You’re out on a couple of dates with someone who just completes you unlike any other and you’re thinking of taking it to the next level. So, you share your plans about getting serious, perhaps even moving in together, when she suddenly drops a bomb: you’re dating someone with kids. But it’s not as scary, troublesome, or worrisome as you might think. And we’re here to tell you everything you need to know about being in a relationship with a single parent.
Though it’s quite normal for people to date someone who has kids from a previous relationship—a single mom or a single dad—these days, it still doesn’t dispel the reservations that a person may have when being in one.
5 Things to Expect When Dating a Single Parent
When we get hit by Cupid’s arrow, most of us just let our emotions drive us and abandon all logical thought. But when the giddiness wears off and the reality sinks in, you’ll realize that being in a relationship with a single parent would take a lot of commitment, understanding, and compromise from both sides. So before you start committing to a relationship which you feel you might not be ready for, make sure you tick all these boxes first before you start breaking someone’s heart (or yours):
1. It’s a Package Deal
According to HuffPost, approximately 68-88% of the time, mothers receive primary custody of their children in the US while fathers receive primary custody 8-14% of the time in a divorced marriage. 2-6% of the time, the parents may receive equal custody. Although they may not be ready to let you meet the kids yet, if you’re in it for the long game, eventually, you’ll have to be a stepparent as well. The good news is, you’ll be playing a part in raising a tiny human that not everyone has the opportunity to.
2. You Don’t Come First Most of The Time
Blood is thicker than water. That goes for kids, too. Their kids will always be front and center of their lives. They might even go as far as canceling your date for their children’s swim meet or ballet recital. So when the time comes that you’ll receive a phone call postponing your dinner date because the kids insisted on watching Netflix at home, always remember that you signed up for this.
3. There’s A High Chance You’ll Meet the Ex
If you’re familiar with family law, then you’ll also know that custody is a thing. So someday, when you’re at your partner’s home and the ex comes over to check on the kids, be nice and smile. But if you feel that the ex seems to be a little on the “off” side, consider some useful strategies to deal with a controlling ex.
4. You and the Kids Might Not Become the Best of Friends
Most kids have a strong attachment to their biological parents. That’s why some parents take a long time before introducing their children to their new partners. So, you, suddenly coming into the picture after their parents decided to split would automatically make you the enemy. Or they just don’t like your haircut. Whatever the case is, give the kids some space. Don’t be too overbearing, but don’t ignore them, either. Once you hang around long enough for them to see your good side (and be a good partner to their parent), they might just start to like you.
5. You Can’t Plan Your Vacations Simultaneously Anymore
If you’re someone who loves making travel plans on the spot, you might need to get into the habit of planning ahead. After all, the person you are dating has a horde of tiny humans on their side. Do these kids need to stay with their grandparents? Or come with you? What do you need to know when hiring a babysitter?
Meeting someone with kids may not be all rainbows and butterflies. But so are other relationships. There are always difficult things that you’ll encounter on your journey together. What’s important is you get to share beautiful memories together.
Getting Along with Your Partner’s Kid
It’s nerve-wracking. Even scarier than when you did first your job interview. As you sit across the big man of the house, your hands and forehead begin to start sweating like crazy! How do you even begin to talk to your partner’s kid?
Build, Don’t Force a Bond
All budding relationships are exciting and refreshing! But when your partner already has kids, a different kind of challenge poses itself such as having a smooth relationship with your partner’s existing family. Though getting along with the kids may be challenging, but it certainly is no rocket science. The first thing you need to understand is that most relationships start with friendship. It goes without saying that you have to try to be the child’s friend and establish that you are both on the same side.
Pyschcentral suggests that a great way to bond with your stepchildren would be to support their interests. That means being there for them during soccer games and school plays, helping them out with their homework, or being there for their birthdays! Build yourself a good presence around the children, and over time, you’ll occupy a nice place inside their hearts.
Take Them Outdoors
Another great way to build a relationship would be to take them out on a camping trip, whether it be solo or with your partner. You might try learning the top tips for traveling with a newborn or checking out the best spots where you can have a lot of activities together. Anything that you do above and beyond for the kids without trying to be too familiar or overbearing is certainly most appreciated.
