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Doodie Calls

Your advice for the 25-year-old woman who didn’t want to get involved with a guy with a daughter was disgustingly shallow. In supporting her not wanting to date single dads you’re saying, yes, segregate single parents, remove them from the dating pool! Yes, how dare they try to pass themselves off as people first, not as potentially inadequate mates due to being broke, having the psycho ex, and the bedwetting child?! Here’s advice for you: Compassion. It's developed by seeing and sharing life. Try getting out of the shallow end of the humanity pool and seeing the wider world of relationships!

--Single Dad

Tragically, it seems you’ve lost your all-access pass to the dating pool.

Unlike when you were in nursery school, and teachers aides saw that every kid got the exact same allotment of Jelly Bellys, advice columnists are not standing outside bars making sure everybody leaves with a smiley sticker and a hot 25-year-old. Grownup life is harsh. Actions have consequences. Sorry to bring down the giant fly swatter on your free-floating sense of entitlement, but you gave up your Romeo status the day you let Tommy Trouser Snake out to play without his raincoat.

Parents aren’t people first. They’re parents first. Here in “the shallow end of the humanity pool,” this means the parental agenda precedes all other agendas, as it should. In other words, you’re a wee bit more likely than the single, 25-year-old stud boy to have your date interrupted by a frantic call from the neighbors: “Little Sprogly’s shot the babysitter with the staple gun!”

Now, unless your ex died or ran off with the UPS man, or you worked a deal for some neighbor lady to be the oven for your bun, chances are you’re not just a single dad, but a divorced dad. There is this notion of “the good divorce,” but is there really such a thing? There are better divorces and worse divorces, and there are couples who aren’t doing their kids any favors by staying together and continuing to chase each other around with an ax.

But, let’s be real, even if you aren’t alimony-bled, with a psycho ex-wife and a 15-year-old who’s suddenly wetting the bed, divorce doesn’t exactly simplify a guy’s life or leave a trail of rose petals and cupcakes in its wake. The girl in question, who admitted she wasn’t ready to handle a guy with a kid, could have a boyfriend whose only real distraction is getting his motorcycle rechromed. Or she could have you. So…if you were her, which would you choose? Assuming you’re looking for a boyfriend, not looking to become a one-woman chapter of the Salvation Army.

Oops…I forgot to ask if I could take your coat and your crown of thorns. And, please see that your stigmata don’t drip on my white carpet. Next order of business: putting a tracker on my compassion. Actually, no need. I believe I left it in the kiddie pool with all the children of divorce. The last thing they need is for me to goad a girl who isn’t ready to take on kids into taking them on anyway. Sorry if I’m just too shallow to see it your way: Why urge some child-averse woman to bail now when she can bail a year from now, after your kid’s really attached to her? On the bright side, what kids can’t get in stability, they tend to take out in guilt, which may mean, before long, your kid’ll not only be the proud owner of a miniature Shetland pony, it’ll be living in her bedroom: “Daddddeeeeeey, Rambler missed the potty again!”

Posted by aalkon at December 19, 2007 1:07 AM


If we are to choose dating partners on the basis of compassion, then single dads will have to get in line behind the homeless, the mentally ill, amputees and goodness knows who else. These people are all deserving of compassion too. So why don't you seek them out for your own dating partner? (That's a rhetorical question.)

I'm now a single dad, though my kids are grown up. I'm in the dating market. The best way to put myself forward is to be dynamic, interesting, confident, forward-looking ... not a sad case deserving of compassion due to hardships and pain. It took me about a week to learn this, online, and putting it into action had immediate effect.

Everyone's got their own trials; they don't need yours as well.

Posted by: Norman [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 19, 2007 2:13 AM

Not to mention that if the LW is really concerned about the kiddies himself, he should have zero interest in dating a woman who is not fond of the little darlings. You'd think one of the first qualities he'd be looking for in a potential partner these days is one that likes kids.

Posted by: Donna [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 19, 2007 3:57 AM

Amy your right on! I am a single dad and my children dont live with me. You have no idea how hard it is to be married and have children from a dead relationship. I explained to my wife what to expect before we go closer and gave her the option to leave. Being divorced with kids is hard enough ,let alone doing it with a partner that had no idea how ugly things can get. I agree with you there is no such thing as a"Good Divorce". Good going though

Posted by: Howard Smith at December 19, 2007 5:38 AM

Hee hee, that Sprogly and his staple gun.

What a doofus (LW). Kids can be a date magnet. I'm not even in the market and I get those little extra glances all the time when I'm out with the kids and Teh Wife isn't around. And it isn't just "oh, what a cute baby!" Women assume I am doing my visitation duty and size me up like a used car.

Just be comfortable in your own skin. If you're going to write the Advice Lady about the dating pool you might as well write the Weather Guy about your golf game getting rained out.

Posted by: martin [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 19, 2007 6:51 AM

Good advice, never date single mothers.

