Dating as a parent: essential tips

Whether you are a single mum or a single dad, you already know the difficulties of dating when you have kids in tow - and it's not just finding a babysitter. This essential advice from David Pinless of

When do you tell your new date you have kids? Do you announce it upfront like a confession, or down the line when it may seem you have been economical with the truth? When do you introduce your new date to your children - at the outset so your children know what you're doing, or later on when you feel the relationship is going somewhere? And how will they all get on? Perhaps the true test of the relationship will come when your date meets your kids and, if you both have children, when your kids and theirs meet up as well.

If this all sounds too familiar then stop - the Internet is in your home and there's a website that will help you find somebody who's just right for you and who understands your situation. has tens of thousands of members in the UK and Ireland, nearly all of whom have children and are looking to date someone else who has too. You will also find a few childless people on the site who are genuinely searching for a partner with children. Some women for example are past childbearing age, some members join because their former partner didn't want children or they have have genetic disorders they do not wish to pass to their own children. In all these cases these members want a ready-made family of their own.

As well as searching for a potential partner, site members chat online every evening, usually after the kids have gone to bed, either one to one or as a group. Whilst looking for that special someone, members make new friends along the way. The message boards are full of advice and tips, and "meets" are arranged by the members themselves up and down the country. Some are family days out, others are for the grown ups only.

Tips for online dating

Safety first As with any online dating site safety is paramount; always read and abide by the safety instructions on the website. And here's a final tip - meet your first date in a coffee shop and get a friend to call you after 10 minutes, you then have a good excuse to leave if it's awful, and something great to look forward to if it's not.

Take your time Find some free time to look around the site before you use it - have a good browse so you can be confident about what you're doing when you join.

Take things steady There's no rush to get involved again - and make sure you talk all your uncertainties through with your new partner.

Keep your kids involved Keep them up to speed with your new relationship as much as you comfortably can. Keep trying to calmly communicate with them even if they seem like they don't want to know.

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