We all want to be number one in the eyes of our significant other. It’s part of the Disneyesque fantasy that most of us have been programmed with. This is why I hear the term ‘deal-breaker’ thrown around so haphazardly when it comes to dating a person who has children from a previous relationship. Dating someone with kids (in the hearts & minds of those who have no children) can feel like there is a living, breathing reminder that they are not going to be the number one priority ... front and center at all times. Not only is this type of thinking unfair to single parents out there, but people could be missing out on someone great just because of a few negative, preconceived notions.
The Full Package
People with children tend to be responsible, caring and selfless –probably moreso than their footloose and fancy free counterparts. So, all of these thoughts about unwanted baggage, et cetera, that bloom in our minds when this subject comes up are usually misplaced. For someone who has been on a seemingly endless run of dates with people that appear to be bit too self-centered, irresponsible or missing a little something in the attentiveness and caring department, not immediately shrugging off the idea of dating a person who happens to have children may be just what the doctor ordered.
Now that we have established that dating a person with kids could actually turn out to be a very positive thing, let’s go over the two most common hurdles that you can expect when entering a relationship with a single parent.
The Other Parent
Probably the most dreaded aspect of this circumstance is the other parent. However, in reality, most ex-couples that have to co-parent their children are fairly well adjusted and you shouldn’t be afraid that some psycho ex is going to try to make your life miserable. In many cases the other parent is actually pleased that their ex-partner is moving on.
The best thing to do when you meet Mr. or Ms. Right with kids, is to just speak with them upfront about their relationship with the other parent. You can ask him or her things like:
- How much do you see your ex-partner and how much time do you have to spend together?
- Does the other parent respect personal boundaries?
- Do you talk about your lives outside of the children?
- Do you socialize with each-other outside of co-parenting? If so, under what circumstances?
This practice is a good idea for single parents who are entering into a relationship with another single parent as well. Simple, honest questions like these can help you gauge their co-parenting relationship. Most of the time, you’ll find that there is nothing to worry about. But, if there is some sort of strange dynamic between them, these kind of questions can help you identify it early on.
Meeting The Kids
You might want to hop right in and get to know the kids, especially if you really like your new single dad or mom. Also, the anxiety produced by your need to know whether or not the children will like you, or for that matter, if you are going to like them, can be pretty heavy. Try to put this disquiet aside and take it slow. Wait until you are both sure that you are committed before making your grand introduction to the kids. After you meet the children, continue to take it slow. Remember, they could be a bit intimidated by you or have the standard ‘replacement parent’ fears. Don’t treat them like they're feral … but let them come to you; don’t try to force it too much. Just focus on getting to know them on their terms and don’t dwell on it if you receive some resistance early on.
No Longer a Deal-Breaker
These are just a couple of common things to be aware of when dating someone with children. If you find a wonderful single mom or dad, be sure to give them a chance; you may just find something worth putting in your pocket and keeping.
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