Zero Top Tips on Dating While Adoptive Parenting

I've been thinking for a while that going from 'single adoptive parent' to 'engaged adoptive parent' is an experience that probably has a blog post or two in it. Surely I could come up with a 'Top Ten Tips for Dating While Therapeutic Parenting', or a 'Six Ways to Keep Your Relationship Alive in the Face of Every Possible Inconvenience'?

But no, it seems that I can't, because in this, as in everything else that is parenting, I really can't imagine that my one experience of dating-while-parenting has given me anything like the expertise required to dole out top tips to anybody else thinking of embarking on the same path. It's a tricky thing, giving advice, so I'm not going to give any.

For a start, I broke my own rules, such as they were. Well, just the one rule really: I was absolutely certain that I would be months into any hypothetical new relationship before my children knew anything about it. Blew that out of the water. The kids came with us on our second date. Yes, really.

The thing is, the rule was redundant because the Boyf already knew my kids. He volunteers at the theatre group OB attends and knew him for nearly two years before he even clocked who I was. He'd seen Birdy running about there too. So, after a successful first date - a double with the couple who introduced us - and in the face of a dearth of babysitters for a second evening any time soon - we ended up taking the kids to the cinema to see . . . I can't remember to be honest. It was a kids' film and I spent a fair amount of it taking Birdy in and out to the toilet. My main memory of the day was my desperate hope that none of us would do anything too humiliating in the Frankie and Benny's where we went for lunch and wreck the whole thing. High pressure.

There was a gap then, because Squidge came to live with us, and that was all I could manage for a few weeks. Finally, stirred into action by the friend who introduced us, I made a huge effort . . . and invited him round for a takeaway and a film. I know. Living the high life. I think we watched 'La La Land'. To be honest, I didn't see much of it (see a theme developing here?) because Squidge chose that evening to be immensely sick four times, necessitating lots of bedding changes and laundry. As I closed the front door behind the Boyf at the end of the evening, I noticed for the first time a long streak of vomit down the leg of my trousers.

Despite it all, we miraculously managed to go on a fourth date, and then reach the point where you can't call it dating any more and it has to be re-defined as a relationship. The kids have taken it remarkably well. It helps that the Boyf has a generous helping of the 'P' part of PACE parenting (playfulness, for those of you not in the know), which is an area I am woefully lacking in. Somehow, we have established a new routine that seems to work quite well for us all.

So, no top tips then (who'd listen to advice from somebody as obviously inept at this as I am, anyway?!) but one potential pitfall that I can share. I established early on that the Boyf is remarkably receptive to talk of all things attachment, trauma and therapeutic parenting-related, which is all to the good. However, that doesn't stop me being on pins when the kids are around him. I tend to have an overwhelming desire to police their behaviour not only with me, but now also with him. This was unfortunate as it had the effect of turning me into an even more boring nag-bag than I already am. It was also redundant as the Boyf has no difficulties whatsoever establishing and stating his own boundaries (although I can't say that the kids particularly listen or always respect them just yet!).

I have discovered over time that the Boyf has different levels of tolerance than I do. Obvious, I suppose, but it took me time to understand that I can relax about certain things the kids do around him because the Boyf isn't remotely bothered by them. Then there are some things that I can ignore, but the Boyf can't. So he says something. Simple as that really. It takes actual mental effort on my part to just let the Boyf be with the kids, stop myself from commenting, and let him establish what's manageable for him and express it in his own words. I fail at this most days, but I hope it will get easier.

And now we are engaged and planning a wedding. That's a whole other post! I never imagined this turn of events at all. I wasn't unhappy single, and I wasn't particularly looking for someone. But, single adoptive parents everywhere, here I am to say that if a relationship is something you'd like, it apparently is actually possible!


  1. What wonderful news, congratulations to you both! I will look forward to the next blog post with anticipation!

  2. Loving this... I've had a similar experience and can relate. Thanks for sharing.

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