Her kids will always be #1 in her life, and do you really want to take second-place?
Why support another man's mistake? How do you know she's not looking for a support figure? Or someone to support her financially? Think of all that, and realize that the odds are stacked against you.

She's already had one mistake. The last guy didn't stick around. Why should you? More than likely, you're hooking up with a girl who wants another try at something she messed up the first time. With the hostility of today's legal system towards men, you just don't want to take the chance.

Posted by: cybro at December 19, 2007 7:31 AM

Sad to say - the posts on this column are brutal. I am a divorced mom of two. They come first in any relationship. But for that matter, so does my immediate family and myself. So why does it matter if someone is #1 in my life? They can all share the title of #1 if its necessary, but if someone is important to me, I will treat them that way and expect the same.

I've dated both single guys and guys with kids, divorced or not (but never married). Honestly - it all depends on the guy.

To finish it off - I really don't like other peoples kids anyway - so who knows how it will end up. If it works with someone, it works.

My mom always told me if you love someone you love everything that comes with them and in my experience, EVERYONE has something that comes with them whether its kids, and ex, baggage, a crazy family, personality quirks, etc.

Posted by: K at December 19, 2007 7:59 AM

I'm not sure "never" is exactly what Amy said, but if you're not interested in taking on that particular baggage, run before you're too deep.

It's not just the single mothers who will put you second. It'll be the mother of your own kids too...at least until they're old enough to fend for themselves. And you'll put her second as well. It's the nature of being a parent first. Doesn't mean you can't (and MUST) set aside time to be together, but if little Sprogly has a fever, date night is quickly tossed aside.

Posted by: moreta [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 19, 2007 8:07 AM

I totally agree that often when you really care for someone, often many of the theoretical objections you have to their situation -- whether it be their divorce/separation status, kids, crazy family, travel schedule, whatever -- don't seem like such a big deal. But you know, that's another reason why that particular single dad and the 25-year-old single woman in question in question are better off without each other. Either she really doesn't like him that much, or she really, really doesn't want someone with kids. Either way, that twosome should look elsewhere for dating material. Whether or not you think she's "shallow," it would be silly (as well as futile) to order her to date a single dad.

Me, I'd date a single dad if I really liked him and if I thought he was a great dad with great kids. No use kidding yourself though -- it raises a whole new level of complications and problems. I don't blame a 25 year old for being unwilling to take them on before she's good and ready.

Posted by: Gail at December 19, 2007 8:25 AM

I made the mistake of trying to date a single mother once. Never again. Not worth the trouble. With all the hysteria out there over child abuse it can be dangerous for a guy to get involved even on a very superficial level. I got out of there and never looked back.

Posted by: never again at December 19, 2007 8:34 AM

Norman wrote: "If we are to choose dating partners on the basis of compassion, then single dads will have to get in line behind the homeless, the mentally ill, amputees and goodness knows who else. These people are all deserving of compassion too. So why don't you seek them out for your own dating partner?"

Couldn't have said it better. Dating is not charity. Well-adjusted adults hold themselves accountable for their preferences and date people according to them--I would NEVER want someone to date me b/c they feel I "deserve a fair chance."

I don't think I read the column the LW is referring to, but I doubt Amy would have said that divorced people w/ children should be locked up somewhere. I'm guessing it was more along the lines of not feeling bad about not wanting to date divorced dads and dating men that meet your preferences.

So many LWs seem to want Amy to give them a little pep-talk about how they're "good people" for dating/staying with a partner who simply does NOT meet their preferences/desires. That's kind of like telling a premed student who hates sick people/has no patience for them to keep it up because becoming a doctor makes you a "good person."

Posted by: sofar [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 19, 2007 8:41 AM

Just wanted to comment on the "Good Divorce" thing. There definitely is such a thing. I split amicably with my ex also the mother of my child. We couldn't live together, she has some anal tendencies and I am well, lets just say a little more care free. After a short time when we spent time together to help my at the time three year old make a smooth transition into his new way of life we found that we still apriciated the things in each other that brought us together in the first place and managed to become friends. Now five years later she is easly the best friend I have. We will never be a couple, and are both very satisfied and happy with our friendship as it is. She is a good person, a great mother, and a very caring friend.

Posted by: PVM at December 19, 2007 9:34 AM

I've been considering this issue in my mind for a long period of time. Since I do not want to have biological children it has proven itself difficult to meet a man who wants to adopt. It is not that I am desperately seeking marriage, in fact to be quite honest it isnt up there on the things that I must do before I die. The main reason I’m interested in it is to provide a male counterbalance for my children. But since marriage to the right man might prove impossible I have thought about adopting my children, living a single mom and getting sex on the side without ever bringing a man home. I'm thinking of having commitment free sex in hotels and such. I say this in all honesty because I would love for my children to have a father but even I don’t get serious with single dads. And adopted children are much harder than regular popped out children.

