Have you ever met the perfect guy and then – surprise! – discovered he had one or more children? It might not be your intention to date a single dad, but this happens to many women – especially those who prefer to date older men. Whether you’re currently dating a single dad or have your sights on a guy with kids, keep reading for helpful advice that will make your relationship run smoothly and prepare you to face unforeseen problems.
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Be Ready for a Challenge!
Dating a man with kids isn’t easy. Having a relationship with a single father is almost like having kids yourself! This is going to be different from any other relationship you’ve had in the past. There is much more responsibility involved. Keep in mind that this guy can’t be carefree – he has to provide for his children and be available whenever they need him. However, you can rest assured that a man who has taken the responsibility of caring for his child/children has good qualities like commitment, responsibility, and love for his kids.
You may not be able to spend as much time with him as you would someone without kids – unless you decide to accompany him to his kids’ school and sporting events. I would strongly advise not to get involved with the children unless you and this guy are serious. Keep the relationship between the two of you, and when marriage becomes a consideration, have him introduce you to the kids. Think of it from a child’s perspective: Dad has a new girlfriend for a few months and then she goes away. If this continues to happen, the child will be hurt as well as the father.
Time for intimacy may be replaced by time spent together with the children. This is a fact you will need to accept. Remember: in actuality you’re dating the entire family, not just the guy. Enjoy the time you spend together and the two of you will find a time for intimacy.
It’s important for you to enjoy the fact that his children are not yours. This gives you the opportunity to show that you’re different (and better) than his ex. Simply put: have fun together! If you treat the kids like friends, they will talk to you about everything and come to think of you as their best friend.
When dating a single dad, it’s important to acknowledge that the mother exists. Don’t ignore her and don’t automatically dislike her for being involved with your boyfriend. As the mother of his children, she may very well be a part of his life forever. It’s especially important not to say anything bad about the mother in front of the kids. Do not act resentful or jealous towards her. Respect your boyfriend’s need to speak with his ex-girlfriend or ex-wife. Make every effort you can to get along with her in a responsible and adult-like manner (even if she gives you a million reasons to dislike her).
One good way to get on her good side is to be kind to the children (no need to spoil them). Treat them fairly and take things slow. Coming on too strong will push the kids away. Instead, be calm and polite and let them come to you (click here for gift ideas for kids).
If you really want to be the stepmom some day, you’ll need to show the children you care, but that you are not trying to replace their biological mother. Try to make sure that you keep an even balance between your boyfriend and the little ones; don’t neglect him in favor of the kids or he may decide you’re not giving him enough attention!
Being a single father can be overwhelming. Depending on the relationship between your boyfriend and his ex, there may be fights and arguments on top of everything else. Always be supportive. Encourage him and be there for him. Listen to his problems.
- Be stable: a single dad needs a girlfriend who is stable in her own life whether it be money, job, or living arrangements. He is too busy providing for his children to provide for you.
- Don’t compete for attention: respect the time he needs to spend with his children and don’t make it a “me or them” situation.
- Don’t make him miss a visit: no matter what the reason, you don’t ever want to make your boyfriend miss a visitation with his kids. It’s a messy enough situation already without you making it worse.
Friends and Family
Although this isn’t always the case, some women dating single dads find that their own family and friends doesn’t understand. They might not like the guy at first. Your parents may not be comfortable with the idea that you are dating someone who has been previously married and divorced. Your friends might ask you why you would put yourself into that situation when there are plenty of guys out there without kids. This is something you need to be ready for. It’s up to you to decide the best way to handle the situation.
Your boyfriend’s kids might not like you in the beginning, especially if they are teenagers. These kids haven’t had an easy life and they aren’t going to welcome a “new mom,” especially if they were hoping for their parents to someday get back together.
Always be ready for a change of plans. When a kid gets sick or hurt, the father may need to be there immediately. This might happen during a date. Go with the flow and never be angry if this sort of thing happens. Sometimes you may be called upon to save the day. If your boyfriend’s ex is no longer part of the picture, he may depend on you to do things like:
- Drop off/ pick up from school
- Fix dinner
- Help with sudden injuries
You are embarking on a journey with the whole family when you choose to get serious with a single dad. Remember to let the children come to you and as you form a bond with them, love them like your own but never try to “replace” the biological mother. As a final word of advice: if you bring you own kids into the relationship, make sure to treat them all equally and never favor your children over your boyfriend’s children.