Sophie Watson, 14.03.2017

Nine things to know about dating for parents (and about dating parents!)

Single Parents' Day is on March the 21st, and it's a wonderful occasion to let the single parents in your life know that you see what a great job they do or, if you're a single parent yourself, to give yourself a (well-deserved) pat on the back. At EliteSingles we wanted to celebrate by looking at dating for parents: what makes it great, and what you need to know to make it even better.

With that task in mind, we surveyed 300 Kiwis: single mums, single dads, and those without kids, to discover nine facts about dating as a parent (or dating a parent) in New Zealand.

Dating and single parents: nine things to know

1. Parents are popular. Really popular

As EliteSingles psychologist Salama Marine notes ''there is a common misconception that finding love as a single parent is more difficult because having children supposedly puts people off''1 and indeed, there can be some hurtful stereotypes about single parents2 - especially those on the dating scene. Happily, we can ignore these silly misconceptions in favour of a simple, happy truth: our most recent member study has revealed that parents are really, really dateable. In fact, 90% of New Zealanders (and 96% of Kiwi parents) would have no qualms at all about dating someone with kids.3

Salama explains ''as this study reveals, the majority of individuals are open to the idea of meeting single parents. They are perceived as independent and more experienced, and subsequently clearer about what they’re seeking in a relationship. This puts them at a certain advantage when looking for love.''

2. Most parents are upfront about their parental status

Given the popularity of parents in the NZ dating pool, it's little wonder that the majority choose to be upfront about the fact that they are part of the single parent dating scene (especially when dating online). 55% of single mums and dads would choose to mention the fact that have kids in their online dating profile, with 21% saving the news for the 'sending messages' stage and a further 21% for the first date.

Salama thinks that it's best to mention the kids as early as possible: ''it is essential to indicate whether you have children when registering on a dating site: honesty from the beginning is the key to a successful and long-lasting relationship.”

3. The younger the child, the more their opinion counts

Dating a single mum or dad with younger children? You may want to brush up on your bed-time-story skills and cartoon character knowledge to win favour: 70% of single parents with kids under 13 would only date someone their child expressly approved of.

However, if you're dating someone with older or adult children, the pressure to impress is off - in fact, 56% of single parents with kids over 18 agree with the statement ''it’s none of my children’s business who I date.''

On the whole though, it's mums who are much more influenced by their children’s opinion, with 75% of those who parent under-18s saying they wouldn’t date someone unless their children liked them. Only 58% of men surveyed shared the same attitude.

4. But don't feel you have to please everyone right from the start

Whether you're dating as a parent or dating a parent (or both), remember this: impressing the kids is good but you are also entitled to give your adult relationships room to grow. The survey emphasises this, with 78% of Kiwis preferring to wait until they're in a serious relationship before introducing a new partner to their kids.

5. Dating for parents means expanding your family....

However, once you do meet your new partner's children (and/or they meet yours), it's a good idea to try and get on. 93% of parents dating in New Zealand say that doing family activities with their kids, their partner, and their partner’s children is one of the keys to building a strong relationship.

And, while this preference for togetherness is strongest for those with younger children (96% of those with kids under 13 want to have family-bonding dates), even those with adult children want in: 87% of singles with grown-up kids would like to do activities as one big family.

6. ...but not always biologically

There is one main area where those with older children and those with littlies differ, and that's in their desire to have more babies with their new partner. 36% of singles with children under 5 would like more kids in their new relationship. For those with primary-school-aged kids (under 13) that drops to 22%, and for those with secondary-schoolers (under 18), it drops again to 12%. Surprisingly though, it rises again after that: 16% of those with adult children would be prepared have more kids.

Men are also much more likely to say 'I want a baby' - overall, 28% of single dads in NZ want more children, while just 10% of single mums feel the same. 

7. Having your kids involved can be a ticket to online love

Roughly one-in-five Kiwis also think that showing off their children is the perfect way to give an online dating profile a boost, with 20% wanting to include a picture of themselves with their children somewhere in their bio. There's some evidence that this tactic might work - 21% of singles say that they're even more inclined to go on a date with someone who has a photo with their kids in their profile.

8. Women want their children's advice before a first date

Having (adult) children on the scene can also be useful in deciding who to date in the first place. 40% of older singles with kids over 18 say that they show their children a potential partner's online profile before deciding to message them.

It's single dads who are the most likely to want online dating help however: when writing a dating profile 23% of dads would want their child's advice (compared with 20% of mums). Meanwhile, when it's time to take the online offline, single mums are the happiest to seek help from the kids - 32% of single mothers and 26% of single fathers would ask their kids for general advice on things like what to wear on a first date and where to go. 

9. And kids can play cupid offline too

So can being a parent influence your love life? The answer is yes - in a good way! As well as the examples above, the presence of kids can bring single parents and those dating them together in an unexpected way: a whopping 69% of singles in New Zealand say that having a positive relationship with a partner’s children makes them love their partner more.

EliteSingles editorial March 2017

Do have questions about dating for parents? Let us know - simply leave a comment below or get in touch at editorial@elitesingles.co.nz

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