Who Comes First: Significant Other or Grown Children?

Things can get a little murky when you’re dating and have adult children

Wendy Miller


Images by Terri Cnudde from Pixabay

II wrote an article last week about dating in my 40s and how it’s different from dating when I was younger. Most of those changes, for me anyway, are the result of being divorced and having kids.

I had someone comment on the article with a great question about prioritizing your partner and your kids when your kids are grown. I thought about simply replying to their comment but then I realized I had so much to say that it was better as its own piece.

So let’s dive in, shall we?

I have two sons, only one of which is currently what could be considered “grown.” He is 19 and has a full-time job, bought his own truck, but is still living at home right now. My other son is 16, so not quite an adult but not quite a child who needs me to constantly parent him.

This means I’m still somewhat new to the world of dating with adult children. But I do have some experience and I’ve also given a lot of thought to it.

Young children vs. adult children

Parenting never ends but it does change shape. Even now that I’m in my 40s, my parents offer advice, assistance, and whatever else I may need when I need it.

Parenting young children while dating can be pretty complicated. You need a babysitter to take care of the kids while you’re on the date. A kid who gets sick or injured while you’re out means the end of the date.

You have to carefully weigh the decision to introduce someone you’re dating to your kids. Too soon and your kids might end up attached to someone who doesn’t stick around. Too late and you might find you’re married to someone your kids can’t stand.

You worry that you could meet someone who preys on children, fearful that someone might not like you for you but because they see you and your kids as an easy target.

You worry about how your ex will react if you get serious with someone. You evaluate potential partners not solely based on what you want in a relationship but on how you think your kids will feel about them and what your ex might think.