Posted by: PurplePen at December 19, 2007 9:35 AM

You all wouldn't BELIEVE the hate mail I'm getting on this from single parents. Echoing K's words above. But, really, really angry, and accusing me of being "compassionless," blah blah blah. I think a few wished that I'd have a lonely death with nobody to care for me. (I love the notion of having kids as free or low-cost caretaking later in life.)

Posted by: Amy Alkon [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 19, 2007 9:35 AM

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion of course!! I cannot believe people would send hate mail. Why would they send it to you and not post directly to the boards? Makes my day at work a little more amusing to see the "friendly" bantering going on!!

That's the fun of having these user boards - to post comments and see the differences in everyone.

I do not see you as compassionless in the least. I enjoy opposing opinions and a forum to air them. To each their own, right? I LOVE topics that get people going. Thanks Amy!

Posted by: K at December 19, 2007 9:47 AM

I get into a relationship because I see the benefit of doing so to be greater than being single...not because I feel obligated to help someone out. I was quite comfortable being single, so that meant I could afford to be picky. If you see a big red sign that says you're not gonna enjoy it, get out before it gets complicated by marriage or kids. People who feel that they NEED to be in a relationship (like right NOW), or feel "entitled" to be in one, are good people to avoid having relationships with.

I had a rule about dating single moms. I wouldn't unless I was ready to get involved with a pre-made family (which was a while), and I knew that she accepted me as a full partner in that family (which seems rare to me). As a result, it was a long time before I entered into a relationship with one - whom I'm now married to - and enjoying it thoroughly.

Posted by: Jamie at December 19, 2007 10:11 AM

Well, dating a single parent is a challenge and there are a lot of things that you give up so I can hardly fault anyone who decides to stay away. I’ll be honest, you’re smart!! As for me, both my wife and my ex had/have kids (I know, I seem to like the whole ready made family thing, I didn’t plan it that way) and I know that all the fun you and your SO time is preceded by finding a babysitter, discipline the little Sprogly (that is the funniest name I have ever heard!!), making time for ‘family’, and budgeting for Sprogly’s trip to the zoo. I know that I am definitely the exception and not the rule. I did it and still do it because I love my wife and no, I don’t look at it like a sacrifice, I quite like my life the way it is in this respect. That being said however, I would harshly warn anyone considering this same choice as it is a lot of work and there is a lot to give up. The biggest problem being that you are going to be looked on as the enemy for quite some time and if you decide to stay you, will have all the responsibilities of a parent will NONE of the accolades, YAY!!! I know the choice that I made and therefore I refuse to complain about the bed that I made

Posted by: Amax [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 19, 2007 10:24 AM

Dated and married a single dad.
Would NOT do it again, for anyone else, or even (had I a time machine) my husband.
In addition to the "baby mama drama" (and there was A LOT of that), it took years and years for us to come together as a family, and we are not anywhere near as healthy as an intact family would be.
My advice to anyone attracted to a single parent is to make very, very sure that person has their issues sorted out before getting serious with him/her. And taking a good hard look at your own isn't a bad idea, either. I really wish I had.

Posted by: stephanie at December 19, 2007 10:35 AM

Amy, you are great!
"you gave up your Romeo status the day you let Tommy Trouser Snake out to play without his raincoat"

I LOVE that line! Single parents ending you hate mail are just taking their frustrations out on you. You are absolutely right. Kids need to know that the people in their life love them unconditionally. Why bring someone into your relationship who isn't ready to deal with a kid? That is unfair to the kid and the other person.

Posted by: PJ [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 19, 2007 11:09 AM


May I humbly suggest you consider retreating from your noble mission to adopt children? After all, by your own admission marriage to the right man might prove impossible. How kind of you to bring children into a fatherless family.

I'm not real sure where the high school sex in hotels plays its part in choosing to be a single parent, but how about leaving the adoption to couples who view children as people and not pets?

Would you leave the pets, I mean kids at home with the babysitter to sleep with the next who knows what in a hotel room?

This statement is mystifying at best, "I say this in all honesty because I would love for my children to have a father but even I don’t get serious with single dads." What's the implication, that single dads should be fighting over you to "save them" from their parental responsibilities as they fumble through life without your expert assistance?

You make the claim that you would, "love for my children to have a father" after having already said, "I have thought about adopting my children, living a single mom and getting sex on the side without ever bringing a man home."

Wow. That's an intersting concept of love for ones children. If you indeed loved the idea of your adopted children having a father, wouldn't you forgo adopting until you've married for counterbalance? Not for love as most attempt to, but for an offsetting weight labeled as a dad? That sounds like a marriage built to last.


Posted by: Tony at December 19, 2007 12:49 PM

Amy, your advice to the 25yo lady was right, and this advice is dead on too.

I am a stepmother of two teenage boys, thanks to thinking that it couldn't be that bad. Well, it is that bad. Raising another woman's teenagers for three years while she couch-surfed across America, calling to tell her sons she missed them (yeah, sure), was a living hell. Not the kids' fault, but it was awful because they were so messed up. Neither my husband nor I ever thought that would happen, but it did.

