Surprise! She Has A Kid. Now What?

Image by PhotograTree via flickr

The scene is familiar: I’m at a party chatting with a group of friends. Gradually, we draw in the nearby group of guys, and before long, I’m amiably discussing quantum physics or artificial intelligence or some other topic I’m completely unqualified to have any opinion on (but do, anyways).

Then, the conversation turns personal: what do you do, where do you live, do you have roommates? I suddenly feel like a sea anemone with bright flowery tentacles, trying to ensnare the unsuspecting innocent guppy into my trap.

“Actually,” I reply, “I’m a full-time single mom.” Often the expression on the guy’s face reminds me of a black and white mushroom cloud rising up after the bomb has been dropped.

When the smoke clears, drinks need to be refilled, a buddy needs to be found, and my friends and I start swapping stories about how absolutely adorable my three-year-old is. Disaster averted.

Every once in awhile, though, some poor fool is too distracted by the décolleté and short length of my dress to run screaming in the opposite direction. He gets my phone number, and inevitably, the question becomes, “so how does this work, dating a single mom?”

Relax guys, it’s easier than you think. If you want to date a single mom, just ask her out like any other woman. If she likes you, she’ll find a babysitter. Trust me.

Of course, after the first date, it gets more complicated. It’s important to find a balance between fun during the day and romance at night.

Moms, especially full-time single moms, get this little thing called “mom guilt.” You aren’t going to find too many stay-at-home single moms. We don’t really have what other people consider “free time.” When we’re not working, our time is kid time (or chore time).

In the beginning, your job is to make sure that the woman’s time away from her kid is well-spent. That means participating in activities she can’t do with her kid: going to an R-rated movie, eating dinner in a fancy restaurant, or going out dancing. Or if it’s during the day: rock climbing, surfing, or snorkeling.

I once dated a guy who wanted to hang out and do all the stuff I usually do with my kid, but he didn’t want me to bring my kid, because he said it was too early in the relationship. So there I was, watching football games on TV, laughing at cartoons, and going on easy hikes, all things I love doing with my son. Instead of enjoying myself, I quickly found myself regretting wasting those memories on some guy I hadn’t even decided I wanted to keep around, instead of the most important boy in my life.

Of course, as the relationship progresses, and the woman finds herself spending more time with you, that means (if she’s a full-time mom) she’s going to start feeling guilty about all that time spent away from her kid.

Once you’ve passed security clearance, and she’s ensured you’re safe to bring around her kid, you can minimize the mom guilt and win major bonus points by inviting her and her kid(s) on an excursion that will be fun for everyone. The most fun dates I’ve been on were with a full-time dad, my kid and his kids. We went snorkeling and paddle boating, and watched movies under the stars.

Plus, this is where the real test comes in. No single mom is going to be serious about a man who can’t get along with her kids—or worse, can’t wait to get rid of the kid. I recently had a guy joke, “can’t we just tie him up for an hour?” Not funny. (OK, a little funny, but not helping the situation.)

The key to a mom’s heart is through her kid, but don’t try to fake it if you don’t feel it. We know a fraud when we see one. Adam Sandler’s movie, “Funny People,” illustrates this concept when his character fails to show emotion after his old flame shows him the video of her daughter singing a song from “Cats.” His lack of feelings is a deal breaker for her.

Think you’ve got all this down? You’ve impressed her. You’ve proven yourself with her kid. Now don’t forget to woo her. Just because kid time lasted all day doesn’t mean it should last into the night.

Discuss sleeping arrangements, find a babysitter, put a lock on your bedroom door, and spend some quality adult time. Let her know that while she’s somebody’s mom, she’s also an individual—a beautiful, sexy, smart, talented woman in her own right—then have some fun of your own.

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  • “I quickly found myself regretting wasting those memories on some guy I hadn’t even decided I wanted to keep around, instead of the most important boy in my life.” that’s awful! the life mate should be the most important thing in your life, if my wife and kid were drowning on a boat, and I could only save one… well, I can always have more kids, I can never have another love of my life! i guess chicks think kids are harder to come by than dudes, AND love’s not as painful to create!

  • If your wife and kid were drowning and you saved your wife, you would have two dead people on your hands because the mother would throw herself in after her child or die trying to save him/her. Or she’d live her life thinking it should have been her and hating your guts. Bringing a child into this world should be like a contract with the universe that you will take care of that person forever. Considering the divorce rate and the percentage of infidelities in this country, I would say that it’s hit and miss whether the person you marry really turns out to be your life partner…that wife you save could be porking the pool guy for all you know.

  • I absolutely agree with Meg. My kids are the center of my world. Although my husband and I have a phenomenal relationship I would never choose him over my kids. I think our society has bought a little too much into the “partners come first” concept, and it has created a generation of people that do anything in search of the love they never received — and should have — from their parents. It all plays to the same hedonistic tendancies that run rampant in American culture. Choosing to save your wife over your kid in a sinking boat illustrates that you would rather spend time having sex than nurturing the growth of another human being.

  • I do NOT have kids but have to agree with Meg and Amber on principle. If I were to have kids, I would hate to think that my husband thinks that the time I spent carrying and giving birth to them is no big deal and we can just do it again. And what if the wife is now too old to have more children? Does he just get to find a new wife who can? Men can do it until any age (I know, I had a father that was many years older than my mother) so I guess its easy for a guy to think like that. Just to play the Devil’s Advocate, I do think that if my husband didn’t even consider saving me first, I would be a little offended. If you think about it objectively, you CAN have more kids and I guess it is kind of romantic to think about saving your partner at all costs. But that doesn’t make it the right choice.

  • Yes, it is clear water guy has no kids. When he does, his answer will most definitely change. My husband and I would never survive the loss of our daughter. *spit spit phew phew* She totally changed the game.

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