It's possible that dating a man with kids is one of the most complicated things to deal with in a relationship. But it can also be one of the most gratifying and amazing accomplishments.
There's a lot to be interested in. After all if you don't have kids of your own, you might like the idea of taking on the nurturing maternal role, even if it's not for your own children.
And, knowing that he's made this kind of commitment himself is also a big plus. It shows that he's capable of devoting himself to family, the way you need to know he will.
However, you do need to know all the details about it so you can make a good decision.
Is Dating A Man With A Child Worth It?
A lot of this will depend on whether or not you're used to having kids around. If you have your own kids, you'll probably already know the answer to this.
If you don't have kids of your own, you are going to have to make some adjustments. It's a big deal to take on kids that are not your own.
There's no way anybody can tell you whether it's worth it or not. The best they can tell you is what to be aware of going into this kind of relationship.
Pros & Cons Of Dating A Man With Kids
If he’s looking for a relationship, he’s not going to waste time or energy
He’s going to have an open heart if he’s open to loving his child
He’s not going to be in a hurry to get married or rush the romance
He’s going to understand commitment on a very deep level
His life is going to be chaotic, and you’re going to have to be really flexible
You’re going to have to figure out your place along the way - and fit in a way that helps the kids first, him second, and sometimes you last
You gotta deal with his ex - so hopefully they’re on good terms
You’re going to have to work around a time schedule (and dating schedule) that won’t be carefree - it can be hectic.
There might be many more that you will figure out on your own, given your situation.
Here are a few of the reasons why you would want to immediately walk away from a relationship with a man with kids:
You don’t want kids (this is an IMMEDIATE deal-breaker and you should walk away now)
You’re not ready to share the parenting with another woman (his ex)
You’re either too young for kids or too old for more kids (basically you don’t want kids yet)
He’s not up-front and honest about his parental situation and role
He doesn’t seem to be able to balance that dad role with making you happy and being a good man for you
If you want biological children of your own in addition to the kids he has, he has to be on board with that. (This might sound strange, but you should make sure he hasn't had a vasectomy. A lot of guys get them when they're done with making babies, but he didn't realize the marriage wouldn't last.)
I would think most of those reasons make sense to you if you think about them.
Is there baggage with a relationship like this?
Of course there are complications. I have been a man dating several single moms in the past, and I can completely relate to the complication of this situation.
It may not be easy, but nothing worth doing in life will be easy - as you know.
You also have to realize there are plenty of people ready and willing to give you advice. Some of it's good, but some of it is bad. Like, really bad.
And the bad advice could easily wreck your relationship! So you need to know the truth.
For example, one of the most emotionally charged objections goes like this:
“You don't want to raise another person's kids!”
This particular objection depends on your perspective. If you are a woman who could not have children for some reason, or you wanted to add more children to your family, you might adopt a child.
Technically, this would be raising another person's kids. And this would be a good thing - especially if it were a child from an underprivileged part of the world.
But "not raising another person's kids" is still not a good reason to avoid dating a man with kids.
Of course the title “Stepmom” isn’t one you may have set out to acquire. We all have our “fairy tale” visions of what our ideal relationship and marriage would be.
When you grow up and become a real adult, you understand that those ideas aren’t always the way things work out. And this also doesn’t mean that the relationship you wind up with is any less valid or “magical.”
It’s up to you to make the meaning for yourself and embrace your path!
So let's dig into some of the tips you need to know if you're going to date a man with kids…
Before we get started though, I want to clarify my terminology:
In this article, I will call a traditional relationship where you are the biological mother of the kids a “traditional relationship.” This is not to say it is abnormal or weird to have something else. It's simply not what we were brought up to think of as a "normal" relationship.
TIP #1: You have to have good self confidence
If you're going to date a man who has kids, you have to understand that at some point you're not going to be his priority. This would happen even in a “traditional” relationship.
You will be a priority, but maybe not always his number one. And as long as his kids are your priority, you'll always be on the same page. You can't let this feeling of being slighted diminish the strength of your relationship.
If I'm being completely truthful - and I always am when it comes to relationship advice - a man can feel pushed to the side in a traditional relationship.
I’ll confess that I had these exact same concerns as a young man - that my wife would lose interest in me for the kids. I knew that children are a HUGE priority for women. AND that this can sometimes be an excuse to shift your focus when you have relationship struggles.
Unfortunately a lot of marriages never bounce back. The children become the Battleground for a marriage that just won't recover.
And it's not because it can't, it's because the parent(s) won't.
TIP #2: If you thought it was hard meeting the parents….
Here's the situation…
His children are now probably part time with him. And while it's probably more difficult on their mom, they now have to share him with you. And deal with a broken family.
This ain't going to be easy.
BUT it can be done.
As long as you keep their situation in your thoughts and heart, you'll be able to navigate the difficulties with them a lot better. It's those women that become adversaries and try to force their way into his life that will find themselves struggling quite a bit.
Meeting his actual parents might be a walk in the park. Of course depending on what his parents thought of his ex and how it all turned out.
His ex could also turn out to be a HUGE bag of crazy, and you have to figure out how to deal with that.
TIP #3: Holiday Hell
Here's another little bit of reality for you: When it comes to certain celebrations, holidays, special events, you got to keep in mind that SHE will be a part of them.
Yes - the other mom will inevitably be at some of these events. And you may have to even be there with her family, depending on the nature of the get-together.
(Hey, I did tell you upfront that it was going to be a little complicated, right?)
You need to be prepared to interact with some of the people from his old life. It may not be comfortable, it may not be fun, but you have to accept it as part of the deal.