Look at the psychology books, OP. They will tell you that the role of stepmother in a "blended" family is the worst. The most stressful, the least appreciated, and the hardest. Why on earth should any single young woman with no biological kids sign up for that just to "be fair"? It would be insane. You are insane buddy, if you think that having an ex-wife and some kids shouldn't mean anything to a potential girlfriend.

Howard, above, was right: no one who hasn't lived it can know how ugly it can really get. Apparently, that includes you, letter-writer with your head in the sand. What - are your kids only ages two and three? Did you only divorce last week? Get a grip. It's hard on everyone to bring in a new woman - no matter how hard all parties are trying to be nice. Let alone when they are not. And it doesn't just magically ease up after a couple of months. More like 5-10 years, if then. What fun that would be for a 25yo. Amy, keep up the good work.

Posted by: jennifers at December 19, 2007 12:55 PM

Amy, I cannot believe you are getting hate mail. WTF is wrong with these ppl? I was a single mom and I would not have wanted to date any guy who was not into me being "mom"... yanno? Whats the point. I did date child-less guys who had no problem with it. They are out there. I am now with a guy who is a father - raising the kids together and it is terrific. Its all about what you want out of your life. Had I not been a mother I probably would not have wanted to date someone with kids - but who knows? It would not have been my preference. So all you haters out there.... GET OVER IT!

Posted by: Melody at December 19, 2007 1:40 PM


Spot on as usual. LW is an idiot. Your response to the initial letter wasn't anti-single parent at all. It was realistic advice for a young woman who didn't feel ready for an instant family, and why should she? Would the complaining single parents prefer dating people who are essentially playing martyr?

In some cases single parents come with unhinged or vindictive exes. Or unhinged and vindictive children, for that matter. If someone doesn't want to sign up for that should we force them to?

Posted by: Kimberly at December 19, 2007 1:41 PM

I would never date a woman with children. I'm not interested in raising someone else's spawn. I am unwilling to deal with the inevitable drama of dealing with her 'baby-daddy'. And I don't want to take second chair in a new relationship.

Selfish? Damn straight. I can't see getting into a relationship where I'm expected to give 100% of my effort to it, and get only 50% in return.

Posted by: brian at December 19, 2007 1:44 PM

Spot on Amy.

For the period when I was the single dad, I didn't have a lick of luck at the dating scene. Women just weren't interested in a guy who can only see them on the days that are child free and I refused to bring anyone I might date or fuck into my child life. Nor do I have the band these days, which was the surefire way to get laid without the hassle of relationships.

I considered dating single moms, but like a few others commenting here, I really am not fond of other peoples kids and didn't feel it was reasonable to do to their kids, what I wouldn't do to mine. Nor was I interested in dating anyone who would do that to their kids.

I hate to say it, but the hands your best bet if your a single parent who has their child more than every other weekend.

I do have to disagree with the assessment that one is not a single parent, if the ex is still around. When you have the child enough of the time, that's pretty much where you are.

Posted by: DuWayne at December 19, 2007 2:20 PM

"the posts on this column are brutal." - K.

I think they are realistic, and the LW is living in fantasy. Reality is brutal.

Posted by: Norman at December 19, 2007 3:01 PM

I am an empty nester now. After my divorce, I chose NOT to date. I did not want a love life or an attempt at one to mess up the last years of my parenting. I did not want to an "opinion" on my family, I did not want a second income "contributing". But mostly, I my love life could wait, and getting my sons "launched" successfully and really getting to know them before the left seemed a much better deal. Of course sometimes I wanted a roll in the hay, if I really needed man company, I left town for the weekend when they visited their dad :) And secretly stole off for a couple of romps. Since being alone, I been able to really enjoy entering a relationship and am able to concentrate on it. No regrets, Amy you are right being a parent is the FIRST thing you need to consider being a single parent.

Posted by: sonja at December 19, 2007 6:33 PM

Absolutely right again Amy! I've been both the single woman dating a guy with kids (who treated me horribly, at the suggestion of their mother, who freely admitted it), and the single mom who had a hard time getting into a relationship with a man with no kids, who ultimately told me, "them or me" to which I said, of course, "them, we're a package deal and you knew that going in." It's hard either way, but the reality of it is, when you have children THEY come first. No getting around that, unless you want to compromise their well-being because of your own selfishness. I wouldn't be able to look myself in the eye if I did that.

Posted by: Flynne [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 20, 2007 6:09 AM

Reading everyone's letters over, I am struck by something that I didn't pick up on the first time. Does the LW have something against single mothers? Not that there's anything wrong with that -- even when I was raising my daughter I wouldn't date a guy with kids even if he didn't have custody -- but, Christ, then you'd think he'd be somewhat understanding of their reluctance.

A friend of mine way back when we were both single moms with young children hit pay dirt. A terrific guy who happened to be sterile and was happy to get the ready-made family. He adopted her boy and they're living happily ever after but it's not easy and their story is the exception not the rule.

