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When should single moms tell a man she has kids?

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This is a story about single-mom dating etiquette, but it is also about single moms cruising for men together. 

Having kids is often a deal-breaker when dating. That is OK.

When it comes to dating, the possession of offspring is right up there with bisexuality (in men), herpes, smoking, being a Republican, and refusal to perform oral sex. Most people have a few things they just aren’t willing to compromise about. No exceptions. As far as I’m concerned, that is perfectly fine.

But that doesn’t mean that dating as a single mom can’t put you in a pickle. Scratch that. Cruising for men can put you in a pickle.

Consider this weekend when I went out with a few SMILFs. And when I say “out,” I mean to a bar where we drank a lot.

We were all having a fine time enjoying our jalapeño margaritas when suddenly a swarm of cute, funny, drunk guys approached. One was celebrating his birthday, most were about our age (mid-30s), and most were firefighters. It was all good fun – lots of laughs and flirts and drinks all around, even if these dudes were not relationship material. After all, what single mom couldn’t use a dose of absurd, slobbering (if innocent) attention from some swaggering members of New York’s bravest?

When one tall blond asked us, “You girls must do really well in a place like this,” my SMILF friends and I shot knowing looks at one another. After all, if these dudes a) took off their Yuengling goggles they might not call us “girls,” and b) were pelted with our full stories of lingering divorce proceedings and preschoolers tucked into bed at their fathers’ apartments for overnight visits, gone would be our free beverages and lingering (albeit out-of-focus) glances. Or so we assumed. So we kept our glossed lips closed.

Now, a certain member of our posse caught the attention of one of these gentlemen, and her evening proceeded on a different path than the rest of us. Suffice it to say that his studio apartment was near the bar. After all, had she taken him home, he may have tripped on the Lightning McQueen collection populating the apartment and noted the California Baby wash in the bathroom. Post-coital he may have been surprised that the only snack she could offer was individually wrapped string cheese and a juice box.

That’s right: She never told him she had kids.

“She lied about having a kid.” 

Turns out, the random drunken hookup turned rather sweet and tender, and now she’d like to see him again. But he doesn’t know she’s a mom, and she has no idea how to broach the subject – or when.

“I don’t think that mentioning my divorce or kids right off the bat is my best bet,” she said later while dissecting her conundrum. “It’s pretty much guaranteed to shut the conversation down before it starts. But if I were to bring it up later, I might give him a chance to get to know and like me – and consider what it might be like to date a single mom.”

My first impulse was to smack the shit out of her. What is this – we manipulate men into loving our sexy ways? Fuck them so they fall in love with us, then drop the information bomb about the most important topic in our lives—our dear children? Gimme a break! I say, lay it out. Just slip it into the conversation (“Yeah, just wait till you see my double C-section scar! Yikes!”). Let them make an educated decision as to whether to ask for your number, and go to sleep knowing that you are a decent, honest human being.

Benefits of dating single dads, and where to meet them

On the other hand, I’ve come to realize that I am the ultimate romantic. I believe that the most wonderful things in life are those that we cannot plan for, the things that challenge our ideas about who we are and what we believe. The best experiences in life are those that come with a big dose of magic. And let’s face it – any man willing to sign up for the shitshow that is often single motherhood will have to be rather magical.

I have full faith that there are plenty of guys out there that fit the bill. But to my friend’s point, some of them might not know it until they get friendly with some rather magical single moms (and when I say “moms,” I really mean me). Meeting someone at work, by frequenting the same shawarma cart, on dating sites, or through friends is an entirely different dynamic than chatting up guys at a bar. At a bar, it’s all silliness and fantasy. Until someone gets laid, of course.

While there are lots of men who are open to dating women with children, many – most, probably – are not. Lots of factors at play, and in our case, age is paramount. I asked a 54-year-old divorced friend his opinion on the matter, and he was all for full disclosure. But he pointed out that if he met a woman in a bar who was his age, he’d assume she had kids. Professional 35-year-old women hanging out in a New York City bar? Not so much.

As for my friend (and when I say “my friend,” I really do mean my friend), she’s hoping her love interest Googles her to find the readily available truth about her family status without further effort on her part. So far, he appears to remain clueless. 

How to feel confident when you feel old, gross and fat

Don’t lie about having a kid

A few tales about people lying about having kids on Reddit:

Not over my boyfriend lying about child from r/relationships
Lying about having kids from r/datingoverthirty

When to tell a date you have a kid

When should you tell a man you have a child? 

Right away.

