Social Work and Human Services Book Critique: Dating and Single Parent

Book Critique: Dating and Single Parent

Summary of Key Ideas

            The book ‘dating and single parent’ is a great collection of ideas by Deal on how single parents can successfully date and create stepfamilies without compromising the quality of life for the kids. Divorce and single parenthood have become a norm in the 21st century throughout the world. However, single parents still have the right and the ability to engage in dating and even create families with other partners. More often than not, people who have had failed relationships tend to fall into the same problems repeatedly. Therefore, Deal wrote this book to highlight the various possibilities that single parents can engage in to ensure that their dating processes and stepfamilies do not fall prey of their former lives. The book provides information than can help single parent to balance the relationships that they have with their children and their partners. Dating is a complicated process for two people and even more complex when children are involved. Understanding the various needs of the involved groups helps to minimize misunderstandings and rejection from either party (deal, 2012). The stepparents must understand and factor in the needs of the kids in the relationship and so should the kids.

            The book further provides the steps through which single parents and their partners can use to make wise decisions during dating. The partner dating the single parent must be willing to compromise their happiness for the sake of the children. Additionally, the single parent must analyze the reasons as to why they need to get into a relationship. In most cases, people start dating for all the wrong reasons such as loneliness. Again, some people get into relationships to hide the hurt from the previous relationships and end up asking the same mistakes. Single parents must ensure that they wait long enough to analyze the need and the implications of getting into a dating relationship. Allowing enough time between relationships ensures that the single parent treat each relationship as unique and not a means to an end (Deal, 2012). Consequently, allowing enough time between relationships ensures that one understands the fears that single parenthood presents for both the parent and the kids.

            The book highlights the steps that the couple should follow in establishing the possible success of the stepfamily. In the case where both dating parties have families, the parents should find a way to bring in the different members of the intended family in segments rather than as a whole. Introducing different segments of the family to one another at different times helps to limit the problems that arise from the abrupt introduction of various related changes in the family. Additionally, the steps outlined in the book help a parent to realize the possible interpretation of the two families. Becoming a couple depends solely on the dating adults, but the success of the family formation depends on the third parties involved in the relationship. Therefore, the steps provided at this third stage of the relationship helps parents to know if proceeding to stepfamily development is necessary (Deal, 2012). Generally, the book provides procedures that help single parents navigate the relationship with ease, to avoid potential pitfalls and to strengthen families.

Potential Use for Christian Premarital Couples

            Premarital counseling is an important stage of marriage preparation among the Christians. Most churches do not allow people to marry unless they have undergone premarital counseling. The program ensures that the people understand the challenges and the possible pitfall in the marriage relationship. The information contained in the ‘dating and single parent’ boom can be of great help to premarital counselors. In the book, Deal outlines specific matters that couples need to deal with amicably in the marriage for a successful relationship. Some of these issues include rejection and mixed reactions from the children. Deal argues that parents should be prepared to deal with such situations by preparing to deal with any situation that the children present. Although the book anticipates rejection from stepchildren, the same problems can happen to ones biological children during the teenage (Ganong & Coleman, 2014). As such, knowing and understanding that children can have mixed feelings from time to time helps parents to prepare in advance for such cases. Most families break when issues of favoritism and too much attention on the children arise. Deal’s advise on how to deal with such situations by giving the kids time to sort out their feelings can come in handy for the premarital counseling programs in churches.

            Consequently, the book can be used to teach the couple about various ways that they can use to create a balance between their relations and the relationship with children. Managing a love relationship when the kids are involved is not easy. Deal indicates that parents should always place the needs of the children before their own happiness. The coexistence between the parents and the children determines the success of the marriage. Striking a balance between these two is not easy, and parents need to understand such potential issues before getting into marriage. Additionally, Deal advocates for the involvement of God in the dating relationship which s a principle of Christianity (Ceren, 2008). The book can be used in the premarital counseling sessions to educate the parents on how to maintain their relationship with God while in marriage and still enjoy their lives.

            However, the book contradicts ‘the leave and cleave’ principle of the premarital counseling. The bible does not permit a third party involvement in the marriage relationship between two people. In fact, in premarital counseling parents are encouraged to consider the success of their relationship first before factoring in the needs of the kids. The leave and cleave principle contradicts the Deal’s argument that the marriage decision of a couple is solely depended on the kids. The success of a marriage relation depends on the couples and every other opinion should only be considered as a mere suggestion. Consequently, Deal provides room for remarriage for divorced people, which goes against the Christian teachings (Ceren, 2008). However, both the arguments of Deal and the premarital counseling manuals insist on the need for sexual purity before marriage because it helps the couples to make decisions apart from feelings and emotional entanglement.

Two Ideas from the Book from a Theological Perspective

            Marital commitment and intimacy are two ideas that Deal presents in his book that have a theological barking. According to theological teachings, couples must be willing to commit to their marriage against all odds. Deal argues that parents must be willing to compromise their happiness for the greater good of the family. Commitment to family affairs includes creating time to spend with the other members of the family. Deal argues that the partner of a single parent should give time for the parent to spend time with the children. In other words, the success of a marriage or a relationship depends on both parents. Additionally, marital commitment involves agreeing on the sole source of authority within the family (Thatcher, 2007). Parents who have different views of religion and the role of spiritual authority in marriage encounter many problems. As such, it is wise for people to come up with a common ground from which they can draw their authority. Deal advocates for sole dependence on God and the involvement of spiritual authority in decision-making. Parents must compromise their personal opinions to further the agenda of their marriage.

            Intimacy in marriage is the ability of the couple to live openly with one another. Secrets can compromise the quality of a relationship by derailing the level of trust in the marriage. Both parents must develop a level of trust with one another and with the kids. When children lack trust in their parents, they become rebellious which is detrimental to the family development. Deal argues that when people are dating especially when single parents are involved, it is wise to allow the involved parties to develop relationships with one another slowly and without coercion. Christian teachings advocate for children obedience to their parents, but it also gives the mandate to the parents to be gentle with their young ones (Thatcher, 2007). Additionally, Deal advocates that parents must ensure that their intimacy life as a couple does not affect the trust that the children have on the family. Therefore, parents must have a balance between their personal life and their relationship with their children.


Ceren, S. (2008). Essentials of premarital counseling. Ann Arbor, MI: Loving Healing Press.

Deal, R. (2012). Dating and the Single Parent * Are You Ready to Date?* Talking With the Kids * Avoiding a Big Mistake* Finding Lasting Love. Grand Rapids: Baker Publishing Group.

Ganong, L. & Coleman, M. (2014). Stepfamily relationships: development, dynamics, and interventions. New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers.

Thatcher, A. (2007). Theology and families. Oxford, UK Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub.