Tips For Telling Your Date You Already Have Kids

As if dating and being a single parent weren't difficult enough, dating with kids can be even harder. Some people just don't want to date someone who comes with an instant family, and that's okay — that just means they're not your people. On the other hand, there are those who love the idea of dating someone with kids, either because they have kids of their own or because they just love to be around someone with kids. Honestly, it could go in either direction.


But no matter the reason someone might have to want or not want to date someone with kids, the reality is that if you have kids, you need to tell the person you're dating. There may be some parts of yourself that you might be able to keep under wraps, but kiddos aren't one of them.

"​​Every year, we survey and interview singles, and every year, we find the same recurring theme: single parents are having a hard time dating," vice president of new verticals at Match Group Dinh Thi Bui tells CNN Business. "They felt stigmatized in the dating world, like it is a turn-off to disclose they have children."

While the stigma is real, it doesn't mean that your chances at love are any less than anyone else's just because you have kids. It's just about being honest and upfront about it from the get-go. 


Bring it up as soon as possible

A child is a huge part of who you are and someone who's definitely going to affect your dating life. The best way to tackle this is to tell your date as soon as you can. To wait, then tell them weeks or months down the road is going to make you look untrustworthy. If you're nervous about how bringing it up, turn it into a joke to break the ice. For example, "It's so nice to spend time with an adult for a change!" or ask them if they have kids, so it gives you the safe space to add your kids to the equation. When you tell them, pay attention to how your date responds. Their body language will say more than their words.


If you're using dating apps that specifically ask if you have kids or not, don't avoid it by not answering it. This can come off as deceitful when you finally tell your date. It's one thing not to offer the information if the question isn't there, but to keep quiet when specifically asked is another thing.

As Ph.D. candidate in Gender, Feminist, and Women's Studies Sarah Sahagian writes for She Does the City, you should tell the person you're seeing "no later than the third date" about your kids. As much as you might think your kids are perfect little darlings, not everyone is likely to agree, so just get it out there as soon as you can.

Talk positively about your kids

Even if there are days that your kids are driving you crazy and you're at your wit's end, you want to talk positively about your kids. People who don't have kids or don't really like kids need to be told that your kids aren't maniacs who are going to destroy their lives. Kids, especially if the end of your previous relationship wasn't very good and there's resentment there, can be kind of evil. Just look at Lindsay Lohan's awarding-winning work in "The Parent Trap." Granted, there was good intention there, but still.


Telling your date how much you love being a parent and all the great things your kids have brought to your life is important to put your date's mind at ease. Single people who don't have kids don't always understand just how wonderfully life-changing a child can be. Letting them know all the pros of parenthood and how lucky you are to be a parent is the way to go.

Share your story

According to the Pew Research Center, 23% of kids under 18 live in a one-parent household in the United States. So, while this number proves you're certainly not alone, it does show that you're in the minority, meaning you're likely to date more people who don't have kids than ones who do. Because of this, addressing your ex factor as well as your kids is a good idea. 


As Rebecca Hendrix, LMFT, tells Women's Health when giving advice to those who are dating people with kids, "Life is hard enough. So being with somebody who also has the baggage of children who aren't yours —in addition to an ex-relationship with some sort of conflict — you're already going to have some potential challenges."

It's these potential challenges you want to bring up. Although your story is your own, and you should share it when you feel comfortable, if your ex will somehow be a threat to your relationship or cause issues, that's something your date should know.

Be honest about what you're looking for — for you and your kids

When you date with kids, it's no longer just about you. Because of this, you want to tell your date what you're looking for in a relationship. Are you looking for a partner who will eventually be a stepparent to your child? Are you just dating for fun? Or maybe you're not sure. Sometimes people date because it's as simple as wanting companionship. But maybe that first date can give you some insight into what you do want.


"Dating can bring up a lot of emotions, insecurities, expectations, and connections to the past or other relationships," relationship psychotherapist Kelly Bos, MSW, RSW, tells Mind Body Green. "It can be hard to get a sense of what we are feeling after a first date while we are sifting through it all. It is important to slow down and mindfully bring ourselves to the present, not an imagined future or tying it to the past."

But no matter the reason, dating is part of being single, and you're allowed to be conflicted about what you're looking for and want to take your time because of it. 

Address any concerns they might have

When you tell your date that you have kids, you'll never be sure what the response will be. While some will be into it, others won't. Then there will be those who are on the fence. It's up to you to explain that your dating life and parent life are separate things, and they don't have to worry about you showing up to a date with your five-year-old on your hip if it hasn't been planned. But it's also essential you let them know that your priority will always be your kids. If they can't understand this, then consider yourself lucky you dodged a bullet early on. 


What's also worth noting is that Tinder and Bumble aren't the only dating apps out there — there are apps that are specifically made for single parents. In March 2022, Match launched Stir, a dating app that's specifically geared toward single parents. So if you're really nervous about dating with kids and how people will respond, then dating other people with kids might be the way to go.