Title

Dating and sexual behavior among single parents of young children in the United States

Document Type

Article

Abstract

Theory and research on partnered parents suggests trade-offs between parenting and sexuality, with those trade-offs most pronounced among mothers of young children. However, little research has focused on how a growing demographic of single parents negotiates dating and sexual activity. The current study drew upon a 2012 nationally representative sample of 5,481 single Americans 21 years of age and older, of whom 4.3% were parents of a child age five or younger. Dependent variables were sexual thoughts, frequency of sexual activity, number of sexual partners in the past year, dates during the previous three months, and whether one was actively seeking a relationship partner. Covariates included parental age, sex/gender, sexual orientation, education, and income. Using the entire sample of singles, we found no main effects of number (0, 1, 2+) of children aged five years and younger or number of children aged two years and younger on dating and sexual behavior variables. Next, using analyses restricted to single parents (n = 2,121), we found that single parents with a child aged five years or younger, adjusting for covariates, reported greater frequency of sexual activity and first dates but no differences in other outcomes compared with single parents of older children.