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Adverse Effects of Exposing Children to Parental Dating

by Kathy Gleason, studioD

When you're a single parent who is just getting back into the swing of dating, it can be hard to know how to handle it - how much to tell your kids if they are preschoolers and old enough to understand, or when to introduce a new significant other to the children. If you're very excited, it may be hard to fight the urge to have your new love interest and your kids meet right away. Or it may be hard to figure out how not to have them meet if you have your children full-time. However, there are some downsides to exposing young kids to your dating life.

Kids Might Not Be Ready

Even if you feel as if you've had a huge weight removed from your shoulders due to a divorce, your children might feel differently. They may still be feeling sad or insecure due to the split-up, and having one or both parents start dating could be really hard on them. If they are exposed to your dates and like someone, they may harbor guilty feelings as though they are being disloyal to the other parent. Kids might also still just be getting used to a new living arrangement and may fear that parental dating could lead to more changes.


Say a parent starts dating someone and really likes him. The parent then introduces said person to her children, who in turn also really like him. Everything's great, right? Maybe, but maybe not. If you introduce kids to someone you are casually dating, there's a risk that your children may become attached to him only to have the relationship not work out. If possible, wait until you have become serious with him and see long-term potential before bringing a date home to meet the kids.


If you're casually dating someone, you may not know that person as well as you think you do. Bringing dates home that you don't know well could put your children at physical or emotional risk. In less extreme scenarios, the person could also turn out to be a poor role model for your toddler or preschooler. In any event, it's a good idea not to bring people into your home and around your children that you don't know extremely well.

How to Handle Dating

Depending on whether your child is a baby, toddler or preschooler, you may not even need to tell your child that you're dating if dates take place while she is at the other parent's home or Grandma's house. If you do decide to tell kids you're dating, explain that it has nothing to do with your love for them, but that grownups need other grownups to talk to as well. Make sure to keep spending special alone time with your kids; don't suddenly make every outing a group activity with your new beau.

About the Author

Kathy Gleason is a freelance writer living in rural northern New Jersey who has been writing professionally since 2010. She is a graduate of The Institute for Therapeutic Massage in Pompton Lakes, N.J. Before leaving her massage therapy career to start a family, Gleason specialized in Swedish style, pregnancy and sports massage.

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