TIP #4: The Paycheck Won’t Come For A While
Perhaps one of the most tricky Parts about this kind of relationship is that you will be doing all the work of a mom, but maybe not getting all the credit.
Depending on the age of the kids, you might find yourself doing a lot of mothering right off the bat. Assuming that the kids take to you fairly well, you'll be doing all the household stuff and mothering stuff with only him to provide appreciation.
And honestly, he may fall down on that appreciation himself quite a bit. Let's face it, he probably learned that he wasn't getting enough appreciation in the last marriage. It's a frequent problem in relationships. Especially for men.
So you have to ask yourself if you're ready to do a very big crash course in becoming an Instant Mom without necessarily getting all the trophies and awards.
Well, who am I kidding, you're not going to get any awards. But you do get the satisfaction of raising these kids as best you can. Perhaps even better than she did.
TIP #5: You have every right to request your compensation
What I'm getting at here is that you should make it clear when you don't feel appreciated in your new role. There's no reason you should go completely without credit.
There's nothing wrong with having a conversation with him and letting him know that you rely on him for positive strokes for taking on this role. In fact, I would recommend you bring this to his attention.
He may not see past his own struggles, and he might not realize what kind of responsibility it puts on him and you.
Obviously you don't want to sound demanding, but there's nothing wrong with letting him know if you don't feel appreciated. He needs to see what your situation is like.
He won't receive the same things you do because he may not see them. He needs you to explain that every so often.
TIP #6: When it comes to HER, let him handle it
There are some tricky boundaries in a relationship like this. You are going to be navigating some uncharted waters for sure.
When it comes to issues between him and his ex-girlfriend or ex-wife, aka the children's mom, you have to step back and let that be. It's tempting to get involved and to manage him in those situations. But you have to sit back and provide feedback when he asks for it.
You don't want to appear to be interfering or manipulating. That will only make it more difficult for him, you, the kids.
TIP #7: Watch out for comparisons
You may be tempted to compare your situation with another woman in a similar situation. But the truth of the matter is, both of your situations are going to be very different. Similar on some, but different most of the time.
Keep that in mind as you deal with the weirdness that can come up.
What I'm referring to is of course the comparing of someone else's more ideal or "easier" situation to your own circumstances. Each is going to have its own difficulties.
Comparison only makes us more unhappy. (If you spend any time on Facebook, you know what I mean about this.)
TIP #8: Don't forget about the money
One of the uncomfortable truths is that if he's paying any amount of child support or marital support to his ex, it's going to put him in a difficult situation.
5 out of 6 custodial parents are women, meaning that the man was most likely not the primary caretaker for the kids. Which means he’s probably being held accountable for money to support her and the kids in some way.
The average cost of child support in 2013 was around $500/ month. His payments might be way higher than this.
So he may also be paying off that lawyer who didn't do much to get him custody, either. His financial situation could really suck.
I even have a good friend who spent over 6 years and $2,000,000 in court contesting his wife's divorce demands.
But just be aware that money might be a point of contention in your relationship.
TIP #9: Beware of those expectations
The same as comparisons, you have to watch out for your own expectations. If you have some idea about how your relationship should be, or even your eventual marriage, you have to modify that now.
Your situation will be a little different than everybody else's.
And if you have a preconceived notion of how it should be, you will always be running into those expectations. And trust me when I tell you that expectations usually don't win over reality.
Let go of all expectations and just play it as your personal game to win for yourself. Life will seem so much easier when you don't have to live up to some false constraint.
TIP #10: You may have to be a little better than the rest
Honestly, in order to handle a situation where you're coming in as a new parent, possibly even with your own kids, you may have to step up and really shine.
Dating a man with kids requires you to have your life together.
You got to be confident
You've got to be sharp and on your game
You got to be able to get real and dig into the dirt when you need to.
TIP #11: You better get moving!
Another of the harsh realities of dating a man with kids is that he's not going to wait around for you. If you aren't sure or aren't ready to move forward, he's probably going to lose interest pretty quickly.
He's going to need to know if you're in or out fairly soon, because he doesn't have time to waste.
If you think it's hard dating as a single person, you should try it as a single parent.
But wait - there’s one more TIP you should know about:
BONUS TIP: No BS!
Look if a guy has gotten to this point in his life where he has been married and had kids, or just had the kids, he's had to face a lot of harsh realities about being a guy.
And being in a relationship.
The simple truth is he's not going to want a lot of complication, drama, or head games in his relationship. He's going to want things relatively smooth and waveless.
That means that the relationship you have with him is going to be fairly chill. As in, you'll probably spend a lot of time just chilling out, having fun, and enjoying the every-day with him.
To the degree that you can just be there for him and support him and maintain a real relationship - as in low maintenance - you'll probably do really well with him.
But again, it does take a certain amount of self-discipline and having your stuff together.
This game isn't for the faint of heart. Many women come into it thinking that she can just sail in - but not realize just how complicated and trying it can be.
That being said, you will also experience something very rare if you do it right. You can make a difference in a way that their biological mom might not be able to.
You have the opportunity to really make a difference to them, and to their father.
It's a unique role.
And no, it's not for everybody. But if you do it well, you'll not only be admired by others, admired by his kids, admired by him, and you will truly find your own self-respect and self-worth.
If you're ready to get him to make this kind of commitment to you, you need to know what men really think about long term relationships...
And how he's secretly wishing he had one.
Whether he has kids or not, men want a long term, committed relationship.
That probably sounds a little crazy to you, and I wouldn't blame you for thinking that.
However, it's true. Men WANT committed relationships.
But most women don't know this - or how The Cupid Effect works to make him desire you - and commit to you.
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