Dating Someone With Kids: 9 Tips For Dating A Single Parent
One of the most important questions all of us face is whether we want kids or not.
There is no wrong answer here—we are all entitled to make our own choices and to run our lives in the way we think best.
Some of you dream of having a house full of children and think that being a parent is the only thing that gives your existence purpose.
On the other hand, there are some people who simply don’t see themselves as good parents and who have no desire to acquire that role.
Basically, the choice is all yours and your partner’s.
However, what happens when all of a sudden, a new kid becomes a part of your family life, even though you probably still didn’t have plans on becoming a parent?
What happens when you meet someone who is already a parent, while you’re child-free?
Can this type of relationship work and how do you make the best of it?
Well, let me tell you one thing—dating is chaotic and hard but dating someone with children is even more challenging.
However, there are a few things you should have in mind before considering it and here are the most important ones.
Dating Someone With Kids Pro And Cons:
- You get a new experience in life
- You end up getting loads of sincere love
- You test your character
- You prepare yourself for the role of parenting
- You get a lot less alone time with your partner
- It is a test of your patience and mental strength
- It brings a lot of stress
- It causes you more problems than a ‘regular’ new relationship
9 Things To Have In Mind Before Dating A Single Parent
1. The kids come in a package deal
Some of the most important dating advice you mustn’t forget when you consider a new relationship with a single parent (or if you’re dating someone with a child on the way) is that you never just get a new partner; their children always come in the package, whether you like it or not.
No matter how old their kids are, they will always remain the most important part of them and if you decide to share your life with this person, these children will become a part of you as well.
This is especially the case if you’re dating someone with special needs child (for example, if you’re dating someone with a child with Down syndrome or some other mental or physical disability); this kid will need their parent’s help and guidance for the rest of their life and that is simply something you have to accept.
It doesn’t matter if you’re in the initial stages of your relationship and if you still haven’t met the kids; just because they’re not physically present in front of you every day, it doesn’t mean they don’t exist.
And it certainly doesn’t mean you’ll manage to ‘get rid’ of them in a million years.
Yes, this is a huge responsibility but it is also something you need to think about right away, before things become serious.
Of course, nobody knows what will happen and whether your relationship will work out but you need to figure out whether you’re ready to become a potential step parent or not right away.
Don’t worry—nobody will judge you if you realize you’re not cut out for something like this.
Besides, it is way more honest to tell the truth right after the first date (or a few exchanged messages on an online dating site) than to back out later in the process.
2. It won’t be easy
Every piece of dating advice will tell you that being in a committed relationship with a single parent is difficult.
It requires a lot of self-doubts and even more patience and energy.
Let’s face it—maintaining a healthy romantic relationship with a new person is hard enough, let alone when there are children involved. However, it doesn’t make it impossible.
You just need to be perfectly aware of everything you signed up for.
Remember to be supportive, full of understanding at all times and to keep calm nerves.
After all, nobody forced you to get yourself involved in this and now it’s your chance to play your cards right.
Yes, there will be moments when you wished you never dragged yourself into this mess.
Moments when you’ll want to give up and run for your life.
However, on the other hand, when the beautiful times come and when the sun starts to shine again, you’ll see that all of the hardships were worth it.
3. Your partner was hurt in their previous relationship
It doesn’t matter whether this person you’ve started dating was officially married or this kid was born in a previous relationship—the bottom line is the same; they’ve been through a lot.
They’ve experienced a nasty divorce or a painful break-up and something like that would leave a mark on anyone.
After all, every break-up of a committed relationship is tough.
However, there is a huge difference between losing someone you loved but going back to your old single life right after and being left with an entirely new human being you need to look after.
This person wasn’t only heartbroken and abandoned—they also developed serious trust issues and emotional traumas.
After all, their partner, who promised to remain a part of their life forever, left them, so it is natural for them to have trouble letting someone new in their heart, without expecting the same outcome.
Yes, they are probably over everything that happened by now but that doesn’t make them emotionally baggage-free.
That doesn’t mean their pain is wiped away or that they can live as if these painful experiences never happened.
However, you need to remember that all of this made them way stronger than everyone else.
They didn’t have time to grieve or feel sorry for themselves.
In fact, their entire healing process was way different than after a simple break-up.
They couldn’t focus on the pain they were feeling because they had to put all of their energy into dragging their kid out of all this unharmed.
This person didn’t just manage to repair their broken heart—they also raised a child in the process, which is worthy of admiration.
So, don’t be surprised by their strength of character when you notice it.
The hell they’ve been through toughened them up and if their inner power intimidates you, it is time to rethink your choices.
4. You need to behave like a grown-up
The last thing any single parent wants is another child they need to raise.
They don’t need someone who doesn’t know what they want or a person who will bring unnecessary drama into their life.
What single moms and dads are looking for is an adult who will be their partner in every sense of that word.
They want someone who can be their equal, someone who has the capacity to walk through life shoulder to shoulder next to them, instead of an immature, spoiled brat who is constantly expecting them to guide them.
