As we grow older, meeting someone who has already tried to have a family at least once becomes more and more of a possibility. It would be a lie to say that dating a parent is exactly the same thing as dating a non-parent, though. Here are some useful tips for anyone who decides to date someone with children.
The Things You Need To Know Before You Date Someone With Children
According to renowned marriage and family therapist Lesli Doares, who is also the author of ‘Blueprint for a Lasting Marriage’, the needs and program of the children is bound to affect how and when you will be with her, as babysitters and custody agreements need to be taken into account too. She says “it also becomes not just how you feel about each other that matters because you aren’t the only ones involved. The person with the children will take into account how they are dealing with this relationship too.” Scared? You shouldn’t be. We promise, once you learn the basics, it’s not half as hard as it sounds.
First of all, the relationships expert advises that you keep your expectations realistic. “Just because you and the parent get along doesn’t mean you and the children will,” warns Doares.
It is also possible for the children to try and sabotage your relationship with their parent if they feel neglected or pushed out of the limelight. Of course, your partner should be able to recognize such behaviors and be willing to deal with them in a calm and mature fashion. Be prepared, however. Some parents may not want to fight that battle and opt out of the relationship instead.
Another thing you should know about dating someone with children is that things may go slower than you’re used to. Apart from the fact your partner may not be readily reachable; she will probably be very hesitant about introducing you to her offspring. This should be perfectly understandable, as any woman should be cautious about who she introduces to her children. You should be OK with it, and this slow pace may even be to your advantage. “Taking things slow allows you to deal with these extra challenges more effectively,” says Doares says. It is also a good thing for the kids, as they get their heads around to the idea their mother is seeing someone, and preparing better to meet that someone when the time is right.
Moreover, it is important to realize that whatever the outcome of your partner’s relationship with her ex, he is still the biological father of her children and that’s something you should respect. Even if he’s the worst person on earth, if he is involved in the children’s lives you should be a perfect gentleman around him, never badmouth him (even when your girl does), and never say anything negative about him to his children. Keep your thoughts to yourself or share them with your friends, not his kids or ex.
Last, but not least, even if you generally love children and you’re genuinely looking forward to meeting your new partner’s kids, you should leave it up to her to choose the ideal time to meet them for the first time. She is the one who knows her children better, so if she thinks it’s too early, you shouldn’t push her into introducing them to you. When you do eventually meet them, make sure it’s somewhere stimulating and neutral (not at their house or yours, preferably), like the zoo or an amusement park, where there are things to see and do. This will minimize awkwardness and make your first acquaintance a positive experience.
Making the decision to date someone with children may involve some challenges, but it can also be a pleasurable and rewarding experience if you handle things with wisdom, patience, and positivity.