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10 Tips for Single Parents (with Teens) Who Want to Know How to Start Dating Again

Updated on October 30, 2012

Today’s society is complicated. Our relationships are complicated and our families are complicated. We’ve got step-families and blended families, exes and adopted family members, estranged family and new family. It’s not easy. And when we try to start changing up the family dynamics when our own children are teens, it gets even more complicated. Teens often overreact to changes in the home which means it can be really difficult if you’re in the position of being the single parent of a teenager and you want to get back into the dating game. But, complicated is a part of our lives now, and the fact that it gets complicated shouldn’t hold you back from pursuing that path in life.

Here are ten tips to follow if you’re a single parent with a teenager who doesn’t really want you to start dating again but you’re ready to make that leap for yourself anyway:

1. Foster open discussions about relationships in your home. The more capable you are of having an ongoing dialogue with your teen about all kinds of relationships, the easier it’s going to be to discuss the situation of you dating. You’ll probably have to be the one that does a lot of the work for awhile – starting conversations, keeping them calm, letting your teen know that you’re there to talk as well as to listen. It can feel like it will never be beneficial when your teen doesn’t respond positively. But in the end, these discussions will improve over time and you will have a positive relationship with your child no matter what happens in your dating life.

2. Put your teen first. This doesn’t mean that you sacrifice your dating life for the needs or desires of your teen. It just means that you make a commitment to always putting your family first. This means if there’s ever a situation where your kids really need you or the person you’re dating mistreats them, you automatically and naturally put the kids first. The more you do this, the more open your kids will be to your dating.

3. Keep your dates away from the home at first. The main thing that really upsets teens about their parents dating is that it’s changing things at home. This is minimized if you do your dating outside of the home and away from the kids, at least while you’re first getting to know someone. Your kids don’t have to meet everyone you date. You can have coffee dates that they don’t even know about. Only after it gets serious do you need to get your kids involved.

4. Respect your kids’ feelings about the situation. You don’t have to change your behavior but you should acknowledge that you dating is hard for your kids for many different reasons. Respect their feelings. Give them room to vent those feelings appropriately and don’t take it personally.

5. Ask for some input from your kids about what could improve the situation for them. Teens really need to feel like they have some control over their lives. No, they shouldn’t control your dating. But get input on things that they can have a say in – like whether they’d be more comfortable if your date joined you for dinner at the home or if you all went out together.

6. Ask your kids if you can have a weekly or monthly date alone with them, just you and the kids. Making time for your kids (even when they think they don’t want to hang out with you) can help a lot with the dating situation because they’re less likely to feel like your dates are taking you away from them. Make sure you’re actively doing things with them that they enjoy doing. Fun adds a lot of good feelings to the relationship you have with your teens.

7. Don’t engage in discussions that compare you dating to them dating. Many single parents make the mistakes of getting into fights with their teens who want to date and allowing them to relate it to the parent dating. Make clear rules about how you feel about your teens dating and focus all discussions of that topic on the teen only. Don’t allow any feelings about your own dating situation to get mixed up in those conversations. If your teen tries to take it there, let him or her know that you’re happy to discuss that topic at another time but that the focus for that particular conversation is on the teen.

8. Keep your sexuality toned down. It’s great that you’re dating again and that you’re getting sexually involved with someone. Your kids don’t need to know that side of you. It’s not appropriate so be responsible with how you behave sexually around your children.

9. Remember that you are the parent. Ultimately, you are the adult in the house. It’s great that you respect your child’s opinion on the matter, that you’re open about discussing the situation and that you’re trying to keep peace in the home. But, in the end, you are the adult and if you want to date someone and your teen doesn’t like it, well, that’s just too bad.

10. Respect yourself. Finally, it’s important that you respect yourself as you do your dating. Choose dates who treat you well. Be clear with your kids about your right as an adult to date. Honor this right and don’t feel guilty about it or treat yourself poorly as a result of this desire. If you are treating yourself right about this, your teens will eventually come around and treat you right as well.

When you’ve decided that you’re ready to start dating again as a single parent of teens, you have to be prepared for their emotional reactions. Be patient. Be kind to yourself and to them. Make sure that you put your family first and your dating life second even as you give your dating life the attention it deserves. If things don’t get better, consider getting individual or family counseling to further resolve the issues. Life is complicated these days but it can definitely be managed if you’re committed to it!


Submit a Comment

  • profile image 5 years ago

    Be aware that kids of single parents can be possessive and protective of their parent. They don't want their parent to go through all that drama once again. You just have to be patient with them and empathise rather than get angry. Great article, very informative. Keep it up.

  • profile image

    experience 5 years ago

    I found this to be horribly written. The parent is the reason these children's lives have been turned upside down by divorce. You don't understand the psychological effects it has on your children. If you're child is not ready for you to date, don't date. It takes times but if you don't take them into consideration the child will feel even more isolated and alone than they did before. Most parents don't understand what their child is experiencing through the divorce because most parents came from a house where their parents were together.

    All kids want is for their parents to be together forever and when the divorce is finally over it is very hard for the children(OF ANY AGE) to realize their hopes for a miracle to happen, won't. You need to wait until YOUR KIDS are ready for you to date.

  • profile image

    Person 6 years ago

    what if my mother doesn't do any of this and she doesn't want to listen to anything i say

  • Dominica Gomer profile image

    Dominica Gomer 7 years ago

    Fantastic hub, teens can be very difficult at times but we also need to help them understand situations like this, your hub provides fantastic information on this. Also have a look at my hub on more teen advice:

  • profile image

    Joan (single parent dating) Minch 7 years ago

    All the tips mentioned for single parent dating are very good! But always remember to consider your child's feelings towards it and make sure to ask his/her opinion about it. After that, try to explain things calmly and see that he/she understands the situation fully.

  • profile image

    Alsy2010 7 years ago

    My mom is dating and my dad is dating (they are divorced). I don't want them to be unhappy when me and my younger sister go to my dad's every other weekend and my mom's every other weekend. I really don't like the whole idea of the dating->parents. I don't know why either. It really disapointed me when we found out that my mom had been dating and kept it a secret from us. My dad knew, but I was very angry! She told me that when she realizes that it is somebody that she thinks is important, she will tell us and we will meet him. But, I really don't like that! It's hard enough for the divorce struggle! So if somebody has a tip for me, PLEASE let me know!! This helped with starting conversations, but I feel that I still need more. Thank you anyway!


    happy new year :)

  • missmarsh profile image

    Loralie Lyndon 8 years ago from USA

    Great hub! Very nicely written information.

  • cindyvine profile image

    Cindy Vine 8 years ago from Cape Town

    Excellent hub, very helpful!

  • Gerg profile image

    Gerg 8 years ago from California

    Well researched and nicely articulated, Kathryn. There are many wonderful truths here.

  • Lgali profile image

    Lgali 8 years ago

    good hub nice points