Dating Someone With Kids: 12 Tips To Make Life Easier
Dating can be tough at the best of times, especially in a world full of dating apps, hook-up culture, and slang terms like ‘ghosting’ and ‘benching.’ But when you throw kids into the equation, it gets just that little bit harder. Kids present a whole new piece in the dating puzzle and can be hard to adjust to, especially when you have none yourself.
For many single men, dating someone with children is a big no, and that’s totally fair. You might not be ready for the responsibilities that come along with being in a relationship with kids. Or maybe you just don’t want any yourself, which makes sense why you wouldn’t be keen on dating someone that has kiddies. Both of these reasons are understandable, but if you are open to the idea of dating someone with kids you have to be prepared for a bit of a lifestyle change.
Your date or new partner will always put their kids ahead of you, so make sure your ego can handle being number two on her list of favorite people. You will also have to work around her schedule and realize spontaneous catchups will be few and far between. There is a multitude of other things you’ll have to deal with along the way, including the sudden cancelation of plans and meeting the ex. And let’s not forget the first time you come face to face with the kids.
Unless you have a fling, dating someone with kids is a serious commitment. If someone is willing to let you into their life and meet their children, you have a responsibility to take the relationship seriously. She is showing you how much she loves you by opening up that part of her life to you, so you have to be just as forthright and give it your all. While it is certainly hard work, dating someone with kids is also an extremely rewarding experience.
Whether you are ready to be a step-dad or are pondering if you can manage a relationship that comes with kids, that’s up to you to decide. But to help make your decisions a little easier, here are 12 tips when it comes to dating someone with kids.
1. Be Ready for Lots of Hard Work
As mentioned in the first line of this article, dating someone with kids is tough. Really tough. There won’t be multiple dates in a week or late weeknight outings. You will always play second fiddle to your new partner’s kids and that is something you have to be prepared for. You will have to adapt to their schedule and plan your life around there’s. When you finally meet the kids, you have to do your best to bond with them without coming across like you’re trying to be their new dad. There is a good chance they won’t like you in the beginning and you will have to win them over. You need to be involved in their lives without taking over. It requires a lot of hard work, both mentally and emotionally.
You are essentially coming into an established family unit and need to be prepared to find your spot. There will be tears and plenty of fights, but if you can make it work it will be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. The love and warmth from a family will make all the hard times you go through worth it.
2. Prepare To Hear a Lot About the Kids When You First Start Dating
During the initial courtship, you are probably going to hear a fair bit about the kids. While some women will keep everything close to their chest until they are comfortable you will be sticking around, others will happily show you photos of their kids and engage in conversation about them. This is a great way to find out more about them and what they are like. If you are serious about this woman, then you want to take an interest in the things that matter to her, particularly when it comes to her kids. It might be a little overwhelming but it’s better you be over-prepared than under. This way when you do finally meet them you will have a good grasp of what they are like and be able to interact with them in a positive way.
3. Understand Her Priorities
Obviously, it’s her kids, but find out what else takes precedent in her life. She most likely has some form of structure or routine in her life that revolves around her kids, so understanding this will help you in your relationship. Learn what weekends she is kids free so you can plan your time together. Find out what weeknights work best when she doesn’t have to take the kids to sports practice. Discover when the best time to call her so she isn’t interrupted at work or when she is spending time with the kids. These are small things but they show you are aware of her situation and willing to work with her. If she can see you actively trying and engaging in the relationship she will feel more secure and trust you are the right one for her.
4. Set Some Boundaries
Don’t rush into this. It will take time for your partner to be comfortable enough to let you into the lives of their children. For this reason, it is good to set some boundaries to begin with. During the early stages of the relationship she might want to make her home off-limits, so be prepared to host her and accommodate her coming over. Make her feel comfortable enough that she doesn’t feel pressured to introduce her to your kids or feel like they are big issues.
When you do eventually meet them, make sure you are aware of what you can and can’t do around them. Establish some ground rules about how you should act and what you can say. Your partner might not be impressed if you yell at their child for doing something wrong. Have open conversations about your role and what she expects from you so your interactions with her kids go smoothly.
5. Show Her You Appreciate Her
Let your partner know you appreciate the sacrifices they are making in their life to be with you. Juggling kids, work, and a social life aren’t easy, so you want to show your gratitude for her letting you into her life. You don’t have to go all out with some grandiose gesture, but small things like running some errands for her or picking up dinner for her and the kids and dropping it off. These types of good deeds not only show you care and are committed but may free up some of her time which she can then spend with you.