LW has issues and probably wouldn't be the best choice kids or no kids. As for this single parents writing you venomous letters, hmmm, can't help but think there's a reason they're single.

Posted by: Donna at December 20, 2007 6:10 AM

"Selfish? Damn straight. I can't see getting into a relationship where I'm expected to give 100% of my effort to it, and get only 50% in return."

Preach on brother brian only I would say the expectation is closer to 1000% with maybe 1% in return. Even then only a token effort.

Believe you me these single mothers have every angle covered. They have every excuse ready to go. Talk about selfish. They excel at selfishness.

Posted by: I aint saying shes a goldigger [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 20, 2007 7:50 AM

Believe you me these single mothers have every angle covered. They have every excuse ready to go. Talk about selfish. They excel at selfishness.

Not so. Before I met my current BF, I was beholden to NO ONE and paid my own way, and that of my daughters. And will gladly do so again if things don't work out with this guy. I prefer being the exception to your bullshit generalization.

Posted by: Flynne [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 20, 2007 8:11 AM

I may change my screen name to "I Smell A Troll".
Don't feed the troll, Flynne!

Posted by: Gail at December 20, 2007 8:17 AM

Please don't use my comments to troll off of. It makes me look like an asshole.

My comment had nothing to do with money, or with women in particular.

It is just the very simple fact that once a woman has a child, she will tend to give her child first consideration in all matters. This is as it should be. There's also all the drama of dealing with the father. I don't need it.

I am not patient enough to play second fiddle in any fledgling relationship. Let someone more mature, or more interested in the insta-family (just add ring!) concept have the single mothers.

As far as our troll goes, I suspect he has the same attitude towards all women, whether they have children or not.

Posted by: brian at December 20, 2007 8:49 AM

It is just the very simple fact that once a woman has a child, she will tend to give her child first consideration in all matters. This is as it should be. There's also all the drama of dealing with the father. I don't need it.

Exactly the point of the column.

Posted by: Amy Alkon [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 20, 2007 9:12 AM

Spot on goldigger. Don't listen to these reactionaries. When it comes to single mothers there is only one rule. Run away.

Posted by: Monty [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 20, 2007 9:14 AM

Thanks, Gail.



Easier said than done! o_O

Nope, not gonna do it....

Posted by: Flynne [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 20, 2007 9:23 AM

To say a single mother is a gold digger simply because she is a single mother is ridiculous. A number of my journo friends are single mothers, and every single one of them supports herself. One married a bartender (who's now opened a successful business), but I believe he was a bartender for a decade of their relationship. I don't think she married him because she got confused and thought his pickup was a Ferrari.

Posted by: Amy Alkon [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 20, 2007 9:28 AM

Tony there is a diffrence between bringing kids into this world and adopting them. I would never have biological children unless I knew the father would commit for the long haul. Adopted children are a diffrent matter, they need homes and mine might not be perfect but it's better than leaving them at an institution.

Sex on the side would occur because I have biological needs that need to be taken care of. While ideally a relationship with a man might work while I'm a single mom, it might not and I dont want to bring men in and out of my childrens lives. Finding the right man will prove difficult, so I have an alternate plan in case in never find him.

"Not for love as most attempt to, but for an offsetting weight labeled as a dad? That sounds like a marriage built to last."

Amy has pointed out that love doesnt last, people fall out of love and that's why we have so many divorces. Love wont be the defining factor in my mate, but of course it will be present.

Posted by: PurplePen [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 20, 2007 9:35 AM

K said: "Everyone is entitled to their own opinion of course!! I cannot believe people would send hate mail. Why would they send it to you and not post directly to the boards? Makes my day at work a little more amusing to see the "friendly" bantering going on!! "

I think that sometimes when these columns are printed in newspapers, they don't list the advicegoddess.com website. I don't think my alt-weekly does (though I'm not sure about that). And if they're reading from the Creators.com website, the web addy is pretty low down on the page. So I think a lot of the "hate mail" must go directly to Amy's email or to the newspaper it's printed in. I wish Creators would direct-link Amy's page, because this allows for so much more insight into the hows & whys of her opinions, and I wish her lots & lots of traffic!

Posted by: CornerDemon at December 20, 2007 9:42 AM

Lots of angry people spouting their venom and generalizations about single parents, and to those people I say if you don't like kids or dating people with kids, then by all means, stay away. But on the flip side there are plenty of people out there who don't mind kids for the single parents to date. None of this is ideal. Ideally we get married and stay that way if we choose to have kids. Too bad that doesn't happen very often. But you can't condemn people to a life without companionship - if that's what they want - just because they made a mistake. For those saying ALL single mom's are losers, keep in mind that there are two sides to a coin and they may be perfectly nice people who were married to jerks.