Any delayed reveal nurtures distrust. Horrible way to start a relationship — serious or casual. The last thing you want to do is have a man angry that you lied (and yes, omission is lying) about having a child. 

Just tell him you have kids:

Or, drop it into conversation. Try:

“I have to get going. Have to get up early for my kids’ soccer game in the morning.”

or …

“The babysitter is waiting for me. Here’s my number — continue the conversation over dinner?”

What if you haven’t told him you have a child? Straighten in out ASAP. Say:

“I feel really bad that we have to have this conversation, but I am dating for the first time as a mom, and I didn’t tell you I have a kid. I am so sorry for being dishonest.”

9 reasons dating is better as a single mom

How to tell a date you have a kid

First, get the kid fact out there ASAP. If you are dating online, mention your motherhood in your profile. If a friend introduces you, make sure that fact is known. If you meet a guy through work, or at a bar or hiking, weave it into the conversation.

If for some reason you wind up on a date with someone who does not know you are a mother, just tell them! “I'm not sure if I mentioned it, but I have two kids — how about you?”

NO MATTER WHAT, do not fall into the trap of thinking you must seduce him before dropping the bomb of kids onto the relationship.

Bottom line: Why it’s important to tell a date you have a kid

Kids are not a detriment, and lying and conniving is no way to launch a healthy partnership.

When should single moms tell a man she has kids?

Right away. Any delayed reveal nurtures distrust.


“Being a Republican”
Gee – thanks for that hot take that absolutely nobody asked for… and thanks also for further dividing the country for the puppet masters who cut your check.

I am a single mom with two kids. I started dating a man 10 years younger than me and after the 3rd date started talking about wanting to get married and have a child. I felt it was important to share that I was a mom. He told me he did not feel comfortable dating a woman with two kids so he ended things with me. I am newly single after 17 years of marriage and new to dating, but learned it is better to share that you are a mom early on then that way you can end things before a bigger investment is made and someone gets hurt. Yes, it hurt that the person
I was dating did not want to continue things, but after sharing this information with him felt relieved. Because now he knows who I am and I know who he is.

“Because now he knows who I am and I know who he is.”

Yeah, you’re the person who lied by omission until after the 3rd date. Such narcissism and delusions of self-righteousness!

The first date. That’s when you “come clean”. Anything else is lying and misleading. Kids are not a minor consideration. Being a single mother also speaks to a woman’s character. The first date or even before is the most appropriate time.

I confess that I’m a small town girl. I couldn’t have made it through the night in a bar without someone mentioning my kids ( very small town ). At 25 with 4 children I didn’t ever see myself being in an actual relationship until they were grown because A) who has that kind of time ( surely didn’t want anyone meeting my kids) B) Who would want to be with someone who had that many kids? I was shocked at how many guys truly didn’t mind it. Even if they had minded. . . I wouldn’t want to be serious with a guy who had to have the concept of my children ” grow ” on him. I hope she has either told him or ditched him by now.

I am a single mom and have two wonderful kids. I love them more the anything In this world. I am In my early 30’s. I was through a very bad divorce which led to 3 years depression. Now finally for the first time I like a guy, we haven’t any real conversation just looking at each other and smile, he might likes me back but whats holding me back now its my kids. I am sceard of losing him, nothing has startes between us yet. He saw me with My kids twice so I assume he knows.

I think she should tell him, to me it is about honesty and I would want there to be honesty from the start. Since it started as an intended one-night stand, she should probably tell him the next time they see each other. Not telling on the first night is ok as it wasn’t an intended long term relationship. If the intention is long term from the beginning I think both men and women should disclose their parenting status.

I’ve always been straight up about being a single parent. I had many other single moms tell me I shouldn’t disclose it, especially not at the beginning. Given what I do for work, I am fairly public so easy to Google and figured I should be straight up. All men I dated knew I had two kids, they also knew my past (abusive ex-husband, homeless for a while etc.) because most Googled me, some even right in front of me as we were speaking. I now have an amazing boyfriend who is so supportive of my kids. My friends who told me not to say I’m a parent are still churning through men looking for someone. Every single guy has felt blindsided and lied to when the women finally disclose they have kids.

Happy for your friend, hope it works out.

It’s too sensitive not to disclose motherhood, unless you want a one night stand. Big secrets like that can’t be hidden forever

She needs to tell him. I met this amazing girl we went on 3 dates text messaged each other everyday and I really like her but then she told me she has kids. I don’t like the idea of dating someone with kids because I can get attached to people easily and if we were ever to break up I couldn’t handle losing not only her but her kids. She told me about a week after the third date but by then I really had strong feelings for her. We haven’t spoken since. I feel like if she would have been up front with it I may have considered continuing to see her. I think it’s a tell on the first date kind of thing.

