Kids n’ Dating : Remixed

Kids n’ Dating : Remixed

“The tights and socks I left on the drying rack aren’t mine.  I got tired of seeing them under the couch.”

It would be an understatement to say I was horrified by this statement.  I’m not naive.  I’m guessing my teenage daughter expects that I’m not celibate… given the lack of a clerical collar on any of my garments and having friends with female names that don’t begin with ‘Aunt’.  However, I have done my best to honor a don’t ask, don’t tell scenario in my house… and at least give the impression I’m practicing brahmacharya.

Well, from my side, anyway.  From her side, I expect a full tell, tell, tell scenario.  As parents, I believe we’re afforded the luxury of a double standard.  It’s in the rule book.

Don’t ask; don’t tell

I’ve had ‘friends’ want to whisk me in front of their kids and call me a ‘friend’ as if kids don’t know what’s going on.  This, my friends, is

horribly unrealistic.  Flaunting your single and available status in front of our kids isn’t going to bode well for them in the future.  Here’s why:  They leave.

Not your kids.

Remember, as a single parent your kids are missing something many of their friends have: a regular family.  Often, even our snarky teens, really starve to be “a regular kid”.  I’m not sure there is such a thing, nor that they know what it means.  I am sure that they’re too young to understand that there is no regular, and they sure as heck know what is ir-regular.  In our un-familied teen, it’s them.

For a couple years, I was blessed with an actual relationship (not her mother) where my daughter felt like she was part of real family that was going to be forever.  That ended.  Neither of us saw it coming… and frankly, my daughter was devastated.  “Every time I feel like I’m part of a family, they leave”.  Sure, this was a crazy over-statement from a pre-teen, but it’s probably how she felt. 
That’s when I realized how much kids ARE like dogs.  They don’t think you’re ever going to leave.  Their experience with adults are family and teachers.  Family stays.  They leave the teachers.  So, when we bring someone into their lives… and they make a connection with them… they think this person is going to stay forever, or until they leave.

In my odd, but humble experience, it’s simply better to keep our kids away from our dates, entirely.  Yeah, I said it.

Then there’s the other issue:

Dad’s a tramp

Woah!  What kind of example am I setting here? Remember, we’re still their role models.  Prior to this mis-hap, I made it a point to have certain ground rules – for myself:

Never to stay over somewhere when my daughter was home. (Except that time I missed the last train)

My daughter doesn’t meet someone I’m dating until there’s a ring on their finger. (Except that woman that was technically married)

Keep all sex-related talk / items out of ear-shot and eye-sight. (Except that time I left the box of condoms in her car)

May daughter comes first. (Except… well… except nothing – we all know that one)

Even with those ground rules, I still screwed up.  I still had to come face-to-face with my daughter knowing I was sleeping with someone.  Ahhhhh…. seeeeex!!!!  It was weird.  It still IS weird.  But, I will say, I’m terribly glad that those sex conversations were focused around finding someone you really care about and someone you want to share the deepest intimacy with.  I remember our conversation about sex being a connection between two people and that “I love you” means something very different to each person that says it.  So, be absolutely sure… or relatively… to the best of your gut and your senses, not your hormones.  Let’s face it; if those sex conversations were “Wait until you get married!” then it would all go out the window with one pair of tights.

…and a pair of socks.

To our kids, we had sex once – and we didn’t enjoy it – and the stork brought any siblings.  Can you imagine your parents being intimate?  Or worse, intimate with someone other than your other parent?  Ewww!

And that’s the way our kids think, too.  It’s best they don’t have to have that image burned in their psyche. Moreover, as role models, the in and out of lovers in our lives, marks the bar for our kids.  It’s what they will think is “normal”, when outside a marriage.  I would prefer my daughter see sex as an beautiful intimacy, than a revolving door.  I am responsible for showing her that.  We are responsible for what our teens think is acceptable behavior.

We’re Going to Date

We’re human.  We like companionship, too.  We’re going to date.  But, I think it’s crucial, particularly with teens, to talk about attraction and connection, rather than leaning on archaic ideas that we don’t commit to, either.  Particularly if we’re letting them watch TV or movies that contradict our teachings.  It’s also important that they don’t see the comes and goes. 

So, maybe we go a few miles out of our way to keep our love life away from our kids.  It’s worth it for their own understanding.

And while you’re at it, be careful where you leave sexy panties.  They don’t need a reason to ask.

*On a side note* This article is written from the point of a single parent.  If you’re married, I can’t think of anything more appropriate than showing your kids healthy committed intimacy.  Show them how they should be treated and how they are expected to treat their partners.  And if they know their parents “enjoy” each other, how is that bad?





  1. Avatar
    David September 26, 2013

    This is so pertinent to me right now. It’s complicated and personal.

    Recently divorced for a second time, I do my best to keep “the family” together. My ex-wives and I make sure our teenage daughter knows we are all still very active in her life. We still have dinners together pretty regularly. When my daughter asked, “Who is she, anyway?” I had to explain about another woman. “She’s a friend and also someone I date.” “Date” is the unspoken code for sex.

    My daughter meets various friends of mine who come in and out of her life, and I’m sure she senses when dating is involved. WIth dates I get particularly careful. Like you I don’t have sleepovers when my daughter is around and I do everything I can to leave no evidence of sex. (I don’t want to trigger that picture in her mind.) I’m okay if a “friend I also date” is in her presence, but I keep the visible interactions about the same as with other friends. And I avoid prolonged exposure.

    I do want my daughter to know I’m looking for love again. That’s a very long, slow, subtle conversation.

    She has a boyfriend now. She’s finding out what that’s like. He’s kind to her, and she’s playful and sweet to him. They have smart conversations and there’s a little public affection. All I can hope for is that she remembers that and still sees some of it between me and her mother and her step mother and is deciding that’s the way to go.

  2. Avatar
    Neida September 29, 2013

    Hilarious article! It’s great that you put your daughter first. It sounds like you have a great relationship with her and anyone worth dating is going to appreciate that.

  3. Avatar
    Stu September 30, 2013

    Thanks David! I hoped parts of it would resonate with all single parents. I really hope “date” isn’t a universal term for sex, otherwise I’ve been divulging [b]way[/b] too much information!

    You brought up a really good point that I skipped, though. Showing our kids how to be affectionate with someone else is really important, too. We need to consciously be role models in that regard, too, particularly since I totally agree that our kids sense when there’s something more going on.

  4. Avatar
    Stu September 30, 2013

    Thanks for commenting, Neida. I figured out long ago, that if someone didn’t understand my daughter comes first… always… then they probably aren’t someone I want to spend a lot of time with. Besides, how you treat your kids is a [i]really[/i] good indication of how you’re going to treat a partner.


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