For the dumbasses who take offense to Amy's advice on this one...would it have been better for her to say "come on sweety, if you don't like the idea of kids, just sweat through it, you'll get to like them later"? Why in the world would you give someone advice to get involved in a situation they obviously aren't interested, drag the poor kids into it, and let them be disappointed later? That's just stupid. The hate mongers aren't thinking clearly. If they were they would realize that they wouldn't want that person in their lives either.

Posted by: Laurie [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 20, 2007 11:39 AM

Yeah, I've mentioned before that it sucks trying to have a social life as a single (custodial) dad. Men are considerably more graceful about it, but in your early twenties, people want to have a love life that's independant of children. They want a couple of years to have few responsibilities, as in 'let's take off at lunch on friday, and show up late for work on monday', or "My favorite band is playing in a town 200 miles away from here, let's go!", or do any of the number of spontaneous things that childless adults would want to do in the middle of the living room, the kitchen, the back porch, the hall way, the neighbor's breezway, etc.

Anyway. Yeah dude, it sucks being a single parent. It's even worse when the other parent is a hostile pain in the ass who gets off on making your life, and anybody elses, as miserable as getting a root canal, without the nice vicodin prescription at the end of it. People don't want to put up with it, and sad to say, women are less likely than men to voluntarily chose to shoulder the extra complications when they don't have to, especially when an idyllic romance is waiting for them at every coffee shop and bookstore. It sucks. I'm sorry that it's a consequence of doing the right thing by your kids, and that in their early twenties, people are averse to diving into your complicated life. Your situation is not unique in this. I know you likely didn't plan to be a single dad when you became a dad, but sometimes it just works out that way. You may have been well down the path of "Doing the Right Thing" with your ex when it all fell apart. (or, you were just boinking someone crazy and digging the psycho sex, who knows). Divorce is like a death in the family, except with a really loud and obnoxious poltergeist, who's sometimes there in flesh and blood like an extra in "Shaun of the Dead", and sometimes their presence is more like that special scene in "Blazing Saddles". (think like a 10 yr old....)

When you hit 30, some of that changes. You'll find that you can have some 'quality time' with other single parents over play dates. They're sizing you up, and seeing how you relate to your kids, their kids, how much grief they get from their ex, your ex, etc. You'll get the change to share stories about restraining orders, guardian ad litems, how the ex loads em up on ice cream and soda before returning them to you on a school night, the fun of juggling day care, work, and your court ordered obligations in regards to delivering your pride and joy to someone who'd rather see you drowning in your own blood. Another thing to consider, mentioned by a few others, is that the stepparents don't want to take on the risk of one of the kids getting pissed at them, and then dealing with reports of abuse made to your nemesis.

Well, if all that crap doesn't turn you off from ever having sex again, I don't know what will. Suffice to say, finding someone to date with similar visitation schedules can be tricky, and all you both really want is dinner somewhere that doesn't have a playscape, and to see a movie without 5 trips to the potty, but there's times when your date says "screw all this romance, my place, NOW!"

I'm lucky in that my girls are always trying to set me up in the grocery store and other places. Some women think it's cute, others glare at me as if it's my idea to exploit them. Either way, glare or not, my grocery cart gets a once over, and I think I come away pretty good by having more than frozen dinners and hamburger helper in it.

Posted by: TX Single Dad at December 20, 2007 5:34 PM

I dated a single dad for a while and didn't have a problem with it. He had been divorced for about ten years and his two boys were teenagers. I know things were rocky when he first got divorced, but by the time ten years had passed, his ex-wife was happily remarried and he got along pretty well with her. They cooperated with each other and didn't let the kids get away with trying to pit one against the other - they stayed on the "same side" and enforced consistent discipline. It helped that the ex-wife's "new" husband was a stand-up guy. I met the kids on a few occasions and found them to be funny, smart, and interesting.

For the single parents out there, you may be newly divorced and going through hell, but it doesn't always last. Maybe it's best for you to take a few years off when it comes to dating - focus on the kids and get through the worst of it. Then, later, when some of the dust has settled, you can go out and date without a lot of drama going on.

In my situation, the guy I dated didn't want to have any more kids, and why would he? His two were almost grown, and he had no desire to start all over again with more. I don't want kids either, so that was fine with me. If you date someone who DOES want kids, though, that could be a problem if you don't want any more. Make sure you are either dating someone who is childfree, or another single parent who already has kids and also doesn't want any more.

Posted by: Pirate Jo [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 21, 2007 8:10 AM

Maybe it's best for you to take a few years off when it comes to dating

This is good advice even if you don't have kids. Taking a couple years off after a divorce (unless your paramour has been waiting in the wings, and that's another story altogether!) and working on getting to know yourself and who you as your own person and not part of a couple, goes a long way toward defining what you expect and want from a relationship, and also what you expect and want from yourself.

Posted by: Flynne [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 21, 2007 8:55 AM

There is something wrong with these people (hate-mailers, LW and that woman with all the love and understanding who wanted to date the single date). Are they reading a different response than the rest of us? I didn't see anywhere in your advice to the girl that single parents were gross and diseased and should be segregated to single parent island. All you said was if you don't like it don't do it.... which by the way, is a real shame that she couldn't figure out that herself.

