Dating as a Single Parent

By Lois Nightingale, Ph.D

What are the qualities that a single parent should look for in someone they are deciding to date?

1. Playful, light and fun with kids. (Kids have an innate instinct about people.) Watch

2. Doesn’t try to make the kids like activities they “should” like. Will accept a child’s declining to participate in an activity that he/she likes. Open to learning about your child’s activities and interests.

3. Doesn’t try to discipline kids. Setting rules, boundaries and giving consequences needs to be done by the biological parent.

4. Not jealous if you need to put the children first or when they need your attention. Childhood goes by very quickly. Give you children the attention they need. Help with homework, the chance to talk about their day, etc.

5. Willing to be introduced into the lives of the kids slowly.

6. Will accept your boundaries about how much affection you are comfortable with expressing in front of your kids, and at what pace. Progress slowly in the relationship, at least in front of your children.

7. Speaks to children respectfully but not patronizingly. Speaks to them in age-appropriate ways about topics of interest to kids not just to him/her. Never uses degrading or belittling language. Never calls anyone derogatory names.

8. Doesn’t want to exclusively do activities with children or only activities in which kids are excluded. A healthy relationship has a mix of adult-only and child-included activities.

9. Doesn’t scold, lecture or “should” you about how you interact with the children’s other parent.

10. Is patient when children express jealous and interfering behaviors.

11. Sees you as a competent adult and a devoted parent.

12. Understands all kids are different. Doesn’t compare your kids with his/her kids (or kids seen on TV!).

13. Able to be flexible with the unexpected and roll with the unplanned events that always seem to arise in a household with children.

14. Is there to hold you when you are missing your kids. Doesn’t try to talk you out of how you feel or rationalize away your sadness.

15. Understands that kids do grow up and that life-partners are together long after the kids have left home.

16. Willing to model respect and adoration for you in front of your children. It is good for kids to see their parent treated well by another adult.

17. Able to have open and non-defensive conversations about how you feel and what you want about your relationship and your children.

18. Willing to participate in family established rituals such as birthdays, holidays, etc.

19. Does not use alcohol to excess or drugs.

20. Able to apologize and model asking for forgiveness when he/she makes a mistake. Able to easily and quickly forgive when asked for forgiveness.

© 2011 by Lois V. Nightingale, Ph.D., director of the Nightingale Center in Yorba Linda and author of My Parents Still Love Me Even Though They’re Getting Divorced. 714-993-5343 www.nightingalecenter.com