Having a relationship with a man who has children comes with its own set of challenges. Aside from working on a thriving relationship with each other, you also have to consider how you can deal with the kids he has in tow (and perhaps you have children too).
It may be tough, but it’s not completely impossible. In fact, each situation will be different with it’s unique set of circumstances…
The first man I dated with children was a breeze. He and his ex weren’t close, though they were pleasant with each other, and his two sons were lovely to me. The divorce and financials were sorted and he was ready for a loving relationship, so there was was no shaky ground.
The second guy I dated with kids was not truly ready for commitment. His ex was difficult and he was also experiencing a lot of guilt and anguish over not being with his children as much. His kids were also struggling with their father having another woman in his life. He loved me, though his life was in turmoil.
Sometimes you can work what the barometers are within the first two conversations; other times it can take some months to work out what your unique situation is.
Here are some pointers to help you build your relationship with a guy who’s got kids:
1. Understand the setup
So you’ve found a guy who seems like a great catch. Then he drops the bomb: he has a child or children from a past relationship. Before you jump to conclusions of what that means about you and him, learn what this entails first. If you intend to be in a committed relationship with him, ask the right set of questions and ask for honest and authentic answers:
• How old are his kids?
• Do the kids live with him, with their mother, or do they share custody?
• How is his relationship with his kids and his ex? Are he and his ex on amicable terms or are they hostile?
• Is he still going through a divorce?
Once you’ve gotten the answers to these questions, ask yourself if you can deal with this. If you can, then prepare yourself for journey of blending lives and families. If not, it’s best if you tell him early on and break it off instead of setting each other up for disappointment.
2. You can’t be priority number 1
Kids, no matter what the age, need the presence of their father in their lives. And taking care of kids is no easy task, even if they don’t live with him full time. Your man may be on call for activities such as holidays, school plays, meetings with teachers and especially emergencies. In addition, the money he earns won’t be his alone, as he children’s welfare is often a financial investment. To deal with this, you have to learn to be flexible and understanding with him. It also helps to have your own set of goals and activities so you won’t be left hanging when his kids need him.
3. The kids will come with the package
Some men will introduce his new partner to his children early on in the dating phase, in my opinion often times too early, where as there are men who will keep their children away from you. Sometimes men won’t even acknowledge to his children that he’s dating a woman. And though it’s a poor idea to force him to introduce you to his kids at once, you should make it clear to him that it would mean a lot to you if his kids got to know you. Also, if you’d like to get married someday and have kids of your own (or more), then it’s important to be open about this in a clear and graceful fashion. If you’re not on the same page then it’s important to know this.
4. Don’t be downcast if the kids don’t like you at first
Kids who have witnessed the deterioration of their parents’ relationship may be hesitant to accept a new potential mother figure. You may be seen as an evil stepmother at first, especially when your man and his ex are still hostile towards each other. You can’t force the kids to like you and accept you, but you can do your best to show that you have good intentions. Don’t be one of the kids and buy into the games. Remain grounded and withstanding. Most of the time the kids come around.
5. Your man may be cautious
Perhaps he’s been through a relationship that fell apart, so he may be guarding himself from being disappointed again. Be patient with him, even when he has his defenses up, don’t throw your weight around or be unnecessarily demanding. Show him that you can build an open, caring and successful relationship together, even with his kids in the picture.
In time, he’ll see that his relationship with you may not end up in pain and disappointment. Give it time and if things don’t develop then perhaps it’s time to reassess what you truly want.
If it’s your first time to date a man with kids, you may find that it can be rocky at the start. But in the end, you can have a great relationship with both your man and his kids.
Do you have any other tips and stories about dating a dad? Please share them in the comments below.