Posted by: dena [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 21, 2007 9:25 AM

I'd add the caution, however, Pirate Jo, that you could find yourself with stepgrandchildren. Nothing wrong with that if you don't mind babysitting or that your SO does but if the thought of having them overnight makes you break out in hives, it's something to consider. Grandparents do a fair share of babysitting.

Posted by: Donna at December 21, 2007 9:26 AM


Point taken, thanks for your explanation, it makes sense. I certainly agree that it's a much better life than being in an institution.


Posted by: Tony at December 21, 2007 2:53 PM

Hey Donna, I don't think stepgrandchildren would have to be a problem. I'd just send the little monsters home with a bunch of Red Bull and a puppy. ;-)

Posted by: Pirate Jo [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 22, 2007 6:26 AM

Taking a couple years off after a divorce (unless your paramour has been waiting in the wings, and that's another story altogether!) and working on getting to know yourself and who you as your own person and not part of a couple, goes a long way toward defining what you expect and want from a relationship, and also what you expect and want from yourself.

I don't agree. You don't get to know yourself by sitting alone and contemplating. You're better off getting out there and meeting people. Yes, you will make mistakes, but you will learn from them.

Posted by: Norman [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 23, 2007 3:54 AM

I took a year off from dating after my divorce, and it was a great decision. I didn't sit at home staring at my belly button: I made new friends, developed some new hobbies, spent time with family (no kids), etc. It's not necessary for everyone to do that, but it helped me a lot, as I'd been with my now ex-husband since I was 19, and we divorced when I was 28.

Posted by: Monica at December 23, 2007 11:22 AM

Norman -- If I understand correctly, Flynne isn't talking about being a hermit on a mountain top when she's talking about being "alone". I think she means not rushing immediately into another relationship. Some people rush so quickly into new relationships after a divorce or breakup that they never take a deep breath to get over the pain of the breakup, assess what happened in the relationship, get to know themselves as a single person, etc. Sometimes it's really better to take a bit of a dating break so that you can do all that. That doesn't mean you're not out there meeting people and having fun--like Monica, for example. Flynne, slap me around if I'm twisting what you were saying.

Posted by: Gail [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 23, 2007 9:02 PM

Hey, Amy, there's a lot of talk here about "being #1" in the life
of one's significant other, and resenting it that kids are #1
in the lives of divorced parents. There are similar
debates elsewhere. See: http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index;_ylt=AlG5iJXpG.7DcKnDE2D4REHsy6IX;_ylv=3?qid=20071221195743AApNCud

So Amy, do you have any suggestions to reconciile this? What do you say to people who are jealous of their significant others' kids, because the kids are #1 and they're #2? What is a healthy way to be in a relationship with a person with kids?

Posted by: Quizzical1 [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 27, 2007 7:39 AM

Don't be in one if you aren't VERY, VERY comfortable coming, not second, but fifth.

Posted by: Amy Alkon [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 27, 2007 7:53 AM

I could write a book about this entire subject, and I have no idea how long the comments can go on this blog, so I'll try and be as brief as possible.

I've been on both ends of this situation. I'm a truly single mother. My lover broke up with me the day I told him I was pregnant. My daughter has never met him. So that's my first peeve. There is a difference between a divorced parent and a single parent. A single parent is one who has never been married so the parent/child relationship is truly a single one. There is no visitation. No weekends with the ex. You're it. You never get a night or weekend off, and legally you are solely responsible for your child.

On taking time off from relationships. You don't have a choice when you are a parent. Everything changes, and your needs are on the back burner. For me, I was not going to bring another man into my kids life unless I knew he wouldn't leave. When you break up with a single parent, you are not just breaking up with them, but with their kids. Since there is no way to know how a relationship will work out in the end, the safe thing to do is to just not have any relationships at all.

So you wait until your kid is old enough to handle it. But when is that?

I decided that I would not bring any man into my house. Period. I didn't want my daughter to get close to a man, only to have the relationship end. But I still wanted sex. So what to do?

If you believe pop culture it should have been fairly easy, right? Find some guy who just wanted sex with no strings, and that's it. It doesn't work that way. Contrary to what the pop culture says, most men are not built that way. They don't just want sex. OK, maybe if you hang out in seedy bars maybe you'll get lucky and find some decent guy willing to service your "biological needs", but chances are better that he won't be a decent guy. If you're lucky all you'll get is a bad case of crabs.

It took me 13 years to find a man who willing to have a no strings attached physical relationship. Or so he said. We met at work, he was a really nice guy, and we clicked immediately. I was totally honest with him and told him all I really wanted was sex, and a friend. A fuck buddy. My kid was 13. He had two boys 6 and 10 and was divorced. Twice. The boys had two different mothers. He had full custody of both boys because both mothers were basket cases.

