How To Date Someone With A Special Needs Child

Wanting and finding someone to be in a relationship can have it’s up and downs.  There are many factors - both minimal and substantial that effect who you choose to be with.  However, when you meet an individual who seems to have most or all of the qualities you are looking for and feel as though this could be a long term relationship, you find out that they are a parent of a special needs child.  This, depending upon the person, can be a wonderful thing.  In addition to the worries that a parent possesses, there are a whole host of other concerns that are part of the mix.  These additional issues take time on the parent’s part to think about, work through and address whether it be on their own or with the child’s other parent.  

Some of the worries can include:

  1. Will my child be accepted in the world?  We all want to be accepted for who we are and what we can bring to this world.  We all have something positive that others can learn from and make this world a better place.

  2. Will my child develop correctly and meet the criteria for their age - both physically and mentally?  Will my child walk, talk and possess the social skills needed to make friends and work with other individuals while holding down a job?  Trying to play catch up isn’t easy.  It produces more stress and anxiety for the child as well as the parents.

  3. When will I find the time to spend time with my special needs child and my other child (ren) that are not special needs?  Can I juggle my time so everyone is getting what they need (nourishment for the mind, body and soul)?

  4. If my child has been diagnosed with a specific condition, is there a vast amount of information out there whereby I can educate myself and therefore be the best parent I can be?  

  5. How will my child perform within the academic environment?  Is my child’s intellectual and physical disabilities going to effect them in these areas?  

  6. Is my child medically fragile? Does my child spend a significant amount of time in the hospital or going to physician appointments? 

  7. Will the individual that I meet understand how I feel and what I am going through?  If a person has not walked in your shoes, it may be very difficult for them to understand where you are coming from even though they may truly try.

  8. I am tired and therefore can I provide to another person the time, energy and love that they deserve to make the relationship what it should be? Can I have a wonderful, giving and loving relationship with a person who is willing to accept my child for who they are and can they find it in their heart to love my child as if they were their own?

Dating a person with kids is sometimes looked at as impossible or dating someone with a child or children that are special needs is impossible.  It is not!  If you go into the relationship knowing that there are more requirements and that it has a different set of challenges, it will make it far easier for all parties involved.  But, it is not impossible.

You need to understand the other parent’s role in the situation. 

You might have to meet this person as they might have the right to know who else in the child’s life especially if the parents are on good terms.  If the parent’s are not on good terms, then you would have to just listen to your partner’s complaints, if any about the other.  Being a good listener is an integral part of being a great partner whether there is a special needs child involved or not.

You have to earn the child’s trust. 

Many times it takes a while for a child to warm up to you and trust you.  You need to foster this especially if you are going to be around the child quite a bit if you feel this relationship will be long term.

Be genuine.  To your partner and their child.  If you are just playing a game, the child will pick up on that.  Additionally, it is extremely disrespectful to your partner if this is how you treat his/her child and the relationship.  Without genuineness, truthfulness and respect the relationship will never work.

Never make your partner choose between you and his/her child. 

When you have a child with special needs, plans need to be thought out and scheduled ahead of time.  Impromptu plans are difficult for the child as they usually need to know what is going on (from this moment and 3 steps forward).  Therefore, in order to make the outcome a positive one, a little extra time is needed in preparation. You need to understand the accommodations that need to be made when making plans.

Dating someone with children can be difficult and stressful at times but when you have a child with special needs in the relationship, those feelings can be magnified exponentially.  You must be patient and understanding to ensure that your partner knows that you will be there in the ups and downs.  You must be a person that they can rely upon, no matter what.

The bottom line is that dating someone with children especially children with special needs provides a whole host of challenges and not everyone has the makeup to do so.  The best advice is to be honest.  If you start dating someone with a special needs child and over time you feel as though it is too much to handle:  You must be honest.  Your honesty could be hurtful at first but the other person will be forever grateful.  This will allow for both of you to move on and find someone who is better suited for each of you.  But if you have the love in your heart, the patience and commitment then it could be a start to a wonderful new life.  You are the only one who can make that decision.  


Need immediate insight into your child’s situation and how to address their current issues? Schedule your Open Opportunity Session for an expert analysis and strategic plan you can implement today.

AdviceIlene MillerComment