Being a parent is one of the toughest jobs on the planet and one that becomes even tougher for people who find themselves raising kids alone. People’s opinions and judgements can be harsh, and when you add into that the idea of dating, relationships and sex they can become downright nasty. Here are seven things to avoid saying to single parents who are taking that step back into the dating world, no matter how much you think they need to hear it, or how “helpful” you think you’re being.
You Must Be Lonely
There is a huge difference between being alone and being lonely and while there are obviously moments where it’s nice to have someone else by your side, some relationships, where love has gone and communication has died, can actually be far more isolating than making it on your own. Unless you’re in the “inner circle” you probably have no actual knowledge why the relationship (if there ever was one) with their kid’s other parent broke down and, unless they specifically tell you they’re feeling lonely, it’s probably not your place to delve into their mental state.
I’d Date You But You Have Baggage
Baggage. What a rude and insensitive word to use to describe someone’s children! And what a ridiculously redundant thing to say in the first place! Even if you put it in a less offensive way, what could you possibly expect the response to be? “Oh no! How could I possibly survive without you, you magnificent thing! Let me just go chuck those little nuisances up for adoption and I’ll meet you down the pub!” Look, it’s totally okay to not want to date someone with kids, but that’s your “baggage” to deal with, not theirs, and there’s no such thing as “but” when it comes to that conversation, so find another way to express it without making it sound like it’s their fault for having kids.
But How Do You Get Nookie? Do You Take People Home?
Apart from the fact that asking people about their sex lives is mostly inappropriate, when this is said to a single parent it’s often one of those between the lines comments similar to the one above that implies if you’re having any sort of sex you’re probably somehow corrupting your children and are a bad parent. Firstly, it’s not the end of the world if a kid knows their parent is having “relations” and secondly, for fucks sake, stop thinking they’re some kind of fucking idiots! Surprise, surprise they are very aware of the fact they have children and probably know far better than you how to deal with the situation of having an adult relationship while also being a single parent.
OMG You Leave Your Kids To Go Party?
Yeah, because how dare you have fun, right? Didn’t you know once you become a parent your entire social life must dry up, you can never leave the house again, and you must now be perfect. And that goes double if you’re a single parent! If you are the sort of person who thinks someone going out to have fun is somehow neglecting or corrupting their children then I certainly hope you never breed yourself. Getting a night out, ESPECIALLY when as a single parent is one of the most precious gifts they’ll ever receive and you trampling on their good time with some holier than thou guilt trip is really shitty and rude.
Dating Is Different Now You’ll Never Find Someone
Well, thanks for the optimism, mate, that’s mighty supportive of you! Yes, dating has changed, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to find someone. In fact, with the number of dating apps, websites, meet up groups, niche sites, and everything that’s available in the dating world these day, while it may be a little overwhelming, it can actually be a lot easier to find someone who will suit your specific needs. From groups that cater especially for single parents, and in depth questionnaires about the ideal partner you want, dating might actually be easier for people on the fringes of dating society than ever before!
In fact, true story, one couple who the AMM Editor met at a swingers club in QLD had 7 kids between them and they met in the AMM chatroom. Both had limited time to get out to meet new people so spent a lot of time in chat once the kids were in bed. A desperate cry of "anyone have a good casserole recipe which kids will love" led to one date, then another, and eventually a marriage. So it can happen.
I Hope You Don’t Introduce Them To Your Kids
This one is just rude and judgemental and, reading between the lines, tells someone that you don’t think they are a good parent with the best interests of their kids at heart. Most single parents are very aware of the impact a new parter and new family dynamic would bring to their homes and are very aware of keeping certain things separate while they work it all out. That doesn’t even have to mean hiding the fact that you’re dating to your kids (it’s very healthy for children to see happy parents), but it does mean that they are conscious of the effect it can have and, as adults, should be trusted to make the best choices for themselves and their kids.
Is Your Ex Babysitting?
This is possibly one of the single most offensive things you can say to a parent either about them or their ex. No, they are not babysitting. They are being a parent. In this world where both parents are sharing the load more and more it is so important to acknowledge that, regardless of whether it’s an equal share of custody, or a split situation, parenting is parenting and shouldn’t be undermined with dismissive language and inferences.
Seriously. Unless you’re their best friend, you have no right to delve so deeply into someone else’s private life. Sure it’s okay to be curious about their lives, and to want to know if they are happy and enjoying life, but take a step back and make sure your questions don’t come off as judgemental or condescending or, even worse, like you’re commenting negatively on their parenting ability. And hey, if you really want to do something for your single parent friends, offer to take their kids for the night so they can really let their hair down without any possibility of “corrupting” the kids.