We had a great time. But he didn't really believe me. I didn't want to meet his kids and he was not going to meet mine. He was looking for a wife. That's really what he wanted. He wanted someone to share his life with him. That was never going to be me.

My daughter will be 15 on Saturday and until she is grown up and on her own, my life is just going to have to wait. And if I am ever lucky enough to find a man who wants me again, there will be no kids involved. And no grand kids, either. That's a VERY important point that many people do not consider. Kids grow up to have kids. And if you are not careful, you could end up raising your kids kids and then? It starts all over again.

Posted by: Jaynie59 at January 1, 2008 7:49 AM

I think everyone here needs to stop seeing single parents as deserving of sympathy or pity. Some of the comments on this blog have dealt with dating single parents just to "give them a fair chance".

Having been a single parent for a little more then a year, I was floored by the pitying looks I recieved from married women, lil' ol' grannies, and even fathers with toddlers on thier shoulders!

Let me tell you, I have never been so insulted! I didn't need thier pity! I was gainfully employed, making more money then many of the people looking at me with such sympathy. I worked hard to support myself and my son. I put myself through college, and now am the manager of a medical office.

When I wanted a date, I went out and got one!
All you people who think you're doing single parents a favour by dating them need to pull your head out of your butts!

I had no lack of men to choose from. Of course, I was also only 22 and had a body like, well, I had one helluva body! But the point remains, I didn't need pity because there were more then enough men hitting on me as it was, I certainly didn't need a pity date. I would have been highly offended!

As well, I don't know how it is south of the border, (I am Canadian) but up here, single moms are considered by some to be more then desirable, because of the generous financial incentives provided by the Canadian Goverment. (Baby bonus, tax write offs,low-interest loans, etc etc etc.)Again, I was making WAY more money then ALOT of these people who pitied me.

So again, pull your heads out of your butts, single parents do NOT need your pity. LW should already know what she should do with her "fair chance".

Posted by: angie at January 4, 2008 7:11 AM

And to Tony and Purple Pen, as an adopted child, I can tell you that having a father for her adopted children (gawd I hate that phrase, a child is a child whether adopted or not!) is going to be the very LEAST of her concerns.

Posted by: angie at January 4, 2008 7:14 AM

p here, single moms are considered by some to be more then desirable, because of the generous financial incentives provided by the Canadian Goverment. (Baby bonus, tax write offs,low-interest loans, etc etc etc.)

So, in other words, single moms are desirable because they get welfare from the government; in other words, all the people giving the pitying looks are paying for financing them. Nice.

Do you understand that "financial incentives" don't just come from the sky but from other people's pockets.

Posted by: Amy Alkon [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 4, 2008 7:40 AM


Big fan of your column.

I didn't mean welfare. I was never on it.

I meant financial incentives, like the low cost loan I got from the government for acing my courses, or the write off's I got for my student loans, etc etc etc. I never took anything from anyone else's pocket.

If you would refer back to my post, you will see that I mentioned having been gainfully employed. I am not, nor have I ever been, an advocate of getting something for nothing.

And, there is no such thing as the standard "welfare" in Ontario.

The program is Ontario Works, and in this program (no, I was never a participant, I just know alot of people who are due to my field,) you don't recieve a dime if you cannot prove you are either employed, in school, or looking for employment.

The whole jist of my post, or what I was trying to get at anyway, was that where I come from, single parents don't need to be pitied, because they do just fine on thier own. Better, in fact, then some married parents.

Not only due to the financial incentives provided by the government, but the social incentives as well.

Single parents in Ontario are given the opporunity to attend free or nearly free courses to improve themselves, they are entitled to attend free or low costs networking functions, daycare co-operatives, etc etc etc. The incentives are, in fact, there so that the single parents are less of a burden on society then they would be if we just gave them a cheque.

My point is, and was, single parents don't need anyone's pity (at least over here...) because they do just as well, if not better, then some married parents.

Posted by: angie at January 4, 2008 8:10 AM

Thanks for clarifying. From the way you wrote it initially, it sounded like single mothers are subsidized by the government.

Posted by: Amy Alkon [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 4, 2008 9:40 AM

Yes, your right, I could have written it a little better.

But I think the Government is handling single parents pretty well.

What are your thoughts, Amy, on social programs directed at single mothers that recieve government assistance?

Is it better to provide them with a way to improve themselves so they no longer need assistance after a time, or is it better to simply cut them a cheque and save the money that would be spent on said social programs, and direct it elsewhere, say to tax cuts?

This debate is currently raging in Parliament. I'd love to send your response in to my MP.

Posted by: angie [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 4, 2008 10:10 AM

Thanks - on deadline now, and I'd need background...not sure I have time...but I'd try. E-mail me some links and I'll try to take a look and maybe blog it.

Posted by: Amy Alkon [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 4, 2008 11:00 AM

Will do......

Posted by: angie at January 4, 2008 11:11 AM

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