Is Your Kid In The (Profile) Picture... Or Not?

If you're a single mom or dad who's entering the world of online dating, should you post photos that include your kids, too? Here, experts and parents alike weigh in on this sensitive issue.

By Rachel Sarah and Dr. Leah Klungness

fter signing your divorce papers, you were honored when your friends came over and toasted to your "new beginnings." Now, however, these same friends have been on your case. They are pushing you to get back out there and
I strongly advise against posting photos of your kids for obvious safety reasons.
start dating again. (But what would they know about online dating? They're all married!) There's another voice, though, that's nagging you: Maybe I should give dating a try? What do I have to lose?

So one night, you log on "just for fun" and start filling out your profile. When it's time to upload photos, you choose an attractive one from that night our friends raised their glasses to you. But as you skim through your photos, you realize that your kids are in almost every picture. You wonder: Should I post any photos of my kids… or not? Here are four practical profile photo tips to consider:

1. Be cautious.
As a parent, you know what's best. "I chose not to include a photo of my son," says Adam*, a divorced dad with one son who put himself on after his divorce was final. "In my view, I was the one who was deciding to look for someone to date — not him. So, why should I include his picture?"

Posting your children's photos on your profile can actually be a great "screening device" to rule out anyone who's not kid-friendly. That said, unfortunately, there are people who spend their wasted lives in front of the computer screen targeting kids, so proceed with caution.

"I strongly advise against posting photos of your kids for obvious safety reasons," says divorced mom Delaine Moore, author of the forthcoming memoir, The Secret Sex Life of a Single Mom. "Even though our kids are obviously an important part of our lives, we are the ones who are dating, not our kids. So, why flash the kid card?"

2. If you post your kid's photos, set some boundaries.
Single-parent families are a "package deal," and we understand the need to get this message across. "I decided to post one family photo that included my son — with me and our dog — because I thought it would serve to deter the men who were just obviously looking for casual hook-ups," says single mom Michelle, whose 11-year-old son's father is no longer in his
Make absolutely sure your ex has no issues with you posting your kids' images online.
life. "I wanted to make it clear that I was family oriented."

When choosing photos of your kids, however, it's best to pick the ones that don't include close-up shots of their faces. This means: no potty or bathtub photos, and no bathing-suit shots. Also, if you have older kids, ask how they feel about their photos being posted online. Remember that even distant snapshots of your family illustrate the fact that your kids are your number-one priority.

3. Crop family members and other kids out of photos.
"This isn't a family scrapbook!" says Moore, who's the mom of three kids. That's why your kids' friends from school or soccer buddies need to stay out of the picture. When you post family photos, be sure that other family members are not visible.

In fact, when Moore started dating again, "I didn't mention that I was a single mom anywhere in my profile, nor did I post photos of them or of my family," she says. "There was a drop-down bar on one site that asked if I had kids, and I chose 'Prefer Not to Say.'"

Moore adds, however, that whenever she started emailing or chatting with someone she was definitely interested in, that's when she would mention that she had kids. "I love being a mom and I'm proud of this, but it's not all of who I am," she explains.

Single-dad Adam agrees that "being a single parent is not something that you should hide whatsoever. I specifically stated in my profile that one of the things that makes me the most happy is seeing a smile on my son's face."

4. Check with the other parent.
Make absolutely sure your ex has no issues with you posting your kids' images online. This could create serious legal issues. Be extra-cautious if your custody agreement is still being hammered out. Jamie, a 36-year-old single mom from California with a seven-year-old son, adds that having a good relationship with your ex can also make dating easier. "Over the years, we've both made concessions in our schedules," she says.

This is important, because single parents already know that dating someone requires a lot of planning and flexibility. "A lot of men I dated at first had a hard time with the fact that I couldn't pick up and go out at a moment's notice," explains Jamie. "Half the time, I had my son to take care of — and even if I could get a sitter, I found myself resenting them asking me to make last-minute plans."

*Note: To preserve these single parents' privacy, we have omitted last names from this article.

Dr. Leah Klungness [] and Rachel Sarah [] are the founders of Singlemommyhood [], a flourishing online single parent community. Dr. Leah is a psychologist and co-author of the #1 best-selling self-help book for single parents, The Complete Single Mother. Rachel wrote the page-turner Single Mom Seeking, a candid memoir about dating as a single mom.
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