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Dating Single Mother

Question and Answer with relationship expert Dr Dennis

This article is syndicated from

So, you've just met a beautiful women, however, she has kids and you want to date her anyway. What do you do?

Rule #1 - Don't!

Its sad but true. If you decide to date a single mother, you'd better beware. To many, this seems cold and callous, but there are far more problems with dating single mothers than you'd think.

Single mothers are first and foremost dedicated to their children, (as it should be). If she isn't, you've got an entirely different problem on your hands. You'll be the one that took her attention away from her kids in the eyes of her family and friends - the "bad guy". No matter what, you'll never be "top banana" in her life.

All too often, single mothers are looking for a man to 1) be the father to their children, to help raise them and care for them, 2) to pay the bills, and 3) to give her freedom from the kids for awhile. If the kids have to go to the doctor, she may not be able to afford it and may not have insurance - so you'll have to pony up. If they need braces, have to go to summer camp, need money for a school trip, etc., she's likely going to be pretty tight that month. So to look good in her eyes, you're going to wind up paying these bills. This is a lot to ask someone that isn't even related to the children!

When you two go out, she's going to have to find a babysitter for the kids. She can't do this too often, so your "outings" are going to be limited. Further, this gets very expensive, very quickly - so, instead of getting a sitter, she will begin to include them in your time together. You'll be paying for meals, theatre tickets, plane trips, and any other expense that comes up while you are together.

Forget anything spontaneous, and absolutely forget sleep-overs. How is she going to find a sitter that will watch the kids until the morning? If you're at her place, you're not going to be able to sleep there either. It is rather awkward to wake up and see the kids faces wondering what you're doing there in the morning!

When it comes to actually raising the children (which includes discipline), you probably won't have a say. Again, you're not the father - and the kids know it! Unless the woman is willing to get behind you 100% and to support your decisions in discipline, you're out of luck.

The women is probably separated or divorced from the children's father, but you will always have this man's influence in your life - after all these are his children - not yours. He and she probably have their own battles and you're going to be right in the middle of them. Also consider, that your values probably will not match his. This means that you will always be at odds with him.

Further, she probably has personal problems with this man, and again, you're going to be the one listening to it all, supporting her and her problems with him, and you're not going to have much of a say at all.

In short, unless you're just dying to have a pre-made family, and can't make them yourself, you're in for a real shock. Think twice about it, then think about it again. You better be ready if you decide to take this plunge! Better yet, find a woman without kids - they ARE out there!

Ok, you won't listen to reason, what should you do?

If you've decided to take the plunge head-long into parenthood, or you're already in that situation, here's what you should do immediately:

1) Decide what role you're willing to play with the kids. Be specific and don't "give over" to what you think the mother would want. You need to decide for yourself.

2) Have a discussion with the mother. You need to work out some specific issues: 

  • What are her expectation of you with her kids?
  • What authority do you have (remember - in your house, YOU get to set the rules), and will she back you up?
  • What are her "core values" - those she wants to pass on to her kids?
  • What will she tell them about your relationship?
  • How does she expect to handle things as you get closer - does she have a plan, or is she going to "wing it"?

3) If you can, meet with the kid's father. Start by telling him that you're not trying to compete with him for the kid's affection, and that you recognize the problems involved. Then, ask him what his "core values" are. As long as they're not contrary to the mother's, tell him you'll try to pass these along when you're with his kids.

4) Have a discussion with the kids and their mother. Explain that you're not trying to replace "daddy" - he is a very special person in their lives. But, you and mommy are together and you want to be their friends too. Tell them that you expect them to listen to you (and have mommy agree in front of them!) And, don't make promises or deals with the kids - this is just to get them involved. Group hug time!

My friend - remember, this is a very difficult thing to pull off - and relationships with unencumbered women are difficult enough. If you succeed, you're definitely one survivor among many dead.


Dr. Dennis W. Neder the author of Being a Man in a Woman's World. Got a love, relationship or man/woman question ? I answer all letters. You can write to me at for answers.

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