6. Be Prepared for the Kids To Hate You
This might be confronting, but not every child is going to think you are the bee’s knees. When you first meet your date’s kids it usually goes one of two ways; they will either immediately gravitate to you and be happy to hang out, or they will hate you from the moment they set eyes on you. The latter is most likely. And it’s understandable. The kids see you as someone who is taking their mum from them. They already have a dad so they have no need for another man to enter their lives and change the dynamic.
Just be prepared to spend a lot of time with the kids before they warm up to you. It might take a few weeks or a few months. In some cases, it could take years, but hopefully, that’s not the case. The only way to truly get them to like you is to spend quality time with them. Listen to what they have to say and respect them. Just be there for them and help them when they need it and. they will warm up to you eventually.
7. Don’t Be Deterred if the First Meeting Goes Awry
As mentioned above, the first meeting between you and the kids might not go the way you planned. In fact, it could be an utter disaster. Maybe all those funny jokes you made fall on deaf ears or when you try and talk with the kids they ignore you. Even worse, they start yelling at you or begin crying. Be prepared for the worst, but don’t let that put you off. You are never quite sure how the kids will react, and depending on their age, it could have something to do with their mood or how their day has been.
You just have to keep on making an effort and interacting with the kids. Ask your partner for any advice and make the kids feel safe when you are around. Like any kind of relationship, you have to work on it, so just keep on being attentive and involved and they will eventually realize you are a good guy who only wants the best for their mum.
8. Take An Interest in Her Children
Ok, I know we just said there is a high chance they aren’t going to be happy you have entered their life, that doesn’t mean you should shun them. The best way to win them over is by taking an interest. Ask them questions about school, their friends, or their favorite toys. You might not get much at first (unless they are totally amazing and you click straight off the bat), but they will slowly let their guard down over time.
Patience is the key here. Play the long game. An afternoon with dolls might not be the way you pictured spending your Saturday, but it will show your partner’s kids you are fun to be around and happy to engage with them. Take them to a museum or out for ice cream. You might be worried that you’re not dad material or ready to deal with kids, but until you give it a crack you’ll never know. Taking an interest will also make your partner happy as she will see you making an effort and understand you are serious about the relationship. And ultimately, that’s what you want, your partner to feel secure and know you are there for them no matter what happens.
9. Establish Your Role in Parenting the Kids
Following on from setting general boundaries, you also have to discuss what involvement you will have in parenting the kids. Nobody expects you to come in and play father from the outset, but as the relationship grows and you spend more time with your partner and her kids, there will come a time when you have more of a say in their lives. This is something you have to discuss with your partner.
Discipling the children is also a major part of parenting that you will have to be involved in at some point. It can be quite a delicate subject as you may have different views on how to bring up the kids, but you must remember they are not yours, no matter how bratty they can be. You don’t want to go scolding the kids until you have discussed what you can and can’t say to them with your partner. Once you are both on the same page then you can confidently discipline them knowing your partner is fine with the way you go about it.
10. Let Her Handle the Ex
If all goes well, at some point you will meet their ex, but during the early days of the relationship, you are best to leave anything to do with him up to her. Don’t try and interfere or give your advice. It’s not needed. While you might just want to help out and offer an opinion, you have to remember your lady and her ex already have a relationship and have been dealing with things long before you came along.
Your best bet is to stay out of things until she asks you for input. Eventually, she will want to talk about any issues between her, her ex, and their kids, and that’s when you can be a good listener and sounding board. If she then asks for your help you can let her know what you think and how to deal with any issues.
11. Be Prepared for Last Minute Hiccups
You’ve just spent the past couple of weeks planning a romantic getaway with your partner. The luxury hotel is booked, you’ve organized a day at some wineries, and the expensive restaurant is reserved. You have a weekend of adventures ready to go. Then one of her kids gets sick and the entire trip is canned. This is the type of thing you have to be prepared for when dating someone with kids.
Plans can change at any moment and you have to be ready to adapt and roll with the punches. Being flexible in the relationship is key. Your partner will love you more for accepting these types of occurrences and trust you are taking the relationship serious.
12. Communicate Your Feelings
Almost every advice article about relationships talks about communication and this is no different when dating someone with kids. Communicating is crucial if you want the relationship to work. If you are ever feeling overawed by your new role as a step-dad or feel like you might not be good with children, let your partner know. Talk about any issues you have and express your feelings. She will no doubt give you the assurance you need and back you to be the best step-dad you can be. Remember, communication is essential.
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