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What single parents need to know about dating again

To avoid romance scams, it's important to maintain physical, emotional and financial safety.
/ Source: TODAY

The United States has the highest rate of children living in single parent households, and in 1984 National Single Parent Day was established to honor the moms and dads flying solo at home.

But what about the single parents wanting to get back into the dating scene looking for companionship?

NBC News investigative and consumer correspondent Vicky Nguyen joined TODAY Monday to offer advice "to get out there and be safe."

Online dating safety

Nguyen revealed that according to the Federal Trade Commission, romance scams jumped 50% from 2019.

"Safety first," Nguyen said. "Whether it's your physical safety, emotional or financial safety."

That means limiting the information shared online.

"Do a social media sweep, go to your Facebook page or Instagram, and see what you posted on there about your kids," Nguyen said, adding that photos in front of school or sports uniforms can share more information than intended. "That's information that gives strangers an ability to connect the dots about you that you might not want to be sharing, so limit that information."

Red flags in dating

Nguyen said there are two major red flags.

"One, if someone immediately tells you 'I love you, I want to spend the rest of my life with you,' really early on, that could be a major red flag," she said. "Run — don't walk — if they ask you for money."

What's the safest way to have the first face-to-face meeting?

Nguyen said meeting face-to-face should come after talking on the phone and video chatting.

"If they never want to video chat with you, that's definitely a red flag," Nguyen said.

For the safest option, Nguyen recommended meeting somewhere that is public, and not a private space, like someone's home.

"Set an end time for that first meeting," Nguyen said. "That gives you an exit ramp if you're not really feeling the vibe."

She added, "Let someone know where you're going to be."

Set boundaries early in dating

In a survey conducted by Stir, a dating app for single parents, 61% of single parents surveyed will wait three months before introducing a new partner to their kids, while 28% wait up to one year.

"Talk to your kids about it and see how they feel. Trust your children's instincts. If they're not ready, maybe you shouldn't be ready," Nguyen said. "Anyone worth being with is going to respect your boundaries."

How to support single parents

Nguyen shared six tips for supporting single parent friends.

  1. Provide childcare
  2. Babysitting swap
  3. Give the gift of time
  4. Check a task off their to-do list
  5. Take care of dinner
  6. Check in