Single Dad Anxious about Dating

Q: I'm a single dad just starting to date after my divorce a year ago. My question is about how much to talk about my child to the women I meet. My daughter — a wonderful girl of 12 — has a mild disability. I worry about how to introduce them to the idea that not only am I a full-time dad, but that my daughter might not be what they expect. How soon is too soon to talk about this? I feel like if I say something too early, it may be a turnoff, but it feels misleading to not say anything at all. -- Marco, 47

Dr. Susan: I appreciate your desire to be honest. Waiting too long to spring your kid (fully healthy or not) on a new potential love may complicate matters. I suggest you do it early on in a dating relationship. Your daughter is a big part of your life, so not talking about her would be like hiding her. You needn't go on and on. Just talk the way you wrote your question to me. "I have a wonderful 12-year-old daughter who I'm the single parent for." Depending on your date's response, if she seems interested in knowing more about the girl and thus more about your life, you could add, "She's got a mild disability which she has to work hard to overcome..." Or whatever the actual truth is. Be ready to be more specific if asked. We all have stuff to deal with, baggage we bring with us, factors that make loving us just a bit more challenging at times. Any date worth getting to know should accept that.

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