Give Them Time
It’s also imperative that you let the children come to you instead of the other way around. Remember that aunt who comes over every Thanksgiving? Didn’t it just make you want to distance yourself more each time she tries to act all too friendly with you? You don’t want to be that aunt. Take it slow. Over time, the children will warm up to you and will come to accept you as their parents’ new partner.
Getting close to your partner’s kids is a tricky and draw-out process. But the result of that patience and persistence is so worth it. Think of it as making friends with a stranger, but younger. As soon as you look at it from that perspective, the process becomes a whole lot easier.
4 Things that Can Destroy Your Relationship Real Quick
They say that building alliances takes a lot of years, and only a few misdeeds to break them. The heart is a fragile thing. Once it breaks, even if you put the pieces back together, it’s not going to be the same again. If you want to have a relationship for keeps with a single mom or dad, don’t do these things:
1. Compete with The Kids
We don’t want to be the bearer of bad news, but children always come first. So competing for the attention of your partner with their kids is a battle you are definitely going to lose. And part of the collateral damage is the kids might end up hating you, too. So if you’re willing to risk losing both your partner and their kids, then, by all means, compete as much as you want. Or, you can try to get along with the kids and make it a win-win situation! Your choice.
2. Be Another Child They Have to Raise
Your partners already have their hands full with raising kids of their own. If they figure out that you’re not mature enough to be in a relationship, it might not be long before you change your relationship status back to ‘single.’ Single parenting is already tough as it is. And absolutely no one loves an overgrown baby. Don’t be a pain in the neck and become another kid they need to raise. Instead, be a supportive boyfriend or girlfriend in raising the kids, too.
3. Stop Them from Disciplining Their Child
We get it. There’s nothing more heartbreaking than seeing a child bawling their eyes out after their parents disciplined them. And we couldn’t help but just rush to their side and comfort them. But unfortunately, that’s not going to help in raising the kid to be a decent human. Unless it needs some serious intervention, let the parents discipline their own kids. That aside, there’s nothing that screams “I am a bad mother!” more than you intervening with the disciplinary process.
4. Be Untrustworthy
Who wants to be with an untrustworthy person anyway? But for someone who already went through that heartbreak once, becoming a suspicious person is not the wisest thing to do. They already have house chores, an overbearing boss, homework, and so many things going on in their lives to be dwelling on another heartbreak. Have some dignity. Be decent and trustworthy enough for them.
Fair warning. Parents can smell trouble from a mile away. Much more if it’s a parent who’s equipped with a woman’s intuition. So if you’re going to be another troublemaker in their lives, I suggest disengaging the first moment you land your eyes on them. However, just because the parent doesn’t have more time for you than others, that doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to have exciting dates with them anymore. You can still spice up that relationship with a few date night games for every couple.
1. Is it hard to date someone with a child?
Dating someone with a child is not the same as dating someone without. Their priorities are different, and there may be plenty of times where they will choose their kids over you. Yes, it is challenging. But nothing is impossible with a bit of faith, patience, understanding, and love.
2. What does it mean when a man introduces you to his child?
Introducing their children to their new partners is a big thing for parents. They take a lot of things into consideration before letting you meet their kids. Some worry about their kids’ safety. Others want to see first if you’re in it for the long game to make the meetup worth it. So if your partner suddenly talks about wanting to introduce you to their kids, they’re making that big leap of faith because they trust you and believe that you will be together for a long period of time—maybe even forever!
3. Why am I jealous of my stepchildren?
Though it’s not healthy to be jealous of your stepchildren, it’s not totally incomprehensible. Maybe you feel jealous that your partner seems to be spending more time with their kids than with you or maybe you see something in them that you didn’t have when you were younger. Know that making you jealous is not your partner’s intention. And the easiest way to solve your problem would be to reassess your feelings, reflect, and most importantly, talk to your partner about it in a calm demeanor. You’re only nurturing that feeling if you keep it to yourself. So be open to each other just like how good couples are.
Dating single parents is not easy. Apart from having to make time for you, they’re also preoccupied with trying to raise their children to be decent humans. Trying to manage everything all by themselves is an amazing feat worthy of admiration. But they’re also just humans who need moral and emotional support throughout this battle with life. They may not really need you, but knowing that someone is cheering them on from the sidelines is more than enough for them to get going through the day.