Call me old fashioned, but I believe sex occurs once the relationship has been established, not the other way around. When women make the mistake of thinking sex will make a man fall in love with them, and then go out of their way to hide some facts in the hope he will be so smitten that the truth will not phase him, they are destined for disappointment and potential heartache further down the road.

While it all may seem like a great deal of fun to hook up with men in bars, (drunk men at that) it is not conducive to beginning a long term, committed and loving relationship. If the woman is only looking for some casual sex and no commitment or relationship, that’s fine. But, if the intention is to “get the man to fall in love with her,” she’s going about it the wrong way.

Maeve – welcome to the 21st century where sometimes women have sex at the beginning of a relationship, sometimes they wait. Sometimes they just want to get laid. Good luck navigating this wondrous world of sexual freedom, you may just like it!

Each situation is different and so is people. There aren’t rules at how to meet the right person. My first hook up, lasted 10 yeas and gave me a son. Would be great to be less judgemental and a bit open minded. Not all people are the same, that’s a fact.

Yes, of course you must mention your children. However, if you don’t feel like doing it the minute you meet someone, then that’s OK! No one says you have to carry a sign around your neck that says “Hi, before you talk to me, please note, I’m a single mom” Who cares!

I’m glad your friend had fun and I’m sure she knows she has to tell him if they are going to start dating.

P.S. I LOVE your blogs!

Considering that your children are part of who you are, and wouldn’t you want the person to be falling for all of you.. not just some illusion or part of you, I would say to tell the person at the first opportunity. It is selfish and unfair to yourself, your potential partner, and your kids to keep something like that a secret.

I agree to and extent. In my own life and with my own children, I do not introduce them to ANYONE unless I know they are going to be in our lives for a long, long time. I feel it would be foolish to introduce every man I ever date to my children right away without know if the relationship will ever take a serious turn. That not only hurts my children, who may become attached to that person, and that person, who may become attached to the children.

Interesting article.. And funny comment- what bar was this?

I’m a soon to be divorced father of four… My wife has already started “dating” so I won’t share this article with her, but I’m curious about this question from the single dad’s point of view.

Oh and I think your friend should tell the guy – soon. Honesty – which has been in such short supply in my own relationship- is always best especially if she feels anything for the guy.

I’m not so sure that she needs to tell him immediately. When you’re first getting to know someone you spend time sharing your personality, not your intimate personal information. There is always a time in any relationship when you realize that you are ready to share more deeply about yourself, because you’ve decided that the person you are with is worthy of that knowledge. If she gets to that point with this new relationship, then it would be appropriate to share about her children. She should explain that she feels she is ready to trust him with more personal information-then it will be seen more as a gift of trust towards him.
**Republican as deal breaker is difficult when your ex left you in Kansas**

That is 100% sneaky way to trap him. Poor guy.

It’s like getting a guy to really like you and then through out “Oh, I have an STD, but it’s alright because I showed you how cool my personality is and you like me now”. “You should feel honored I told you, it’s a gift of trust!”.

Did you seriously compare motherhood with STDs? Motherhood is not a disease nor some character flaw. it’s a super power!

Well in a sense, there is a similarity. For one, they are both life long. And two, not sharing the information is omission of some critical detail that could change a persons decisions on how to move forward!

People with STD’s can go on to have incredible lives. Single mothers can and should do the same. I don’t believe the comment was intended to say a child is like a disease, but rather it is an extension of a person that is there to stay.

I met a man who said he was looking for family oriented woman but never asked me. I don’t like talking about my kids because I am not looking for a man to be around them, I hsve trust issues, and most of all I don’t have to want to explain I am not yet divorced and since covid I am living with their dad, we haven’t been sexual for a long time, but this is oído freak a lot of men out. I want to be open and I feel really badly. I just like him so much already and afraid he can do much better than me.

I agree with you, you should “smack the shit out of her”; but seriously, full disclosure up front is the best option. Now she has to figure out when to tell him and hopefully it will be sooner rather than later.

Obviously she has to tell him, ommission is synonymous with lying so by not telling him she is lying. Not a good way to start a potential relationship. If he omitted the fact that he was bisexual, engaged or even married she would be outraged…same difference. There is no point I investing time, energy or feelings into something that may be dead in the water. Tell him and find out where you stand.

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