Therefore, if you consider dating someone with child, you need to reconsider your maturity.
Are you able to be a grown-up or are you expecting someone to baby you?
5. Don’t rush things
More good advice you should have in mind is to take things slowly and to always respect this new person’s personal boundaries.
Beware of the fact that single moms and dads can’t afford to get themselves in a long-term relationship with just about anyone overnight and if you’re not ready to give them the time you need, it is better to walk away right away.
This person will have to evaluate your personality on more than one level before committing to you.
Do you have strength of character? Where is your life going and how will you impact their child’s life?
Are you serious enough to make some important future plans? Or do you live your life day to day, going with the flow?
Are you responsible? Do you keep your promises?
Are you known to be a troublemaker? Are you financially stable or do you plan to live off them?
Would you be a good role model for your partner’s child? Are you someone who would be a good stepmom or stepdad to their kids?
These are all the dilemmas every stepparent has to face before starting anything serious.
After all, the last thing they plan on doing is bringing someone who can’t be trusted into their children’s lives, without doing a detailed background check on you.
Also, don’t rush things when it comes to getting to know your stepkids.
Their parent will know when it is the right time to take such a huge step and you can’t expect it to happen after the first date or a few exchanged messages on an online dating site.
6. Don’t expect them to put you in first place
One of the things many people who are in long-term relationships with single moms and dads have the hardest time accepting is that they will never have first place in their partner’s life, as much as they love them.
This is simply a fact that you can’t change (and shouldn’t even want to) and something you have to deal with from the very start.
I’m not saying that you’ll be emotionally neglected or disregarded in this relationship but you need to know that their kids come first, no matter what.
They will always love them more, take care of them more and put their needs in front of your relationship’s well-being.
So, don’t get all surprised when, for example, they cancel plans at the last minute because one of the children got a fever or when they don’t answer your text at the exact moment you sent it.
Don’t freak out when your partner’s children join you during some romantic alone time you’ve planned, simply because they couldn’t find a babysitter in time (or if their babysitter stood them up at the last minute).
To put things simply, don’t expect to have a full-time boyfriend or girlfriend who will only be dedicated to your relationship because, whether you like to hear this or not, there is always something going on in their kids’ lives they’re also thinking about.
This is especially the case if you’re dating someone with disabled child: have in mind that they have a million responsibilities you know nothing about and that in the back of their mind, there is always a part of them worrying about their kid’s health and future.
7. Don’t interfere with their parenting methods
Despite the fact that you’re in a serious relationship with your partner, a piece of good advice is not to forget that you’re still not a part of this blended family, which means you have no right whatsoever to meddle in certain aspects of their family life.
This especially applies to interfering with their parenting methods.
What you have to remember is that these kids have a mom and dad and it is not your job to raise them.
Yes, you can help your partner when they ask you to but that doesn’t give you the right to make some important decisions regarding these kids’ lives.
Many stepmoms and stepdads make the mistake of being overly friendly to their stepkids, thinking this is a sure-fire way to their hearts.
Even though becoming pals with these children is awesome, that doesn’t mean you’re entitled to skip the rules their mom and dad imposed, just to appear cooler or to prove your love for them.
On the other hand, you don’t have the right to punish or discipline them in any way.
In fact, if you see them behaving in an inappropriate manner, doing something forbidden or treating you with a lack of respect, it is your job to inform their parents about that and they will take it from there.
Your views on your partner’s parenting methods are not relevant.
Of course, you can always offer them your advice but that doesn’t give you the right to question their child-rearing strategies or to judge them because you think you would do something better.
8. You’ll have to deal with their ex
Besides getting an entire package deal which includes your partner’s kids, the truth is that you’ll also get their ex-wife or husband, one way or another. After all, the two of them are co-parenting together and this person is still an inevitable part of their life.
The last thing you should show is any silly jealousy toward your new partner’s ex-wife or husband by thinking that there is still something going on between the two of them.
Have in mind that they will be these kids’ parents for the rest of their lives, even when their kids become grown-ups and that you won’t get rid of your partner’s ex anytime soon.
Besides, I’m sure you also think that kids come first and that you want the best for these innocent creatures as well.
You are perfectly aware that healthy co-parenting is the thing that will help this kid grow up to be the best possible person, so who are you to say something against it?
9. If you leave, you abandon the kid as well
Walking away from someone you love is one of the most difficult things every one of us had to do.
However, walking away from multiple people you love (and who love you back) is even harder, especially if one of these people is a child you became attached to.
This is another thing you need to be aware of before getting yourself involved with a single parent—if you leave, you’re not only abandoning your lover, you’re also abandoning a child who embraced you into their life and who accepted you a part of their blended family.
Not only that—you’re also leaving a void in this child’s life and soul.
Don’t get me wrong—I’m not saying that you’re forced to stay in a relationship that doesn’t work just because of the kids; I’m just pointing out that ending a serious relationship brings more responsibility than a usual break-up does.
Besides, this situation would be more painful for you as well, because you won’t only miss your boyfriend or girlfriend—you’ll also miss the kids.