they might ask questions, and you should be ready. Joining a single parent dating site means being prepared for those little unexpected moments with the kids. “What did you do?” “Are you going out again?” “Do they have kids?” And the clincher: “Are you getting married?” Yikes.
Expect it all, and then some. Don’t be blindsided by their curiosity — it’s natural and should be welcome. But be honest in your responses and encourage them to talk to you about this anytime. That feeling of comfort that a child feels when talking to their parent is irreplaceable, and you should honor that bond during these trickier conversations in particular.
The advantage of using a dating app is that you can be very particular with your needs. If all goes as planned, you might start to feel comfortable enough with the idea of introducing the person to your children. But before you reach that point, keep in mind that who you introduce matters. Don’t introduce the casual date you aren’t entirely sure you want to meet again. Don’t bring date after date into the home and introduce everyone to the kids. The revolving door life is not healthy for anyone involved.
What you should do? Only bring the person you feel has the potential to be more of a permanent fixture in your life — someone you value already as a good friend and who’s a part of your world to some degree already. Balance is ultimately the key, and heybaby makes it simple to find that perfect middle ground. As a dating app for people who want kids or who already have kids, it helps you connect with the people most likely to understand exactly what you’re going through. What better way to make the process even easier.